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Sunday, June 04, 2017

#carmenxjapan Day 1 Fuji Shibazakura Festival @Kawaguchiko and Shinjuku

First full day in Sushi land and we can't wait to explore the outdoors. Well before our trip in May, our facebook and instagram were bombarded with photos of Japan's beautiful cherry blossoms. So pretty that we were cursing NTU for having exams in April. Part of me prayed that cherry blossoms will continue to bloom till May. Of course, Mr. Google says no. But Mr.Google showed us another alternative which I think has a different beauty as well and coincidentally, we were at the right time to see it. 



The Fuji Shibazakura Festival is an annual event held at the Kawaguchiko, one of the areas surrounding Mt. Fuji. With Mount Fuji at the background, and fields of Shibazakura aka Moss Phlox, it's a pretty sight not to be missed in the month of May. Instagrammable flower beds and also a view of Japan's iconic Mount Fuji, that's like killing two birds with one stone eh haha I knew this is the place we must visit. 

Shinjuku > Kawaguchiko Stn > Fuji Shibazakura Festival Site
We took a highway bus from Shinjuku's Expressway Bus Terminal to Kawaguchiko Railway Station, 3500yen (return fare). The journey takes about 2 hours, great time to get some sleep LOL. (btw the highway buses have toilets!) Once we arrived at Kawaguchiko station, there's a special counter that sells the Shibazakura Liner tickets from Kawaguchiko Stn to the festival site. The 2000yen bus fare includes return bus journey and the admission fee of the festival which is worth 600yen. And you'll also get a free Shibazakura postcard when you buy the tickets. Find out more about the event at http://www.shibazakura.jp/eng/access/

This is what I saw through the windows of the bus, gloomy weather, but there's something peaceful about it. 

Kawaguchiko Station 河口湖駅

The rustic railway station reminds me of Taiwan T T


Inside the station is a souvenir shop and a pretty cafe that sells simple snacks and beverage for travelers. 

Got myself a Croquet (200yen) and Black Coffee (370yen) to kickstart the day. 
That's a onigiri in the middle and they made it look like a Mount Fuji. The croquet was awesome T T Crunchy on the outside, warm, fragrant and gooey mashed potato on the inside. Can never forget omggg. Whatever I had in AEON's food department was a lie haha 

After 30 minutes bus ride, we finally arrived at the festival site. Was totally hyped when I saw those vast fields of pink, white and purple. But luck wasn't on our side. Mount Fuji was nowhere to be seen due to the cloudy weather. But, I am actually pretty happy with what I saw too. The thick clouds formed layers of fog that lingers around the surrounding green mountains. The whole place, as if there's some special effects, looks very mystical. If it weren't for the huge crowds, I could convince myself that I landed in a page of a storybook. 

Total of 5 hours bus journey for this, worth it la. Was imagining that Tinkerbell or a pink color SMURF will suddenly appear haha. 










All-natural foggy special effects for your photo. 

Turns out my prayers were heard anyway, there's still a little bit of  cherry blossom. 


It's a Matsuri (festival), so of course, there's food and plenty to choose from! Ramen, Udon, Soups, Gyoza and more. With the thick fog, the temperature was around 14 degrees at the moment. Was totally craving for something hot. 

Got myself a Pork Miso Soup (400yen) and Hot Fresh Milk (300yen)
Perfect for the weather. Love the miso soup with crunchy radish and plenty of chewy pork strips. I guess it was the first time in my life to have steamy hot milk in this cold weather, super syok I have to say.

After our lunch, did some shopping at the souvenir shop which sells loads of Shibazakura and Mt. Fuji related products. The fog got thicker, it was practically raining and so we head back to the city. 


Ichiran Ramen 一蘭拉面
Ever since we started planning our trip, one of the die die must do things that we agreed with is to try the famous Ichiran Ramen. So this was our itinerary for the night :) Went to the outlet at Shinjuku Central East Exit. Took us some time to find it, the outlet is at the basement and a line of customers along the staircase greeted us. My friends went to the washroom, while I silently queued. After around 30 minutes, I reached the end of the line but my friends were nowhere to be seen. With the usual Malaysian mindset, I told the hostess that the next customer in line could go in first while I wait for my friends to come. But....turns out we aren't allowed to do so and they insisted that I must leave and queue again with the rest of my friends. And to my horror, the line was much longer than when I first queued :( 

Address: 3-34-11 Shinjuku, Peace Bldg B1F, Shinjuku 160-0022, Tokyo. 



Got our meal tickets and customized our Ramen! They even have the sheet in English.

Ramen (890yen) with Half Boiled Salted Egg (130yen)
After all those waiting, there's no way the ramen would taste bad I suppose haha. Love the soup and the crunchy noodles but I certainly underestimated the Red Sauce. It is SPICY. Would have been perfect if I opted for a lower level of spiciness. 

The dining experience was also an interesting one as well. Finally see it for myself, the “cubicles”, the small little window in front and how the bowl of ramen appeared right before my eyes. Can totally imagine myself dining alone here, slurping to noodles, where dining is just eating, no nonsense, no chats, just savor the good food. Kinda wished there's stores like this in SG and MY as well, where we could just eat something yummy on our own without people giving the "forever-alone" stare. 就想理直气壮地一个人吃晚餐.

Kabukicho, Shinjuku
After dinner, explored the Kabukicho area. It was a Wednesday night, but damnnn the whole district was super lively with bright lights flashing. We were just randomly checking out the various stores, silently writing our shopping lists in our heads, crossing roads and trying hard to not bump into someone else. Finally we found ourselves at the main Red Light District, filled with curiosity, we kept our eyes wide open and wandered around LOL I saw random guys in the middle of the road who talked to only men. Big bright signs with sexy ladies, and some with men too LOL. It's a weekday, the street was crowded and God knows what they were looking for. It's just an interesting sight to me, the red light district I had in mind is a dim one, but here, it's all neon lights and visually attractive posters and signs. 




See that amount of people, I believe crossing roads without bumping into people is a skill over here. 





  

The bright landmark of Kabukicho




Obviously I had nothing much to do over there, coz it is one of the most expensive areas in Tokyo. But it was still great to just take in all those lights, listen to the sounds and feeling the constant movements of the people. 

That's Day 1 in Japan. Next, going to the happiest place on earth and tasting sushi that brings happiness as well. 

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