Wednesday, July 02, 2014

Weekend getaway to Lake Yamanaka

Saturday morning, at 5am we woke up and boy were we happy and waiting to go on this trip! We all quickly got dressed, brushed all our teeth, I washed my face, a little sunscreen and put my makeup on and we were out the door by 6am Saturday June 28th. Along our journey we stopped in Saitama for some breakfast at McD's. Noah had the hotcakes, Branden had an English McMuffin combo and they shared the orange juice. I had a hotcake combo with hashbrowns and an iced coffee pictured, and Noboru had a Sausage McMuffin combo with iced coffee too. We were stuffed after breakfast and kept driving. About 4 hours later, we stopped for lunch...

We went to Coco Ichiban Curry and as you can see by the pic, their amazing and delicious hand breaded chicken tenderloin are back until August. Hoping that means the end of August! This is my favorite thing to eat at Coco Ichiban Curry. The panko flakes are delicious and it tastes different than the other deep fried stuff available there, it is *so* good, tastes handmade versus just outta the freezer! Seriously amazing tenderloins!

I had the basic/regular size pork curry with chicken tenderloins. Branden had the same thing, I did.

Branden enjoying his lunch! We knew after this that we were heading up the mountain so we wanted to eat a nice hearty lunch before hitting the mountains. 

Noah had exactly what we did except he had the kids size. He ate every bite and was stuffed, so he was mountain ready! : )

Oh yes, the weather, it was raining off and on most of the day. But honestly we didn't really care. We were taking time out for our family as a whole. As you know, family time is *very* important to us. Also, since it was Saturday we did see tons of JHS club kids riding bikes and going to club all the way on our adventure that day, along many different cities. As you know Branden isn't in a club in JHS and that is because we want him to have a regular life. Go on family trips, have travel as an experience. You learn and grow so much by seeing this awesome world. Granted clubs are good, but not 6 days a week, year round. To the point where it takes away from family. They over do their clubs in my opinion in this country and my child gets to be young *only* once. And I'd like to see and watch him grow up... versus the school watch him grow up. I will talk more about that in detail in another post. But for now... our family of 4 was having a wonderful rainy Saturday just being looky-lous as we drove past all sorts of different towns and cities. 
In English it's called, Lake Yamanaka, in Japanese it is Yamanakako. Lake Yamanaka is located in a village in Yamanashi prefecture, right near Mount Fuji. It is the largest of the 5 Fuji lakes. 

Starting our trek up the mountain. Look at all that fog, wow!

Good car, good car! She drove us so far and it was time to let her charge for 20 minutes. Which means time to go and have a look around the souvenir shop (omiyage) and also have a soft serve ice cream (soft cream) also perfect time to stretch our legs or if anyone wants to take a bathroom break. 

About to enter the shops. 

Let's go get some ice cream kids! : )

The choice was, vanilla, peach or twist of peach and vanilla. Branden and Noah each had vanilla. I picked vanilla. 

My vanilla right here. 

Noboru surprised me and had a twist! : )

After we bought omiyage for the grandma next door and 1 for ourselves. The kids and I took a walk over the suspension bridge. 

They're looking at the river down below.

River down below right here.The car was fully charged up and we arrived at the hotel in about 10 minutes after being on this bridge. So a quick drive. 

We stayed at their sister location in Nagano last...last when? Was it last August? I think it was August but don't quote me on that 100% sure though. To be safe, I'll just say last Summer. Hahaha. : ) Given our hectic month...staying at a place called the "Sanctuary" was fitting...we needed a nice place like recharge ourselves. : ) 

A nice long private drive way...

A nice sigh of relief and a..."we made it"

They gave us the top floor, the 6th floor. Room 842.

We used one of our free hotel stays Noboru gets with the company he works the room cost us nothing, the gas cost us nothing, since she's electric... boogie woogie woogie, lol. we didn't take the highway so it literally cost us nothing except our meals! How cool, right! The room was so super clean, smelled so nice. In this pic, you can see the tatami area a pinch, the kids slept there... with futons. The 2 beds, us adults slept on. 

Different angle...2nd table, the 1st table being in the tatami room. and there is 1 more table in the lounge/sitting area farthest back.
Really good sized tatami area...

The sitting and TV area...and 3rd table. 

Smallish flat screen TV...they left the 1 drawer slightly open to show us the...

Yukata's we could wear...

Hot water pot for making green tea, tea or instant coffee. Also metal bucket for putting ice in for drinks for later...and 4 free cookies. There was also a fridge under the TV area...

Place to put makeup on or do hair in case someone is in the bathroom.

To the right is a closet but the doors are mirrored which was nice...a place to check out your outfit before leaving the room, ykwim. : ) 

Bathroom, very clean...good water pressure and hot as heck water too. : )  That hand soap in that white glass bottle/pump in this pic smelled so good by the way.

Because 4 of us were registered, they gave us 4 shampoos, 4 conditioners, 4 wash clothes, 4 toothbrushes...4 of everything. Very nice. 

4 fresh towels waiting for us also. There were also hand towels on another wall and a blow dryer. 

Every one's shoes lined up nearest the door. From left to right, Branden's shoes, Noah's shoes, my black low top converse and Noboru's shoes. The pools were to close at 9pm and Jolly Pasta wasn't closing until 11pm. So we said let's go swimming. Immediately we went swimming granted it was only about 3:22pm-ish when we arrived at the hotel (the first pic inside has the time stamp on it lol). We swam for about 3 and a half hours. So clearly Jolly Pasta wasn't even remotely going to close but we wanted to cover all our bases and we checked online in the room though just to be safe. : )

The view from our room was amazing. A clear shot of the Lake and a clear shot of Mount Fuji, the next day...though it was covered in fog and mist Saturday though. : ) So to the bottom floor of the hotel we went and to change our clothes and time to relax and have a nice hot soak. 

Look at all these different types of hot tubs.

Regular pool that is Branden nearest the camera. The pool had a rule if you were in the pool you needed a swim cap, but in the hot tub area you didn't. I stood in the hot tub area so no swim cap for me and I wore a high messy bun. The pool area as you can see was really gorgeous, lots of big plants, you could see the sky with the glass ceiling over the pool and parts of the hot tub area. 

Really really big floor to ceiling windows and all the pine trees and greenery outside. 

There is Noboru right there. We chatted and talked for hours. About our upcoming trip at the end of July. About how nice it was being here relaxing....he suggested, let's go in the dry sauna...I said...okay! Let's go and try this high pressure water massage thing...okay. : ) Then some man came and spoke to us also for about 30 minutes. He was very curious about us. He was most curious about the boys speaking native English yet living in Japan. @.@  His surprise... surprised us, no joke.  We were like...@.@ Well, we just use English only at home, since they hear Japanese at school anyway and our TV is in American English so they hear the same accent as mom's (mine) plus we read tons too. He said he overheard our kids speaking English in the pool area together (he had a wife, 1 son and 1 daughter) I was the only foreign adult so I think it was easy figuring who was Branden and Noah's parents and Noboru and I were sitting together...  anyway he told us...he lives in Tokyo and his hope right now is to send his daughter (she's about Branden's age) to America to study. We listened, he had questions, we answered, we talked with him.... So we chatted with him for a while, then he left and we chatted some more amongst ourselves. Ahhh it was a really nice 3 and a half hours. A little surprising to meet that nice man, but you know what...I do understand their curiosity and it's fine.: ) 

The kids did come to visit us in the hot tub area. Here's Noah getting the water splashed over his head. He loved it!

Noah spotted me! : ) 

I only took these handful of pictures because the rest of the time, we were enjoying our time together. 

We showered and put our clothes on, they had wonderful shower facilities near the pool area/in the changing area with shampoo, conditioner, face wash, body wash. So we all washed up and met in the lounge area and then we headed to dinner. Jolly Pasta time. : ) An Italian chain restaurant, really good pasta. In fact, I forgot to take a single picture. Sorry. : ) We had 2 large pastas with mozzarella cheese, a spicy tomato and garlic type sauce. And we also had 2 large pizzas and the drink bar. We bought snacks at the Don Quixote which was right near the Jolly Pasta. This was down the mountain for what it's worth, although on the mountain there was many Italian restaurants, a Denny's, many conbini's and I recall seeing an Indian restaurant too, yumm. : ) After dinner and picking up some drinks and snacks we went right back to the hotel took us 10 minutes maybe... it was a different side of the mountain/way coming down the mountain than the way we went up earlier that day. A really short drive... the kids crashed dead asleep in the car on the way to the hotel.

Which is a bummer because... not sure if you can see because this pic sucks. Sorry guys. But see near the green on the left hand side of this pic there is a blurry deer. Three deer were crossing the street...seriously no joke! We are "thinking" it was a papa, mama and a baby. The papa went first the mama was mid crossing when we came driving down the road. The car is too quiet...that's what it was, I think... we just sorta crept up on her outta the blue. Sorry deer...seriously we are sorry, totally our fault. Anyway she crossed though she did indeed get that deer in the headlights look first though...but she stopped on the other side of the road...waiting for her baby. Aww. Her baby was freaked...pictured here. And didn't want to cross. Noboru and I were like....awww a deer family. Meanwhile I am trying to get my camera out...I meanwhile and it just figures...I get the camera settings all wrong because I'm totally surprised and nervous. Hence the crapola picture. We waited since there was literally no other cars than ours. And the baby crossed right in front of us. The mama and papa were very happy to have their baby back. That was a very cool end to the evening. : )  Anyway...we arrived and the kids and us walked into the hotel and back to our room. 

Branden and Noboru walking back to the room, Noah was in front of them. Side note, Branden is my height right now. And he will more than likely be passing Noboru's height by December, that's our guess. We'll see. 

Ice machine and soda machine on our floor. The sodas were a little high/pricey as expected at a hotel but the ice was free of course, we did fill up our ice bucket here though and we bought drinks elsewhere anyway.  We 4 watched TV for a bit, the kids got tired quickly though so they went to sleep. 

Branden and Noah talking.

I came back to check on them and they were both dead asleep but Branden fell asleep hugging his brother. Awww. : ) 

Noboru and I watched TV for about 45 minutes, before hitting the hay. It was a fun day, but we got up so early we were exhausted. 

Mount Fuji view from our hotel room. The clouds were lifting. And the lake to the right.

Yep highest floor, not sure how we lucked out... but the view was awesome. : )

We considered about going to Mc D's for hotcakes again, but we'd have to go down the mountain again, and we really didn't want to do that, a time waste. So we went to the nearest 7-11 on the mountain. Not really a real breakfast per say... but food. And we wanted to sightt see on the mountain, check out the lake and whatnot. So it just made more sense.

The car did her first over night stay near Mount Fuji and she has her very own family that loves her very much! So...good car good car. : )

This place was packed with a ton of people thinking the same thing, hahaha!

Errr umm, the breakfast of champions? @.@ Alright alright, it kept us on the mountain though, you it worked! I had 1 iced coffee and 1 egg salad sandwich. 

Man this view! Might have been rainy the day before but Sunday was gorgeous near Mount Fuji!

And finally the clouds lift!

Yes they did each make a tanabata wish! I made one too! : ) Hahaha. 

Must have been this bush... to smelled like fresh pine all around when we were walking around the parking lot. 

Beautiful day...

Thank you have recharged us! We will come back here for sure!

Also important to note, there were a few charging stations on this mountain. So charging stations are indeed everywhere you could even think possible. And again totally free to charge her up. Branden being his typical silly self, he had no idea I was taking his pic and he bent backwards to talk to his brother who was sitting in the backseat. He's such a 12 year old! Hahaha. 

Here you can see this...see the center says Mt Fuji and the 5 lakes, the biggest being Lake Yamanaka. Where we were and charged up our car and stayed at the hotel. 

We drove around the lake and did a little sight seeing. 

It was high 70's F type weather with lots of nice cool breezes the weather felt so nice, we had the windows rolled down. We had music playing. It was just a very chill day. 

Also, we try not to charge it all the way to the tippy top because she self charges when you go down hill. See this says you can drive 126km. 
And here it grew to 153km. She does charge by going down hills. Hahaha. By the time we went down the whole mountain she was charged 100%. 

We were driving for literally hours. And we decided to stop for lunch. 

All the way from Mount Fuji and passed Tokyo and she didn't even need a charge at all (though she did charge up before leaving the mountain where Branden was bending backwards into the car pic). The weather in Tokyo was very cloudy and overcast. And there were lightning bolts in the sky as we were driving by. 

See those clouds.

We did stop for dinner before heading home. We went to the Ohsho. Branden had ramen, Noah had ramen, Noboru had something, not sara udon but looked sorta like that. Like a stir fry dish. I had fried rice and egg drop soup and we all shared an order of karaage (Japanese style chicken nuggets.)

I picked the cherry cheesecake on the right for us, and wanted to get the same thing for the grandma next door too, but Noboru suggested we find something with the word Fujisan/Mt Fuji on it, fair enough, so I found these cookies for her instead, they were the same identical price but they did say Fuji on there. Little cookies in the shape of Mt Fuji. : ) Oh and for what it's worth the cherry cheesecake didn't taste at all cherry-ish at all. Just tasted plain and not very good, really dry actually. : ( We all thought so. Hahaha. I hope the grandma's cookies were better than ours were. : ) Omiyage is so hit or miss, you know. : )  

Anyway that was our little weekend get away in a nut shell. : )