Friday, April 24, 2015

Japan 2015 - Day 3 - Ikebukuro to Niigata

April 9, 2015: Furusato Mura, Northern Culture Museum

We started the day with a breakfast buffet.  Here is Sweetie's natto.

This is my breakfast.

Group departure time was at 9:00 a.m. which gave us about 1 1/2 to 2 hours to kill.  I had learned earlier that the nearby Don Quijote was open 24 hours so we decided to go check it out.  After getting directions from the hotel staff, we set off.

I'm guessing that this guy is there to prevent cars from hitting you.  Maybe?

I had actually seen this bicycle parking structure while exploring Ikebukuro on Google Maps while back home. It was cool to see it in real life.

I like these underground tunnels that you can use instead of having to cross busy intersections.

Don Q was pretty easy to find. I always look for the duck guy. Wait. Is he a duck? Sweetie found her favorite instant matcha tea from there. We drank it every morning and every evening.

On our way back to the hotel I asked Sweetie if she wanted to check out the inside of Ikebukuro Station to see if there might be a rush-hour crowd for her to witness.

When we entered the station it was pretty calm. We were about to leave when I heard the stampede coming.  I caught some of the action on video.  I'll have it for you in the next blog post.

After witnessing the stampede we returned to the hotel to meet our group and we all headed right back to the train station again.

We needed to catch a train to Ueno where we would hook up with a bullet train to Niigata. I kept thinking what a brave person our tour guide was to be leading thirty-something Hawaii people into Ikebukuro Station, the second busiest train station IN THE WORLD.

We arrived at Ueno Station with no problem.


Our group learned quickly to stay to the left side when riding the escalator. That's so that faster-moving people can pass us if they wanted to.

Shinkansen!!!!!  Click, click, click.

Typically Japanese to be polite and considerate, yah.

I was surprised to see snow on the ground in some areas.


In about two hours we arrived in Niigata. Our first stop was Furusato Mura where we grabbed some lunch and did some shopping.

You pay for your meal at this machine.  It spits out a ticket which you then give to the attendant, or in this case, the cook.

This is my miso ramen.  It was a bit too potent for me. It actually came with a second bowl with some kind of broth to water it down with, but it still tasted very strong. I hope I didn't offend the guy, but I couldn't eat too much of it.

Here is Sweetie's shoyu ramen.  Her's looks kinda thick too, yah!

After lunch we shopped around a bit.  This is called sasadango.  It's a Niigata treat made with mugwort-flavored mochi and red beans wrapped in bamboo leaves.

Sweetie bought two, one for me and one for her.  We actually didn't get to eat it until two days later.  I got pictures of it for you later.

There were a scattering of a few sakura trees outside in the parking area.


Our next stop was the Northern Culture Museum, former home to the Ito Family, a local land baron. This photo shows where we stored our shoes.










We stayed at the Hotel Okura Niigata which is next to the Shinano River. This was the view from our hotel window.  

After dinner me and Sweetie took a stroll.  That's when Sweetie took this beautiful photo with her iPhone.

She also took this one.

Okay, okay, I know . . . where's the dinner photos?  I think I got lazy and didn't take my camera or my iPad to dinner with me. I think that's what musta happened because I can't find um anywhere.  Sooooooorrrrryyyyy.


Les said...

i'm surprised you didn't lose anybody in the station!! I was worried I'd get separated from you and we're only two people! So pretty yah spring time?

Kalin's Mommy said...

Awesome pics, love it!

jalna said...

I know, Les!! There were times that I wanted to hold hands with you in the train stations to make sure that we didn't get separated. And yes, it was very pretty. But I did enjoy the fall with you just as much.

Thanks Mich! Let's go . . . tsum tsum shopping.

K and S said...

reminds me of our trip to Sado! thanks for sharing:)

Anonymous said...

J: LOL when I saw the shinkansen sign I'd have probably try to go thru that door below it. lol How did that mochi taste? -N

Anonymous said...

J: btw I ran into a classmate, Millie Nakasone, do you remember her? She looks EXACTLY the same as high school. curse her! She lives in Hawaii Kai too. -N

Anonymous said...

Observation: Sweetie's natto doesn't look like it was stirred 432 times (or however many times is the optimum). Supposed to be what makes it good for you...all the foam and strings. (are you gagging yet?)
p.s I remember when you went with Les, you saying someone had the red backpack so you could spak in the crowd! I bought one for my husband when we went. Great idea!

jalna said...

More on Sado Island coming soon, Kat!

N, I had my doubts whether I'd like the mochi or not, but it was very goooood! I kinda remember Millie, but I gotta go check my yearbook.

Ack, V, gross. I loved Les' red backpack. This year, one of the tour members wore a jacket with two broad stripes on the back, one on each side. I would look for her all the time.

Nippon Nin said...

Very nice photos! You were lucky! to saw sakura blossom. Room with nice!

I enjoyed the post very much. Thanks for sharing.

jalna said...

Thank you Akemi! Maybe you'll get to see sakura too!

Susan said...

Great pictures! I was expecting to see the mucousy, stringy things on the natto too!

jalna said...

Thanks Susan. You know, the natto at these breakfast buffets are not that stink, so I wonder if they're also not too stringy either.

Mark Shelby said...

Beautiful pics! I love the night bloom hotel shots! I love to ride my bike! But never in my life have I ever had to park it in a Bike Parking Palace! ; )

That's crazy!

jalna said...

Thanks Mark! That bike parking impressed me too!