Easy Japanese Recipes

Japan Trip 2012 vol. 1

Japan Trip 2012 vol. 1 | JustOneCookbook.com Last time I went back to Japan in the spring time was about 5 years ago when my son was really small.  We were really excited to go back in spring again hoping to catch sakura (cherry blossom) blooming while we visit.

After cold winters in Japan, the Japanese look forward to every sign of spring.  We have a special fascination toward sakura as they only bloom for several days in a year and we’re lucky if they even last one week.  Spring weather is very unpredictable so strong wind or rain could shorten the time of flower viewing.  It would be very meaningful for us to see sakura blooming as it’s usually hit or miss when visiting Japan in the spring.  This year it was a particularly cold winter in Japan that sakura didn’t start blooming yet even if April had arrived.  When we first arrived in Tokyo area, sakura has just started to bloom.

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After 10+ hours of flight from San Francisco to Narita (Tokyo), I was home.  I lived in Japan until I was 20, so I still consider Japan as my home.  The next morning after we arrived, we decided to go to our nearest subway station, which is about 10-minute walk from my home.

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As you see from our clothes, it was still cold, much colder than San Francisco.  By the way, I usually don’t show my kids pictures on my blog, but I really don’t have many pictures that do not include my kids… so my husband and I have decided to share some pictures of my family.  That’s my son who will be 6 next month and my daughter just turned 4 this month.

Here, we have a subway station behind us, and there are a department store and shopping mall on the left.  Usually all the office buildings and restaurants are very nearby stations as well.  Sometimes the department stores are built directly on top of the stations.

In our neighborhood, we have all kinds of restaurants including my husband’s favorite Yakitori restaurant that we always go to.  Not to mention, there is ToysRUs where my kids go crazy for Japanese toys, Starbucks to try out special drinks only available in Japan, Mister Donuts (my husband’s favorite junk food store), Baskin Robins…

Until kids were born, I’ve never realized how convenient my neighborhood was for the family life.  I used to go to downtown Yokohama or Tokyo for shopping or meeting with friends.  But after having kids, life is pretty comfortable around here.  There is no need for us to get on a train and get squashed by the crowd.  Not to mention, super crowded city (Yokohama has 3.6 million people) could be quite scary for kids who didn’t grow up in this crowded country.  My kids are not used to navigating in the crowd and it probably doesn’t enter their mind that there are millions of people around them and they could be easily lost in the crowds.

Japanese neighborhoods are typically built around the stations, not around the highways like the US.  A lot of signs you see for houses on sell or any advertisement always refers to the walking time to the nearest station.  Around stations, they are usually surrounded by shopping areas and then residential areas.  Below is Japan Railway (JR) map around Tokyo/Yokohama area.  Yes, this is just around Tokyo area…

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(click here to see details)

Back to my neighborhood, one morning after we check out cool Japanese toys in ToysRUs, we stopped by a Tonkatsu restaurant inside the shopping mall that my husband always needs to go every time we visit.  I can make pretty decent Tonkatsu, but 1,200 yen for a Tokatsu set lunch is a pretty good deal.  You can also have as much as the cabbage salad with ponzu dressing, rice, and clam miso soup refill as you want.

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Between eating and sleeping, we usually take the kids to the park so that they will recover from jet lag quickly.  In California, we always drive everywhere.  It’s actually really nice to walk around the neighborhood and take in the fresh air.

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My home is only about 40-50 minutes away from Tokyo (Shibuya Station) yet we have lots of greens around the neighborhood.  There are lots of nicely paved walkways everywhere that kids can safely walk without worrying about cars.  It was a great exercise everyday to walk, walk, walk…

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Here, instead of going to take lots of pictures of foods and sceneries of Tokyo & Yokohama for my readers, I was in the suburb finding tad poles with my kids.  LOL!

If you wonder about the pictures on my travel posts, most of the photos you see during my trip are taken by my husband.  I’m usually with the kids, so he takes pictures.  I have to mention up front because my husband and I really need to work on our ability to take indoor pictures, especially when it’s dark.  Here’s our dinner at Yakiniku (Japanese BBQ) restaurant one night.

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Obviously the photographer was way too busy eating and I see only first few pictures of 3 kinds of meat, and then it jumps to a dessert (yuzu sorbet) picture… I think you started to worry about my Japan trip pictures!  This yakiniku restaurant is another one that we always go to every time we go back home to Japan.  The meat just needs to be grilled for about 10-15 seconds on each side and then they just melts in your mouth.  Even when we buy the best rib eye from Snake River Farm in the US, there is just no comparison to high end Japanese beef.

Like I mentioned earlier, if your home is in a big city, public transportation is very convenient.  One of the great things about life in Japan is that even after a big meal you have to walk, without a choice.  It’s very expensive to own a car in Japan.  The parking can be one issue as you might need to pay for it.  When going out, hourly parking varies between $6-$10 an hour and gas is about $8-9 dollars a gallon.  A lot of times it just makes sense to walk and utilize public transportation due to the cost.

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The benefit of taking public transportation is not only just eco-friendly and healthy, but also you get to enjoy small pleasures such as seeing sakura at night under the moon.

On the day we left for Kobe to attend my best friend’s wedding, sakura trees near my neighborhood started to bloom more all the sudden.

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From Yokohama to Kobe, we took Shinkansen (Japanese bullet train).  Both of my kids had been on it many times before, but they still love this fast train.  Living in the US, we rarely take trains to go places.  Sometimes for fun we would take the train a few stations to get ice cream or snacks in a different town, but the experience is just not the same.

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My favorite part of train ride is of course eating lunch box inside the train.  Japanese stations have many bento stores providing travelers lots of choices to Japanese style bentos.  Some of the train stations carry bentos that have local ingredients.  Our picks included: temari sushi bento, Maisen’s tonkatsu sandwich, and classic Japanese bento with salmon and shrimp tempura.  All the bento are served at room temperature.

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When you are traveling on Shinkansen around Shizuoka area, you may be able to enjoy viewing Mt. Fuji from the window if the weather is permits. Depending on the season and weather, it is sometimes hard to find the mountain.  Here, we were unlucky – the clouds covered most of the top.

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Next week I’ll be sharing my short trip to Kobe and Osaka.  Thank you so much for reading!

Continue reading Vol. 2 of Japan Trip 2012.

Leave a Comment

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  • Rathai April 26, 2012, 12:19 am

    Adorable pictures. The Japanese cherry blossoms are really famous and beautiful. I remember seeing those in a famous Indian film that was shot in Japan as a child. Thanks for sharing all this with us, Nami.

  • Priyanka April 26, 2012, 12:22 am

    Namiko – I really enjoyed this post about your trip! :) Thank you for sharing.

  • amy @ uTryIt April 26, 2012, 12:43 am

    Thank you so much for sharing. You really make me crave for the food I had when I visited Japan many years ago. :) Your kids are adorable.

    You live in a nice neighborhood. I especially love all the greens and walkway available near by. BY the way, that sakura at night under the moon is gorgeous! I’ve never seen the blooming of sakura before, not in real person. Hm…maybe I should plan my vacation to Japan next Spring. :) I look forward to reading the next part of your trip.

  • Lisa H April 26, 2012, 12:51 am

    I love the Sakura in moonlight photo….Its gorgeous
    The train lines and system seems complicated… I am lost by just looking at it ;)

    So happy to read your Japan post n that you and family had a wonderful time there :)
    One day…. just hope one day I am able to experience Sakura :)

  • Malou | Skip to Malou April 26, 2012, 12:53 am

    Japan is so close to the Philippines but I’ve never been there. Well if connecting flights to Manila is considered then I’ve been there many times already haha!
    I love the pictures that you just shared. They are so adorable and the scenes are so pristine so serene.. I’m falling in love with Japan already haha.

    Thanks for taking me to Japan Nami. I hope to one day finally get out of Narita or Nagoya for that metter and explore Japan.

  • Fern @ To Food with Love April 26, 2012, 1:06 am

    Nicely taken photos and a very informative write up. Lovely photos of you and the kids…they are gorgeous! Looks like they had a good time exploring new places. I’d love to go one day…so many interesting things to see there. I’ll probably go crazy at Toysrus too, more than the kids! And what a treat to be able to enjoy the nice bentos, on the train! I think if I went to Japan, I would be very lost since I don’t know the language….LOL! I forsee that I’d probably end up eating cup noodles or fast food everyday :)

  • faithy April 26, 2012, 1:18 am

    Awesome post! I love Japan. We often make our family trip to Japan, usu. Tokyo/Osaka…that’s because the major theme parks are there..hahaha..esp. Tokyo Disneyland and it’s my son’s fave theme park! I know the subway system is mind boggling to me and so complicated! i always get confused looking at it..the good thing is we somehow still managed to travel around on our own with the subway..lol..and to Disneyland too. :) PS: I had to do a maths sum before being able to post this? Testing my maths skill or what? LOL!

  • Alessandra April 26, 2012, 2:54 am

    Thank you for this, i love Japan and I can’t wait to go back there (my husband goes often, I wish I could go to!!!) maybe for Hanami, or any season would do really!!!


  • Sam Bear April 26, 2012, 3:04 am

    The pictures of the blossoms under the moon light is so beautiful! and your kids are just so adorable! >w<

  • Ramona April 26, 2012, 3:47 am

    Nami, I loved this post a lot!! I love learning about countries I have not visited. My brother lived in Japan for 2-3 years when he was in the air force back in the late 80′s. I have a lot of porcelain figurines from there and I always said I will go there someday. Someday I will actually see this beautiful country you have so lovingly photographed for us. Amazing photos and I love your cute kids. Our kids are very similar in age… mine are about 1 year older than both of them. :)

  • kat April 26, 2012, 3:53 am

    looks like you had a wonderful time! can’t wait to hear more about your trip.

  • Belinda @zomppa April 26, 2012, 3:53 am

    How gorgeous!! I have never been to Japan before (airport does NOT count) and so want to go! The food looks amazing…simply amazing! How fun to go with your family.

  • Zee April 26, 2012, 3:54 am

    Hey Nami! Looks like you and your family had lots of fun :)
    I would love to visit Japan one day but I would probably hire a taxi to explore around because the sub way system is too mind boggling.. hehe
    Great post!

  • Sonia aka Nasi Lemak Lover April 26, 2012, 3:54 am

    Nami, after reading your post, i could’nt wait to visit Japan and one day i also like to go on purpose to see sakura only!! and I like the sakura photos at night, look awesome! and nice meeting you and your two kids, girl is pretty and boy is smart, you are lucky mom, Nami..hehehe..

  • mycookinghut April 26, 2012, 4:07 am

    How I miss Japan!! It’s a country that I love and want to go back again and again! I love the food, the people and everything!!!

  • Jenny April 26, 2012, 4:11 am

    Oh really enjoyed reading about that, Nami. How lovely to see sakura in the moonlight. The pics are great, the food looks just wonderful, too – what a treat. Can’t wait to visit myself. And thank you so much for the pics of your darling little ones! How they must enjoy the complete change of culture.

  • Mandy - The Complete Cook Book April 26, 2012, 4:13 am

    How special for you to share these family and holiday pictures with us Nami, thank you.
    :-) Mandy

  • Debs @ The Spanish Wok April 26, 2012, 4:13 am

    Love the sakura, it’s beautiiful.

    Oh how I wish I could visit Japan one day. I’d spend all my time trying restaurants and sampling the amazing food.

  • Joanne April 26, 2012, 4:20 am

    I love reading about your trip! The great photos make me feel like I’m there, eating and sightseeing and riding the train with you!

  • Ira Rodrigues April 26, 2012, 4:24 am

    Lovely photos nami, Japanese food really pretty, sometimes I have no heart putting them in my mouth hihi.
    Anyway, your kids are adorable and their mama is so かなり

  • Eri April 26, 2012, 4:44 am

    Oh, I am so jealous. I am originally from Osaka and haven’t been back for over a year… You make me miss home. Thanks for sharing your experience. I enjoy reading them.

  • Nina April 26, 2012, 5:04 am

    Nami I enjoyed reading about Japan, it was very informative. Its so wonderful to know about different countries, their food, their lifestyle etc. Its been a dream to travel in a bullet train lets see wen that happens. Japanese tempura has always impressed me, but i see there are so many more interesting things which i hvnt heard abt. Looking forward to your next post on osaka.great post:-)

  • Nina April 26, 2012, 5:06 am

    Oh forgot to mention, the pictures ob cherry blossom were great. Didnt know it lasted for just a few days. Your kids look wonderful:-)

  • Hiragana Mama April 26, 2012, 5:07 am

    Yay, I loved this post! You did a lot of the same things in Japan as us, including looking for otamajyakushi :). I’m so glad you were able to see the sakura in bloom. They were so beautiful! As soon as I get over jet lag and get caught up with life, I’m going to blog about our trip too.

  • Hiragana Mama April 26, 2012, 5:09 am

    PS Your kids are the cutest! I have a hard time sharing pictures of them on the internet too. I bet my daughter and yours could be great friends!

  • Sylvia@Peaches and Donuts April 26, 2012, 5:17 am

    Thanks for taking us on holiday with you! I really need to go to Japan now!!

  • Kimmi April 26, 2012, 5:34 am

    Thanks for giving us a privileged view of your trip! I loved reading the little bits of information that you scattered in between the photographs, which are – as always – very beautiful and precious.

    Looking forward to the next post!!

  • Shri April 26, 2012, 5:37 am

    Beautiful post Nami! Enjoy your holiday. The moonlight cherry blossom was a treat. And yes, ‘home’ always allows /forces you to walk! :-)

  • Jeannie April 26, 2012, 5:43 am

    I enjoyed reading about your trip….wish I could visit too but sadly I can’t get anyone to join me! Your kids are super cute, your daughter looks like you a lot!

  • Sandra's Easy Cooking April 26, 2012, 6:29 am

    What a great trip, Nami! I love cherry blossoms, and that is my favorite part of the Spring too. I wish we have trains here, not even many people take a bus…car driving to reach any destination was so weird to me when I came to US, but we do get use to this kind of life style!
    Thank you for sharing part of your trip, I enjoyed reading and seeing your kids again. They are beautiful as well as you!

  • ちびか〜ちゃん April 26, 2012, 6:33 am



  • Cassie April 26, 2012, 6:52 am

    Looks like you had a wonderful vacation and trip home, Nami. Thank you for sharing!

  • Laura (Tutti Dolci) April 26, 2012, 7:40 am

    Great post, Nami! I haven’t been to Japan but you’ve piqued my interest now. The cherry blossoms are just beautiful!

  • Tina (PinayInTexas) April 26, 2012, 8:09 am

    I’ve always wanted to go to Japan…the more I want to after reading your post. Hope someday I will be able to see more of Japan, and not just Narita airport. LOL

  • Susan Wenzel April 26, 2012, 8:25 am

    Mr. Donuts! I loved their curry filled and the crullers! Yakinuku! My favorite thing to eat! I put the bites in my mouth when they are still so hot! So good. I have a grill and make it here, but it IS hard to find the same quality beef. I love the cherry blossom picnics! Obento! They are everywhere! My daughter was little but loved to eat all the tiny bites of food. I miss the convenience and safety of the train, but I think I miss the food most of all! (I regret that we did not ride the Shinkansen while we were there…)

    Thank you for the wonderful memories.

  • Lori Lynn April 26, 2012, 8:43 am

    Hi Nami – such an interesting post! Nice to meet your adorable kidlets too.
    The blossoms are spectacular and I loved hearing about your neighborhood and the culture. Looking forward to part two.

  • donna mikasa April 26, 2012, 8:50 am

    Oh, I love seeing anyone’s photos of Japan! We long to go back one day soon. I’m always amazed at how CLEAN it is, and how the Japanese take pride in that. So lucky you got to see sakura–we were always too early or too late! Can’t wait to see more. Thank you for sharing!

  • wok with ray April 26, 2012, 8:54 am

    Nami, thank you very much for sharing this post about your trip to your beautiful homeland. I am not sure when, but with good blessings, I am hoping to take my family to see Japan. I can’t wait for more of your postings.

    ~ ray ~

  • Katherine Martinelli April 26, 2012, 8:58 am

    Wow, Japan is one place I would love to visit and your photos make me want to go there even more! I love the train bento boxes! What a trip. And you have such a beautiful family, Nami!

  • Kitchen Belleicious April 26, 2012, 9:13 am

    Oh Nami! The trip looks like it was so omuch fun! Beautiful and relaxing. I am glad you had a great time but I am even more glad you are back so I can see your recipes! Love ya

  • Food Jaunts April 26, 2012, 9:18 am

    For the few days I was in Japan (years ago) I loved it and wish I had had more of a chance to explore. I’m so glad you enjoyed your trip.

  • Candice April 26, 2012, 9:28 am

    Hi Nami, Thank you for sharing your trip and photos. Your kids are so adorable. =) The sakura was beautiful. I really want to go to Japan now.

  • Jen at The Three Little Piglets April 26, 2012, 9:37 am

    The bloom s are so beautiful! No wonder you look forward to seeing it so much. I never realized they bloomed for such a short time. And I kind of wish gas prices would go up enough in the US that we would spend more time developing train systems and reduce our fossil fuel usage. I’m afraid we’re so dependent on our freedom that it will take be in a fossil fuel crisis to make a big change.

  • Catalina @ Cake with Love April 26, 2012, 9:44 am

    the photos of the cherry blossom trees are so beautiful!!

  • starmonkey3 April 26, 2012, 10:10 am

    I’m just a lurker on your blog but had to write a comment after reading about your trip and looking at your pictures. You now have me longing to go back to Japan (my mother is from there). I haven’t been there since I was a little kid. I can’t wait to read more!

  • Kim Bee April 26, 2012, 11:03 am

    Nami thanks so much for sharing your photos with us. Your kids are beautiful, and you are stunning. I love a glimpse into your trip. The Sakura’s are so gorgeous. I have two Kwanzan trees in my yard. They are small and just a couple of years old but I am so hopeful.

  • Sissi April 26, 2012, 12:19 pm

    Nami, now I will dream about going to Tokyo all night… I have loved reading about your trip, looking at your wonderful photos and dreaming of going there soon…
    Thank you for sharing the family photos with us! You all look so cute and happy! I hope all your family has had wonderful time!
    You know what I kept on thinking? Japan is so close in so many points to big cities in European countries… Maybe not all, but many. Here in Switzerland I walk almost everywhere, I only take a tram when I’m really tired or in a hurry or when the weather is awful. I wonder if I wouldn’t feel more “at home” visiting Tokyo than a big American city… Yakiniku is something I have already planned to do! I must taste Japanese beef. I am looking forward to the vol 2!

  • Giulietta | Alterkitchen April 26, 2012, 12:22 pm

    I’m so glad your trip to Japan went just fine.. and I’d love to see those cherry blossom *___*

  • Choc Chip Uru April 26, 2012, 1:01 pm

    Thank you for sharing your experiences with us my friend – I am glad you enjoyed yourself so much :D
    Your photos are beautiful!

    Choc Chip Uru

  • A_Boleyn April 26, 2012, 1:14 pm

    Thank you for sharing these amazing pictures with us of your family and your home. I can hear the song “Sakura” in the back of my mind as I look at the pictures of the blossoming trees. Are you celebrating the “Cherry Blossom Festival” with any special dishes?

  • Elizabeth @Mango_Queen April 26, 2012, 1:20 pm

    Thanks for sharing your trip back to your homeland, Nami! I know how that feels. We love Japan because my husband worked there for a few years and he can get by with his Nippongo. I can only say “wakarimasen” ! But your tonkatsu photo reminded me of what my husband often asked me to cook because it reminds him of Tokyo. Your kids are adorable, Nami! Can’t wait for your next chapter! Thanks again for sharing.

  • Javelin Warrior April 26, 2012, 2:25 pm

    Nami, thanks for sharing your family trip with all of us and what a beautiful family you have! I think my favorite photos would have to be of the Shinkansen – that is just a cool train and I hope to someday ride it! And the photos of the cherry blossoms are beautiful…

  • Mi Vida en un Dulce April 26, 2012, 2:29 pm

    I have no words. I think going back to home even for just some days may be a great experience, I can imagine your feelings, looking the same places, smelling the same scent and tasting the same flavor, it should be a great experience for you, and also for your family.
    Can’t wait to read your next post.

  • Rowena @ Apron and Sneakers April 26, 2012, 4:07 pm

    What a splendid trip! The photos of the food and the places and your description make me want to jump on the next plane to Japan. It is still one of my dream places to go to. Thank you for sharing your home and your family trip. Your kids are so adorable! Volume 2 please!

  • CC April 26, 2012, 4:30 pm

    Hi Nami, Thanks for sharing some snippets of what looks like a beautiful trip back to your hometown! I absolutely love Japan, and I’m so waiting for the day where I have some time to go see the sakura!

    Can’t wait to hear about Kobe and Osaka from you!

    Btw, your kids are adorable.

  • Charles April 26, 2012, 4:48 pm

    Lovely photos Nami – your children are so cute :D Your yakiniku restaurant photos made me really miss the one they had in Paris which closed… maybe there’s another… need to have a look.

    The JR lines map brought back some memories. You know what I love about the Japanese subway…? Fare adjustment machines. If you go too far, no problem… just adjust the fare by inserting your ticket and the coins and you’re good to go. In France, if you go too far… tough. Your ticket won’t work and you can’t leave. Completely stupid!

  • elisabeth@foodandthrift April 26, 2012, 5:37 pm

    Hi Nami-thank you for your kind and encouraging words on my blog. Prince and I are doing much better now!
    I love your travel post, and beautiful photos. Your children are so adorable, and sweet!
    I really enjoyed seeing all the photos. If we had trains like the ones in Japan, I would certainly ride it to a lot of places. How awesome to have such great transportation surrounding the city!
    All the foods look so fabulous, and the scenes of nature, and the beautiful garden is breathtaking. I love the garden photo, with the amazing tree. I will pin this, and call it…Spring in Japan!…hope it’s OK with you.
    Thank you for sharing your trip to Japan, and looking forward to seeing more:DDD

  • Hyosun Ro April 26, 2012, 6:08 pm

    Glad to hear you had a wonderful trip home! I’ve always wanted to visit Japan. Hopefully one day it will happen. Your children are beautiful!

  • Asmita April 26, 2012, 6:16 pm

    Hi nami,
    What a beautiful post. I really enjoyed reading about your trip and looking at the gorgeous photographs. Your kids are too adorable!
    I really miss my home now, Mumbai. I think I need a trip back home soon.

  • Helena April 26, 2012, 6:29 pm

    Nami, thank you for sharing these photos. My son is on his way home from Japan after the 2 weeks school exchange at Katsube High School. Just can’t wait to see more of Japan from your next post and from my son’s.

  • Valerie Brunmeier April 26, 2012, 6:55 pm

    Nami, I’m so glad you are back and settled and ready to share your trip. It was so much fun and so interesting to see all the places you visited. The trees in bloom are beautiful and the food looks amazing! Can’t wait for your next post :)

  • mjskit April 26, 2012, 6:58 pm

    Nami – thank you! Really enjoy this post and learning more about your culture, your home and you. The kids are darling!!! You are one lucky girl getting to see those gorgeous blooms! Sometimes our timing does work out. Thank you for taking the time to share your experience and such beautiful pictures!

  • Shirley April 26, 2012, 8:06 pm

    Your hometown is beautiful and your kids are SO cute! Tree blossoms always put a smile on my face come spring. Wow, I think your train system puts New York’s to shame! I miss the public transportation system in New York. My family always had a car, but we used the subway a lot too. Here in Boston the public transit just isn’t as extensive. Love looking at everything you’re seeing and eating, and can’t wait for the next post!

  • Eha April 26, 2012, 9:18 pm

    At the tail end of a hectic Friday pm here I scrolled down your wonderful post and totally relaxed: Japan somehow has done that for me and I have been going there for over 50 years! Thank you for the beautiful photos of the flowering cherries coming into blossom, but more so, as an ardent foodie, those of the wonderful bento boxes: always have thought those such an elegant way to have a meal :) !

  • Alyssa April 26, 2012, 10:22 pm

    Nami, such beautiful pictures! My husband lived in Japan for four years and he enjoyed it. I’m really hoping when we leave here that we will be able to live there next. I had no idea it was so family friendly (when my husband was there, it was before we met so he mostly remembers the bars!). And your family pics are so cute! Your kids are adorable!!!

  • Baker Street April 26, 2012, 10:39 pm

    I absolutely love reading about new places – the food and culture they have to offer. What I like most is that its always a fresh and different perspective. Thanks for sharing Nami. Your kids are just adorable. xx

  • easyfoodsmith April 27, 2012, 1:04 am

    Beautiful pics! A very interesting and informative post. My bro-in-law just recently got transferred to Tokyo and I am going to forward the link to this post to him. BTW, your kids look adorable :) God Bless!

  • Sammie April 27, 2012, 1:28 am

    OMGGGG!!! Going to Japan is like a DREAM! I would definitely love to visit some day. I love the pictures your husband / you took of the trees, especially the white flowers and the sakuras! And your kids are sooooo cuuute!! They must have been so excited seeing Japan, given that they are part Japanese!

  • Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella April 27, 2012, 2:24 am

    I adore bento boxes-they’re so creative, colourful and full of tastes! Thanks for taking us along with you Nami! :D

  • Debra Kapellakis April 27, 2012, 3:19 am

    I enjoyed sharing your trip with you and your family. thank you

  • krishna bhujel April 27, 2012, 5:57 am

    I have wanted your japanese salad dressing recipes and thank your japanese salad dressing recipes ,, looking good your salad .

  • Ben April 27, 2012, 6:16 am

    What a wonderful trip! What a wonderful city! What wonderful food! I can’t wait until the next post. I really need to visit Japan. It’s on my list of countries to visit before I die.

  • Soni April 27, 2012, 6:46 am

    Oh man, I’m seriously craving for one of those bento boxes from your train ride!!(You know how much I love Japanese food :))Such lovely pics Nami and your daughter is almost my son’s age ( he turned 4 in March!).Really enjoyed learning so much about your beautiful country!Thanks for sharing, my friend :)

  • Kristy April 27, 2012, 6:53 am

    What fabulous pictures Nami! I really enjoyed this post. I’ve never been to Japan, but have seen many pictures from the big cities. This was fun to see some non-city shots from a local perspective. It looks like the kids had a wonderful time. I can’t tell you how many times we’ve jumped on a train to ride for a few stops just for fun! :) And exploring and finding tadpoles sounds like a great way to spend an afternoon. Wonderful memories!

  • Namitha April 27, 2012, 10:20 am

    Wonderful post with great pictures, Nami :) Glad that you had a great time with your family and had great food :) Have you ever hiked mt.Fuji ? Japan is always in our wish list and I hope one day we will make it

  • Claudia April 27, 2012, 10:53 am

    I love this post! All looks so beautiful – as do those gorgeous kids! What a treat for them to get a taste and knowledge of two cultures. Everything from how the neighborhoods are built to the bullet trans just fascinate. We had a Japanese intern stay with us for a few months and it was a delightful experience to get her perspective on life here and in Japan.

  • Chung-Ah | Damn Delicious April 27, 2012, 11:58 am

    Yay! I’ve been waiting for your Japan trip photos! It looks like you had such a blast. Why didn’t you take me with you? :/

  • Eva Taylor April 27, 2012, 12:11 pm

    What beautiful photos Nami, it looks like you had an amazing time. Did you know that in “1959, the Japanese ambassador to Canada, Toru-Hagiwara, presented 2000 Japanese Somei-Yoshino Sakura trees to the citizens of Toronto on behalf of the citizens of Tokyo. The trees were planted in appreciation of Toronto accepting re-located Japanese-Canadians following the Second World War. Many of these trees were planted on the hillside overlooking Grenadier Pond (immediately southwest of the Grenadier Café) and around the west shore of the pond.” from http://www.highpark.org/cherry.htm
    Because of our early warm weather in March and then chilly weather in April, the trees took a little longer to bloom (for a while it looked like the trees will burst open too soon, but they held back). I think they were a bit earlier than normal, but not nearly as early as in Washington DC. My husband and I walked down to High Park to enjoy the lovely trees a couple of times (only a 10 minute walk from our home). We adore the trees so much, we planted one right in the centre of our front yard when we landscaped last fall — this was the first spring our little tree bloomed, and boy did it! I can hardly wait to see it again next year when its canopy is a bit bigger.
    Why is it that only in North America we have crap food in shopping malls, train stations and airports? Your bento box looks great!

  • cheapethniceatz April 27, 2012, 1:41 pm

    Amazing pics and thank you for taking us on your trip.

  • Jen Laceda @ Tartine and Apron Strings April 27, 2012, 7:27 pm

    Namiko, I really enjoyed the account of your trip to Japan, vol.1 :) When I was living in the Philippines (also until I was 20), we often vacationed in Japan! And since out school holidays always coincide with sakura season, we made sure we see these beautiful cherry blossoms! They are my fave blooms! That’s why I have a collection of beautiful chiyogami papers in cherry blossoms :) ! I miss Tokyo so much! Now that I’m living in Toronto, Canada, it’s much harder and farther to go to Asia. Hopefully, I’m able to go back to Japan again one day!

  • Maureen @ Orgasmic Chef April 27, 2012, 9:13 pm

    I’m going to love this series. I’ve visited Japan many times but certainly not seen it through the eyes of a native. :)

    I took two of my grandsons to Shibuya station one day and we were going out to Disney. Nobody bothered to tell me that once you’re out of the station there are few signs in English. My youngest grandson said, “granny, we’re never going to get out of here alive.” Finally a man came up to me and asked if he could practice his English and I said, “sure if you’ll show me how to get out of the station!”

    Your kids are really cute.

    I also get caught up in the eating and forget to take photos too!

  • Inessa-GrabandgoRecipes April 27, 2012, 10:30 pm

    Namiko – I really enjoyed reading this post about your trip! what a beautiful family you have. your little ones are so Precious !!!

  • yummychunklet April 28, 2012, 4:16 am

    I like the concept of building around stations. Very smart of the Japanese!

  • Hotly Spiced April 28, 2012, 5:00 am

    Mt Fuji looks incredible Nami. And I love all your images. All those beautiful and amazing blossoms! And your children are beautiful and they look like they’re having an awesome time back in Japan. Thanks for sharing your special family moments xx

  • Suzi April 28, 2012, 5:20 am

    Oh Nami what a lovely post. Your pictures are just beautiful. Thanks so much for sharing them and your visit home. I know that you are enjoying your time there. Much happiness to you and your family.

  • rebecca April 28, 2012, 8:20 am

    wonderful pictures love your country visited a few years back Tokyo and Kyoto also took the train bet your kids love visiting

  • zenchef April 28, 2012, 8:31 am

    I can’t begin to tell you how much I love Japan. I’ve been there twice in recent years and I can’t wait to go back. I love everything about it from the food to the culture and the people. I remember taking the bullet train to Kyoto to go work at Kichisen with Yoshimi Tanigawa. Great memories. Thank you for sharing this.

  • Liz April 28, 2012, 10:22 am

    I didn’t realize it had been 5 years since you had been home! How fun for you to share memories with your children (all 3 of you are beautiful and photogenic!). I can’t wait to hear more about your travels, Nami :)

    • Nami April 28, 2012, 2:55 pm

      Last time was fall 2010. :-). But spring yeah 5 years!

  • Helene Dsouza I Masala Herb April 28, 2012, 11:58 am

    Sakura Sakura! I used to always watch anime (and I still do) so I usualy associate the the name with the card captor. hehe
    I learned about bento boxes in anime too (sailor moon), man I barely know real japan, what I know is all cartoons! lol

    There is starbucks and all in japan? American fast food stuff is reaching far nowadays….

    You said parking is expensive… the japanese goverment is promoting movement. I think thats quite cool!

    The Fuji looks majestic by the way! O.O

    Cant wait to see more Nami!

  • Jay April 28, 2012, 5:32 pm

    wow..wat a fantastic post..beauuuuuuutiful captures..love it..:)
    Tasty Appetite

  • Grubarazzi (@Grubarazzi) April 28, 2012, 6:02 pm

    That an absolutely beautiful trip. Thank you so much for capturing the moments and sharing them!

  • Jun April 28, 2012, 8:23 pm

    ..photos looks amazing! thanks for sharing..

  • FiSh April 29, 2012, 7:50 am

    japan is so beautiful now :) keep updating bout your trip there!

    Latest: Of Latest Hit: Sesame Ramen

  • Shu Han April 29, 2012, 11:00 am

    I love reading about people’s travel adventures because I get a glimpse into another culture. japan really looks liek one gorgeous place, I would love to visit it one day. cant wait to see more (:

  • Kelly @ Inspired Edibles April 29, 2012, 11:44 am

    Nami, what a fabulous post. I love getting a glimpse inside the lives and cultures of fellow bloggers – and your children are positively adorable. I hear you on the cold winters sister (!) and the anticipation of spring… loved the photos of the cherry blossoms… so beautiful.

  • Magic of Spice April 29, 2012, 1:57 pm

    What a delightful post! I have always wanted to visit Japan :)
    So glad you had such a wonderful vacation…so great for the kids as well :)

  • Carolyn Jung April 29, 2012, 3:07 pm

    The trees are beautiful at that time of year. Glad you got to go back to visit after so many years. A true treat!

  • Vicki Bensinger April 29, 2012, 3:32 pm

    Nami I’ve never been to Japan but both my husband and son have and loved it. Your photos look beautiful as are your children. How nice to be able to travel often to see your family and homeland. I’m sure it must be hard being so far away.

    Thanks for sharing your trip with us.

  • Daisy@Nevertoosweet April 29, 2012, 8:27 pm

    You re kids are so cute and adorable! I ve been following your photos on Facebook and it really makes me miss Japan :) hope I get to go again soon!

  • Manu April 29, 2012, 11:39 pm

    SIGH!!!! I still cannot help feeling sad we had to cancel our trip last year. We had planned to go in April too, to see sakura and the Takayama matsuri. But we’ll go there sooner or later! Lovely pictures!
    I can totally relate to the local transport/walking thing. It is the same in Italy… we walk almost everywhere or take the subway/bus. Here it is mostly driving and I miss being able to walk!!! <3

  • Raymund April 30, 2012, 12:32 am

    I’ve never been to Japan and I always wanted to, this might have convinced me to take our next vacation there.
    BTW I think its only Japan who serves beautiful lunchboxes like that

  • chinmayie @ love food eat April 30, 2012, 2:59 am

    Such beautiful pictures of everything! Thanks for sharing Nami :)

  • jack April 30, 2012, 5:36 am

    Hi Nami – what gorgeous photos and I love the information about life in Japan. Sounds like you had a great trip home. Thank you for sharing it, I really look forward to the next post! :)

  • Blackswan April 30, 2012, 7:34 am

    Love your family shots, Nami! Scrolling down the list of comments, I saw many of my blogger friends here too. It’s really nice to see some familiar names.

    I miss Japan. I used to travel many times a year to Japan & stayed in Kawasaki for about 6 mths many yrs ago. Haven’t been to Japan since the last nuclear incident. Thks for sharing these beautiful pix!

  • Eri April 30, 2012, 7:50 am

    Hello Nami, gosh i cant believe i almost missed this post! Thank God! I LOOOVE your pictures with your children you guys are so beautiful! Japan is amazing, I hope I can travel there sometime in the future!
    hugs my friend!

  • Biren @ Roti n Rice April 30, 2012, 7:51 am

    Lovely pictures, Nami especially the one with the sakura in the moonlight. I wonder if the yakitori place your hubby likes is the same one I like. I can’t remember the name now.

  • kitchenriffs April 30, 2012, 9:04 am

    Love all of these pictures. Thanks for sharing. I’ve never been to Japan, but would love to go. Good food, and maybe better scenery. Good post – thanks.

  • Cristina April 30, 2012, 9:12 am

    Nami: What a lovely post of your trip back home. I would be homesick as it looks like a beautiful city. You and your husband take beautiful pics and loved seeing you with your precious children. Interesting how communities are built around the public transportation system proximity, but it totally makes sense. Look forward to your next post about your visit…

  • Suzanne April 30, 2012, 9:42 am

    I loved reading about your trip and the things that are different than the US. I think if I traveled there I would need a Japanese friend because just viewing the map of the subway or train station seems overwhelming :) Glad you were able to go visit your home.

  • Reese@SeasonwithSpice April 30, 2012, 5:36 pm

    Wow..5 years was a long time, Nami! Your parents must be so thrilled to see you and the grandkids. Did they each get a long big hug? Thanks for sharing your wonderful trip. I really enjoyed each picture. How we missed Japan?! The JR map is classic. Makes me chuckle every time I see it.

  • Sandy May 1, 2012, 10:13 am

    ADORABLE PICS!!! You and kids are soooooo cute!!!

    I want to visit Japan. :sigh:


  • Kankana May 1, 2012, 2:30 pm

    Going back home is always such a bliss! Every time I visited japan it was in winter and it’s always sooo cold and windy. I would love to go there again sometime :)

  • Nic@diningwithastud May 1, 2012, 9:48 pm

    What an amazing trip! Your bebeh’s are ADORABLE :D

  • Laura @ Family Spice May 2, 2012, 6:29 am

    I feel like I am there with you! Wonderful details on life in Japan. So very different than what I’m used to in the U.S. I can’t wait to see the rest of your pictures!

  • Alana May 2, 2012, 8:00 am

    Such a gorgeous post!! Japan is such a beautiful country, thank you for the lovely insight. :)

  • Priscilla @ShesCookin May 2, 2012, 8:11 am

    Lovely post, Nami – it has brightened my day! I’m really looking forward to visiting my daughter while she is studying in Japan later this year :) The only unfortunate thing is that she won’t be there during sakura.

  • Baltic Maid May 2, 2012, 10:58 am

    That was so interesting. I absolutely love reading about different countries and cultures. Can’t wait for the second part… :-D

  • Lyndsey@TheTinySkillet May 2, 2012, 1:30 pm

    Oh I missed so much! I love seeing your travel photos and your kids are the cutest thing! How wonderful for you to take them home where you grew up. How fun that they like Japanese toys. When I lived in Hawaii, my favorite place to shop was the Japanese Department store that they had there. The Tokatsu set lunch reminds me of the Plate Lunch that we could get in Honolulu…at a good price too, I mis that! :)

    I love the night blossom photo what a great shot!

  • vianney May 2, 2012, 2:09 pm

    Thank you for sharing your trip with us, I love the sakura trees and the lovely pics of your family!

  • love2dine May 2, 2012, 11:37 pm

    what a wonderful trip… that is awesome!

  • Emi Reiner May 3, 2012, 7:31 pm

    Thanks for this post. I can really relate to your experience. I love Japan! I am like you, I was born in Japan and now I have two small kids (6 and 8). I took them to Japan when they were younger and it was hard, but would like to take them again.

  • Kath (My Funny Little Life) May 5, 2012, 4:43 am

    Thank you for sharing a little bit of your past and present life, and living in Japan! This is what I love about blogging: You get an insight into other cultures by people who actually are from there. Thank you so much! Your pictures are gorgeous, and especially the pictures of the wonderful parks made me long for going for a walk there right now. :)

  • Beth Michelle May 7, 2012, 4:09 am

    First of all your children are gorgeous! Thanks for sharing some family photos with us!! It has always been a dream of mine to travel to Japan. It is the next ‘big’ trip my husband and I want to make. It was so nice to be able to live it through your post!!

  • Jenny @ Ichigo Shortcake May 15, 2012, 10:34 pm

    Your kids are absolutely gorgeous! Your daughter looks especially like you. :D
    I bought exactly the same ekiben as you when I went last year, the round one. It was quite nice for something that’s served cold. And I’m so jealous about the tonkatsu! I miss it so much…I had the best tonkatsu this time I went, wish I can make it at home…

  • Evelyn May 25, 2012, 5:39 pm

    I enjoy so much reading your post of your trip to Japan. Thank you for sharing! You and your children are beautiful! I loved donuts from Mister Donuts in Japan. That was the first time I had ever eaten donuts that tasty during my trip to Kyoto. I just wish they could make less sweet donuts here in North America.

  • Fenny September 10, 2012, 5:03 am

    How did you take such lovely picture of the Moon? Mine came out just a tiny blop. Please share the settings if you don’t mind :)

    • Nami September 13, 2012, 10:34 am

      Hi Fenny! I actually didn’t mind sharing the settings at all and I was searching for the photo in my external folder, but I couldn’t find it. I might have deleted it after I made the collage. Since it’s the collage, I also cannot get the info from the picture. I’m so sorry! It was a little blurry so didn’t bother to keep the photo. :(

  • Louise February 1, 2013, 4:47 pm

    First time visting your website…love it!! I will go to Osaka next month and would like to try hot spring but not sure where to stay which is closer to Nanba and we don’t have to be naked when stay in the hot spring. Any recommendation??

    Looking forward to read the rest of your trip in Japan!!

    Will check out your cooking recipes too!!!

    • Nami February 3, 2013, 10:08 pm

      Hi Louise! I’m glad to hear you like my site. :) You might need a hot spring hotel/ryokan that offers “private bath” or “family bath” where you can reserve the room for you or your family. I’ve never been to hot springs in Osaka, but I’ve been to several places outside of Osaka area (but close). From Nanba you can easily take a train to go to hot springs.

      I like this website a lot, they have a lot of good info: http://www.japan-guide.com/

      Hope this helps. Have a safe trip to Japan! :)

  • MH Syin September 1, 2013, 8:53 am

    I found this website by accident and I have been hooked since. I love your trip reports to Japan. I grew up in Tokyo so I really love the photos you took on you trips. It brings back memories. I live in Florida and it’s hard to get the ingredients for japanese dishes and there are really no good japanese restaurants around here so I do miss the food. Keep up the good work. Keep those photos coming and your children are soooo cute! They are lucky to be able to go back to Japan to see their relatives and see the country.

    • Nami September 6, 2013, 1:32 pm

      So happy you found my site, and welcome! Even in the Bay Area, if you live a little bit too far from SF, it’s hard to find Japanese ingredients too. Luckily I have 2 stores near my house (like in 15 minutes). Hope you can find some food that you can make. Thank you very much for writing! :)

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