Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Golden Week holidays

Golden Week is a Japanese term applied to a collection of four national holidays clustered together at the end of April and the beginning of May. Golden Week is one of Japan’s three busiest holiday seasons, besides New Year and Obon week. The national holidays that make up the Golden Week are April 29th (Showa Day), May 3rd (Constitution Memorial Day), May 4th (Greenery Day), and May 5th (Children’s Day). In addition, my hubby’s office was closed on May 2nd and May 6th. In combination with well placed weekend holidays (April 30th, May 1st, May 7th, and May 8th), this year we got a total of 10 days holidays during the Golden Week. During the holidays, hubby and I went to our home in Ichinomiya City of Aichi prefecture. We usually use flight for the travel as Akita and Aichi prefectures are very far apart and such long distance travel can be a bit tiring. However, this year due to the long Golden Week holidays, we traveled by train. We went from Akita City to Tokyo by Shinkansen train and stayed overnight in Tokyo area. The next day we did some sightseeing around Tokyo area and then used another Shinkansen train to go to our Ichinomiya home.

29th April
Although hubby and I went to Ichinomiya by train, we returned to Akita by flight after the holidays. So on the morning of 29th April, we left our home in Yurihonjo City at about 11 am and after about 50 minutes of car ride, we reached Akita Airport where we parked our car at a parking lot for ten days. Afterwards we took a bus and reached Akita Railway Station in Akita City. We used Akita Shinkansen Komachi train to travel from Akita to Tokyo. The train started at about 1 pm and it took us about 4 hours to reach Tokyo Railway Station. The interior of the train was very nice and the journey was comfortable and fun. Inside the train, we used a smartphone application to measure the speed of the train and were surprised to note that the maximum speed was 325 kilometers per hour on the section between Morioka and Utsunomiya railway stations of Tohoku Shinkansen. I never realized that Komachi train traveled that fast as the journey is extremely smooth. We reached Tokyo Railway Station at about 5 pm. Four hours of Akita Shinkansen Komachi train travel seemed to have passed very fast for me. Next we went to a hotel in Nihonbashi district of Chuo Ward in Tokyo where we stayed that night. We checked in at the hotel at about 6 pm, kept our baggage, and immediately went to see a professional baseball night game between the teams Yomiuri Giants and Tokyo Yakult Swallows at Meiji Jingu Stadium located in Shinjuku Ward of Tokyo. After enjoying the game, we returned to the hotel and immediately retired to bed in our hotel room as we were rather tired. I will write about the experience of watching the baseball game in the next blog post.
Hubby and I sitting inside Akita Shinkansen Komachi train on our way to Tokyo

The maximum speed of the Shinkansen train was 325 kilometers per hour

Hubby standing in front of Meiji Jingu Stadium

Professional baseball game in progress at the stadium

Hubby clicking photos of the game

30th April
On the morning of 30th April, we checked out of the hotel and did some sightseeing in and around Nihonbashi district. We walked along a walking course called Shichifukujin Meguri and saw three of the eight shrines dedicated to seven Shichifukujin deities of good fortune. We visited the shrines named Koami Jinja, Takarada Ebisu Jinja, and Suginomori Jinja. We visited only these three shrines and decided to visit the remaining five in our next trip to the place. We also visited Nihonbashi Bridge located over Nihonbashi River. The bridge is made of stone on a steel frame and has great historical significance. While walking, we also saw the Bank of Japan and appreciated the wonderful architecture of the bank building. Afterwards we visited the Currency Museum of the Bank of Japan located nearby. The museum was very interesting and we bought funny souvenirs like a washcloth and a hand towel with 10000 Yen bill printed on them. In the afternoon, we had Japanese lunch at a restaurant located inside Coredo Muromachi shopping complex. The food was wonderful and we had it while enjoying the outside views. After lunch we leisurely walked towards Tokyo Railway Station, and saw many high rise buildings all along the way. On reaching Tokyo Station we took rest for some time. Next we traveled up to Nagoya by Tokaido Shinkansen Nozomi train. We traveled by green car (first class) which offers seats that are larger and more comfortable than the ordinary seats and also offer more foot space. It was the first time for hubby to travel by green car and we thoroughly enjoyed the train travel. We savored the outside views from the train and saw cloud covered Mount Fuji and other beautiful sceneries. We reached Nagoya Railway Station at about 5 pm and took a local train that reached Ichinomiya Railway Station at about 5.30 pm. My father-in-law and his wife were waiting for us at the station and first we went to see a new drugstore that my father-in-law has opened in Ichinomiya City itself. Then we went to a nearby Sushi restaurant and had dinner. We reached our home in Ichinomiya at about 8 pm. We were very tired due to all the travel and sightseeing, and retired to bed immediately.
I am standing in front of Koami Jinja

Hubby standing in front of Takarada Ebisu Jinja

Suginomori Jinja

Hubby standing next to a statue of lion over Nihonbashi Bridge

Nihonbashi Bridge

I am standing in front of the Bank of Japan building

Hubby having Japanese lunch at a restaurant inside Coredo Muromachi shopping complex

Hubby and high rise buildings on our way to Tokyo Railway Station

Hubby waiting at a platform of Tokaido Shinkansen for going to Nagoya

We saw two Tokaido Shinkansen Nozomi trains while waiting at the platform

I am entering inside the green car of a Tokaido Shinkansen Nozomi train to go to Nagoya

Hubby sitting inside the green car of Tokaido Shinkansen Nozomi train and showing off the washcloth we bought as a souvenir at the Currency Museum. The 10000 Yen bill printed on the washcloth is so perfect.

Green car of the train offers more foot space and so the journey was very comfortable

Cloud covered Mount Fuji as viewed from the train

A new drugstore that my father-in-law opened in Ichinomiya City

Father-in-law and his wife having dinner at a Sushi restaurant

Hubby having dinner

Hubby sitting at our Ichinomiya home and showing off the hand towel with 10000 Yen bill printed on it

1st May
On 1st May, father-in-law, his wife, hubby, and a few other relatives went to play golf at Springfield Golf Club in Tajimi City of Gifu prefecture. They left home at about 6 am. I am not at all interested in golf, and so I preferred to stay at home and relaxed in the morning. In the afternoon, I cleaned our home which was rather dusty as we hardly stay there. I also cleaned and polished several brassware items. It took several hours to polish and everything looked so shiny afterwards. At about 6.30 pm, hubby returned home after playing golf. We watched some television program and had a simple home-cooked dinner.
Front yard of our home

A polished brass water pot from India

A few polished brass prayer items

2nd May
On 2nd May, we had breakfast and then cleaned a tiny garden in the backyard of our home. We had started the garden in May 2014 but we usually do not stay in our Ichinomiya home, and therefore almost all plants had dried up and many weeds had grown in the entire backyard. In addition, many little weeds and grasses were poking and spouting through the crushed stone pea gravel under the clothesline. So we weeded, pruned, and cleaned the garden as well as the entire backyard for about two hours. Afterwards we went to a nearby home-center and bought a few bags of pea gravel as well as many saplings and brought them home. Hubby put the additional pea gravel under the clothesline and planted the new saplings in our tiny backyard garden. He worked in the garden for another two hours. It seems that tending to the garden was very therapeutic and relaxing for him. It was dusk when we finished working in the backyard garden.
Hubby having breakfast at home

Hubby removing the little weeds and grasses that were poking and spouting through the crushed stone pea gravel under the clothesline

Hubby adding additional pea gravel under the clothesline

It was dusk when we finished working in the backyard garden

3rd May
On the morning of 3rd May also, we weeded and cleaned the backyard of our home. In the afternoon we just relaxed at home and enjoyed watching some television programs. Afterwards, we had dinner at a family-style Italian restaurant named Saizeriya located near our home. We were very hungry and had shrimp cocktail salad, buffalo mozzarella cheese pizza, sauteed chicken, rice, and cold drinks. The dinner was rather heavy and we were very satisfied.
Hubby appreciating the tiny backyard garden where he planted a few saplings the previous day

Shrimp cocktail salad for dinner at Saizeriya Restaurant

Buffalo mozzarella cheese pizza also for dinner

And sauteed chicken for dinner

Hubby having salad

Hubby having sauteed chicken

I am eating pizza

4th May
On 4th May, hubby and I visited a few sightseeing places in Nara City. We left our home in the morning and walked up to Kaimei Railway Station located near our home. It is a very small station, and hubby became nostalgic and remembered his school days seeing the station. We took two local trains and reached Nagoya Railway Station where we spent about an hour at the second floor terrace of the station building and enjoyed seeing various kinds of colorful flowers at the terrace. Afterwards we traveled by two more trains and reached Kintetsu Nara Railway Station in Nara City. We walked to various sightseeing spots in Nara City. We visited Nara Park where we saw many deer and fed them ‘deer cracker’. It was so much fun. We also visited two Buddhist temples named Todaiji Temple and Kofukuji Temple. It was such a wonderful experience to visit these two temples of great historical value. I will write about our visit to Nara Park, Todaiji Temple, and Kofukuji Temple in several blog posts later on. While returning home by train, we got glimpses of many temples and pagodas as we neared Kyoto Station. We had dinner of Ramen and curry rice at a restaurant named Sumire located inside Kyoto Station premises. We returned home at about 9 pm. We were very tired due to travel and sightseeing the entire day but it was really a nice outing.
Hubby standing at a platform of Kaimei Railway Station

I am standing next to various kinds of colorful flowers at the second floor terrace of Nagoya Railway Station building

Hubby clicking photos of the flowers and the surroundings

I am standing with Sento-kun mascot at a train platform to Nara in Kyoto Railway Station

Hubby feeding a deer at Nara Park

Inside Todaiji Temple premises

Inside Kofukuji Temple premises

Hubby standing inside Kofukuji Temple premises

View from our train window as we neared Kyoto Station while returning home

Hubby having dinner of Ramen at Sumire Restaurant

Hubby tasting my dinner of curry rice

Hubby very tired and waiting for a train at Kyoto Railway Station while returning home

5th May
On 5th May, we took rest and relaxed at home the entire day. In the evening, we had dinner at a Japanese restaurant named Bakuroichidai in Nagoya City. My father-in-law, his wife, my sister-in-law and her two daughters, and a few family friends attended the dinner. It was nice to meet everyone and chat over dinner. It was several course dinner and we really enjoyed the food, especially the beef. The restaurant deals and specializes in Hida beef of Gifu prefecture. They served high quality meat dishes that we charcoal-grilled ourselves. We enjoyed grilling various beef cuts like loin (Rosu), bottom flap (Kainomi), top blade (Misuji), and knuckle main muscle (Marushin), and had them by dipping in various kinds of sauces. We also grilled several kinds of vegetables and huge sausages. It was really nice to enjoy the grilled beef dishes while chatting with relatives and friends.
Hubby sitting at the front yard of our home and waiting for everyone to get ready to go to Bakuroichidai Restaurant in Nagoya City

Hubby and his two nieces inside the restaurant

Sister-in-law and I

Hubby very happy holding a family friend’s baby daughter

The baby is so cute

Several kinds of vegetables for grilling

Various beef cuts for grilling

I am holding the wooden labels of various beef cuts that we had

Younger niece holding huge sausages

Hubby and younger niece grilling meat and vegetables

Nieces having dinner

Grilling a huge sausage

Hubby and older niece having grilled sausage

6th May
On the morning of 6th May, hubby and I visited my mother-in-law’s grave located near our home, and offered our prayers. Hubby cleaned the gravestone with water, offered flowers, and lit some candles and incense sticks. Afterwards we returned home, and hubby again tended to our tiny garden in the backyard of our home. He weeded and cleaned the garden as well as the entire backyard for about two hours. He also watered the newly planted saplings. In the late afternoon, we had lunch at a nearby family-style Japanese restaurant named Washoku Sato. We noted a very interesting thing that there were no human waiters and the restaurant let us order food via tablets placed at the tables thereby eliminating the need for waiter. We had Miso Nikomi Udon which is a dish consisting of Udon noodles simmered in red Miso soup. The dish was absolutely delicious.
Hubby cleaning his late mother’s gravestone with water

Hubby scrubbing the gravestone with a brush

Hubby offering flowers at the grave

Hubby arranging the flowers at the grave

Mother-in-law’s gravestone cleaned with water and arranged with flowers

Hubby weeding the backyard of our home

Hubby watering the newly planted saplings in our tiny garden

Hubby ordering lunch via a tablet placed at the table of Washoku Sato Restaurant

Our lunch of Miso Nikomi Udon

7th May
On the morning of 7th May at about 7 am, father-in-law, his wife, and hubby again went to play golf in Tajimi City of Gifu prefecture. I stayed at home and just relaxed and watched some television programs. At about 3.30 pm, hubby returned home very tired but happy. Soon afterwards, hubby’s sister and her two daughters visited our home. In fact sister-in-law came to drop off her daughters who stayed overnight with us. We all had snacks and tea, and chatted for a while. Sister-in-law left at about 5 pm and both the nieces played with their uncle for some time. Later in the evening, we all had dinner at a Chinese restaurant located near our home. After returning home, both the nieces took bath and soaked in the bathtub for quite some time. They looked very relaxed and fell asleep by 9.30 pm.

8th May
The next morning on 8th May, I made breakfast and fed the girls. Later hubby and I took the girls to a nearby bookstore where they bought a few storybooks. At about 11 am we returned home and soon afterwards my father-in-law drove the nieces to their home. Hubby and I were to return to Akita that day itself, so we packed quickly and left our home at about 12 noon. We took a train to Centrair Airport, and then a flight to Akita. We reached Akita Airport at 4 pm and our home in Yurihonjo City at about 5 pm. We had fun-filled Golden Week holidays visiting a few sightseeing spots and meeting relatives.
Younger niece still very sleepy in the morning

Both nieces having breakfast at two different places in the room

Girls going shopping with their uncle

Both girls selecting storybooks at the bookstore

Younger niece reading a storybook at the bookstore

Hubby and I waiting at Centrair Airport to board a flight to Akita