If you have kinds, this is place to go!! even if you are not traveling to Hakone from Tokyo.
ODAWARA (name of moderate sized traditional city located near Hakone and you can access easily if you are traveling from Tokyo to Hakone) is famous for its Odawara castle which was established by famous HOJO family, who had power in KANTO area (TOKYO and around city) war period and one of the most famous warrior who defeated by TOYOTOMI HIDEYOSHI who after became on throne as he officially unified Japan at last.
Wanpaku Land has really lots of fun for kinds!! It got Super huge playgrounds (many) that parents also can enjoy! 1 hour is not enough, you’ll need 2~3 hours if you are with kinds.
This year again, we went to Hakone in Kanagawa prefecture. Hakone has been one of the best and popular places in Japan, especially for its hot spring,,, since…..I do not know, so I looked up in internet. It said that In 738, one monk discovered very first hot spring in Hakone. At that time it was not yet in “war period” when everybody (bushi worrier) go on battle to get the territory for their master(Shogunate) to unify Japan, it is called “Nara period” when aristocrats and the emperor hold stronger power and new culture flourished especially the culture associated with buddhist such as temples and statues of buddha… and I think we started to use Katakana in this period too. (oops i said “we” but at that time only aristocrats men could study and read things.. I guess..)
After this, many hot springs has been discovered in Edo period (when Tokugawa Shogunate had its power) of course, then in modern era (like years ago), Hakone has been developed as resort & tourist spot.
Hakone is famous for its hot spring and beautiful view but also there are so many thing to do. One of it is definitely “owakudani”. You get to see this interesting view and Mt. Fuji. The gas (sulphur vents) is coming out from the valley and you can feel that volcanic activity is going on! Actually this is why Hakone has so many great hot springs.
One thing you got to do is eat “black boiled egg” that add “seven years” to your longevity.
I don’t know why but eggs are soooo yummy…. (later I came to know that they boil the egg in the hot spring, that is also the why the eggs turn to black.)
If you love Japanese food, especially SASHIMI and KAISENDON, you must visit this place in Kitasenju. Kitasenju is located in East Tokyo where has (almost) no tourist from overseas but it is very interesting small city that you can enjoy sightseeing and food places.
I mean look this SHOUTENGAI (shopping street). Although Kitasenju station got 2 major shopping malls called LUMINE and MARUI, the shopping streets are still vivid.
They serve delicious sea food and they are very famous for its KAISENDON (sea food bowl). OMG…..it was too too too yummy. That was the best KAISEDON I have ever had in my entire life!!! SAKANAYA is truly famous, we had to wait about 40 min or so. To kill time, we went to the city library near by. I took the photo from there with sky tree and it captured most of the city. I love this city where I grew up.
This is outsiede of SAKANAYA, you can see many people are waiting. Look at the cute NOREN (like a traditional common curtain to enter the food place) with fish picture.
At the last here is the KAISENDON, it is gorgeous and they serves only 20 sets a day, price is only 1,500yen!! You should go before 12:00 (they open at 11:30) and wait in the line !!!
Adress: 4-11-6, Senju, Adachiku, Tokyo 東京都足立区千住4-11-6
In Kitasenju, there is like a “drinking street” where many old Japanese bars are gathered. The atmosphere is really like 30 ~40 years ago and the houses are wooden houses.
Kitasenju 北千住(in Adachi ward in Tokyo) played the role like a gate to Edo (former Tokyo) from northern prefecture attached and was the one of post-towns (total 21 post-towns) on this road called NIKKO KAIDO (Line B) which connects TOKYO and NIKKO. This was established by EDO SHOGUNATE back in EDO period. Other than NIKKO KAIDO there are 4 other roads, A: Osyu Kaido (Edo to Fukushima), C:Kosyu Kaido(Edo to Nagano), D: Nakasendo(Edo to Kusatsu), E:Tokaido (Edo to Kyoto). Good example is that nowadays, the bullet trains goes to Kyoto from Edo (vice versa) called Tokaido bullet train.
So, now you know Kitasenju is old city in Tokyo, I would like to introduce one cafe in Kitasenju, it is called WAKABADOU. I like the atmosphere of this cafe. The house is old and I guess it is like from 40~50 years ago. (just my guess sorry!) They serve you just nice food, I mean fairly good food (lots of kind of tea & coffee, cakes, light meals) I mean it is worth to visit for food but more worth to visit for the “old folk house atomosphere”.
Because of my beautiful son, I go to parks……a lot!! Almost every weekend besides my everyday lunch @ Akihabara where I work.
Two major parks I always go are Ueno park and Hibiya park. Ueno park is located surely old Tokyo and only 5 stations away from my nearest station (15min) and I like the lively atmosphere of “SHITAMACHI”. “SHITAMACHI” literally means downtown but not like the one in the US though, back in Edo period (when Shogun was on throne), all the town people lived “SHITAMACHI” where as BUSHI (who serves shogunate) lived in central area where near to Edo castle. You know if this BUSHI (worrier) got their houses close to Edo castle, their status are higher. In modern days, who lives where high ranked BUSHI got thier big house near Edo castle? Now days, lots of Embassies are located!! Interesting!
So you know how Tokyo’s SHITAMACHI is differet from central area, it is more and more clouded and more and more houses (not office building) and more lively feeling.
Anyway, On the other hand, Hibiya park is located in central Tokyo, just near to Imperial Palace, that’s where Edo castle were at. So Hibiya Park got totally different atmosphere. But I love love love this park too. Mainly, my mom grew up around this area and because of that I played in this park since i was…like 0 years old to..till now.
But I love the quiet and nice atmosphere in Hibiya park. There is Japanese garden and English garden, then playground. So nice and peaceful. By Hibiya line, Hibiya station is like 6 or 7 station away from Akihabara. Also it is next to Ginza where I say it is like 5th Ave in Manhattan.
Tokyo has 23 wards. My very personal quick review!
Central:Tokyo Station, Emerial palace, Capitol, GINZA (like 5th Ave in Manhattan), SHINJUKU (office area + entertainment night out),
ROPPONGI (night out, clubing area & Tokyo tower), SHIBUYA (also night out area and shopping), HARAJUKU (Shopping, Kawaii shop area, many young people),
OMOTESANDO & AOYAMA (Luxuary shopping area, more adults here), and may be AKIHABARA (AKIHABARA also can be Eastern Tokyo)
South: Tokyo Bay area, Rainbow bridge, ODAIBA (shopping, date, sports, family)
East: Old Tokyo include ASAKUSA, UENO~YANAKA(NIPPORI), RYOGOKU (Sumo), lots of lots of local stuff and fun stuff
West: I am not familiar with west of TOKYO…Ghibli Musium?