Monday, April 28, 2014

Japan (Feb 2014) Day 4: Kinosaki onsen

Day 4: Kinosaki onsen. Stay at Kinosaki onsen.
On this day, we took a long 2 and half hours train ride from JR Sannomiya station in Kobe to Kinosaki onsen. Since we were using the 4 days JR Kansai Area Wide pass, so we could only take non-reserved seats. Even though it was a weekday, I was surprised to see that the non-reserved seat cabin was nearly full. We were really lucky to be able to get seats, or else we would have ended up standing for the entire train journey. Those of you who are using the JR Kansai Area Wide pass to go Kinosaki onsen, my advice is to board at Osaka station so that you will have a higher chance of getting a seat.

Before going to catch the train, we bought our breakfast (Katsu don for me) from this shop located opposite JR Sannomiya station to eat onboard the train ride. I've actually ate at this shop before on my previous trips and I liked their inexpensive Katsudon.

Having Katsudon during train ride.
Arrival at Kinosaki onsen station.
 After a long train ride onboard the Ltd Exp Hamakaze train (boarded at 0957am at Sannomiya in Kobe) we finally arrived at Kinosaki onsen at 1227pm. 
I've actually just been to Kinosaki onsen on my recent trip about 4 months ago (Oct 2013) and I've enjoyed this lovely little town so much that I decided to bring my hubby and in-laws here.  Since it was still winter, so it was crab season over here. Yey!

Exterior of Kinosaki onsen station.
Little shops selling souvenirs, seafood, cafes along this stretch of road from the station to the canal area.

And it started to snow...
Time for lunch. This is the cafe where we had our lunch. 
 The cafe were we had our lunch is located directly opposite Kinosaki onsen station. They allow smokers to smoke inside the cafe so non-smokers you probably will have to bear with it if you choose to dine here.

Our lunch!
 This is 1 of my favourite meal during this trip. Large portions of crab and prawns and rice was nice and fluffy. 

My portion. Mixed Ebi and Kani Fry set (Mixed Breaded Prawns and Crab set) at 1500yen.

At canal area. Trees are bare since it's winter.

Time for check-in. We stayed at the Kinosaki Higashiyamasou for the night. 
Our room (4 person in the room) costs about S$660 (51840yen) for 1 night, which includes crab dinner and breakfast served in our room.
Our large room.

Hubby's doing some exploration.

Bathroom in our room.

Dinner in our room.

Our dinner.

My portion.

Go back to Day 3 Hakodateyama and Kobe / Go next to Day 5 Osaka

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Japan (Feb 2014) Day 3: Hakodateyama ski area and Kobe.

Day 3 (17 Feb): Hakodateyama ski area and Kobe. Stay at Kobe

Since my mother-in-law and my sister-in-law have not seen snow before, so I chose to bring them to a ski area near Kyoto to try our luck to see if it will snow on this day.

I had 2 options, 1 was the ski area at Biwako valley, and the other was slightly further, which was the Hakodateyama ski area (not to be confused with Hakodate at Hokkaido). 
Both ski areas are located within 1hr via train from Kyoto station within Shiga region. 
However, based on the weather reports of both places, it seemed like Hakodateyama would be colder than Biwako valley on  the day of our visit, which is why I decided upon Hakodateyama over Biwako valley. 

To reach Hakodateyama ski area, take about 1hr train on JR Kosei line from Kyoto station to Omiimazu station. Then at Omiimazu station, take a 25mins bus ride to reach the gondola station of Hakodateyama ski area. 

For those of you who are keen on going Biwako valley ski area instead, take a 40mins train ride on the JR Kosei line from Kyoto station to Shiga station, then transfer to a 15mins bus ride to reach the gondola station of Biwako valley ski area.

We had to catch the 0659am train from Kyoto station, so we bought some breakfast from convenience store to eat on the train. This is my hubby's breakfast. Sushi.

Chopper lip balm, bought from convenience store the previous day at Kyoto.
 The bus departure from Omiimazu to Hakodateyama ski area is non frequent, so if you plan on going, do check on bus timings on their website when you plan your trip.

After about 1hr train ride from Kyoto to Omiimazu, and a 25mins bus ride from Omiimazu station, we finally arrived at the gondola station. As you can see from the photo, we couldn't see any snow at all in the surroundings. So we were kinda disappointed initially. 
Price list for gondola and ski passes. A return trip gondola ride costs 1800yen.

Taking the 7mins gondola ride. You can see Lake Biwa on a clear day.
After the halfway mark, we somehow find our surrounding scenery changed into beautiful sea of white. 

Arrival at Hakodateyama ski area.

While waiting for the hubby and sis changing into their rental ski gears, it started to snow!
A very happy mother-in-law, who was really excited at seeing snowfall. :)
sister-in-law trying to ski

The hubby, trying to guide his sis on how to ski. 
While the 2 of them were out skiing, the 2 of us stayed at this cafeteria while waiting for them since we chose not to ski.

After about 10am, there seemed to be more people arriving. And this was a weekday, not a weekend.

It was around noon time when we left the ski area to catch the bus back to Omiimazu station to take the train back to Kyoto station.
Once we arrived at Kyoto, we went back to our hotel to pick up our luggage bags and then bought some snacks (since we skipped lunch) to eat onboard the train ride to Kobe, where we will be staying for the night.

Since we had the 4 days JR Kansai Area Wide pass, so I wanted to let my mother-in-law and sister-in-law to experience Shinkansen ride. But since the railpass doesn't cover the Shinkansen from Kyoto to Shin-Osaka, therefore what we did was we took the Haruka Express from Kyoto to Shin-Osaka, then we transferred to the Shinkansen from Shin-Osaka to Shin-Kobe station. 
Taking Shinkansen from Shin-Osaka to Shin-Kobe.
Since our hotel for the night at Kobe locate near Sannomiya station and not Shin-Kobe station, therefore we had to take a short subway ride from Shin-Kobe station to Sannomiya station.
We happened to board a female-only carriage onboard the subway, so poor hubby had to go to the next carriage while the 3 of us stayed in the female-only carriage. :)

Our hotel for the night is the b Kobe hotel, located near Sannomiya subway station and Tokyu Hands store.
The location of the hotel is really good, with many restaurants and eateries nearby, and it's located between Tokyu Hands and a 24hr Don Quijote store.  

the b Kobe hotel
Toilet. No bathtub though, but the toilet lid has a sensor which lifts up the lid when it senses someone walking towards it.
 Since we skipped lunch, so we were all famished by the time we checked-in at the hotel. So we headed out to look for some early dinner. Eventually, we decided upon Gyoza no Osho (餃子の王将), located somewhere between our hotel and Tokyu Hands. It was inexpensive and nice.

After dinner, we went to nearby Tokyu Hands for some light shopping until their closing time before heading back to our room to rest. And then later on at night, we went to the 24hr Don Quijote store next to the hotel for some more shopping. :)

many eating outlets near the hotel