Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Our overnight getaway, on the national holiday Taiku no Hi (Sports Day)...our hotel stay, sightseeing and Kua 'Aina for lunch and Jolly Pasta for dinner...

October 12th, was a national holiday here in Japan. Which also means a day off school for the boys. It was, Taiku no Hi, also known as Sports Day! So Monday was an off school day for the boys, since it was a national holiday. And Tuesday was also "supposed" to be another day off from school, IF our town kids had Town undokai October 11th as scheduled. However because it was canceled due to rain. That meant that school would be in effect Tuesday, October 13th. However, we were expecting rain anyways, so Noboru smartly sent the boys to school Friday with a note stating, our family was going on an overnight trip. And IF for any reason the town undokai was canceled and the kids had school Tuesday...then please excuse them that day, they would be absent that day. So either way, the teachers knew in advance. I had packed everyone on Saturday. Nothing major, just an overnight bag for each of us, with a pair of jammies, the next days clothes and whatnot. : ) And so Monday October 12th, we woke up around 6am and started getting ready. We left the house by 7:45am. We stopped of at a 7-11, for a drink for everyone and 1 donut, those Mister Donut knock offs, that are so good. If you live in Japan, you'll know what I am talking about. : ) And we hit the road! We were to stay on the totally opposite part of Chiba then where we live. For those of you outside Japan, just think of a prefecture sorta like a state. We live in Chiba prefecture. And Chiba's shape, looks like a dog. With tongue popping out and everything. hahaha. Really! : ) Anyway, without getting too specific, we live somewhere from the neck up, so somewhere around the face of Chiba-kun. However we were going to be traveling to the foot, our hotel was around the top of the foot. And the next day we went to the furthest part of Chiba, the toe nail area! Hahaha. : ) So we traveled to the extreme parts from where we live. Our first time ever for all of us! : ) Also, important to note. Restaurants are slim and hard to find, once you pass, Chiba-kun's belly button and below. Why? I do not know. Below Chiba-kun's belly button there are no.... as in zero Saizeriya..no and zero... Coco Ichiban curry places. @_@ Yes, like seriously! Because when we travel in Japan, we always plan... to the fine detail of even...what will we eat for lunch and dinner...and where and at what time will we arrive. Yes we are very very detailed about our trips. We're very Sheldon Cooper about traveling! Hahaha. So yes...we were like...looking for a closer Coco Ichiban curry house, closer to our hotel. And we kept zooming out and zooming out some more. Until we realized, there are no Coco Ichiban curry restaurants, passed Chiba-kun's belly button. And neither Saizeriya. So, if eating a chain restaurant for lunch on the cheap...is on your mind. Like it was on ours. Just something for you to keep in mind. Fwiw, we have been to Nagano...we have been to the Mt. Fuji area...to stay at hotels. And those areas have all the normal chain restaurants you'd expect to see, in Japan. Meaning eating in Nagano was no problem, they had Saizeriya and everything. Same for our part of Chiba. Who knew? You go passed Chiba-kun's belly button and you'll have none of that! Hahaha. @_@ Learn something new every day, right? : ) So needless to say, we stopped at the last of the last... of the last Coco Ichiban Curry restaurants. This picture was taken at the Coco Ichiban curry located at Chiba-kun's belly button. No Coco Ichibans from his belly button all the way down his legs to his toes. Nope. Hahaha. Anyway we ate lunch. We were actually about 30 minutes ahead of schedule. 

Yep, small tummy tank. His donut still had Noah full, so he didn't have curry, he just had some fries and nuggets. The rest of us filled up on curry. : ) We all went pee/went to the restroom at the restaurant before jumping back in the car and we still had a couple hour drive still. 
The view was amazing. We saw so many mountains, so many rice fields, then so much beach, so much ocean. 

Tateyama, here we come! We had music on, in the car! 80's. Hall & Oates. Elton John....bababa Bennie and the Jets. Rick Springfield. The Pretenders (Back on the Chain Gang) etc. 

And we arrived. Check in was at 3pm and we arrived at like 3:05pm. Hahaha. 

For those of you in Japan, you already know this. But for those of you outside Japan. See that shape of land? On that orange fabric. That's Chiba prefecture. See it does look like a dog with nose and tongue popping out. We live somewhere from the neck...up. Somewhere on the head. We were now down near the top of his foot. Tomiura, was the area where our hotel was. Minami Boso.

Yep, Minamiboso Tomiura. The land of almost no chain restaurants. And the private restaurants are very very few and far between. Slim pickin's. Let's put it that way. : ) But a very nice area though. They did have a Coco's restaurant... but not the curry Coco's. But that's about it, for chain restaurants. 

That's where we were. We did go to the toe the next day. : ) 

We checked into our room. A lovely room!

We really liked our room. And the view, omg!

Our view outside our window. 

See....nothing but ocean when you look outside. We sort of laughed and said it was like we were on a ship almost, minus the sea-sickness though haha. : )  The Love Boat maybe, haha. Talk about an ocean view. 

This part of Chiba is known for, the fruit, biwa. And so upon check in, we were given 4 biwa jelly. 

We decided to go for a walk, before heading to the restaurant we had found a few weeks back on the internet. 

At our hotel there was a nice path for hotel guests to take. 

You know...it's sometimes nice to take a little overnight trip for a family. It sort of refreshed every one's spirit. This was just what we needed. And not that I need to mention it. But we used one of our free hotel night stays, because of Noboru's work. He gets 4 or 5 free nights from a set of many many hotels nationwide and he gets 4 extra free nights at different hotels another way... but also from his work. So, our hotel was totally and I do mean totally free. Our car is electric...so we paid zero in gas! The hotel had a charger for electric cars, most places... do now days. Now we were ready to take a nice walk. 

You know that feeling right after you check into your hotel and your whole entire family is all excited. Yep, that was us..when I clicked this picture! : )

Getting closer to the beach!

This water seemed so super deep. Also Noboru read something somewhere, that warned that lots of sharks are near this area. And also there are octopus near here and not regular octopus. Like...electric or biting octopus? I forget what type they were... but these where definitely not an octopus you'd want to get in a rumble with! : ) 

Waiting to exhale. He exhaled...super deeply and happily! 

A smiling Noboru...

And time to head back up all those billions of stairs. Definitely got in our cardio for the day! Hahaha. And we headed to the Italian pizza place Noboru found on the internet. 
They make their pizza dough, fresh daily and when they run out...they run out. That's what it said online. So we were sort of really worried, if they would run out. Because as you know...not many restaurant choices in this part of Chiba. 

We were the only customers inside. This made us happy because we were worried about there not being enough dough. The minute you walk into the restaurant, it smells like. Little House on the Prairie or something. It smells of a wood burning stove. It smells like burning wood and I love that smell. And the whole place smelled so nice!

Sorry, I forgot to take a pic, when the pizzas first came out. We ordered 3 pizza margarita's and Noboru ordered 1 chicken teriyaki pizza. The pizza sizes were small. They sell no pasta or anything just pizza. They also sell breadsticks. I have to tell you, those breadsticks were the best breasticks ever. The sauce was pictured here, it was a curry dipping sauce. Which sounds weird maybe, but with it being Japan, it made sense. : ) That sauce was the bomb! It was so good. We did want to order another set of breadsticks but they told us they had no more dough. @_@ Hahaha. Apparently yes they do run out of dough. : ) No worries. 

There were pictures and things to see all over the walls. The place is owned by a husband and wife. The husband races dirt bikes, pictured behind Noboru and Bran, in the photos. They sold Dr. Pepper. We all had a Dr. Pepper each. 

They were warm and friendly. The man and Noboru hit it off, so much so, they chatted right through our entire dinner! Okay maybe just 98% of our dinner. hahaha! He never lived in America but he has been to Daytona Beach (Florida) a ton and ton of times. 

See the walls? Told ya there was a lot to see. 

Hi gorgeous! We all loved this place and we felt really lucky, to find a good restaurant. Good thing we had, done our research beforehand. 

Different areas, have different chains of grocery stores. In Chiba prefecture from Chiba-kun's neck all throughout his face...are the grocery chain Naritaya (Narita, get it) I have seen Naritaya, in Yachiyo parts of Chiba. I have seen them in Narita and the surrounding areas. I am used to seeing the grocery chain Naritaya because of where, I geographically live. While we were in the ankle and foot part of Chiba however, there were no Naritaya at all. And there was this chain all over Chiba-kun's ankle and foot. Odoya. We were like...what's Odoya? And we basically knew it was a grocery store chain and basically just like Naritaya is for us. Also, another thing, I want to mention. It may be weird to mention it. But my favorite thing to drink is Jasmine tea by Ito-en. Again, I know many people like this drink. And I have never had 1 dot of trouble finding it. I have found it with ease in Nagano...Gunma...Osaka and all over. However...as soon as we hit the Tateyama area or ankle and foot area of Chiba-kun. Jasmin tea by Ito-en was impossible to find. Just want to info share. If I ever go to that area again, I would bring a few bottles from my area of Chiba. Also, I do not think this area has many foreigners. Like at all. Like maybe ever. Because wherever we went, we had people taking double takes, pointing...straight up pointing at us at the conbini or grocery store. It was *super* weird! Foreigners are not unusual in Tokyo. But in rural Japan they/we are. However, everyone knows me/us in our town and so we don't raise an eyebrow which is great with me. But in this area. It was so noticeable, their shock. You'd think... Madonna just walked in the store! Like this town treated foreigners like 1970's Japan days. So we walked into this grocery store. And as soon as we walked in. Like the whole place went dead silent. We had kids peeking at us. It was so super weird. Adult customers, were gobsmacked. It was like ...we hit the Twilight Zone. We couldn't find the jasmine tea. So we said we'd check the conbini (convenience store) but we grabbed hotel snacks and went to the check out. It was an older women. Late 50's early 60's maybe. I did the talking for our family, not sure why. I was the elected talker/speaker for the family, but there ya go. I spoke to her in Japanese... the entire time. I was very polite. She was *so* shocked. She kept bowing. She laughed. Nervous laughter perhaps. She was flustered. Kids were getting nervous. Noboru was perplexed. She even carried my basket to the bagging area. @_@ It was as light as a feather and we all could carry it. I think she was just... so truly nervous. Granted she was super nice. That lady was so nice. She even told me "thank you" in English.... but yes...I felt like I was zapped in 1970's Japan. When we left everyone watched as we walked out of the grocery store. We went to a 7-11 to look for the jasmine tea and they didn't have it, but by the wild stares in 7-11, I just grabbed a bottle of water and called it done. We went back to the hotel. We all went to the ofuro/big public bath in the basement of our hotel. They had an open air bath too, a rotenburo. There were not many people in the bath, so I had the place to myself. Which was nice. I washed my body and hair, then clipped my hair up and went and soaked in the open air bath outside. 

When we came back to our room, the boys futons were made for them. And they were playing a bit of Agario before bed. Agario is a very popular game right now.

The next morning, Noboru and the boys went to soak in the rotenburo and shower up again too. I meanwhile stayed in the room and washed my face and put my makeup on and flat ironed my hair. And got ready for breakfast. We went downstairs for the breakfast buffet. 

You know how badly everyone stared the night before at that grocery store Odoya? Well, as soon as we walked in the buffet, we felt a billion eyes on us. We picked a seat. And walked around the buffet and sure enough the entire buffet full of folks stared in complete shock. Noboru never seems to get nervous or anything at all...like ever... but, he actually nervously laughed that morning. He said..."wow, yes everyone is staring at us!"...I think if you are attention starved... you would love the attention. But that's not us at all...I prefer blend in with a crowd (of course duh, this is Japan and I am a westerner) but still...I don't want any attention. I just want to be a mom...a wife. Please let me blend in. Same as the rest. And please don't stare (in America... that is considered very bad manners) please just let us be...and please just let us enjoy our meal. In privacy. The breakfast was 98% Japanese and that's to be expected, since this is Japan. So, I had a plate of different types of bread (cheese danish, croissants, butter roll etc). Very delicious freshly baked bread and a coffee and I was done. Noboru meanwhile had like 2 trips to the buffet, with about 5-6 plates of Japanese things on them. Fish, soup in a fishy broth. Teeny tiny silver/white fish, a bowl of those. He had 2 bowls of those actually. He was in Japanese husband heaven. : ) Hahaha. Branden had a plate of breads. Noah also had a plate of breads, but Noah did find a pasta dish he enjoyed. So again...a heads up. If you are an obvious Westerner...and you ever head to the foot area of Chiba...prepare yourself to be stared at *so* hard! Like laser beam eyes.... will be burning right through you! So just mentally prepare yourself for it... ahead of time. You know like other parts of Japan...again like Nagano, they look for like 1 second....oh foreigner and then they go back to their conversation and pay you no mind after that. Which is the same reaction you'd get from my part of Chiba too. Which is nice. But this particular part of Chiba. They were like super severe...hard core Care Bear starin' ...that was just so unexpected. Anyway...

After we ate, we went back to our room to pack up. And then we checked out. 

Good bye hotel. It was a wonderful night spent there. 
We were now heading towards Chiba-kun's toe! In Tateyama. 

Yep, it's official we have been to the tippy tippy toe of Chiba-kun! 

We made it!

What is at the tippy tippy toe of Chiba-kun? A light house! The Suzaki lighthouse. Prepare for the cardio though.... there are more stairs to reach said light house. : )  We were prepared though!

From the distance though...across the ocean... is Mt. Fuji. 

There it is! 

Okay family picture...everyone say cheese! 

It's a landmark. 

You know how...if you go to Hokkaido, most people will want to try that famous lavender soft serve/ice cream. Or in Ibaraki, most folks will try cantaloupe soft serve. Well, since we were in an area that was famous for the biwa fruit. We wanted to have some biwa soft serve. We looked all over, the day before and didn't find any. : ( So we stopped here, in hopes to find some biwa ice cream. It turned out to be a place in love with all things from Hawaii. Go figure! And no they didn't have biwa ice cream! : ( 

They sold a ton of biwa omiyage, but no soft serve. Oh well. We tried. : )

We all decided to have a coconut soft serve instead. 

Oh goodness were these good!

The waffle cone...the coconut flavor of the ice cream. Amazing. It might not have been biwa...but we were happy! The coconut ice cream was delicious!

Most of Chiba is countryside. It's just the part.... that usually pops in peoples minds is the Chiba City or Funabashi type area. But really...there's so much prefecture to Chiba... that is very country. So many mountains or hills. So many red bridges. 

So much open land in Chiba. 

I call this picture..."the light at the end of the tunnel!" Hahaha. : )

There is so much beauty, in Chiba. 

And after driving a few hours, we hit the bigger city. Where this outlet is. Our plan was to hit a new Kua 'Aina for lunch at the Mitsui Outlet. 

Our first time being at this outlet.We prefer the Ami one! Sorry. : ) This one was just so crowded for a weekday. I can only imagine how packed it would be on a weekend. 

I'll just tell ya'll right now. We didn't care for this Kua'Aina at all. This doesn't even compare to the wonderful-ness that is the Kua'Aina at the Ikspiari mall. For starters they had no chicken teriyaki sandwich. Really? Really! Ours at the Kua "Aina near Disney.... has it always. The Kua Aina in Hawaii has it too! I mean...Noboru was seriously like..."let's leave, they don't have your fave, we're outta here!"...I am the one who said..."no it's okay seriously...I can order something else"...I'm flexible like that. You know some people might be like... all super mad...and leave in a huff. Nah...that's just not me. Not my style or personality. I always ask myself and you know I do......"in the grand scheme of things in life...is this really enough to warrant being upset about?" That's what I will ask myself. The answer? Absolutely not! Also...another interesting thing... we are all registered online at Kua 'Aina Japan to get freebies and whatnot. I have mentioned that before. But, Noboru wanted to use those here and they wanted us to use only 1 coupon, for our entire family. Noboru was like...no there's 4 of us and we have 4 coupons and we 4 are all ordering. So he was upset...they were semi sorta upset. Only one... who wasn't upset was me and the kids. So they let Noboru use the 4 coupons. But, I whispered to Noboru..."I think they officially hate you here now" he said.."that's okay, I feel the same and I'll never come back here" @_@ Hahaha. So, they were lovely to me and brought me my chicken strips and onion rings out right away. They brought the kids out next and Noboru's out last. 

Pretty restaurant inside though and the boys enjoyed their lunch a lot! As they say in Hawaii, it was truly... Ono-licious : ) 

This place actually says Kua 'Aina Sandwich like in Hawaii. 

Also another weird thing...I usually get the guava juice. It gets poured in a regular Kua Aina cup always at the Ikspiari restaurant one. However this place...gave me.. my guava juice with those weird black beeds at the bottom of the cup. The texture is like a big fat booger, like from your nose. I tried my best but...I couldn't drink it. So lucky for me, Noboru changed drinks with me. Yep, interesting differences at the Kua 'Aina at the Mitsui outlet mall. So again...just some info share. It's very very different from the Kua Aina at Ikspiari. 
We kept driving and driving and Chiba kept getting more and more city looking. 

Very crowded and city feel. We were stopping off for dinner. It had been hours, since lunch. 

We stopped off at Jolly Pasta for supper. We had a lovely dinner there! We filled up and then we had an hours drive to our country/rural part of Japan...the other side of Chiba. It was a lovely over night trip. We saw parts of Japan, that we had never seen before. We had new experiences. Some good, some interesting. But all learning experiences. If you ever hear someone say...you know Saizeriya or Coco Ichiban curry...the chain that's ALL over Japan. You can officially and kindly say now. "No...they are actually....interestingly enough...not all over Japan." They are most certainly not passed Chiba-kun's belly button. Hahaha. Also, not all areas carry jasmine tea, who knew. I didn't. Again...we learn something new every day. And it is important to have a sense of humor about things, it's real important. And again sometimes you will be stared at... so super hard... so much, that it might burn right through you...but...again just try your very best... to not take it to heart. Try to let it roll, right off your shoulders. And above all... keep smiling. It's just an overnight trip...in the grand scheme of things in life...it's truly nothing to get, too worked up about. In a years time..you'll be laughing hysterically about this! In fact....even now we're laughing so much about certain parts of our trip! However the most important part is... the getting away for a 24 period...did us a world of good. We came back home. We were like...wow it's so good to be home! Where we know everything and everyone and they know us. And there's just that comfort of being home. Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz, said it best...There's no place like home! : ) But yep, we had a lovely 24 hour getaway. : ) Anyway, that's what our family did for the national holiday,  Taiku no Hi (Sports Day) October 12 and also the 13th. : )