WLJT: Day 27 (Gunma)

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Another long day of driving, from Izu back north to Gunma Prefecture’s Minakami Town. I made a stop in Yamanashi Prefecture as well just for a few views of Mt. Fuji on the way to Gunma, then just had an early night in Minakami after checking into the Canyons Lodge. Not so many interesting pictures from this day!

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But I grabbed one last wasabi snack before leaving Izu! (These things were addicting… I want one now!)

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One of the Fuji 5 lakes but I don’t remember which one…

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Drive by Mt. Fuji picture!

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Arriving in Minakami

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One of the onsen Minakami is famous for

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Bath

That’s it! Sorry its boring!

WLJT: Day 26 (Kawazu)

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My day was originally supposed to start with a visit to a park to see susuki, or pampas grass, with a view of the ocean, but something got mixed up in the schedule, so my guides asked me to just meet them later at a small wasabi farm in town. I decided I probably had just enough time to see the pampas grass anyway, so off I went in a hurry to the park for just a few pictures, then high-tailed it back to town to make the meeting place just in time! From there, I had the opportunity to learn a lot about how wasabi is grown, make wasabizuke to take home, and see a few more of Kawazu’s famous waterfalls. You can read more about the day on the official WLJT website here, and as usual, here are a few more pictures from the day:

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Morning views of oceans of pampas grass!

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And views of the real ocean too, of course! It was rushed, but worth the visit!

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Then, wasabi

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Washing the grown plants

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Water is the key ingredient here

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All in a row

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Its really all about the water

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Speaking of water…

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The two characters have statues all around, and are from a famous TV drama and story

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Lots of water

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Lots of waterfalls

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And one very interestingly-shaped bridge

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Delicious lunch

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Wasabi ice cream as a snack!

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Trying some local sake during dinner

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Yum!

WLJT: Day 25 (Imaihama)

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I ended my time in Choshi with another soak in the rooftop baths of my hotel, and a quick look at the pretty white lighthouse before heading on a long drive towards Shizuoka Prefecture and the Izu Peninsula. I took a route that passed through the amazing underground tunnel beneath Tokyo Bay from the edge of the Chiba peninsula down to Tokyo, then through Tokyo to Shizuoka, and back onto another peninsula to the very edge at Imaihama, where I was staying at a fancy hotel that night right on the beach. I didn’t do much more than driving, but there were a few interesting stops along the way!

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One last soak!

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Pretty white lighthouse and blue sky!

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The white post box is pretty unique, too!

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Passing by Inubo Station one more time, and got lucky just as a train pulled in!

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Looking back toward Chiba before heading under water into the tunnel… this is a giant rest stop just before the tunnel starts

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Suddenly there’s just water! It’s pretty amazing!

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Quick lunch and enjoying some art at the rest stop before continuing on

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A brief stop at a waterfall before checking into my hotel, as the area has a lot of them

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My super fancy hotel!

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Big room for one person

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Great views for sure!

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The Halloween decorations were pretty cute

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Of course, I had to get some beach time

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I always went to Pensacola, Florida to visit my grandparents for Thanksgiving, so beaches in autumn are kinda my thing

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Last but not least, my VERY fancy dinner and dessert!

Kawazu Cherry Blossom Festival

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A few weeks ago one of my friends who works at Japan Guide asked me if I was interested in becoming a freelance travel reporter, and I might have accidentally screamed “yes” at him rather than saying it at a normal volume. Luckily that was taken for enthusiasm instead of crazy, and I have officially become a travel reporter for Japan-Guide.com. Go me!

Wednesday was my first trip report down to Kawazu, a small town on Shizuoka’s Izu Peninsula. You can read the trip report on the JG website here: Kawazu Cherry Blossom Festival Trip Report.

During the We Love Japan Tour, I stayed in Imaihama right next to Kawazu, and spend some time sightseeing a few waterfalls in the area as well as learning how wasabi is grown. This time around I was exploring the early-blooming Kawazu sakura, a variety of cherry that flowers a good month or more before the more common Somei Yoshino cherries start blooming. Kawazu sakura are really vibrantly pink, and right now yellow nanohana flowers are also blooming, so the contrast is really really nice!

Izu’s only about two hours from Tokyo, so it is really popular and crowded right now. Luckily I was heading down on a Wednesday, but I still got caught by the crowds. Actually, my story starts a bit earlier, of the 5AM variety. I drove to a slightly larger station than my local one in order to take one of the first trains to Tokyo. Right as we approached Tokyo station, all the trains on the Chuo line stopped so I missed my connection to the train that would take me to Izu. That’s especially unpleasant because it is a special rapid train called the Odoriko, and it needs an extra ticket and a seat reservation unless you want to wait in line to vie for the unreserved seats.

By missing the train, that’s exactly what I had to do. An hour later, I was finally on my way to Kawazu. Geez.

After arriving in Kawazu, I stepped out of the station right into a TV crew interviewing people for a show called “Why did you come to Japan” who wanted to follow me around Kawazu after finding out I was there for the cherry blossom festival. Luckily I didn’t just accept and instead called Japan Guide, who said basically “No way no how,” so I was glad I hadn’t said yes without asking! However that ate up a bit of time, and by arriving an hour late I was feeling the pressure of time since my return train was already reserved.

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Finally!

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Trying to get out of the station… don’t any of you people work?!

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Kawazu station right before the YOU TV crew spotted me

Pretty quickly I went up and down the river, then into and around town taking pictures and seeing the sights. I was starving but didn’t feel like I had time to eat, so I just grabbed a pink taiyaki for a snack, figuring I could eat on the train.

I wish I had been able to spend more time looking around, as there was a lot of interesting foods to try and things for sale, but pretty quickly I had seen what I needed, taken enough pictures, and had to get back to catch my train back to Gunma. So I’m just dumping a ton of pictures here. Enjoy!

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Sakura! In February! WEIRD.

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A few of the trees were already dropping blossoms quickly, but most were still pretty full

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Lots of selfie sticks making an appearance…

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Even the dogs seemed to be enjoying the day!

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Take your own tree home! … for about 50 bucks, ouch.

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These are NOT sakura but are plums, which is the usual flower to see around this time

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These I expect in February…

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I liked this sign but didn’t stop to take a good enough photo of it. *sigh*

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This was good!

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