Things To Do In Kanagawa Prefecture, Japan

 

I always love to entertain the idea that maybe once in past life I was Japanese, not because I’m obsessed with Anime or cosplay, but maybe because of my interest in the country. It has a natural sense of belongingness and it’s addicting. If I will be given a chance to live in a country outside the Philippines, without a doubt, I will choose Japan.

Japanese are always portrayed in war history as people with soul of honor, dignity, and discipline. Today, the country is known for its determination and active participation in ensuring peace not only in its neighboring Asian countries but also in the world.

The country is divided in 47 prefectures. One of which is Kanagawa, located in the southern Kanto region. It lies between Tokyo and Mt. Fuji in the geographical map. It was spring when I first visited the place. Wild flowers were in bloom, colorful coy fishes swam freely in the streams, and in the afternoon, the mist wrapped itself around the city in an inviting mood for a shot of sake and rich bowl of Ramen.

Here are the 7 things you should consider doing when visiting Kanagawa Prefecture.

1. Night strolling in Yokohama

Yokohama, the capital of Kanagawa, takes pride in being one of Japan’s tourist meccas. The pIMG_8248lace has a very distinctive harbor vibe and captivating bright lights at night. It has a 360 view of lighting up from historic western inspired architectures to the world’s biggest clock, The Cosmo Clock 21. Here are some of the places you should not miss seeing when doing a night stroll in Yokohama:

• The Cosmo Clock 21, a 369-feet tall Ferris wheel located in Minato Mirai 21. It was built in 1999. It has 60 cabins and each can hold up to 8 passengers in a 15-minute ride.

• The Yokohama Red Brick Warehouse – Back in 1920, the building was used for Custom Inspection for Yokohama shipping. This piece of history is situated right on the bay and is a famous spot for family and dating lovers.
FullSizeRender (2)• The Intercontinental Yokohama Grand, also located in Minato Mirai. The elegant architecture was built in 1991 and has a shape like that of Dubai’s Burj Al Arab.

• The Nippon Marru, also located in Minato Mirai. It’s a ship docked in front of the Sakuragicho Station. It’s a training ship that eventually became a museum in 1984.

• The Yokohama Marine Tower, located near the Motomachi-Chukagai Station. This observatory hall was built in 1961 and is also known as the tallest lighthouse in Japan and 3rd in the world next to The Jeddah Light in Jeddah and The Perry Memorial in Ohio.

The Nippon Maru2. Food Trip in Yokohama’s China town

There’s a saying “Chinatown here, there, and everywhere”. And yes, Yokohama has its own. Just a couple of minutes away from the Yokohama landmark tower is East Asia’s biggest Chinatown, let alone Japan, the Yokohama Chinatown.

Snapseed (8)The place offers a variety of Chinese cuisine from Beijing to Sichuan. It has four different gates which represent each direction the black gate (North) for posterity, the red gate (South) for happiness, the blue gate (East) for prosperity, and the white gate (West) for peace.Snapseed (7)

Snapseed (6)
3. Enjoy a cup of tea in the Bamboo world of Hokokuji

If you’re looking for a more relaxing break from the bustling city vibe take a 15-minute bus ride to the Hokokuji Bamboo forest and enjoy a cup of green tea while listening to the hymn created by the bamboo groove. The place has a distinct calmness and solemnity.

Snapseed (2)Snapseed (5)The admission fee is 200 yen and 500 yen with matcha and sweets. You can get there from the JR Kamakura station to Jomyoji bus stop. The place is a 3-5 minute walk from the bus stop.

4. Do not miss the Hakone loop.

Hakone is a mountainous town in southwestern part of Kanagawa. This place is a mecca for onsen lovers (“Onsen” is the Japanese term for hot springs) and it has a perfect view of the highest mountain peak in Japan, the Mt. Fuji.

Hakone Day Tour is an itinerary you should never forget when visiting Japan. It’s one of the best tours I’ve had while traveling the world.

This easy tour pass which will take you to a loop consist of a bus, a cable car, a ropeway, a boat, and a train ride all in one pass. It can be bought at train stations for 5,000 yen (2-day pass) and 5,500 yen (3-day pass). I bought my pass in Odawara Station.Valley Of Hell

ShipIMG_6754

5. Marvel at the panoramic view from The Hakone Ropeway

The Hakone Ropeway has four stations and it will take about less than 10 minutes to transfer from one station to another. Each cable platform has a capacity of 18 pax with an interval of about a minute.Misty Mountain

I went there in spring and it was hazy so I wasn’t lucky enough to see Mt. Fuji from the ropeway which is only visible during clear days. What I remember from the tour though was when the mist wrapped the mountains with a blanket-like fog as if it was a Mother sharing her last precious moments of the day with her kids before bedtime. It was nostalgic.

Hakone river

6. Feasting on black eggs of Owakudani

Yes, Japan has black eggs and legend has it that the local delicacy will add another 7 years to your life. It’s an ordinary chicken egg boiled in the hot sulfur springs of “Jigokudani” also known as “The Valley of Hell”. The egg’s shell will turn black as they cook it in geothermal springs with high sulfur content.Black eggs 2

Five eggs will cost you 500 yen. That’s not bad for seven more years in your life span. LOL

7. Walk the old streets wearing Kimono

Go back in time and walk through the beautiful landscapes of Japan wearing a Kimono. It is a traditional Japanese garment which came from the words “ki” (wear) and “mono” thing or simply a “thing to wear”.IMG_6853

IMG_6818Kimono rentals are available in Japan. The hotel where I stayed at in Hakone had me choose my preferred Kimono style upon entering the lobby. It was a complete Kimono set with Geta, a Japanese footwear, and it was comfy.FullSizeRender (1)

Advertisements

Things To Do In Seoul, South Korea

DCIM101GOPROGOPR0759.

I was denied when I first applied for a Korean visa in 2014. Actually it was my first and only denied visa so I was kind of skeptical when I applied for a Korean visa this year. Luckily, the visa gods were on my favor so I finally had a chance to say ‘’I.SEOUL.U” to Seoul. It’s a tagline which suggests that the city can be friendly like a soul mate.
Seoul is the heart and the largest metro in South Korea. The country became famous because of its influence in fashion particularly their standout street style, the infamous kimchi, addictive Korean Rom-coms, and of course their Kpop sensations. The city is also a home to some of the best tourist attractions in the world and with so much to see you can be overwhelmed by its beauty. Here are some of the best things to do to satisfy your Seoul-searching experience.

palace FRONT.jpg
1. Stroll around the royal Gyeongbokgung Palace

This famous royal palace was built somewhere in the 13th century. Do not confuse yourself with Gyeongbok and Gyeongbokgung palace because it’s the same. They said that the palace was burnt down during the invasion of the Japanese in 15th century and the restoration started in 1989. The government allotted 40-years to rebuild the palace so that means the restoration plan for this majestic architecture is still on going. This reminds me of Cambodia’s Angkor Wat which restoration started in 1986 and still in progress. Temples like these are not easy to rebuild as it takes time to perfect every single detail of it in an aim to showcase their original beauty.FullSizeRender (5).jpg

hALL WAYYou can get to there by taking subway line 3 to Gyeongbukgung Station then exit from 5. The entrance is 3000 won for adults but I suggest your purchase a combination ticket for 10000 won. It consists of passes to 5 different palaces and it’s valid for three months. For more information visit their website.

2. Travel back in time in Bukchon Hanok Village

A well-preserved neighborhood which located a few walks away from Gyeongbokgung Palace. “Hanok” is a term they use to describe this piece of this Korean architecture. The details are similar to that of Japan’s intricate tiled roofs with broad eaves. You will often see their roofed wooden gates with signs asking tourists to be silent while appreciating the village preserved by Seoulites. It’s a residential area so while the tour is free, everybody should observe a silent trip and respect the villager’s privacy.

bukchon 3.jpg

3. Watch the sunset from The N Seoul Tower

We arrived in Seoul in the afternoon from a long train ride from Incheon. Our first stop was the N Seoul Tower. The tower has a stunning panoramic view of the cityscape so we thought why not spend a couple of hours and wait for the sunset. I’ve read a bit of a history about the Korean cold war so that moment really revealed how far Seoul had become after the division from the north, it was peaceful and a breath of a fresh air after an exhausting day.North Seoul.jpg

The place is open from 10am to 11pm from Sunday to Friday and operates until midnight during Saturdays. The best way to get there is through a cable car. It was summer when we went there and I bet the view from the cable car would be awesome during fall. Cable car tickets are being sold for 8500 won for a roundtrip ticket and 6000 one way.

Night.jpg

4. Seal your promise of love in the highest point of Seoul

They said that love locks symbolize undying affection and they have it in Seoul. You can find these colorful locks attached on the fence in the N Seoul Tower, the highest point in the city. If you will take a close look at the locks you will see dedications of love mostly written in Korean. The place is spacious, cool, and colorful trees sets the romantic atmosphere of the place especially when its spring and fall.

DCIM101GOPROGOPR0682.

5. A serenity walk by the Cheonggyecheon Canal

The 3.6 mile long stream corridor became a representation of Seoulites commitment to a better metro. The beautiful canal emerged from a polluted and covered water-way when it was restored in 2007. Some of the bridges are illuminated which creates beautiful ripples of twinkling reflections in the water making it a perfect place to stroll after a long stressful day. The canal is a popular urban respite for serenity-seekers and fitness enthusiast alike.

Snapseed.jpg

6. Experience Seoul Eats

IMG_1360.JPGThey said that the best way to fully immerse yourself in a new culture is to experience the local food. And South Korea has a wonderful blend of traditional flavors from soups to side dishes to snacks and desserts. I went to a hole in the wall on our first day near the N Seoul tower and the food was amazing. I ordered this pork cutlet or “Donkkaseu” in Korean served with a rich sauce, kimchi and cabbage salad and paired it off with a local beer. It was a little bit sweet, hearty, and simply memorable. I also bought a rice cake from a street vendor. They call it “Songpyeon”, a Korean rice cake traditionally eating autumn.

IMG_1433
In this picture is a rice cake vendor. He smiled at me and said “Picture, Picture!”. It’s a photo that says a lot about taking pride in a humble job.

 

7. Visit the tiny half-moon Nami Island (Namisum) in ChincheonSnapseed.jpg

Do you still remember beautiful tree-lined roads on some of the scenes in the famous Korean TV series Winter Sonata? It was taken in Nami Island. The place is not far from Seoul so it’s a special retreat for families and tourist. It’s a lush tiny half-moon shaped park with picturesque landscapes and stunning colorful trees (during spring and autumn) surrounded by a river. The place also has a lot of restaurants and activities from biking to water sports.

IMG_2551.JPG

IMG_2548How to get to Nami Island? Go to the metro station of Gapyeong and take a bus to Gapyeong Naru. Then take a 30-minute ferry to Nami Island from there. The ferry is open from 7:30 am to 09:40pm with a 30-minute interval in between trips. The general admission rate is 10000 won.

IMG_1527.JPG