A Travellerspoint blog

Touring Takayama, Japan

sunny 90 °F
View Justin and Kaela's Honeymoon Adventure on JK_Adventures's travel map.

It was a hot day in Takayama today! Kaela and I started off the day by putting on our yukata robes and headed down for a traditional Japanese breakfast with the family. As it turns out, we were the only ones to wear the yukatas to breakfast this morning out of our family! Well, when in Takayama, right? We had quite the assortment of Japanese specialties for breakfast. Kaela and I tried everything at the table, but it was a pretty exotic assortment. We had our filling, and I even went to the cereal bar to have yogurt, granola, and strawberry topping. Delicious! Tomorrow we opted for the American breakfast, we will see how Japan can do American!

After breakfast, we all relaxed in the room for an hour or so before heading out. I got caught up with some work emails, so Kaela and I left 15 minutes or so after everyone else. When we caught up, everyone was taking their time meandering through the local shops as we headed towards the Takayama morning market. The market was located on a beautiful stream that ran through the middle of town, and we all took our time touring all of the goods located within the shops. Kaela and I were dangerously close to purchasing some wooden paintings, but we decided to wait, in case we saw something even more spectacular during the day.

After we finished at the morning market, and I took some pictures along the river, we continued to take our time wandering through the various shops around Takayama. There are so many stores and things to see! Eventually, it became lunch time and we started to look for a place to escape the heat and acquire some sustenance for the long day ahead. Ryan was quick to find a ramen restaurant, and we all ducked inside for a quick bite to eat. It was another one of the order at the front with the machine type restaurants, which we are professionals at now, and we sat down afterwards. Kaela and I both enjoyed a large, filing bowl of ramen; mine was beef based while Kaela's was more seafood based. Kuku had some noodles with the famous Higa beef, which is truly unbelievable. After lunch, since it was so hot, we decided to head back to the hotel for a few minutes before continuing our adventures for the day.

After 30 minutes, we all met in the lobby to continue on towards the Higa Folk Village. What we didn't know is that it was an uphill walk the entire way there! It was 90 degrees and, since it was uphill, we all worked up quite the sweat during the 30 minute walk to our destination. Once we arrived, suddenly it became cool and breezy, allowing us to explore the Folk Village. This small town gave us a glimpse into what pre-modern life looked like in this part of the world. It allowed us to play a few dated games, such as walking on stilts (neither me, Kaela, Kyra, nor Ryan could do it effectively), and then showed us what living and working quarters would look like a hundred and fifty or so years ago. Kaela (but mostly me) got freaked out when we saw a sign that warned of the presence of snakes; for the rest of our time in the Folk Village I kept a sharp lookout! Despite the snakes, Kaela rang the village bell one time and said a wish, as instructed, before seeking respite in a refreshment corner of the village. Tutu, Heather, and Kyra started talking American politics with another tourist and, after I couldn't take any more political talk, Kaela and I ventured out to the main lake to take a few scenic pictures before departing. Kaela and Kyra even played dress up with a few dated items before leaving!

All of us, except Ryan and Lilly, enjoyed a scenic walk back to our Ryokan after the Folk Village. It was very hot at this point, still hovering around 90 degrees fahrenheit, so we stopped at a local Family Mart for a cold refreshment and some chips to refuel. After pounding for 10 minutes or so, we finished the walk to our Ryokan and retired to our rooms until dinner time. Kaela and I headed out for a late dinner, around 8:00 p.m., after everyone else had already started searching for a meal. It seems that everyone else shared a yummy meal from Family Mart, but Kaela and I were eager for a savory meal that we could bite into. We suffered through the half mile walk to Counter4, which is a delicious burger place in Takayama. Kaela got the egg burger, while I got the standard cheese burger. We were completely blown away by how delicious it was, and we both talked about how it was so good that we could have split another burger together. We also shared a delicious plate of potato wedge fries. The meal was incredibly and we are still talking about it.

After returning from dinner, Kaela and I relaxed in our rooms before heading to a late night onsen to cap off our night, which was incredibly refreshing. We are now back in our room for the night and we are looking forward to another adventurous day tomorrow! Tomorrow, we are heading to Himeji for two nights, so hopefully the travel day will go smoothly as always. We are looking forward to a delicious Japanese-made American breakfast in the morning! Until tomorrow...


Justin and Kaela

Total Steps: 23,372 steps
Total Distance Walked: 10.96 miles

Relaxing in our Yukatans!

Wandering through the morning market, and around the town, of Takayama.

Baby pineapple!

The Folk Village!

Kyra and Kaela messing around.

Ring my bell :D

Our traditional Japanese breakfast feast!

Touristy picture? I think not..

Takayama's greatest burgers.. literally, no joke here.

Posted by JK_Adventures 06:52 Archived in Japan Comments (0)

Travel Day: Kanazawa to Takayama

semi-overcast 78 °F
View Justin and Kaela's Honeymoon Adventure on JK_Adventures's travel map.

Today was an all around relaxing day. Kaela and I were originally planning on heading out to get pancakes for breakfast with Kuku, but we were still full from our Shabu Shabu feast the night before, so we passed and slept in (much to Kaela's liking). I got up a little before 8:00 a.m. to work on the blog, complete some work, and send some emails. A little before 9:45 a.m., I figured that I should wake Kaela up and we began packing up our bags for the travel day ahead. Both of us turned in our final projects for our summer school classes (Kaela was accepted into the English PhD program for the Fall 2016 semester and I am working towards the degree as well). At 11:30 a.m., we left our hotel room and started the trek over to the train station.

We arrived at our gate nearly 40 minutes early, which is way ahead of time for train travel. Kaela and I were able to leisurely walk through the train station and, after hearing a recommendation from Heather, we headed over to an amazing German bakery to pick up some snacks for the train. We were the first ones on the train and we were able to settle into our seats in anticipation for the journey ahead. During the first leg of our trip, we rode the Shinkansen (bullet train) again. The first part was fairly quick, as the bullet train took us to our point of transfer, Toyama, in 30 minutes or so. Once arriving at Toyama, we switched tracks and boarded a more local train that would take us to our final destination of Takayama. This train ride was absolutely gorgeous! For the majority of the ride, the tracks hugged a mountain side that surrounded a river and a dam; we passed several impressive bridges! After listening to some music, reading a few chapters in my Game of Thrones book, and watching the Japanese countryside rush by our window, I was slowly overcome by sleep and drifted into a lovely nap. Kaela woke me up with a hug when we were a few minutes away from Takayama, and we all prepared to get off the train. The trains only stop at the station for one minute, literally 60 seconds, so it is important to be prepared when your stop is approaching! We all huddled agains the exit door and disembarked promptly, with Tutu leading the way.

After we left the train station in Takayama, we had a bit of difficulty finding our Ryokan (a tradition Japanese hotel). Kaela took us to the supposed address (she is living up to her vow of being my navigator, and everyone else seems pleased for her to assume the role), but we were in the wrong location! After walking around for 10 minutes or so, Kaela eventually asked for directions from a local shop owner and discovered that we were a block or so away from our Ryokan, Oyado Koto no Yume.

As we walked in the door, we were instructed to leave our bags and remove our shoes to wear traditional Japanese slippers, since the entire hotel, and our rooms, feature tatami mats. The workers here also speak fairly good English, so there wasn't nearly as many complications with the language barrier as we have experienced in other locations. We were greeted with a warm towel to cleanse our hands, along with a cup of Japanese green tea and a traditional dessert, featuring a macha (green tea) filling surrounded with a type of clear gelatin; very delicious! We were led to our rooms and we all relaxed for an hour or so until our 6:00 p.m. dinner time. I read a few chapters of Game of Thrones while Kaela went to try out the onsens (traditional Japanese bath) with Heather, Tutu, Kyra, and Lilly. Ryan tried out the onsen as well, while Kuku and I planned to wait until later in the evening.

We all met in the dining hall a little after 6:00 p.m. to enjoy our Japanese dinner, each wearing our traditional Japanese Yukata robes. We started with an assortment of appetizers, including seaweed, potatoes, and more all prepared to perfection. Our first course consisted of a warm chicken and vegetable soup, followed by a sashimi platter. I have been craving sushi, and I was looking forward to having it at the Shabu Shabu restaurant last night only to learn that the sushi chef wasn't working that evening! There were three different types of fish, and two of them were spectacular. I actually finished everyones tuna! I had 5 different sashimi plates sitting in front of me by the end of it (each plate had 2 slices of each assortment). The following course was a slice of Salmon which was absolutely spectacular. The fish simply melted in my mouth, and it was quite a large cut as well! Kuku even finished Tutu's since it was so delicious. The following course was egg soup, which was equally tasty.

The main course consisted of locally sourced beef and vegetables that we grilled ourselves in front of us. After letting the vegetables get a 10 minute head start, we threw the beef on the grill after it was seasoned with the assortment of herbs that we were provided. All of the courses up to this point were amazing, but the beef simply blew everything else out of the water. It very well may have been the most savory slice of meat that has ever graced my lips. I even had to finish Tutu's this time (Kuku was too full from the salmon) because I could not let this taste of heaven go to waste. The meat had the perfect ratio of meat to fat and it was so juicy and succulent.

We finished our meal with a miso soup, rice, and a dessert buffet. Kaela and I took a dessert plate to go, and planned to have it for a snack later in the evening. We all parted ways (Tutu and Kuku had a date with the onsens right after dinner) and retreated back to our rooms. After reading in our room some more, Kaela and I headed down to the onsens ourselves for a relaxing bath (Kaela's second time today already!). After a wonderfully relaxing bath, we are now back in our room and winding down for the night. Tomorrow we are off to see Takayama! We also have a Japanese breakfast booked for 8:00 a.m.; I'm sure we'll continue our hot-streak of amazing meals then. Until tomorrow!


Justin and Kaela

Ready for dinner, dressed in our Yukatans!

The train ride to Takayama!

Trying to find our Ryokan; we believe in you Kaela!

Our Ryokan room.

Sitting down for a memorable feast!

A few examples of the meals we were served: our appetizers, the delicious salmon, and a surprise dessert for the honeymooners!

Posted by JK_Adventures 08:54 Archived in Japan Comments (1)

Castles in Kanazawa

sunny 82 °F
View Justin and Kaela's Honeymoon Adventure on JK_Adventures's travel map.

It was an incredibly busy day in Kanazawa! We started our morning off fairly early and we were all out the door right around 8:08. We were on a mission to visit the beautiful Kanazawa Castle and Kenrokuen Garden before the predicted rain later in the afternoon. The trek over to Kanazawa Castle was easy and over in 25 minutes or so. I took a back seat in terms of group navigator/tour guide and passed the reins to Ryan since he and Lilly visited the castle grounds yesterday. We made it about half way before Kuku came up with the delightful suggestion to stop at 7/11 for coffee and morning pastries. A few of us brought back a selection for the group and we cheerfully ate our sweets and sipped our caffeine for the rest of the walk.

The grounds surrounding the castle immediately radiated with elegance and subtle extavagance. Upon entering the grounds we were faced with a massive perfectly manicured lawn surrounded by a gravel track. We admired the beautiful foliage as we made our way to the entrance of the castle. As we passed through the huge wooden gates leading into the complex, Kuku had us stop and admire the impeccable craftsmanship. He pointed out the enormous pieces of wood used for even just the pins. We were all in awe of the size and attention to every single detail in the rest of the structures throughout the day. We quickly found the main building to tour. We walked through the structure that had an interior entirely made out of wood (someone mentioned cedar at one point). Kyra and I had a fun time sliding around in our socks (we all had to take off our shoes upon entering) and we moonwalked our way through the restored building. Various viewpoints and short English explanations were scattered throughout the near empty space. We also had a nice chat in broken English with a volunteer working in the building. He showed us different ways the large beams were joined together on a smaller scale. He giggled as we tried to decipher the different puzzles holding together the entire building. The precision and creativity was incredible and, once again, Kuku, and everyone else for that matter, was in awe. The volunteer even showed us the handmade nails used when wood was not enough.

Once we made our way through the entire cedar structure we moseyed on over to the Kenrokuen garden which was located directly next to the castle. The gardens were just as expansive and immaculate as the castle. In fact the gardens were so insanely large and beautiful we lost Justin for most of the day afterwards. He, too, got caught up in the natural beauty of the setting and wandered around taking pictures on his own. We toured through the gardens, passing by water structures, a tea house, and even a herring! After about an hour we decided as a group is was time for some lunch. Unfortunately, at this point we had no idea where Justin was. We walked around for a bit searching for my long lost husband, but ran out of luck and options. Luckily, we were not under the influence at Oktoberfest this time and he knew where our hotel was (he even had the key on him)! We proceeded on with our day in the hope (and belief) that we would reunite with Justin soon (or, at least, that he would be able to find his way back to the hotel!).

We decided to head over to the Higashi Chaya District to explore more of Kanazawa and grab a bite to eat. Ryan and Lilly had headed over to the district a little while before us while Mom and I had been looking for Justin, and they successfully found the correct place. However, when we started our journey over we ended up passing the correct street on accident and ended up at a cemetery after following Kuku's previously mapped out route! That was a bit of a snafu but after some quick recalculating we found the right area and spent some time walking around the near empty streets of the quaint neighborhood. We didn't quite know what to expect but at this point we were exhausted and hungry (hungry + angry :D). Right as we were on the verge of getting snippy with each other a kind "safety" helper caught Kuku's attention and pointed out (in broken English) that he was looking after baby swallows that had found a home in the low rooftop. We all admired his dedication to the baby swallows and he was kind enough to give us a map of the district. With Tutu being Tutu she quickly asked our new friend where we should eat. He walked us over to a Japanese restaurant at which point we couldn't deny his hospitality by not going in. The restaurant was fantastic! We sat on tatami mats at a very low table, which proved to be fairly difficult for our 6'4" Kuku (he explained that his body cannot maneuver into the L shape needed for such tables). Aside from the tables the food was delicious; we enjoyed steak and katsu donburi bowls and katsu sandwiches on the softest bread it was almost like eating air. Lunch wouldn't have been complete without two large bottles of Japanese beer for the table. Luckily, when we were at lunch I randomly found wifi and finally got ahold of Justin (he doesn't have an international plan on his phone). He told me he was fine and going to head back to the hotel to grab some lunch and rest since we would be heading back shortly.

Sure enough, after lunch we started to make our way back to the hotel. We had plans to stop at the outdoor store from the previous day and the ceramics store that was closed yesterday to pick up some souvenirs. As we were all chatting away on our walk back we stopped at a light and as we were about to cross the street poor mom slammed right into a small single block of cement that stood only about a foot tall. I turned around just in time to catch her from hitting her hands on the pavement, but Mom's shins were the victims and a baseball sized egg started to swell almost immediately. In all of the chatter and wait time at the light nobody saw the small block of death! Mom was a total trooper and gritted her way through the rest of the walk home (luckily she was wearing long pants so she couldn't completely see the second knee forming on her shin). We even stopped at the two stores still!!

After getting the appropriate souvenirs we finally made it back to the hotel. I rushed to grab some ice while mom changed into shorts so we could see her shins more easily. I walked into her room to find her covering her face from looking at the now softball sized bump on one of her shins and purple bruise already formed on the other. I carefully placed the ice on her new kneecaps and fed her sake because, apparently, that can fix anything. We made small talk to make her as comfortable as possible before we all decided it was time for a nap. Around 7:00 p.m. it was time for dinner. We headed back to the mall and tried a new shabu shabu restaurant that consisted of cooking soup with whatever ingredients you wanted. It was delicious and a great experience even if the initial ordering involved a lot of confusion and very little English. With fully bellies we walked around the mall for a few minutes before all the lights started to go off like the night before. Kyra was able to find cute pants and a skirt before the lights turned out! Kuku finished his night with a latte and some pastries to share and we're all back in our rooms relaxing and preparing for our travel day tomorrow. We'll be taking another Shinkansen to a smaller town called Takayama!

Looking forward to sharing more adventures soon :)

Kaela and Justin

The Kanazawa Castle!

Walking around the castle grounds.

Walking through Kanazawa.

The beautiful Kenrokuen Garden.

Posted by JK_Adventures 07:46 Archived in Japan Comments (1)

Travel Day: Tokyo to Kanazawa

rain 76 °F

Today was a fairly easy travel day. We had eight adventurers each with their own carry-on luggage and backpack/purse. We started our morning off around 7:30. Justin and I had to pack up our belongings in the morning because we were too exhausted from such a crazy day at Disneyland yesterday. All of the Disneyland-goers definitely work up with some achey joints, sore feet, and Mickey-filled memories. Packing was pretty easy, so once we set all of our stuff out by the door, Justin went back through the five story apartment and took pictures of all of our rooms to document the trip, and our cool Japanese house, even more. After seeing what morning rush hour looked like on the metro yesterday, Kuku thought it'd be best to take the simple travel option and take a cab. However, it rained all morning and little did we know that it's damn near impossible to call for a cab in the rain (although it makes sense in hindsight). Luckily, our amazing landlord saved the day by helping us hail some cabs! The sweet man rode his bicycle (that had two baby bike seats attached on the front and back) to the main street, hailed two different cabs, led them back to the apartment, and gave instructions to the cab drivers, in Japanese, of where to take us. The man was a saint!!

After we said our goodbyes to the nicest landlord in the world, we made our way through Tokyo rainy-day traffic and made it to Tokyo Station. Once at the station we found our correct track for our Shinkansen (bullet train) that would take us directly from Tokyo to Kanazawa. We had plenty of time to spare at the track so Justin and I ventured to go find some snacks and coffee for the train. We settled on a quaint coffee shop and collected a BLT and coffee for ourselves and a hotdog (they didn't have pastries!) and latte for Kuku. By the time we got back to the track the train was approaching and it was just about time to board!

The Shinkansen was awesome. Train travel is so much easier than airplanes it's astonishing. We quickly found our seats and made ourselves comfortable. It was so roomy!! Justin spent most of the ride jamming out to Drake while sorting through GoPro pictures. I read for the entire 2 1/2 hours (I'm on the sequel to Me Before You, which is fittingly called After You!). Everyone else in the group took turns napping, chatting, and reading throughout the rest of the journey.

Our arrival in Kanazawa was equally as smooth as our ride over. There was a unique water fountain in front of the gorgeous train station that displayed the time, town, and said welcome! We quickly found our hotel, Nikko Hotel Kanazawa, and Tutu and I got us all checked in while the rest of the caravan relaxed in the lobby. We were all surprised that we could all check in so early! We finally had some time to relax, but the majority of the group wanted to keep the party train rolling so we headed over to Ohmi-cho Market. The market was easy to find and pretty close to the hotel. They had tons of stalls selling fresh produce and lots of fresh seafood. We all ogled over the huge vegetables (I saw a daikon the size of my arm!) and the unique looking fish. We were all pretty hungry at this point so we had to find a quick snack for lunch before doing anything else. Luckily, we found Japanese curry and ramen so everyone in the group was satisfied! Justin and I finally got the curry he's been searching for while the rest of the group indulged in some more ramen. Lunch time wouldn't be complete unless Kuku got some coffee, so that was our next mini pitstop before heading to Kanazawa Castle!

Immediately upon heading out of the covered market toward the castle, it began to rain. Mom, Kyra, and I were in raincoats so we were ready for the inclement weather; Tutu, Kuku, and Justin decided they wanted to tough out the rain in their street clothes and just get wet; Lilly and Uncle decided to head back to one of the stalls to get some umbrellas. We made it about a block away from the market before deciding that we were over the rain and wanted to head back to the hotel for some R&R. We crossed paths with Lilly and Uncle on the way and the two of them were now set on seeing the castle since they were decked out with their new rain gear. The rest of us trekked back to the hotel and the rain stopped right when we made it back out of the market and came out on the other side of the complex. Still tired and ready for a nap, we continued back toward the hotel, making small pitstops along the way (we found a cool outdoorsy store that was just like REI or Patagonia and we found an adorable ceramics shop that was closed and we'll be heading back to tomorrow).

Our couple of hours of rest time was marvelous and it gave all of us a second wind to go find something oishi for dinner. There's a very pretty mall/shopping area next to where we're staying so we figured that would be a good place to start for food. We walked around the dining floor full of restaurants and split up; Tutu, Lilly, and Uncle headed for the tempura that Tutu has been craving and the rest of us had a hankering for Indian food after we followed our noses toward chicken tikka and curry! All of our meals were delicious and we were incredibly full, so we thought it'd be a good idea to walk off some of our dinner. We toured through the adorable shops on the many different floors of the mall. I had my heart set on a to-go chopstick and spoon set with pineapples, but Justin talked me into holding out until tomorrow (I'll be back!!). We got so caught up in looking at all of the unique shops that we didn't even notice it was closing time until they started to turn the lights out! We made a quick dash down to the ground floor to pick up some sweet treats for everyone to share (soft serve ice cream with some sort of cereal on the bottom and chocolate syrup on top) and found a Starbucks to pick up Kuku's last coffee of the day.

We're all back in our hotel rooms now and Justin and I are about to catch up on the season finale of Game of Thrones!! Tomorrow will be a full day of touring Kanazawa Castle, Kenrokuen Garden, and possibly a museum. Much more to come!!

Kaela and Justin

Rainy day in Kanazawa!

Our rooms in Tokyo.

The rooftop balcony!

The center courtyard that allowed natural light to flow throughout the house in Tokyo.

Living it up in the living room!

Kanazawa train station.

The lobby of our hotel in Kanazawa, and the façade.

Walking through the markets of Kanazawa.

The hotel room, and view, for me and Kaela in Kanazawa.

Posted by JK_Adventures 00:31 Archived in Japan Comments (0)

Tokyo Disneyland

sunny 86 °F
View Justin and Kaela's Honeymoon Adventure on JK_Adventures's travel map.

Today was a long, but spectacular day at the Tokyo Disneyland Resort. Kaela and I began by waking up swiftly with our alarm at 7:00 a.m. Kaela went to go make sure that Kyra and Heather were awake, since they decided to join us, while I packed our backpack for the day. The plan was to leave the house by 7:30 a.m., and we headed out right on schedule.

Our first stop for the day was at the local 7-11 down the street from our house. We all stopped for a morning coffee and pastry to tide us over until we had lunch in the park. We stood outside of the store since there was a trashcan right there and it is impossible to tell when we would stumble upon one again (just like the last time Kaela and I were here, a trashcan is a rare sight). We enjoyed our pastries and doughnuts before finishing our coffees on the short walk over to the Azuba-Juban metro station. Our plan was to, more or less, metro to the end of the line and then catch the JR line for a few stops to arrive at the doorstep of Tokyo Disney. Luckily, we still had our 72-hour metro passes and we were able to hop right on. After 35 minutes or so of riding on the metro, with a transfer as well, we arrived at the JR line.

We had a short ride on the JR line, only a few stops, before arriving at the Disneyland Park grounds. We were all a little confused once we got off, as we were unsure where to go, or even how to get into the parks! Most of the traffic was being directed to the Disney Rail line, which seems to be a monorail that takes park visitors from one location to another. We followed everyone else to the terminal and saw that it would be ¥260 each to ride the train, which would be about $10 for all of us. Since the JR line took us right by the park entrance (at 8:50 a.m. we could see the lines to get into Disneyland; they were enormous), we knew that the parks could not be that far. Kaela and I went to go find an attendant to ask if it was possible to walk to the parks. After miming some questions to a few different people, we were able to discern that the entrance for DisneySea was a 20 minute walk away, which won’t scare us into spending $10 for the monorail! With a rough outline of directions, we set off for the front gate of DisneySea.

The walk ended up taking us around 15 minutes (we seem to walk at a more brisk pace than others, particularly with me leading everyone, determined to get that first FastPass!). When we got to the main gate, we went directly to the ticket office to purchase our tickets for the day, get our bags checked (always gotta bring a few snacks, anyways), and get in line to enter. After a few minutes, we found ourselves within the park! The main entrance area was a massive open space with a fountain in the center that feature the world and, of course, a few disney characters around it. After pausing to a take a few pictures (of course), we set off into the park in pursuit of the fun-filled day ahead of us.

Since we were in a Disney-themed area, I took over navigation duties from Kaela. My hours of research in the days leading up to today have not been wasted! Knowing which rides are the most popular, I quickly led us to an isolated corner of the park near the entrance that housed Toyville and, more importantly, Toy Story Midway Mania. Since I knew that this ride was the most popular in the park, my plan was to FastPass this ride right away so that we could ride it later in the afternoon. Unfortunately, my plan came to an immediate halt when, after turning the corner into Toyville, I saw that the FastPass return time for Toy Story Midway Mania was for 9:20 p.m. that evening! At this point, it was around 9:30 a.m. and I was trying to come up with a new strategy. The stand-by wait time for the ride was 110 minutes. Since it was our first ride of the day, everyone wasn't too opposed to waiting, so we jumped in line to start our day off with the best ride. While everyone else got in line, I ran over to the nearby Tower of Terror to grab fast passes for us to redeem later in the day.

While we were waiting in line, Kaela saw the cutest Monsters Inc. shirt. She asked where the couple got it (they were wearing matching shirts) and they said it was from the Ride and Go Seek, Monsters Inc. attraction within the (other) Disneyland park. She was looking for a shirt souvenir, and she kept this one in mind as we progressed throughout the day. After about 40 minutes, we snaked our way through the queue and finally entered Woody's gaping mouth (the façade at the entrance of the ride). I had previous read online that the queue is much more impressive than the one at Disneyland, and this ride did not disappoint. The amount of detail within the building was astounding, and we paused to take several pictures as we worked our way up to the front. We were all pleasantly surprised when we found ourselves at the front of the line in exactly an hour (and this ended up being the longest time that we waited for any ride throughout the day). In the main location where the patrons boarded the ride, there was an oversized replica of Andy's bed. Moreover, the ride started by the car traveling under his bed, which we all thought was really cute.

We hopped on the ride and we all had a great time. Shockingly enough, Heather and Kyra had never been on this ride before, even the one at Disneyland in California! At the end of the ride, I found out that I had just barely missed the high score for the hour. Afterwards, we all agreed that Toy Story Midway Mania is a fantastic ride. If only we didn't always have to wait so long to ride it! After we finished Toy Story, we walked over to Mysterious Island, which is where 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea and Journey to the Center of the Earth were located. These two rides are unique to Tokyo Disney and we had no idea what to expect going into them. One of the reasons I decided to spend the day at DisneySea, instead of the Disneyland park, is because it it many more attractions that were unique to Tokyo Disney, and not related to (or, at least, different than) other attractions that we have seen in Paris or California. This land is situated within the crater of a volcano, with walkways suspended above water. It is a very cool location and we spent our time walking around, and meandering through various shops looking for souvenirs. We continued past Mysterious Island and went to the Indiana Jones ride: The Temple of the Crystal Skull. We decided to do this in the single-rider line. Although we wouldn't sit next to each other, this would allow all of us to ride the at action within 30 minutes or so, and save us from having to wait in line for over an hour. This ride seemed to have the exact same track and path as the one in California, but had an emphasis on the Crystal Skull instead. It is a fantastic ride and it was fun to see a Japanese take on it, with Indiana Jones speaking Japanese as well!

After we finished at Indiana Jones, we headed back to Mysterious Island to get in line for 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. We waited 30 minutes or so before reaching the front (we had a snack of delicious 7-11 spicy shoestring fries while waiting). Once on 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, we were surprised with how scary this ride was! It featured a "submarine" that took guests under water to see various creatures and alien-looking figures. We all agreed that young kids would most likely be frightened by this one, even Kaela was scared! I still have grip marks from her hands on my arm to prove it. After this ride finished we grabbed a fast pass for Journey to the Center of the Earth and started walking back to the Tower of Terror to redeem our FastPasses. On the way, we passed by the Mermaid Lagoon, and Kyra felt compelled to check it out. The Little Mermaid must be her favorite Disney movie, and she made no secret about it. The detail in this area of the park, once again, was exquisite. This was a pretty cool area that functioned as the little kids area of the park, with rides catering to those too small to ride others. We spend 30 minutes or so walking through it and see all that the area had to offer, and no detail was spared. After we finished at the Mermaid Lagoon, and came up short in finding a suitable souvenir once more, we finished our walk to the Tower of Terror. We got right in the next lift, and quickly noticed that this version of the ride differed from the one in California, in that it was situated around a cursed idol that an explorer found during an expedition. After receiving a short intro and video, all in Japanese, we progressed through and waited in a line for 15 minutes or so before finally be able to board the ride.

The ride was structured very similarly, but the story was different and focused on the cursed idol. This is one of our favorite rides, since we all enjoy the feeling of free-fall that this attraction provides. Unfortunately, this ride had seat belts that go over the shoulder as well, which stands in contrast to California, since that ride only has lap belts. This made it more uncomfortable (exacerbated by the fact that my belt became locked in the tightest position, and I couldn't readjust it). After the ride finished, and we were all excited from the thrill, we walked over to the Arabian Coast to get some lunch. We were all looking forward to eating here for lunch since we saw that this location, themed after Agrabah from Aladdin, served curry. We all got a spicy chicken curry with naan and rice. The curry was delicious and we all finished our servings. We enjoyed taking a few minutes to sit in the shade before heading back out to see more of the park.

After lunch, we walked around and did a few of the other rides, such as Sinbad's Storybook Voyage, and spent an hour or so walking through the various areas of the park. We all thought that the park looked gorgeous, and we actually preferred this design in comparison with California's Disney parks because the detail was so high. Throughout the day, we continued looking for souvenirs and we just couldn't find exactly what Heather, Kaela, and Kyra were looking for. We all got in line for Raging Spirit's Single Rider line, and we waited for 30 minutes before asking to find the exit. The line hadn't moved at all in that time frame and we saw several coasters go out with empty seats! Heather was ready to go for this ride as well, even though it had a flip and sharp turns, and was planning on stepping outside of her comfort zone to complete it. Unfortunately, we didn't get the opportunity and we went to explore some of the lesser travelled areas of the park.

We got in line for a ride that resembled the Jungle Cruise and, after waiting 30 minutes, we were surpassed to see that the ride simply transported you to the front of the park! It actually wasn't much of a ride at all, but it was still cool to see the park from the persecutive of the water, we even got to ride through the Mysterious Island crater! Once at the front of the park, we continued our hunt for the perfect souvenir, and the elusive Monsters Inc. shirt that Kaela now had her heart set on. Kaela quickly developed a plan to look at the shops near the entrance for the shirt, but we didn't have any luck there (although the girls did spend some time looking at, and contemplating getting, some boxer shorts). Kaela decided to leave the park for a bit and continue the hunt for this T-Shirt at store locations near the entrance, or the train station where we arrived. We walked around for a while and, even after finding a Disney Store in the mall near the train station, we were unable to find the shirt that she liked. On the way out of the mall, we saw that there was a supermarket located on the ground floor. In desperate need of some refreshment, we got a few drinks to share. Heather was feeling adventurous and we even got a small bottle of sake to split, along with a can of Japanese Pringles.

We left the mall and started walking towards the main gate of the Disneyland Park. After walking through yet another Disney store with no success, we were beginning to feel defeated. Since we were only a few minutes away from the main gate, we continued walking hoping to see something. When we couldn't find a store that carried the shirt that Kaela wanted, she went to guest relations to ask if there was a location she could get it. After 20 minutes, there seemed to be some confusion as to which shirt was the one that Kaela wanted. Kaela saw someone with the shirt on within the park but the individual was gone before she could show the park worker. Determined to not let my wife leave disappointed (hehe.. my wife), I anxiously stood at the front gate scanning the crowd of people in front of me. As Kaela walked away sad and dejected, I scanned everyone's shirts enthusiastically with haste. Sure enough, after two or three minutes I was able to find another person that was wearing the shirt she wanted (that featured a large Sully on the front). I called Kaela over and she unabashedly approached them to ask if she could show the shirt to the Disney worker. Luckily, the young couple acquiesced to her request and told the Disney worker in Japanese where and when they got it. After making some calls, the Disney worker was able to confirm that the shirt was available outside the Monsters Inc ride, but that someone would have to go in to get it, since they would not make the sale right there. This meant that someone would have to purchase a "Twilight" Disneyland ticket to enter the park (about $40) to purchase the shirt. That's quite the expensive shirt!

At this point, we started walking back to DisneySea without the shirt, while I desperately brainstorming options to appease my wife. We were going back to the other park to make our Journey to the Center of the Earth FastPass time, and Heather suggested that I go into Disneyland to get a souvenir for each of the girls and then meet them afterwards. After we all rode Journey to the Center of the Earth together, which was an entertaining ride that reminded us all of the Matterhorn (but it was much faster and more exciting), I sprinted back over to Disneyland (which is honestly a 10-15 minute jog away) and purchased a Twilight ticket to enter the park. I went straight for the Monsters Inc ride and, sure enough, the shirt that Kaela wanted was front and center in the store. I grabbed two shirts (one for Kaela and one for Heather), and a shoulder cover with a hood for Kyra that made the wearer look like Mike from Monsters Inc.

I agreed to meet the girls at the JR station at 9:00 p.m., so I had 2 hours alone in Disneyland to discover the park! I quickly went around to all the areas to see what they looked like and take a few pictures. Without much time for rides, I went on the Haunted Mansion, which was pretty similar to the one in California, and then waited an hour in line to ride Space Mountain. This coaster was a little different than the one in California but, for some reason, I feel that the one in California was more thrilling. Also, I was able to catch part of the light parade, which actually trapped me on one side of the park for a few minutes. With only 20 minutes or so before I had to leave, I hurried to Splash Mountain (since I knew it had a single rider line) and got on right away. I enjoyed a last ride, and scenic view of the park, before running out of the park and meeting the girls at the train station! I was sweating at this point. In fact, I was sweating nearly the whole time I was in Disneyland because of how fast I hurried over from DisneySea.

When I met the girls again, they rewarded me with some curry popcorn (delicious) and we took the three trains home. Since everyone was so tired, the girls went straight to McDonalds for some Big Macs and Quarter Pounders, while I went to the local market to pick up some sushi (when in Tokyo!). Once we got home, we all were completely devoid of energy and headed to bed right away. We might have set a record, that will stand for some time, in terms of total steps and distance walked in a day. We're all looking forward to a rest day tomorrow as we travel to Kanazawa. I will sleep very peacefully tonight knowing that I was able to get Kaela the shirt she desperately wanted :)

Total Steps: 36, 482
Total Distance Walked: 18.84 miles


Justin and Kaela

The beautiful Tokyo Disney Castle at night!

In front of the globe in the entrance square.

Scenic Shots around Disneyland, including Kaela's tired face in Little Italy!

The entrance way to Disneyland Tokyo, and the Grand Bazaar.


Trying to find that Monsters Inc T-Shirt!

Toy Story Midway Mania fun!

In front of (and in the entrance way to) the Mermaid Lagoon or, better known as, Kyra's home.

Indiana Jones!

The Tower of Terror really changed the girls' hair; they were so scared!

Cameling through the Arabian Coast

Posted by JK_Adventures 06:25 Archived in Japan Comments (2)

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