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Saturday, January 20, 2018

Japan Nov 2017 一人で日本の旅 Ibaraki 茨城県 - Day 3: Tsuchiura-shi 土浦市, Tsukuba-shi つくば市

Day 3: 08.11.2017 (Wed)
* Day 3 of 14 Days Japan Rail Pass

Breakfast: Toyoko Inn Mito Eki Minami Guchi 東横イン水戸駅南口

Mito JR 水戸市 (0726 hrs) > Tsuchiura JR 土浦駅 (0757 hrs)
by Limited Express Hitachi ひたち 2.

Visited Kijo Koen 亀城公園.

Visited Tsuchiura Machikadokura - Daitoku 土浦まちかど蔵 - 大徳.

Visited Tsuchiura Machikadokura - Nomura 土浦まちかど蔵 - 野村.

Tsuchiura JR 土浦駅(1014 hrs) > Hitachino Ushiku JR うたち野うしく駅 (1021 hrs)
by local train.

Hitachino Ushiku Ekimae Bus Stop 1 うたち野うしく駅前 (1105 hrs) > Ninomiya Chuo 二ノ宮中央 (1127 hrs)
by JR Bus.

Lunch: Agato あがと

Visited Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) Tsukuba Space Center 筑波宇宙センター.

Visited Geological Museum 地質標本館.

Visited Science Square Tsukuba サイエンス・スクエア つくば.

Dinner: West House ウエストハウス

Ninomiya Chuo 二ノ宮中央 (1752 hrs) > Tsukuba Center つくばセンター (1807 hrs)
by JR Bus.

Tsukuba つくば駅 > Moriya 守谷駅
by Tsukuba Express つくばエクスプレス.

Checked in: Toyoko Inn Tsukuba Express Moriya Ekimae 東横インつくばエクスプレス守谷駅前

- End of Day 3 -

Japan Nov 2017 一人で日本の旅 Ibaraki 茨城県 - Day 2: Daigo-cho 大子町, Tsukimachi no taki 月待の滝, Fukuroda no taki 袋田の滝

Day 2: 07.11.2017 (Tue)
* Day 2 of 14 Days Japan Rail Pass

Breakfast: Toyoko Inn Mito Eki Minami Guchi 東横イン水戸駅南口

Mito JR 水戸駅 (0728 hrs) > Shimonomiya JR 下野宮駅 (0911 hrs)
by local train, via Suigun line 水郡線.

Visited Tsukimachi no taki 月待の滝.
Approx 30 minutes walk from Shimonomiya JR.

Shimonomiya JR 下野宮駅 (1111 hrs) > Fukuroda JR (1127 hrs)
by local train, via Suigun line 水郡線.

Visited Fukuroda no taki 袋田の滝. [300 yen]
Approx 20 minutes walk from Fukuroda JR.

Lunch: Futaba Soba 双葉そば

Fukuroda 袋田 (1410 hrs) > Fukuroda JR 袋田駅 (1420 hrs)
by Ibaraki Kotsu bus 茨城交通バス. [210 yen]

Day onsen: Hotel Kajikaen ホテル河鹿園 [500 yen]
Approx 3 minutes walk from Fukuroda JR.

Fukuroda JR 袋田駅 (1551 hrs) > Mito JR 水戸駅 (1714 hrs)
by local train, via Suigun line 水郡線.

Dinner: Matsugorou Stamin Ramen 松五郎スタミナラーメン
Access: Take from bus Mito JR West Exit Platform 7 and alight at Kami Mito Iriguchi 上水戸入口.

- End of Day 2 -

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Japan Nov 2017 一人で日本の旅 Ibaraki 茨城県 - Day 1: Mito-shi 水戸市

On my most recent stay in Japan, I managed to cover three main prefectures: Ibaraki, Shizuoka and Tottori, with short transitions made in Shimane and Okayama. It took me slightly more than two weeks to accomplish this and I would say the pace was considered moderate in comparison to my previous solo expedition in Tohoku region more than a year ago. Utilised 14 Days Japan Rail Pass to cover majority of my transportation expenditure. This is also the first time I planned my itinerary while travelling; something I have not done before. Has its pros and cons; my schedule was more flexible and it could accommodate changing weather conditions; however at the back of my mind, I knew there were more places I could have visited if I had been more well prepared. Regardless of the hits and misses, I am still amazed by how much this country has to offer despite multiple visits!


Day 1: 06.11.2017 (Mon)
* Day 1 of 14 Days Japan Rail Pass

Ueno JR 上野駅 (0830 hrs) > Mito JR 水戸駅 (0949 hrs)
by Limited Express Tokiwa 53 ときわ

Checked in: Toyoko Inn Mito Eki Minami Guchi 東横イン水戸駅南口

Rented bicycle from South Exit Rental Bicycle Station. [500 yen]

Visited: Lake Senba (Senba-ko) 千波湖

Visited: Kairakuen 偕楽園 and Kobuntei 好文亭 [200 yen]

Lunch: Nakaya Soba な嘉屋そば, located on 1F of Keisei Department Store 京成百貨店

Visited: Koudoukan 弘道館 [200 yen]

Dinner: Soup Stock Tokyo スープストック東京, at Mito JR Station.

- End of Day 1 -

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Chugoku (Sanyo + San-in) 2015 日本中国 (山阴+山阳) - Via Inn Hiroshima ヴィアイン広島

Stayed 24.04.2015 (Fri)
Reserved via
- Single A room (with breakfast) = 7,800 yen
- Economy twin room (without breakfast) = 10,000 yen

Convenience & bonus. Via Inn Hiroshima beats other competitors hands down in terms of location - hotel is less than a minute walk away from Hiroshima JR Station. Via Inn is a relatively new brand under JR West group, following identical operating model like other popular budget business hotel chain such as Toyoko Inn and Super Hotel. Rooms are compact with limited walking space (economy twin room area is only 12 m2, similar to its single room) but enough for a good night rest. In fact, the decor of Via Inn's lobby is much more classy than what I have anticipated it to be (especially for a budget business hotel). Chic design and spacious environment make guests feel very comfortable upon arrival at the hotel lobby. Chose this hotel because its economy twin room was a bargain, especially for its strategic location. Its close proximity also allow half of the rooms to take in views of the train station, observe the commotion on the platforms and occasionally hear muffled sounds from trains - a bonus for train fans!

A peek at the train station at night from my room. I was really that close to the train station!

Complete with breakfast. There is no cafeteria in the hotel. Instead, Via Inn collaborates with two eateries situated right in front of the hotel, to provide breakfast for their guests. Guests are give the choice of western or Japanese style breakfast which is served in Cafe Di Espresso and Eki Zen (駅膳), respectively. Had the western breakfast set comprised of sandwiches and a drink.

What's nearby?

(1) Hiroshima Electric Railway (Streetcar) Station, located in front of Hiroshima JR Station South Exit.
- To Genbaku Dome (Atomic Bomb Dome) and Heiwa Kinen Koen (Peace Memorial Park), take Streetcar Route 1, 2 or 6 and alight at Genbaku Dome mae (原爆ドーム前).
Hiroden 広島電鉄:

(2) Bus stops, located in front of Hiroshima JR Station South Exit.
Do note that the bus stop to board airport limousine bus departing for Hiroshima Airport is located on the Shinkansen exit of Hiroshima JR Station. 
Airport Limousine Bus:

(3) Hiroshima Higashi Post Office 広島東郵便局; the building on the right upon exiting from the hotel.


Via Inn Hiroshima ヴィアイン広島
〒732-0822 広島県広島市南区松原町2-50
1 min walk from Hiroshima JR Station South Exit.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Chugoku (Sanyo + San-in) 2015 日本中国 (山阴+山阳) - Hotel Flex ホテルフレックス, Cafe 43 (Kyarantotorowa キャランとトロワ)

Stayed 22.04.2015 - 23.04.2015 (2 nights)
Reserved thru'
- Single Room (with breakfast) = 5,500 yen (facing buildings; 11 m2)
- Twin Room (with breakfast) = 11,000 yen (facing river; 23 m2)

Atypical. It was definitely atypical for me to choose a hotel which is not near the train station especially when I am staying in a city area. Came upon Hotel Flex when I was searching for accommodation in Hiroshima and was immediately attracted to its minimalist concept. Had second thoughts when I found out about its location (from the train station, we have to cross two bridges with our luggage) but could not suppress the desire to spend at least a night in this designer hotel. Have planned to stay in Hiroshima for three nights; eventually decided to allocate the first two nights for Hotel Flex and the last night to stay put in Via Inn Hiroshima, which is located just beside the train station.

Designer hotel. Situated on the riverbank where Kyobashi river and Enko river diverges; rooms facing east can get an excellent view of the river. Hotel Flex employs similar operating philosophy like other budget business hotels; however what makes it stands out from its competitors is its affordable yet boutique quality. Utilisation of white and blue as the main colour scheme and wooden parquet flooring bring out this comfy ambience that makes guest feel at home during their stay. Despite the small floor area of their guest rooms (only 11 m2 for single room), excellent space optimization was able to create adequate walking area within the compact living space. In fact, I was already quite enraptured by the dimmed lights in the lobby upon arrival at the hotel in the evening. It is amazing to see how different elements complements one another - bare and rustic concrete walls, modern wooden furniture and sophisticated chandelier lights, all in one space. Everything in general was good, and Hotel Flex is definitely one place that I will fondly remember Hiroshima city for.

Designer cafe. Cafe 43 occupies the first floor of Hotel Flex and both the hotel and cafe share the same service counter. Semi alfresco style with subtle European flair, makes you want to enjoy a moment of luxury here, allowing time to sweep past slowly over a cup of coffee or relaxed meal. On our first night here, we decided to try their popular handmade pan galette (a pancake made with buckwheat flour). Ordered two different kinds to share - caramel nuts (キャラメルナッツ) and berries with creamy vanilla sauce. Each order comes in three mouth watering pancakes, all crispy golden brown on the outside and soft on the inside. Their version of pancake is thicker and dense in texture. For me, one order was too stomach filling; will recommend to share with other 2 person especially if you decide to have it for dessert after lunch/dinner. My stay with Hotel Flex also came with breakfast; each set came with a sandwich, yogurt, fruit and drink (coffee, tea and juices). There is a variety of sandwich fillings to choose from; had duck ham and raspberry, and chicken and basil on two separate mornings. Both were equally good. Breakfast is something I treasure a lot whenever I am on holidays; and such simple and well balanced breakfast in a conducive environment is the best way to start off the day right. 


Hotel Flex ホテルフレックス
〒730-0014 広島県広島市中区上幟町7-1
Approx 10 mins walk from Hiroshima JR Station.

Cafe 43 (Kyarantotorowa キャランとトロワ)
1st floor of Hotel Flex
Operating hours: 0700 - 1000 hrs; 1130 - 1500 hrs; 1700 - 2100 hrs

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Hokuriku + Wakayama 2017 北陸,和歌山の旅 - Day 9: Yuasa 湯浅, Kishi 貴志, Wakayama 和歌山

Day 9: 31.03.2017 (Fri)

Breakfast: Umitsubaki Hayama 海椿葉山

Tsubaki JR 椿駅 (0859 hrs) > Shirahama JR 白浜駅 (0909 hrs)
by local train. [200 yen]

Shirahama JR 白浜駅 (0919 hrs) > Yuasa JR 湯浅駅 (1015 hrs)
by Kuroshio 12. [2,110 yen]

Visited Yuasa Shouyu 湯浅醬油.

Visited Preservation District of Traditional Building 湯浅町湯浅伝統的建造物群保存地区.

Lunch: Ippuku いっぷく

Yuasa JR 湯浅駅 (1251 hrs) > Wakayama JR 和歌山駅 (1335 hrs)
by local train. [670 yen]

* Purchased 1 Day Wakayama Railway Pass. [780 yen]

Wakayama 和歌山駅 (1355 hrs) > Kishi 貴志駅 (1427 hrs)
by Ichigo Densha いちご電車, via Wakayama Railway Kishigawa line 和歌山電鉄貴志川線.

Visited Nitama にたま, at Kishi Station.

Kishi 貴志駅 (1533 hrs) > Wakayama 和歌山駅 (1606 hrs)
by Tama Densha たま電車, via Wakayama Railway Kishigawa line 和歌山電鉄貴志川線.

Wakayama Ekimae 和歌山駅前 > Koen Mae 公園前
by bus. [230 yen]

Visited Wakayama Castle 和歌山城. *Did not enter the castle.

Dinner: Ramen Marui Junibancho マルイ十二番丁店

Koen Mae 公園前 > Wakayama Ekimae 和歌山駅前
by bus. [230 yen]

Checked in: Toyoko Inn JR Wakayama Eki Higashi Guchi 東横インJR和歌山駅東口

- End of Day 9 -

Day 10: 01.04.2017 (Sat)

Breakfast: Toyoko Inn JR Wakayama Eki Higashi Guchi 東横インJR和歌山駅東口

Wakayama JR 和歌山駅 (0749 hrs) > Hineno JR 日根野駅 (0812 hrs)
by Kishuji Rapid Service.

Hineno JR 日根野駅 (0824 hrs) > Kansai Airport 関西空港 (0834 hrs)
by JR Kansai Airport Rapid Service. [890 yen]

KIX T1 (1055 hrs) > SIN T3 (1640 hrs)
by SQ619.

- End of Hokuriku + Wakayama 2017 trip -

Hokuriku + Wakayama 2017 北陸,和歌山の旅 - Day 8: Shirahama 白浜, Tsubaki Onsen 椿温泉

Day 8: 30.03.2017 (Thu)

Breakfast: Super Hotel Osaka Tennouji スーパホテル大阪天王寺

Tennouji JR 天王寺駅 (0725 hrs) > Wakayama JR 和歌山駅 (0826 hrs)
by Kishuji Rapid Service.

* Safe kept luggage in Toyoko Inn JR Wakayama Eki Higashi Guchi (Accommodation on Day 9) to travel light to Shirahama.

Shirahama JR Station.
Wakayama JR 和歌山駅 (0851 hrs) > Shirahama JR 白浜駅 (1009 hrs)
by Kuroshio 1. [3,340 yen]

* Purchased 1 Day Shirahama Onsen Pass. [1,100 yen]

Shirahama Ekimae 白浜駅前 (1025 hrs) > Adventure World アドベンチャーワールド (1033 hrs)
by Meiko Bus.

Visited Adventure World アドベンチャーワールド. [4,100 yen]

Adventure World アドベンチャーワールド (1416 hrs) > Sandanbeki 三段壁 (1428 hrs)
by Meiko Bus.

Visited Sandanbeki 三段壁. [1,100 yen]

Sandanbeki 三段壁 (1544 hrs) > Senjojiki 千畳敷 (1545 hrs)
by Meiko Bus.

Visited Senjojiki 千畳敷.

Senjojiki 千畳敷 (1628 hrs) > Rinkai 臨海 (1640 hrs)
by Meiko Bus.

Visited Engetsuto Island 円月島.

Shirahama Bus Center 白浜バスセンター (1724 hrs) > Shirahama Ekimae 白浜駅前 (1737 hrs)
by Meiko Bus.

Shirahama JR 白浜駅 (1806 hrs) > Tsubaki JR 椿駅 (1815 hrs)
by local train. [200 yen]

Checked in: Umitsubaki Hayama 海椿葉山

Dinner: Umitsubaki Hayama 海椿葉山

- End of Day 8 -