Kamiru

Kurashiki City

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I, absolutely, love Kurashiki!!! :)

Kurashiki is beautiful, and how I wish we stayed a night there (or two)!

Kurashiki is a historic merchant town that prospered because of their rice, salt and textile trades.  It was placed under the direct supervision of the shogunate during the Edo period (1603-1867).

Kojima, in southern Kurashiki, is the birthplace of Japanese-made jeans.  Currently, Kurashiki is the largest center for jeans production.  Their jeans are of high quality; processed with techniques refined throughout the years.

For this trip, we were going to visit the Bikan Historical district.  More on that later. :)

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Kurashiki is only a 10-15 minute train ride from Okayama.

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This is outside the Kurashiki train station.  We spent a moment on this deck to get a feel of the place.:

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There’s a big garden clock below, marking the time of our arrival, 10:05 a.m..: :)

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We saw the buses there, too.:

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I read that we could take the bus or walk to the historical district of Bikan.:

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As we were walking down to the street, we saw a Tourist Information Center!  How convenient! :)

We asked for maps and directions.

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We decided to walk.: :)

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As we were walking,

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I was charmed by the place!

It’s so clean and quaint! :)

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Here are some photos:

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We’re near Bikan district. :)

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Photos of Bikan district on my next post. :)

Written by Camille Palomera- Joven

July 26, 2014 at 2:35 pm

the streets of Okayama

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These photos were taken on our first day in Okayama, when we went out for lunch, (after checking in the hotel). :)

There’s a shopping arcade right beside our hotel!  Most of the shops were closed, though.  It’s like the shopping arcades in Namba (Osaka), and Teramachi (Kyoto), but with fewer people.

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There’s a Family Mart everywhere, but we found a big supermarket near our hotel and this is where we shopped for groceries.:

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This is across the street from our hotel, while looking for a place to eat:

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We found a place where we could  have a quick lunch, and while eating, Julian turned around and did this:

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This was the first time I saw him do that so I grabbed my camera and took his picture.

I asked him what he’s doing.  He said: “Mommy, please.  Don’t disturb me.  I’m meditating.”  Haha! Omg!  I really controlled my laughter. :)

Notice the fingers: :)

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I showed him how his fingers should be (like I see in the movies), and he tried to do that. : :)

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This went on (his meditating) during the whole trip.  He told me that he learned it from Adventure Time. :)

He doesn’t meditate anymore. :)

Anyway, the next set of photos were taken during our last day in Okayama, when we were going to Koraku-en garden.

We took a short bus trip from our hotel, then we walked to Koraku-en.  This was when I saw more of the city, and I liked it! :)

Here are some photos:

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Written by Camille Palomera- Joven

July 25, 2014 at 9:09 pm

Daiwa Roynet Okayama

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It was  a very comfortable and scenic ride from Shin-Osaka to Okayama.  It took about 56 mintues via the Sakura Shinkansen.

Inside the Sakura bullet train.:

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Outside the Okayama JR station.:

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The JR station, taken from across the street:

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It took me a while to decide on which hotel to book for this trip.  There were a lot of nice hotels available, and they’re all reasonably priced!   I searched and booked through Booking.Com.  I finally decided to stay at Daiwa Roynet Okayama hotel because of the reviews and location.  I booked a double room (with a large double bed) for Php 4,500/ night with breakfast for 2.  The hotel is located right across the JR train station.  You can either cross the street, or pass through the underground shopping area that connects the station to the hotel’s building.

Daiwa Roynet hotel is located on the 5th floor of this building:

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There’s a Bic Camera store on the first 3 floors! :)

The first floor of Bic Camera is the electronics/ appliances section.  This got hubby excited.: :)

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The second floor is the ladies section. That got me excited!: :)

When we got to the 3rd floor, Julian was ecstatic!  It was the toys section! :)

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This hall leads to the hotel’s entrance:

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The entrance:

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We were early for check-in, so we just left our stuff with the front desk, and went out for lunch.

This is the small lobby:

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We got back after lunch, and here’s our room!:

(If I remember correctly, this is a 20-22 sqm double room)

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Now we know that a large double bed is still small for the 3 of us.  What really suits us is a twin room, or a room with a king-sized bed.

I liked this hotel because it’s so clean!

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There’s ample space for luggage.:

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Breakfast was sooo good! :)

We loved the Japanese buffet breakfast!  Unfortunately, they didn’t allow us to take photos of the place, and the food.  But they allowed us to take photos of ourselves. :)

Here’s hubby and Julian.: :)

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Written by Camille Palomera- Joven

July 25, 2014 at 6:34 pm

a night in Shin-Osaka

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We usually plan our trips at least 6 months ahead.  I book our hotel rooms as soon as I have the plane tickets.  My original plan for this trip was to proceed to Kyoto upon arrival, and spend a couple of nights there.  However, a month (or 2) before our trip, as I read more about Okayama I became more interested in it, so I decided to forego Kyoto and proceed to Okayama instead.  Our flight arrives at night, and since we were taking the Shinkansen (bullet train) the next day, I figured Shin-Osaka would be the most convenient area to stay at.

We did the same thing last year when we went to Kanazawa.  We stayed at Remm Hotel then.  I wanted to stay there again, but the only rooms available were 14-sqm small double rooms.  There was no way the three of us would fit in a small double bed!   The room also costs about Php 6,500 per night (which would’ve been okay if it was a twin room). The other hotels in the area that had twin rooms charge about Php 8,000/ night. It’s important that we all have a good night’s rest because we’re travelling the next day, but I didn’t want us to spend that much when we’re leaving early the next day anyway.

The best option that I found was Hotel Consort.  It’s a kilometer away from Shin-Osaka station, which meant we still had to take a cab.

I booked 2 single rooms.  One for hubby, and one for Julian and I.  We paid Php 2,000/ room.

This is the street of Hotel Consort at night.  The hotel’s façade is across the street.:

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This is how a 10-sqm room looks like.:

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There’s no closet.:

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Hubby’s room was just next door and it looked exactly like ours.

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It’s tiny, but it’s clean.  And at least there’s a view!: :)

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There was Family Mart and 7-11 across the street.  We had breakfast in the room, and we were out by 9 a.m.

We took a cab to Shin-Osaka station and it only took abut 10 minutes.

Here’s our bullet train to Okayama, the Sakura.:

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The Sakura is the fastest train to Okayama.  The trip takes 56 minutes from Shin-Osaka. :)

 

Written by Camille Palomera- Joven

July 24, 2014 at 2:01 pm

our 15-day Japan trip

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Konnichiwa! :)

I know!  This has been long overdue.  Every time I get the urge to blog about our Japan trip,  I get overwhelmed when I start sorting through the thousands of pictures that I want to share! :)

Anyway, I have to start somewhere, so here goes…

We were in Japan from April 26- May 10, 2014.  I, originally, booked a 20-day trip when there was a 1-peso Cebu Pacific sale.  We were so happy when our airfare came out to only Php 6,000/ per person, roundtrip!  I started planning our trip and booking our hotel rooms.  I always book our hotel rooms through Booking.Com.  They don’t charge your credit card right away, and there’s free cancellation.  Anyway, one day, I thought of reading the fine print of our Japan visa, and to my horror, I found out that we can only stay in Japan for 15 days!  I also checked the Japan Immigration stamps in our passports from our previous trips and it did say that you can only stay for 15 days!

I emailed the Japanese Embassy about our predicament, and I mentioned to them that we were already issued a 3-year Visa and that we already have plane tickets.  They promptly replied to my email, and we were told that if we want to stay in Japan longer than 15 days, we should write a letter of request addressed to them, and file another Visa application  through their accredited travel agencies.  We were also told that we would have to give up  our 3-year Visa!

I discussed this with the hubby and we both agreed that we didn’t want to spend on another visa application since we were already issued a 3-year Visa!  I prayed and lifted everything to God.  Lo and behold, I chanced upon another CebuPac sale (not 1-peso, though), and booked a one-way ticket that would cut our trip to 15 days.  Our total airfare (including the wasted one-way ticket) came out to about Php 9,000/ per person, roundtrip.  Still  a great deal! :)

I love planning for a trip!  I enjoy researching about destinations; reading travel books and maps; and going through hotel reviews. :)

It helps a lot that I also have the perfect travel buddies! :)

It’s such a pleasure traveling with hubby and Julian!  They let me plan everything, and they just go with it! :)

When hubby and I decided to get a 14-day JR Pass,  I organized our itinerary according to my planned highlights of our trip, namely: Naoshima Island, and the Shibazakura Festival in Mt. Fuji.

This was our itinerary:

April 26 – overnight at Shin-Osaka (Hotel Consort)

April 27 – 30 – Okayama (Daiwa Roynet Okayama Hotel)

(28- day tour at Kurashiki City)

(29 – day tour at Naoshima Island)

(30 – day tour at Korakuen garden)

April 30 – overnight at Nagoya (Meitetsu Inn Nagoya)

May 1 – 5 – Tokyo (Hotel Asia Center Of Japan)

May 5 – 6 – Fujikawaguchiko (Kawaguchiko Station Inn)

(5 – day tour at Shibazakura Festival)

May 6 – 8 – Nagoya (Hotel 1-2-3 Nagoya)

(7 – day tour at Takayama)

May 8 – 10 – Osaka (Fraser Residence Nankai)

(9 – day tour Arashiyama)

We purchased our JR Pass from Universal Holidays in Dusit Thani Hotel.  We got it on March 26, 2014, 5 days before Japan raised their taxes, so the price of our JR Pass was still at  Y45,100 per person.   Julian’s pass is 50%-off.  I believe the rate now for a 14-day JR Pass is Y46,390.

We were issued vouchers and we’re supposed to exchange this to JR passes in JR ticket offices when we get to Japan.

This is the voucher:

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This is the actual JR Pass:

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We were traveling on Golden Week which is one of the busiest travel seasons in Japan, so we pre-booked all our train rides as soon as we got the JR Passes, to secure seats.  It’s so convenient!

With all the Shinkansen and local train rides that we took, we saved, at least, Php 7,000 per person using the JR Pass.  You can view the train schedule and rates at Hyperdia.com.  Oh, and we even booked reserved seats, which are more expensive than regular seats. :)

We enjoyed this trip so much, that I’m already planning for our next 15-day Japan trip next year!  We loved all the Shinkansen rides, so for sure, we will be getting a 14-day JR Pass again! :)

 

Written by Camille Palomera- Joven

July 19, 2014 at 9:42 am

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