Family trip to Hakone and Thomasland

Japan Trip 2012 vol. 3 | JustOneCookbook.comWelcome back to my Japan Trip 2012 series.  If you missed my previous posts, here’s vol. 1 and vol. 2 (Kobe & Osaka).  Today we’re going to Hakone (箱根)!

Hakone (箱根) is a town of 13,000 people and is part of the Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park.  It’s located in the mountainous far west of Kanagawa Prefecture, about 60 miles (100 km) from Tokyo.  It’s a famous onsen (hot spring) resorts destination for both Japanese and international visitors because it’s relatively close to Tokyo.

If you are staying in downtown Tokyo, you can get to the Hakone area from either Tokyo or Shinjuku Station, taking the express train Romancecar and it only takes about 90 minutes.

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For us, my dad drove us there as we wanted to stop by the amusement park, Fuji-Q High Land (富士急ハイランド) before reaching to Hakone.  From the parking lot of the theme park, we could see the beautiful Mount Fuji.

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We were lucky to catch a cloudless Mt. Fuji when we first arrived because by the time we left it was already covered by clouds.  In Japan, Mt. Fuji is very well known to be the mountain “hidden” in clouds.  If you visit Japan and get to see Mt. Fuji on a clear day, consider yourself pretty lucky.

My children did not meet most of the height requirements in Fuji-Q High Land for the thrill rides.  So we again ended up in Thomas Land inside the theme park (last visit was 3.5 years ago).

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After we spent 3-4 hours in the park, it was time to go to Hakone.  We booked this ryokan (Japanese styled inn) called Hakone Kowakudashi Onsen Mizunoto (箱根小涌谷温泉 水の音) about one week before the trip based on reviews from a Japanese travel site.

Japan Trip 2012 vol 3 4(Image: Hakone Kowakudashi Onsen Mizunoto)

Internationally, hotels are mainly for travelers to sleep at night.  It’s a bit different for Japanese ryokans (Japanese inns); after we check in, we spend most of the day inside of the ryokan.  A person can enjoy different onsen (hot spring) baths throughout a day, relax at the lounge, take advantage of services such as massages and spa, and walk around the gardens in the premises.  Typically there are also souvenir shops that carry local crafts and food inside the ryokan.  My favorite part besides the onsen is the food.  Typically ryokans serve extremely delicious kaiseki dinners (a traditional multi-course Japanese dinner) and breakfast.  Meals are usually included for the accommodation fee and the cost is calculated by per person rather than by per room.

The room at this ryokan was decent, I would say.  It’s not the super fancy kind of ryokan, but it’s clean and spacious for my children to run around.  Although there are just 2 full-size beds in the room, a family of 4 can comfortably stay in this room as children can sleep on futon (traditional Japanese style beds) in Japanese tatami room.  Ryokans typically start at $150 USD a person for the standard rooms all way to $500 a person for the more exclusive ones on the weekends.

There are total of 7 onsen baths, including both outdoors and indoors, at this ryokan.  Each bath has several kinds of tubs with different shapes and materials.  Some made of natural rocks, some made of hinoki (Japanese cypress).

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This ryokan also has some rooms with a private onsen bathtub in the balcony.  That’s nice for those who are not comfortable taking baths with strangers.  This ryokan also has 3 separate private baths outside in the garden (on premise) available for the hotel guests (below is one of private baths).

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By the way, you might ask, what’s an onsenOnsen is a term for hot springs in Japanese and this term is also used to describe the bathing facilities and inns that serve hot spring baths.  As a volcanically active country, Japan has thousands of onsen throughout the country.

Onsen water is believed to have various medical effects derived from its mineral contents. A particular onsen may feature several different baths, each with water with a different mineral composition for different benefits.  The Japanese believe that a good soak in onsen heals aches and pains and promotes beautiful skin.

Many onsen ryokans have alternating male-only and female-only hours, so be sure to visit each bath before the daily switch, usually at/after midnight.  That way you can enjoy various kinds of baths during one stay.

If you are curious about how to take a Japanese bath, click here.  After you take a bath, you wear yukata (summer kimono) and relax until dinner.

Now that we are relaxed and feel refreshed, it’s time for dinner.  Dinner is usually served in your room or main dining area.  Traditionally, meals are served in your room.  Due to the slow economy, more ryokans are saving costs and prefer to serve in a main dining area since it requires less staff.  If your ryokan allows you to dine at the tatami area of your room, a designated staff comes to serve a kaiseki style meal a course at a time.  Here at this hotel, we had to go to a main dining room.

The following meals are for one person.  We started off from…

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Appetizer | Zensai (前菜)

Lotus Tofu (蓮豆腐), Grilled Bamboo Shoot (焼き筍), Grilled sawara/Japanese spanish mackerel (鰆木の芽焼), Simmered octopus (蛸柔らか煮), Simmered red snapper (鯛の子旨煮), Vinegared myoga/Japanese ginger (酢取り茗荷子), Noshi Ume (のし梅), Wakamomo (若桃)

*****

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Warm Vegetable Dish | Onsai (温菜) (top right)

White fish wrapped with Yuba (tofu skin) (白魚東寺巻き)

 Sashimi | Otsukuri (お造り)

Tuna Sashimi (鮪引き造り), Alfonsino Sashimi (目鯛平造り), Fuji-Iwana Sashimi (富士岩魚重ね造り), Handmade Konjac (手延ばし蒟蒻)

 *****

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Simmered Dish | Nimono (煮物)

Steamed spring snapper wrapped with sakura leaf (春鯛桜蒸し)

*****

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Grill | Aburi Yaki (炙り焼)

Wagyu Calbi (和牛カルビ), Hakone piedmont pork rib eye (箱根山麓豚ロース), Masu salmon (桜鱒), Turban shell (サザエ壺焼き), Assorted vegetables (旬野菜のいろいろ)

 For the main course, we were able to cook the ingredients on the grill built in our table.  You can eat right after they are cooked.

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*****

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Vinegared Dish | Tomezakana (止め肴)

Scallope (貝柱), Prawn (海老), Udo (独活(うど)), Lotus root (蓮根) in vinaigrette sauce

*****

Traditionally kaiseki meal ends with rice and miso soup.  Since the start of the meal, Kamameshi has been cooking in an individual size iron pot and was just about ready when we finished most of the food.

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Rice | Oshokuji (お食事)

Ainame & burdock root kamameshi (油目(あいなめ)と牛蒡の釜飯), Pickles (香の物)

 Soup | Tomewan (留椀・味噌汁)

Akadashi Miso Soup (赤だし)

* Remember, the Japanese has the miso soup when rice is served.

 *****

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Dessert

Black sesame mousse, fruits, and mochi (本日のデザート)

The food was more than enough.  We really have to try hard to finish everything on the table.  Typically the meals served at ryokans are really delicious, comparable to high end restaurants in the US.  The kaiseki meals use seasonal and local ingredients and the chef and the ryokan really take pride in the quality of food they provide.  The food always tastes very fresh and the colors are mesmerizing.  The chef’s job is not only to make sure the food tastes good, but looks good as well.  If you are serious about the quality of food at ryokans as your decision factor for staying, Japanese travel sites offer reviews on ryokans and the rating of their food.

After we took a rest from our full meal, we went to take a bath again.  Yep, that’s what you do when you visit an onsen ryokan.  Your body become nice and warm after the bath and you have a good night sleep!

Next morning after we woke up, you know what we did… go take a bath again!  By this time our skins are so nice and smooth… my children love taking Japanese baths.  They even requested us to remodel our American home bath tub to Japanese style deep tub.  I also hope we can change it one day!

By the time we were done with a quick morning bath, we were hungry and ready for breakfast!

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Japanese Style Breakfast

(from top left) Onsen tamago, natto (do you like it?), simmered bamboo & taro, strawberry Jelly, miso soup, salad, tamagoyaki, kamaboko (fish cake), spinach gomaae, (forgot what this was), vegetable juice, rice, tuna sashimi, grilled horse mackerel (aji), simmered fuki  (Japanese butterbur sprout) & potato, pickles.

As I was enjoying the gorgeous food and looking out the window at the beautiful scenery, it made me a bit homesick and realized that there are parts of Japan I deeply miss.  Great food of course, the joy and beauty of having seasons (I live in California…), history and culture Japan offers… I left Japan when I was 20 years old and I really wish I had traveled more to see my country.  Anyway…

After we checked out from the ryokan, we decided to go to volcanically active Ōwakudani geysers.  First we went to Gora (強羅) Station to take Hakone Tozan Cable Car to Sounzan (早雲山) Station.

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Then from Sounzan Station, we took Hakone Ropeway to Ōwakudani (大涌谷) Station.

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On the way, we could see Mount Fuji on the right hand side.  Again, most of the mountain was covered by clouds.

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These are the pipes that carry hot spring water to hotels and ryokans in the area.  We see Ōwakudani Station in front of us.

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Here we are at Ōwakudani (大涌谷 “Great Boiling Valley”).  It is a volcanic valley with active sulfur vents (left) and hot springs (right).

A lot of domestic and international tourists come here to watch volcanic activity and eat Black Egg (黒卵).  We were able to see the worker trying to put fresh eggs in the hot spring water.

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These eggs are hard-boiled in the hot springs.  The boiled eggs turn black and smell slightly sulfuric.  Consuming the eggs is said to increase longevity; eating one is said to add seven years to your life.

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Look, my daughter was pinching her nose while I was taking a picture of these eggs for my facebook page…

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Yeah, it’s pretty smelly around here because of the strong sulfur odor.  Oh by the way, onsen water at ryokans doesn’t have any smell because it’s already treated.  So don’t worry, you can take a bath without pinching your nose!

Thank you for reading this long post today.  The next Thursday will be my final Japan Trip post.  I hope you will come back to check it out!

Continue reading Vol. 4 of Japan Trip 2012.

 *****

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We had a lot of luggage for this trip and I could only bring back something small and light as souvenirs this time.  If you have been to Japan, you probably know that each region likes to come up with unique flavor snacks featuring their famous produce (sometimes not related at all).  I got these blueberry cheesecake Kit Kats at Narita Airport on my way home and I’d like to give these as giveaways.  I thought about getting wasabi flavor Kit Kats for fun instead, but my husband convinced me not to (Remember?  We both don’t like wasabi…).  I thought it’s cute that these Kit Kat Boxes are the shape of Mount Fuji.

By the way, did you know Kit Kat has over 100 flavors in Japan?  Check out this link for all the flavors invented in Japan.  Isn’t it crazy?

So here we go.  Enter to win one of two (2) boxes of Kit Kat!

  • This giveaway is WORLDWIDE!
  • The giveaway expires on May 23th 2012, Wednesday, 12:00pm PST.
  • Entries that do not meet the entry requirement will not be considered.
  • The winners will be randomly chosen using random.org and announced in the post on Monday 24st.
  • Full disclosure: This giveaway is sponsored by yours truly.

Required Entry: please leave a comment on this post.

Extra Entries:

Good luck!

 

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  1. Dear Nami,

    What a fantastic post. Japan is truly one country that I would love to visit because it is so rich in culture and history. Your children are beautiful and I love the photo of them hugging each other and your daughter pinching her nose is terribly cute, too cute!!

    I have never seen the Turban shell cooked yakiniku style and also those eggs could be similar to the Chinese century eggs perhaps. Japanese food is so healthy and delicious with so much variety too. Thanks for sharing your beautiful trip with us!

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  2. Sam Bear

    Delicious, mouth watering pictures of food always makes me happy! Thanks for sharing the pictures ^_^ Also I love those black eggs! Tastes great with porridge~

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  3. val

    I didn’t get to go to Hakone when I visited Japan. The tours booked up fast! :)
    It looked like your family had so much fun! :)

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  4. I looooove onsen,…everytime i visit my grandma, we go to hakone, ooshima or to an onsen in the kumamoto pref.(friends are living there). i like the whole ryokan-onsen-package: arriving, bathing, especially “rotemburo” :) relaxing, eating, bathing, sleeping, bathing, eating, relaxing…perfect two-day trip!

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  5. Eri

    Nimi-san,
    As usual, I enjoyed reading your post! And I miss kaiseki ryori… My mom is from Kyoto so whenever I go back and visit my grandmother, I get it eat it :) I never appreciate it when I was growing up but now that I live in the middle of nowhere, I want it!!! You know how that goes. Thanks for the post again, have a great day!
    Eri

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  6. love2dine

    fantastic.. i love every single photos you posted. your kids are beautiful.. … i love to be there too…..

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  7. Kimmi

    Wow! Thanks for taking us through that wonderful meal! A lot of great details in this post, and lovely photographs too. =) Everything looks so delicious — and I am especially craving that beautiful rice portion.

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  8. Oh I am hungry just looking at the food, abundance of food & everything look so oishii! definitely must stay at ryokan when I visit Japan. wow kit kat have more than 100 flavours? I’ve only tried dark chocolate & matcha :) so 100 more to go!

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  9. There are so many things to love about this post Nami! Firstly, I actually did visit Hakone while I was living in Japan-gorgeous place! Secondly, I love your daughter’s face holding her nose 😛 And Kit Kats in Japan are an obsession for me!

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  10. I had so much fun reading your post. It’s one of my lifelong dreams to go to Japan and I felt like I was right there with you. :) Thank you for sharing!

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  11. Enjoyign your Japan trip series Nami! Can’t believe you have taken so many pictures and are putting together such lovely posts from your holiday.
    Kit kat packs are really cute and the flavor our sounds very interesting!

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  12. WOW!!! I feel like I was there with you (but not really because I WISH I was there). The kids are too adorable. They must have been over the moon with Thomas. You totally took me away for a moment…hot baths, food, hot baths…and those eggs!!! WOW!

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  13. Only one more Japan post?? I’m getting addicted. :)

    I have probably traveled to Tokyo 15 times and I have seen Mt. Fuji ONCE and then just peeking through the clouds on our descent. What a treat to see it on a cloudless day.

    So how did the eggs taste??

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  14. Ellen M.

    Thank you for sharing your travel experiences with us – it is a pleasure to see and read about a beautiful country I will most likely never get to visit. Blueberry cheesecake definitely beats wasabi any day! Thanks!

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  15. Another wonderful post filled with delicious food pictures and breath taking scenery – you make me more and more excited for visiting the delights of Japan one day 😀

    Cheers
    Choc Chip Uru

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  16. ava-j

    Our friends, who are american missionaries in Japan, just visited us in the Philippines and their stories about Japan had us yearning to visit them one day soon. Their stories about the Onsen were very intriguing, especially to my husband who, as a judo practitioner loves soaking in hot-springs to soothe his aches! You are so lucky to have come from such a wonderful people and culture. We cannot wait to visit Japan ourselves. P.s. I’ve been pinning your posts onto my Japan board too. hugs! :)

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  17. You’re a wonderful tour guide Nami! I love all the pictures and how you include all the details. And your kids are adorable. There is so much food and the presentation is gorgeous. Thank you so much for sharing your trip and for the giveaway.

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  18. Thanks for sharing this marvelous excursion with us! Mt. Fuji is truly breathtaking…and I love how your sweet daughter dealt with the smell of the hot springs :) PS…the food looks fabulous!!!

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  19. Heather @ Cookbooks & Pattycakes

    What a lovely post Nami! We visited Hakone in late 2010 and we loved it, although we did it as a day trip from Tokyo with our Japanese friends. They took us to the Yunessan Spa as they thought our kids would enjoy it more…it was great fun, but hopefully next time they’ll be behaved enough to visit an onsen. That kaiseki meal looks amazing!
    We also ate many black eggs – the photo in my profile is at Owakudani! We had terrible weather that day and didn’t see Mt Fuji once, unfortunately. It looked like you had great weather, and your kids looked like they had such fun…thanks for a great post 😉 Heather

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  20. Thanks for this post, brings back lovely memories of the trip my family made to Hakone back in 2010. I remember that we had the best tasting milk at the little store in Owakudani :)

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  21. What a wonderful visit to that ryoken. Definitely where I want to go. And that food, Nami – works of art. Just beautiful, I couldn’t stop looking at them. Great pic of Fuji as well. My son can just see the mountain from his flat, so they are very lucky. Love seeing the kids again too! They look so angelic.

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  22. Kuan Chiu Yin

    Nami, i am so looking forward to go for a tour in Japan! I like the weather, environment and most importantly the mouth watering food! By the way, how is the taste of the black egg? Like century egg?
    Kit kat has more than 100 flavours in Japan, wow, is amazing! Thanks for your sharing =)

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  23. Lee G

    Hi Nami! I lived in Japan for 6 years. I can certainly understand your love this your country. I miss it so much myself! Thank you for sharing your trip with us. I can’t wait to see more!!!

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  24. April

    I love your blog. You have the most fantastic adventures. I never knew there was a Thomas Land in Japan. And the food you post always looks delicious!

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  25. April

    I also “like” you on FB. I’m hoping some of my friends will enjoy your adventures just as much as I do! :-)

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  26. Charlie

    OH Jordan!

    I would love to win these chocolate bars!

    I hope I qualify. I live in Canada.

    The sulphur cooked eggs, do they taste like sulphur?

    Have a Joyful Day :~D

    Charlie

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  27. Nami, I love learning more and more about Japan!! The ryokans sound amazing and luxurious! I love the picture of your daughter holding her nose over those eggs… too funny! I loved the pictures of Mount Fuji, the Japanese amusement park, and so much more… what a wondrous adventure. :)

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  28. Have I already said my sister is going to Japan 2 weeks from now? Between your descriptions and her actually going I feel like jumping on the first plane there!

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  29. Anna

    Thank you so much for this great blog – I love reading about the trip and I read it with my co-worker that is here for a year from japan!

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  30. Candice

    Hi Nami! Thank you again for sharing another great post. By the time you post out your last entry of your Japan trip, I’ll probably have to do less research when I make a trip out to visit Japan. hehe! =)

    I love all the beautiful photographs you shared. The one I loved most most was your daughter pinching her nose. It was so cute! By the way, what do those hard boiled eggs taste like? It looks like the Chinese 1000 year old egg.

    Lastly, thank you for doing this wonderful giveaway. I love Kit Kat and love trying all the different flavors offered. So far the flavors I’ve tried are HK Milk Tea, Green Tea, and Raspberry. I wish I was able to find more unique flavors here in California.

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  31. What an enjoyable trip, Nami! I love how you describe everything in detail & the photos of the sights, your family, the food are adorable. Thanks for sharing! I’m bookmarking this for the “you know what” !

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  32. We loved our trip to Mt. Fuji even though it was raining! I’m so glad you posted more pictures – we want to go back there so much. We promised to take our younger daughter (she was born there) when she graduates from high school – but that is still five years away!

    ~Susan

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  33. Kyla

    Has anyone tried the potato flavor Kit-Kat? It doesn’t really taste like potatoes, but it sure is tasty!

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  34. June g.

    My childhood doggie’s name was FUJI:) I hope to have the opportunity to visit my mother’s birthplace. It looks so beautiful!

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  35. Nami, it looks like every single day of your holidays was extraordinary! I would love so much to go to a Japanese ryokan. I have read a lot of ryokans and onsens I they are a part of my dream “hotels”. The food looks gorgeous! I would give so much for a typically Japanese breakfast every day! I leave your blog all dreamy once more…

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  36. Terri J

    Loved seeing all the flavors of Kit Kat, I had no idea! Even greater variety than I’ve seen of Pocky, lol. Can’t say I’d want to try the blue Bubblegum, but the Cheese or English Mustard actually sounds intriguing. :)

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  37. Ora

    I tried green tea Kit Kat before. It’s so good but so hard to get it in California. The cheesecake flavor looks good! Thanks for setting up this giveaway!

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  38. Nami you got a nice picture of Mt. Fuji…!!! I remember each time I wanted to take a picture to Misti volcano (in Arequipa), all the time the clouds covered it.
    It’s nice to see that your kids enjoyed so much the trip.

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  39. Nami, this was such a fantastic journey that you shared with us through your photos and narrative. I really enjoyed all three. I love the look of all that good food, it makes me hungry. Beautiful photo of Mt Fuji and how lucky you were able to get such a wonderful cloudless picture. See you on Thursday.

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  40. Holly

    I loved this post. It reminded me of my trip to Hakone about 25 years ago. My host mother’s parents lived in Hakone and we drove from Shimokitazawa near Shinjuku to their house during Golden Week holiday. We stayed at their home and took baths with onsen water from their bathtub! I was amazed that the water was piped into their home. We also visited the inn that her family owned and ate fish and other meats grilled outside near a tsuribori pond. I think we also visited the same place you did and ate the hard boiled eggs cooked in the sulfur ponds. I would love to go back again some time.

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  41. what nice post dear! Love the pictures but especially your kids pictures and your daugther like mine when was little, ha,ha, some smells doesnt like:)
    So interesting all, love Japanese food and all!

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  42. Eri

    What can I say again nami, suxh an exciting post, I love those Japanish Inns they are so exotic but elegant! Kisses!

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  43. So you have a bath, then eat a huge feast, then take another hot bath? Oh man, that’s like my dream vacation. I can imagine sleeping like a log after that. 😉

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  44. I LOVE baths, I wish I could visit an Onsen and just relax for a couple of days and try all of that amazing food. I have seen so many different flavored kit kats that I wish we could get here.

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  45. Hellene

    Yes, i have to agree with the others – it is a fantastic post. I must really visit Japan. Can i ask how much did you have to pay for the stay plus food in that inn?

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  46. Christine T

    Dear Nami

    Your kids are beautiful and your trip to Japan makes me want to visit again soon.

    I love staying in ryokens and love the food served. It’s always beautiful and truly an art. I will check out the ryoken that you stayed in and hopefully return to Hakone.

    Love reading your post and look forward to your concluding post of your Japan trip = )

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  47. Eha

    Nami, I am meant to be working and I can’t! Your post is so beautiful I just keep scrolling up and down and wishing I was there! Lot’s of lovely memories of Hakone, but your post is wonderful throughout! Altho’ Caucasian born I took to ryokans immediately and am but sorry that now meals can’t always be had on the tatami mats in your own room :( ! Also I find it strange to have actual beds in the room – am so used to tatami mats being made up! Delightful sleeps!! Beautiful dinner, even more beautiful breakfast – the eye of the beholder is SO important, isn’t it?!

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  48. スゴーくステキな旅館ですよね。私も帰る度に、温泉に入って帰ります。ここの温泉旅館是非行ってみます。お料理もすばらしイ!娘さんの、鼻をつまんでいる写真に、主人と2人で笑いました。楽しいブログポストありがとう!

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  49. Those black eggs are just fascinating! I’d eat one. :) Seven more years would be alright by me. I’m really enjoying these pictures and recaps of your trip. It’s been so fun to see a part of the world I’m so unfamiliar with.

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  50. Lovely post, Nami! What a relaxing way to spend the day: two baths and a leisurely dinner – I definitely want to stay at a Japanese ryokan when I visit. You chose the right flavor :) blueberry cheesecake kit kat sounds so much better than wasabi-flavored.

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  51. Yay!!! I got so excited when I saw Vol 3! It’s like jumping back into a really good book. I have to say that the Japanese style breakfast looks pretty strange to my American eyes but it is fascinating! All the photos are gorgeous Nami! Of course, I like JOC on Facebook.

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  52. the photos are amazing, all the food looks delicious as always but I’m impressed that you only had mochi and fruit for dessert

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  53. Junie

    Japan is one of my favorite places to visit. Thank you for a great blog post that reminds me of what I enjoyed about Japan. Plus I love Kit Kat candies too!

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  54. Aaaah, I’ve been here! I have pictures of myself in Ōwakudani – I thought it was so cool because of all the steam belching out from the hills! The ride up in the cable car was really cool too! Lovely seeing your photos Nami – I never had a chance to try a black egg… they look like a lot of fun! 😀

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  55. I went to Hakone on a trip with my family in 2009, we all fell in love with the place instantly! We were lucky in that when we went, it was snowing and then the next day became completely sunny, with snow still on the tree tops and ground! It was the first time my brother experienced the snow and he was so excited..so were we. :)
    I love onsens, it’s the best part about Japan and the whole holiday experience…your dinner there looked fantastic! We stayed at a place called Hotel Green Plaza, which felt like it was right next to Mt Fuji!

    I also bought the blueberry cheesecake KitKat from Narita Airport 😀 So nostalgic to read your posts. :) I loved the flavour, but it was so popular that I didn’t get to eat many of it…

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  56. Great post with great pics especially Mt Fuji!!Love the Japanese style baths and no wonder you wanted to take bath so many times!!Again the food pics take my breath away,have to visit Japan!!Thanks so much for sharing your wonderful trip Nami and have a great weekend :)

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  57. Junsui Midori

    Nami,

    Your blog really makes me want to plan my trip to Japan now! (I’m going next year.)
    I have long been fascinated by the unique snacks from Japan.
    I love blueberry Kit Kat, so I can only imagine that the blueberry cheese cake flavor is just as great , if not better.

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  58. It looks like you had a trip that you’ll remember all your life, Nami! What a fun and fantastic opportunity you had to travel and visit with family in your home country. Thank you for sharing so many of your happy memories through these lovely photos and stories!

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  59. Nami, your children (and husband!) are so lucky to have you document all of these special moments together. Not only are you brilliant at the food blogging but you should do travel as well. Sensational!

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  60. Nami! I can see you had a wonderful time visiting home. It made me miss visiting my family in Brazil! I love to see the delicious food you ate while you were there. The giveaway is absolutely adorable! Thanks again for sharing another incredible post!

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  61. Catalina @ Cake with Love

    I would love to visit Japan since I am such a big fan of the culture and the food! Its definetely on my bucket list!

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  62. donna mikasa

    Nami, I waited until I had a leisurely day to view this post. It’s wonderful! All your photos are gorgeous–especially the food!–and your family had a memorable trip. We still have some melon flavor Kit Kat in our fridge from….2009? LOL! Now that’s a real souvenir!

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  63. Valerie

    The photos look amazing, thanks for sharing! 😀 I can’t wait to go back to Japan in July.. last time we only tried green tea Kit Kats and wasabi Kit Kats, deifnitely keen on trying more!!

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  64. we have a couple of spa towns in Romania as well, or mineral/thermal towns, I don’t know exactly what’s the correct name.
    I remember my grandma used to go to one of them almost every year, and one time I wanted to go with her. Oh. My. goodness! I’ve never been so sick to my stomach in my entire life. The powerful smells, the steam! My parents came back and took me home after two days. I don’t blame your daughter for pinching her nose. The smell is so bad!

    Love all the photos and the posts about your trip to your home-country!!

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  65. I love reading about your travels in Japan and looking at all the wonderful photos. Each post makes me yearn more and more for a trip there!! That inn and all its food looks incredible! Love that photo of your daughter holding her nose. So cute!!!!
    I cant believe that there are over 100 kit kat flavors in Japan! Thats wild! Kit kat is one of my favorite candies so I would love getting to try 100 different flavors (maybe not wasabi!)

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  66. Gosh Nami, looks like you’ve had a great trip. The pics are awesome and your kids are just too cute! I’ll have to visit Japan one day. It’s still on the to do list so maybe in a couple of years. First trip on the list: Australia next year…

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  67. What a great post it looks like you and your family had a wonderful time, and the food is to die for just pure art. You are so lucky.

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  68. You are so lucky to see a cloudless Mt Fuji!! I hope I have a chance to visit Japan one and will surely seek your advice before planning my trip. 😉

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  69. Another wonderful post of your trip! I could go on and on and let you know what I like about it but the truth is – I enjoyed it ALL! The black eggs were definitely new to me and I am always amazed at how different a Japanese meal is from American meals – lots of delicate foods in small portions rather than one huge plate of one or two foods. Thanks for sharing your trip in such detail and with the awesome pictures!!

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  70. Kelsey

    I love looking at your pictures! I participated in a cultural exchange program for a month in Shigaraki, Japan when I was 14. It was the best time of my life. Looking through your photos and trying some recipes helps bring some of those memories to life.

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  71. Debra Kapellakis

    I can’t imagine a Kit Kat in any way but the way it is. lol This is so cool. I enjoyed your photo’s and journaling.

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  72. El Caserino

    I am really looking forward to visiting Japan specifically to experience ryokan and kaiseki. Great photos, as always, and I hope you and your family have a wonderful time!

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  73. I love reading the posts on your trip, Nami! You do such a great job capturing your time and experiences and I totally want to go to a ryokan now! From the amazing food to the beautiful baths, they sound like heaven. The black eggs are so neat (despite the smell) and I wish we could get all of those kit kat flavors here! Great post and pictures!

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  74. I thought there was only one flavor of Kit Kat! Who knew there was a blueberry cheesecake variety? Love all the photos and descriptions — the volcanic valley, the spa, the food.

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  75. once again thanks for taking me on a mini Japan tour. Mt. Fuji has never looked prettier in picture than yours. And of course thanks for sharing your big feast. I am so jealous of your guys :)

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  76. Adrienne

    Thank you for sharing these beautiful photos. Japan is next on my travel list. I am enjoying trying out all of your recipes. I am so happy I found your site.

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  77. FANTASTIC this report, I love the photos JAPÓN , greetings from Vigo SPAIN, I follow you and invite you to share my blog – uhmmmm – kisses GARLUTTI

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  78. omg…blueberry cheesecake??? please count me in!!! I just finished my sweet potato and matcha kitkats which a friend got for me and I’m already yearning for more! And I know that the next time I head to Hakone, I know whose blog post to print out and bring along ;p

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  79. Ai Fang W

    I am subscribed to Just One Cookbook by email. It’s the same email address left in the email section.

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  80. Rani

    What a beautiful clicks of Japan…nice to know about Mt.Fuji,Hot water springs,Japaneese food….thanks for sharing such a lovely family Vacation Picks…thanks to one of my wonderful friend Garluti from Sapin…she shared your link in to my web site.Happy to follow you.

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  81. Nami,
    Your trip photos make me want to grab my suitcase and go on a plane right now. I don’t think I would ever leave Japan. The ryokan sounds like a great experience and one I’d love to have. Your photos are wonderful, and all that food – oh my! I’m a big Wasabi fan so I would have grabbed a couple of those for myself, hehe:)

    Can’t wait for your next Japan post.

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  82. Hi Nami,
    You seem to have had a fantastic trip. The best part being visiting your family. Your photographs make me want to book a trip to Japan asap. Absolutely gorgeous!
    Would love to win those kit- kats . So adorable.
    I like on facebook.

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  83. Yet another amazing post to tempt me to visit Japan! Do the eggs taste like normal eggs after their dip in the hot spring?
    I’ve friends who buy back so many different flavours of kit kat when they visit Japan!! The variety is truly amazing and I would love to try the blueberry cheesecake flavour!

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  84. I love reading about your travels in Japan! I would love to visit there some day and especially to go to the hot springs! Just amazing. Those black eggs are so cool! Cute giveaway :-) And your children are just precious.

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  85. I m enjoying these virtual visits to Japan.I wish I would be able to visit one day.
    its so funny how samw words mean so different in languages. Mochirefers to a person who mends shoes in Hindi. And for you its a dessert! :)

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  86. Doris

    Reading your Japan stories makes me want to go back to Japan again! We stayed in hostels the last 2 times we went. My husband told me where the ofuros were – except that it turned out they were family ones and were occupied…my daughter asked me why I would listen to someone who didn’t speak or read any Japanese!

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  87. Oh oh oh YAY a Kitkat give away woo hoo! I love all the special flavours you guys have in Japan hehe :) You’re kiddies are sooooo cutie!!! Wow the black eggs look kinda scary hehe but I’d still like to try! I love the hotel you stayed in looks really fancy but also traditional sighhh wanna go to Japan…i wanna go to Japan…hehe 😀

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  88. Your Japan series has been fantastic, Nami. I’ve truly enjoyed everything – the pictures, the stories and all those little details one should remember when traveling there. Thank you for putting it together. :)

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  89. Yanni

    Your lovely post reminds me of my trip to Mt Fuji and Hakone! Yes I’m obsessed with the crazy Kit Kat flavours in Japan and was trying out different flavours everyday I was there :p The Tiramisu, cheesecake and green tea ones were my favourite. But these ones in the Mt Fuji shaped boxes are almost too cute to be eaten!

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  90. Rona Y

    I subscribed to Just One Cookbook by email!

    My all-time favourite Japanese kitkat flavours were Cafe Latte and Kinako. I haven’t seen either of them in eons!

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  91. Catching up on your Japan posts–nice to experience a new place through your eyes. Hopefully, I’ll get to see for myself one day. Hot springs are near and dear to my husband’s heart. Each year, he goes camping (I’ve gone with him, too) and the trip is centered around hot springs that he and his friends have discovered throughout the years. There is really nothing like it. Love that the inn has private hot springs, too. And the food–it all looks great!

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  92. Kit

    OOh, how I miss onsens. I have been meaning to go to Hakone but just haven’t had the chance. Maybe next time and the food looks so yummy. I’ll definitely have to check out the one you went to if I get a chance to visit.

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  93. I want to experience Hakone and the hot springs too aaannd the food!!

    maybe I didnt catch it or overlookes it… but what type of eggs are those? they look quite big for chicken eggs. I heard about such sulphur eggs before but in the carribian, didnt try it though. Very interessting!

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  94. Ling

    Hello Nami

    I have stayed a silent reader of your most delicious site but this post on Hakone prompted a comment – purely becoz of the detailed info you so kindly avail on ryokans!
    I had read about these ryokans before but this post further solidify my yearn to visit Hakone AND stay at a Ryokan or two(!) to experience the beautiful and yummy food they so lovingly prepare.

    Many grateful thanks for this most helpful info!
    God Bless!

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  95. This sounds like an amazing trip! All of your pictures are great and I’m fascinated by those eggs. Do they taste any different? Or smell funny? Is it the sulfur that makes them turn black?

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  96. Hi Nami – I have so enjoyed reading about your trip to Japan, especially this post. I feel so relaxed now :)
    I adore those meals at the ryokan. So beautiful. The plates and bowls are fabulous too. Love that appetizer box…
    LL

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  97. Brent Atkinson

    Thank you for sharing your trip. It has been too long time since I’ve been back to Japan, but the onsen, ryokan and subsequent dinner you’ve described brings back great memories.

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  98. HI Amy, I was missing this amazing post, how could I do that?! I was waiting for this!
    I’m so curious and I would love to plan a trip like yours very very soon… I love Japan food and my husband is very keen on Japanese lifestyle as well.
    Thank you very much for sharing your experience :)

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  99. I know you said that you go back to Japan yearly, but this certainly seems like the trip of a lifetime! Your images are breathtaking too. My kids would have had a blast at Thomas Land. And the place you stayed seems like exactly what I would picture of Japan. Hope you are having a good week!

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  100. Nami, I love the photo of your daughter pinching her nose so funny, glad you included that one. Your trip looks so interesting with so much to see and so many different types of food that would be so new to me :). Thanks for sharing your trip with us.

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  101. Jessica

    I like the spa you posted here..it was my 1st experience being naked for the spa but it was fun although a bit shy..haha

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  102. Diana

    Dear Nami-san,
    I am new to your blog and I really enjoyed the pictures and write ups regarding your trip to Japan. I too recently went to Japan. I go every year for the Japanese Ventriloquist Association Convention. This year I travel to Miyagi Prefectures to visit the sites from what is left from the Tsunami 2011. It was so sad to see northern japan destroyed. Visited many schools, temp shelters for elders and ruins to help rebuild Japan programs.
    I am half Japanese and raised in So. Calif and learned many japanese recipes through my mother. I am working on my first cookbook “Cooking for my Sisters” healthy cooking from around the world. Thank you again for an inspiring site.

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    • Hi Diana! Wow, you’re a ventriloquist? My mom has been visiting some temporary shelters every few months too for the past year. She is a quilter and she donates some quilts to them. She’s been telling me the story and it’s very sad. It’s a long long way to fully recover. It’s wonderful that your mom taught you how to cook. That’s what I need to do for my children. :) Good luck with your first cookbook! Let me know when it’s published! Thank you so much for stopping by and leave a kind message! xo

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  103. Marhamah

    Hi.

    Looking at your Japan photos, especially Hakone, reminds me of our wonderful time in Japan during Mar this year. We did a day trip to Hakone, using the Hakone Freepass, but unfortunately, Mt Fuji was nowhere to be seen….and we too bought the Kit Kat of the same flavour! Lucky were we that we also managed to view fully bloomed sakuras when we were in Narita-san park on our last day…but the sakura storm is so beautiful!! We will definitely visit Japan again…

    And I love your recipes too!!

    Best wishes,
    Marhamah
    Singapore

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    • Hi Marhamah! So happy to hear you enjoyed your trip to Hakone. Mt. Fuji is not always easy to see. I had some trips near there and I remember we didn’t see anything! We just imagined that it’s there somewhere! :) Yeah sakura storm is one of my favorite views, although we know it means sakura season is ending soon! Thank you so much for writing, and I’m happy to hear you enjoy my blog! :)

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  104. Lin Bogusky

    Dear Nami,
    Thanks for posting those beautiful pictures and your travel experience in Japan. I am an American Chinese and I was always impressed by the Japanese culture. The spirit of this Nation is profound and I appreciate people’s hard working and pursuing of quality and the life style that maximum close to the nature. Those pictures of Japanese cuisine has the perfect image of presentation, fresh ingredients, simplicity… imaging staying in a ryokan that surrounded by the bamboo forest and listening to the running streams and traditional Japanese garden would be like in the Heaven! I’ve heard that Hakone is the place famous for Onsen and it would be the dream to place my family into that picture. Mount Fuji has its breath taking scenery and volcanic valley where people boil eggs into black color that was definitely mysterious and interesting place to visit. After traveling, the Onsen would be perfect relaxing idea to remove the fatigues and reach to the peace of mind. The following healthy meal is the ultimate treat to finish the day. They look very enticing and been delicately placed in those beautiful dishes. I’ve heard that 40% of the desire of food comes from the visual presentation. I think they did great job on every single detail.
    Like you,I left my country when I was 20 years old and I’d always been busy to achieve, finally I met my husband and now I’m a full time mom has a 3 years old son. So I have to thanks my husband that I have time to improve my cooking skill. I started cooking with my mother when I was 10 years old and through traveling around the world I’m interested in learning and cooking international food. A few days ago, I was looking for a recipe for light Japanese food and through google search engine I found your blog. After reading one recipe I follow the picture in the bottom and couldn’t stop searching and looking. Your recipes are amazing! That are simple to read with clear instruction step by step associate with high quality pictures and ideas about the dish. I love the way that you take care of the details (it has the conversion of American measurement). I have tried some of dessert and seafood recipes and they all came out beautifully. Thank you for your work!

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    • Hi Lin! Thank you so much for writing, and welcome to JOC! I really enjoyed reading your feedback and so happy to hear someone understands Japanese culture so well. :) I’m glad to hear you enjoyed my recipes. Thank you!!!

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  105. Wayne

    Hi Nami.

    Wonderful blog post here.
    I’m in the midst of planning for a Japan trip myself =)
    Would like to enquire if you could delight me with some details of the ryokan posted?
    It looks like a phenomenal experience that I must go to

    Appreciate it lots.
    Thank you

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    • Hi Wayne! I’m so sorry for my late response. Thank you for reading my post. Next time when we stay in ryokan, maybe we can review about it. The experience may differ depending on the ryokan and price, etc. But it usually has nice hot springs (communal and some has private room) and serves dinner in your own room. I hope you enjoy your trip to Japan. :)

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