Author Archives: Angela Vaillant

Yamachan – Wings in Hachioji

I have visited Yamachan restaurant in Hachioji three times now.  We trained from Fussa, Higashi Fussa, and Akishima and all routes took about 35 minutes to get to Hachioji station once on the train.  The restaurant is then a short walk from Hachioji station.  I am picky about my chicken so I had low expectations on my first visit.  I ordered the edamame and another appetizer and decided I would try just one of the wings.  That quickly turned into ordering more for the table.  The wings are a little spicy with a hint of sweetness and you cannot eat just one.  With each visit I ate a little more and everyone who came agreed they were the best they’ve had in Japan.  The wings are sold in servings of 5 for Y450.  We easily finished 5 servings (25 wings) split between two people.  The menu is large so you can find something for everyone, including kids.  We took our 5 and 9 year old on our last visit and they enjoyed wings, french fries, fried rice, and chicken nuggets.  We have never made a reservation but we did wait over an hour on a Friday night without one.  Reservations on-line must be made at least one week out.  On a weeknight we were able to walk in around 6:00pm.  The only negative is it is a smoking establishment.  The later you stay, the smokier it gets so try to go early if you want to take the kids. There is also a large multi-level Don Q with a Daiso on top nearby if you want to do a little shopping while you are in the area.  – Angela Vaillant, October 2018

Website: http://www.yamachan.co.jp/shop/tokyo/hatiouji.php

Menu: http://www.yamachan.co.jp/menu/grand.php

Phone: 042-655-2511

Hours: Daily 5:00pm-12:15am on-line reservations available if more than one week out

Yamachan is located on the 2nd floor. Stairs located just to the right of the gyoza restaurant.

Seating area – tables

Seating area – large booths (seat up to 6) – be prepared to take your shoes off before sitting

The wings! 2 servings = 10 wings

Uobei Genki Sushi

If you are looking for conveyor belt sushi close to base, Uobei Genki Sushi is a great family friendly spot to check out.  About a 10 minute drive out the East Gate, it is located right next to Joyful Honda.  Upon entry there is a computer stand where you enter the amount in your party (English option available) and receive a number to wait for your table.  We went at 6:00pm on a weeknight and had no wait.  Our number showed up on the television and directed us to a table number.  Once seated you can review the menu next to the table or on the ipad provided at the table.  When ready to order you make your selections on the pad.  A short time later dishes will be delivered via bullet train or race car which the kids loved.  My husband enjoyed a variety of sushi, while the kids and I stuck with the chicken and french fries.  I did try some shrimp tempura rolls which were my favorite so far of any sushi spots we have checked out.  The kids finished dinner off with blue icecream on top of corn flakes.  Once you are done with dinner you make a selection on the pad then take your table marker to the front to check out.  All sushi dishes are ¥100. We are a family of 4 and spent about ¥3500 for dinner.  Uobei Genki Sushi is a chain but of all the conveyor belt sushi locations we have tried I found I liked the atmosphere of this one the best.  This would also be a great spot to take visiting friends and family for a sushi experience. – Angela Vaillant, September 2018

You can access the sushi and autumn fair menu on their web-site.

Web-site: https://www.genkisushi.co.jp/en/

Higashiyamato South Park

Higashiyamato South Park is a place where history meets fun. Only 15-20 minutes from the East gate it is a nice park to picnic in, play sports or cool off in the summer when the water area opens in July/August. The former Hitachi Aircraft Engine Factory and WWII memorial is situated on the park grounds. In 1938 this Factory turned out aircraft engines but was later destroyed during WWII when the area was bombed out. It now serves as a Memorial to those who lost their lives there. There is a nice track to run on, tennis courts and a field where many local schools play sports. On one end of the park is the city swimming pool. On the other side is a man-made creek. Check the park website for details on the dates this creek is open to play in. – Jennifer Secor, August 2018

Park web-site: https://www.tokyo-park.or.jp/park/format/index052.html#googtrans(en)

Hiratsuka Beach/Shonan Beach Park

Only 71 minutes (tollway route) from Yokota is a great sandy family friendly beach to cool off in during the hot summer months. We found this beach on a spur of the moment stop after a road trip we took. There is free parking lot at Shonan Beach Park (a local swimming pool/park) but you need to arrive early to get a spot because the area is well known to the locals and is a popular beach for families and surfers. Walk down the street to the left of the parking entrance and onto the pedestrian bridge over the highway, onto the other side and through the greenery to get to the beach. We liked this beach because unlike many other Japanese beaches, there are showers where you can rinse off (most beaches don’t have a shower area), bathrooms and a beach side kiosk with sandwiches, pizza, ice cream, fries, etc. that is open during summer months. This is a family friendly beach that is sandy with breakers in place to keep the waves smaller in the swimming zone. There are lifeguards posted here during the day too. Keep in mind though that this beach is not tattoo friendly, so cover your tattoos. GPS Coordinates: 35.317392,139.354371. Parking hours vary by the month so check for updates on the park website. In the months of July & August it was posted you can park at Shonan Park from 9am-7pm. – Jennifer Secor, August 2018

Shonan Beach Park website: http://www.s-n-p.jp/english/shonankaigan_park/

3.14 Italian Restaurant – Fussa

I recently visited 3.14 Italian Restaurant in Fussa for lunch and dinner.  The restaurant is a short walk from the Seiyu Department Store if you have shopping to do and can get your parking validated.  There are also paid parking lots nearby.  My first visit was for lunch with a friend.  We did not have a reservation but after some google translating we were sat inside the smaller area of the restaurant with just a few small tables near the kitchen.  The menu was in Japanese so we went with the safe lunch set of margherita pizza.  It was only 1100 yen and came with a small salad and a drink.  This was probably my favorite margherita pizza I have had locally, and I’ve tried a lot.  Later in the week we had a last minute couples date night to say goodbye to friends.  We called just 30 minutes ahead for a table for 6 on a Saturday night and were able to get in.  We were seated in the larger dining room this visit.  The dinner menu was much more extensive and many of the options were more family style so we were able to share and sample each others dishes.  The waiter spoke some English and informed us the food would come out at different time intervals which was fine since we were able to share most dishes.  We started with a caprese salad, bruschetta (we never figured out what it was called on the menu but pointed to the table next to us) and a very large salad.  We sampled entree’s of spaghetti and linguine with crab, parmesan risotto and a few other Italian dishes.  We finished the night off with a giant slice of chocolate cake and tiramisu.  All of the food was delicious and reasonably priced and we would definitely go back again!  – Angela Vaillant, July 2018

Phone number – 047-530-0815

Hours – Lunch 11:00am-3:00pm, last order at 2:30pm,                                              Dinner 6:00pm-10:30pm, last order at 10:00pm.

Facebook –  3.14 Italian Restaurant

Tempranillo Tapas & Wines – Tachikawa

My husband and I recently tried out a Spanish Tapas restaurant in Tachikawa called Tempranillo Tapas & Wines.  We called for a reservation about 5 days out and had no problem booking a table for two.  They did let us know it was a special night with Flamenco dancers and a set menu.  The restaurant has recently re-located to a red brick building a short walk from Tachikawa station, in the basement (level B1 off the elevator.)  We were the first to arrive and the owner greeted us and again let us know that is was Flamenco night and the set up of seats was different from a normal night.  They started us with 2 glasses of champagne, prosciutto, and a Spanish tapas platter.  Little did I know the pig leg was sitting nearby on the bar being shaved for the dish.  We were also served mussels before the main dish of Paella came out.  The performance started at 7:30 and food service seemed to stop for about 45 minutes.  We were at a distance from the show but Jose asked us if we wanted to move closer at the end of the bar for the second set.  We moved and shared a bottle of wine finished off with a dessert of churros covered in chocolate sauce.  We really enjoyed the food and Flamenco performance!  The second set finished by 9:30 and we were full and happy.  We asked Jose how often they do Flamenco night and he said it happens once a month.  The set menu price was 5500-6000 yen per person.  The regular tapas menu has a lot of variety and we look forward to going back to try more dishes.  You can check their website for upcoming events.  If you are looking to escape your typical Japanese experience, this is the place!  Jose gave us his card which includes his restaurant philosophy….”We are real people, we make mistakes, we say sorry, we give second chances, we have funny moments, we give hugs, we ask forgiveness, we make noise, we are patient and grateful, and especially we love each other and we love you a lot.” – Angela Vaillant, July 2018

Web-site: http://tempranillo-tachikawa.com

Phone: 042-524-3913

Hours: Mon-Sat 5:00pm-11:30pm, closed Sundays

Hinode Big Buddha

Hokoji Temple – Shiozawayama Zenkoji Kano Royal Buddha

About a 25 minute drive from base there is a Daibutsu (Big Buddha) which is 18m tall on the side of a mountain at Hokoji Shrine. This Buddha was completed this past year and is larger than the famous Big Buddha of Kamakura. Parking can be found at the shrine. Admission was free but we were advised this may change after Oct. 2018 (so check their website for updated information). There is a beautiful short trail through the forest from the parking lot to the Daibutsu. My children enjoyed the scenery of the forest. At the end of the trail you will reach the Daibutsu on the side of the mountain where there is a view of the town of Hinode.
Hours: 9:00am – 4:30pm
Parking Fees:
500 yen for car
1,000 yen for bus
200 yen for motorcycle
Website (You will need to use a web translator): https://entakuzan-houkouji.or.jp/about/
-Jennifer Secor, June 2018

Sankeien Gardens – Yokohama

Memorial Day weekend we headed to Yokosuka and followed up with a trip through Yokohama. There, we went to a beautiful Japanese Garden with a couple temples located on the premises. There is a nice walkway around a pond through a forested area where you can see some old thatched roof structures. Around the end of May through the beginning of July the irises are in full bloom which makes for a beautiful scene. Also, Sankeien does a Firefly Festival at night during that time frame. Check their website for details on current events: http://www.sankeien.or.jp/en-about/index.html

Admission is:

Adult ( 15 years old and above) 700yen
Children ( 14 years old and under) 200yen
City residents 65 years old and above
*Please show the Hamatomo Card issued by Yokohama City
200yen
Parking Fees: 500 yen up to 2 hours; 100 yen for every additional 30 minutes.  Automobiles/Buses 1,000 yen maximum per day
-Jennifer Secor, June 2018

Glico Pia East Factory Tour (Pocky Stick Tour)

We recently took a trip to Saitama and did the Glico Pia East Factory Tour. It was about an hour commute by toll-way. Tolls cost 1370 yen each way. Reservations are required in advance. We had a group of 8, ages 3+. The tour is done entirely in Japanese with no English translators available. The company history explanation does have English subtitles if you ask. The tour is 70 minutes. No strollers or pictures were allowed in most of the factory. We had fun touring the factory and learning how Pocky & Pretz sticks are prepared & packaged. If you have 2nd/3rd graders, they are allowed to decorate their own Pocky stick if you obtain a ticket at the beginning of the tour. (No adults or younger children allowed to participate in the Pocky stick decorating part). The cost of participation is 500 yen. They get to keep the sticks they decorate. You also receive a sample bag for visiting the factory. The tour admission & parking is free. More information can be found on this site: https://travel.gaijinpot.com/pocky-factory/
– Jennifer Secor, June 2018

Tokorozawa Lily Garden (Yuri Matsuri)

In mid June thru early July there is a Lily Festival (Yuri Matsuri) across the street from the Seibu Dome at the Tokorozawa Lily Garden (fairly close to base). As June is the rainy season in Japan, we decided to take advantage of a clear day and head to the Lily Festival.  It was like a fairytale. Flowers were in a field surrounded by forest. Admission & hours may fluctuate from year to year so be sure to check the website:
There is no parking lot for this Garden. You will need to park in a paid lot or maybe the nearby shrine parking lot if spots are available. The Seibu Dome Parking was not allowed without a baseball ticket. Try to avoid a baseball game day due to congestion and lack of parking options. This Garden is off a train line as well. – Jennifer Secor, June 2018

 

Canyons – Canyoning at Minakami

If you want a one of a kind of adventure while living in Japan, try canyoning with Canyons Adventure Tours.  My husband talked me into doing a trip to Canyons, Minakami with Yokota Outdoor Recreation for my birthday in July.  It was about a 2 hour bus ride from base.  The first canyoning tours in Japan were started by Canyons in Minakami in 1988 and it has grown into one of the biggest canyoning destinations in the world.  The season typically runs from late April to late October depending on the water flow in the canyons.  The water can be cool but they provide wet suits and all the proper gear you will need.  You can also sign up for a tour using their web-site.  They have many English speaking guides.  We had 3 on our tour and one Japanese guide for the Japanese couple that joined us.  Everything was very well organized, instructions were thorough, and the guides were very attentive to questions and concerns.  We did the Fox Canyon trip which was a half day, approximately 3 hour tour.  From the main Canyons base you take a short bus ride to the start.  One of the guides will take photos the entire trip that you can access after the tour for free.  They also take videos but they were un-savable from their site.  I personally was challenged by parts of the Canyon but my husband thought the entire trip was a blast.  I had a moment of being sucked under a waterfall where they had to pull me out and push me to the other side but I survived to tell about it.  I would definitely recommend this trip for any thrill seekers wanting a challenge.  You cannot be pregnant or have any heart conditions and will sign a waiver before starting.  After the tour was complete they brought us back to the Canyons office for a snack.  You could purchase beer and additional food also at their snack bar.  Canyons also offers White Water rafting tours and you can do a combo trip if you want to make a day of it.  They also offer tours at an Okutama location.  – Angela Vaillant, May 2018

Website: https://canyons.jp/en/
Hours: office is open 8:00am-5:00pm daily

E-mail: info@canyons.jp
PHONE: 0278-72-2811

 

Roberto Perozzi Hair Salon – Shibuya

One of the first concerns I had when we found out we were moving to Japan was where I would get my hair done.  I’ve gotten highlights and lowlights for years but I knew having blonde hair might make it harder to find a good stylist in Japan.  Luckily a neighbor of mine heard of a place in Shibuya and recommended I check it out.  I contacted Roberto Perozzi Hair Salon (RPH) in Shibuya using their web-site contact us link.  They wrote me back with a quote for the services I requested and we quickly made a reservation for the next month.  My neighbor offered to take the train with me into Shibuya since it was my first time training to this area.  Using google maps to walk from the station we got a little off track but made it from East side of base to the salon in 2 hours.  My second visit my husband tagged along and it took about the same amount of time.  Shibuya station is under construction so the exits were different the second time around.  The salon is located in an office building called Villa Moderna in unit C507.  You take an elevator up from the lobby and it sort of looks like you are walking into an apartment.  The salon is small with just two chairs.  Once there I was greeted by Takumi, a male stylist who spoke very good English and chatted with me the entire appointment.  On my first visit it was just me and Takumi but the next time the owner was also styling hair beside us with one assistant.  I showed Takumi a picture of what colors I wanted for my hair and he did exactly what I asked.   For a highlight, lowlight, cut, and blow-dry I paid 22,000yen.  This was for full head foils but you can also do partials.  All of the pricing is listed on the web-site as well as detailed directions by train or car.  After both of my appointments I had lunch at Goo Italiano which was recommended by Takumi.  I also went to check out Shibuya Crossing for the first time with my fresh hairdo!  – Angela Vaillant, April 2018

Website: http://www.robertoperozzi.com/
Hours: Tue-Sat 9am-7pm

E-mail:  perozzirob@gmail.com
PHONE: 03-6427-2444

Head downstairs from the street level to enter the lobby

Take the elevator up to the entrance.

Before

During

After at Shibuya Crossing

Goo Italiano – Shibuya

While getting my hair done in Shibuya, my hairdresser recommended a nearby Italian restaurant for lunch after.  Goo Italiano is a cute little Italian restaurant on a corner not far from Shibuya crossing.  I have been twice now for lunch and enjoyed their Paccheri Tomato Sauce dish on both visits.  Their sets range for 1000yen to 1500yen for lunch and include focaccia bread, salad, pasta choice and a drink.  Their iced peach tea is worth a try!    My husband also enjoyed the pasta of the day special.  Their dinner menu has a lot more variety and includes family style meals.  The dinner grand menu includes pizzas, pastas, salads, lasagna, and Italian appetizers.  They also offer carry out.  – Angela Vaillant, April 2018

Website: http://www.take-5.co.jp/goo-italiano/shibuya/
HOURS: Weekdays 11:30am-3pm, 5pm-12am and Weekends 11:30am-12am
PHONE: 03-6418-8300

Hakone Venetian Glass Museum

Last August my family of 4 visited the Hakone Venetian Glass Museum. My husband found this place on Google maps and knew I was missing Europe’s charms during a particularly wet August here and wanted to give me a piece of Tuscany!  We escaped the rains of Yokota one Saturday and enjoyed beautiful sunshine in Hakone where we visited several museums and the infamous ropeway.  I am writing just about this museum, lesser known among Americans, though the entire Hakone area is beautiful and definitely deserves much exploring! This complex consists of a garden, Venetian glass museum, modern glass museum, cafe, gallery shop, and glass experience studio.

The beautiful spring through fall blooming garden features paved walks lined with many statues and sculptural elements – both glass and other elements.  When we visited mid August, some late blooming blue hydrangeas were still hanging on to life.  There are also rose features, a Christmas feature, a mountain of glass leaves and Autumn foliage feature as well as a permanent light corridor and outdoor gigantic hanging crystal glass twinkling and glittering in the sunlight. I loved the glass sculptural elements playing off the sun, combined with the natural flowers and water features to create fantastic photos! We spent our time walking through every inch of the gardens looking for hidden surprises in each nook and cranny.

The museum buildings housed Japan’s only collection of Venetian glass – both from ancient times, through the Renaissance period, up until modern times. The exhibition was very nice and somewhat extensive but I felt just a bit underwhelmed having toured Venice, Murano and Burano, Italy glass factories just 4 years ago. In the small rotunda of one of the museum buildings there was an area roped off where, several scheduled times a day, 3-4 talented Italian men would play the filled water glasses in a 30 minute concert – featuring a famous Japanese song, a classical music repertoire, and even a Disney favorite! It’s much more than Elle Woods in “Legally Blonde”! The glass concert alone made the visit to the museum worth the trip!

The cafe was gorgeously situated on the manmade link with outdoor covered seating overlooking a panoramic view of the lovely gardens.  There was also an Italian music show featuring piano and singers.  Unfortunately, this is where the similarities to Italy ended as the small menu only offered one Italian dish!! I have to tell you the quality was bellisimo, though the portion size was rather small! The rest were Japanese curry and beef stew and, I believe hamburger. However, looking at the website as I write this, they seem to have amended their menu and now offer only 1 seasonally changing Italian selection along with a variety of teas, coffee and pastries!

The glass experience studio we walked by and didn’t partake as we have done glass blowing before in Europe and didn’t want to spend the money and wait in line for a turn.  They have a special Venetian mask creation studio right now for those visiting in the winter of 2018!  The price for creating your own work of art is on the webpage as varies based on what you create but is not included in the museum visitation price but an additional charge. – Julie O’Leary, March 2018

Web-site:  http://www.hakone-garasunomori.jp/entrance/english/

Oriental Bazaar Harajuku

This Harajuku area Bazaar souvenir and all things authentic Japan is worth taking your guests to for a great selection of souvenirs and Japanese mementos if they are not visiting during base Bazaar weekends!  It is located on the very glamorous and wide Ometesando shopping street parallel to the Takeshita street, sharing the sidewalk with the likes of high end retailers Mikimoto, Rolex, and the like.  However, the prices here in this 3 story Bazaar on mostly new merchandise, though they do offer some used vintage kimono, obi, accessories  are not glitzy at all and are actually very affordable. They also offer tax free for foreigners with passport at checkout. Everything, including custom wood cut panels, new and vintage kokeshi dolls, pottery, weapons & new and used kimono, yukata and obi are to be had here! – Julie O’Leary, March 2018

 

 

Nanadaru Chaya

Nanadaru Chaya – Kawazu, Shizuoka Prefecture

I’m calling this little delicious cafe, “Wild Boar pot and FANTASTIC strawberry dessert cafe!” It’s just a 200m walkfrom the start (away) of the 1km Seven Waterfalls Hike in the Izu Peninsula next to the Kawazu corkscrew bridge!

The food was some of the best I’ve had in Japan! My sons liked the strawberry sets for around $11 for a lunch of champions! My husband very much enjoyed the wild boar hot pot! There’s a very small parking lot at this cafe as well! – Julie O’Leary, March 2018

Keio-Mogusaen Garden – Plum & Wisteria Blossoms

This lovely, private, flowering tree and floral garden is atop a very steep hill not too far from Takahato Fudo temple in the Tokyo -Hino area.  It is an inexpensive 40 min drive from Yokota and not to be missed if you are a flower lover like me! In late February through early March they have a plum blossom festival which just means the private garden is open to all visitors with a small charge of 300¥ for adults and 100¥ for children, when the trees are blooming in all their pink, white, and yellow glory!  The garden features 500 plum trees in 50 varieties!

We visited on a late Saturday afternoon, Feb 24, 2018 and it was only slightly busy.  Besides the stalwart walkers, there were several groups arriving by taxi up the steep hill coming from nearby Mogusaen station.  It’s 1/4 mile up a 20% grade slope to give you an idea of the steepness for those with elderly or mobility impaired visitors.  The gardens were absolutely gorgeous! There were some flowering plum trees that I’d never seen before! There was one field even featuring small yellow and white daffodils in full bloom as far as the eye could see! I am a flowering bulb enthusiast and seeing daffodils in February made my heart happy!
 
Even my teenage sons agreed it was a beautiful place.  There are many beautiful uneven stone stair steps as well as some gravelly inclines leading up to the top past the restaurant where in nice weather you can barbecue and several 30 minute walking trails leading through the garden. At the summit are nice views of Tokyo! Lots of climbing and exercise for energetic kids as well as a man-made tree lined, koi – filled pond with traditional Japanese building housing an art exhibition.  I’m not sure strollers could visit all the trails and do the steps leading up to the cashier at the entrance without difficulty.  A better bet might be a carrier for babies.  We will definitely visit again during their wisteria festival and I will report on this garden again!  – Julie O’Leary, March 2018

 

Unfortunately I could only find a Japanese language webpage but the photos and map on one of the page links were helpful.

Here is the pinned location (actually of the BBQ garden restaurant 200 or so meters straight up many stone stairs from the cashier booth at the entrance to the gardens) on Google Maps:

There is NO parking at the gardens but if you’re lucky you can find places along the street going up to the gardens or in pay parking lots at the bottom of the hill.  Note: It is about a 5 minute steep walk up a paved hill to the gardens from parking. Below is information from their website’s lavender link and it’s in English!
  • Traffic Get off at Keioi Jusugyoen Station 10 minutes on foot or 10 minutes by taxi from Sacred Sakuragaoka Station · Takahata Fudo Station.
    There is a steep slope partway from Hakusakuen Station to this garden.
  • Address Hinohikusa 560, Hino City, 191-0033
  • Telephone number phone042 (591) 3478
  • Closed holiday Wednesday
    (in the case of a holiday, next day, New
    Year ‘s holiday from 30th December to 3rd January※ It is closed every
    day during the event period
  • Opening Hours 9:00 am – 5:00 pm
    (November and December until 4:30 pm)
    Entrance fee Adult / 300 yen Child / 100 yen

Kyoto Fire Ramen Restaurant

After a full day of sightseeing in Kyoto our 5 and 8 year old boys were beat and ready to eat.  My husband had read about a unique restaurant called Kyoto Fire Ramen so we decided to check it out.  Upon arrival they were full so we checked in on a computer and waited outside in the cold with some others for the tables to open up.  Luckily it was only about a 20 minute wait before we were allowed in.  We sat up to a bar where we we given full body bibs.  They took my phone and hung it behind the bar to record our fire ramen experience.  The owner spoke very good English and chatted with us a bit before the official start of the cooking process.  It was fun to watch how the ramen was made.  Once they sit the ramen in front of you, they go down the line of the bar setting them on fire.  My 5 year old was increasingly concerned as the fire got closer and closer to him.  He cried but recovered quickly and ate all his ramen.  It was probably one of my favorite ramens I have had in Japan, and the whole family agreed!  The owner also made everyone take a funny photo eating the ramen.  When we left there was an even longer line of people waiting so I would recommend getting there early.  We arrived at 5:00pm.  They allow approximately 3o minutes for you to complete your meal.  If we ever make it back to Kyoto, we’d definitely visit this restaurant again! – Angela Vaillant, March 2018

Check out the web-site for more info on how the ramen is made and pricing.  Set prices range from ¥1480-¥2150. They also want children to be at least 110cm tall.  http://www.fireramen.com/home/index.html

Open daily – 11:30am-11:00pm (no reservations)

 

Yona Yona Beer Works – Kichijoji

My husband and I have visited Yona Yona Beer Works in Kichijoji 3 times now.  Kichijoji is a great Tokyo neighborhood that doesn’t feel too far away from base.  We had a friend drop us off at Seibu Tachikawa station and made it to Kichijoji station in one hour with two transfers.  The first two times we just went for a beer tasting/drink before lunch and dinner.  We recently celebrated my husband’s birthday there for dinner.  This place has a great atmosphere and lots of beers to choose from.  At lunch or dinner you can get a tasting flight to sample the different beers.  On our last visit they had a special called The Merry Go Round which was a tasting of 9 different beers and one barley wine.  We split this tasting as it was ¥5000 and the samples were larger.  For appetizers we enjoyed the pickled vegetables, salmon and pineapple tartare, and a cheese plate.  For dinner my husband ordered the sausage platter where he chose 3 flavors from about 10 different options.  I had the Buckwheat Pizza which was good (but covered in mushroom that I took off).  The menu is in Japanese and English but I missed the details of what was actually on the pizza.  This place is great for a date night, boys/girls night out, or a destination to entertain out of town visitors.  They also have a nice selection of beer glasses you can buy at check out.  We trained back to Akishima station and took the bus to the stop right outside the East gate so we could walk home from there.  You can also catch a taxi at Akishima for ¥1000- ¥1500 to the East gate. – Angela Vaillant, January 2018

Website: http://yonayonabeerworks.com/kichijoji/
HOURS: Mon-Fri 11:30am-3:00pm and 5:00pm-11:00pm, Sat/Sun 11:30am-11:00pm
PHONE: 042-228-4740

  

Hiking from Mt. Mitake to Okutama

The hike from Mt. Mitake to Okutama is a gnarly one made even more adventurous with an overnight at an inn on the mountain.  I had a cousin of mine, a hard core hiker, coming to town so I researched some of the hiking options in the area.  My research led me to spend a night at the Shukobo Komadori-sanso Inn, a lovely little spot in the village near the top of Mt. Mitake.  This seemingly forgotten and a little bit dusty place (not perfect) was our introduction to the Japanese Inn.  My wife and I and my cousin and his girlfriend arrived after a short walk from the top of the cable car and a stop at the Mitake Visitor Center where we picked up a map of the hike (a map with Japanese letters is a must!).  Upon checking in, the innkeeper insisted that we change into our robes and return for dinner.  Dinner in the small dining room was surprisingly good!  Our room was good sized with futons on the floor and a table inside the room and on the shared patio.  A small onsen tub is available in both the women’s and men’s washroom.  The next morning we were served a hearty breakfast before we headed for Okutama.  This hike is no joke.  We summited two different mountains as we trekked up and down (it seemed like the trail was never flat).  A few of the spots had great views of Mt. Fuji.  Bring lots of food and water; there are no vending machines up here, baby. The trail leads down to Okutama where you can get some food and take the train back home. This hike is not for children. Teens may be okay.  This trip sure makes for a pretty simple 24 hour getaway from Yokota for those with only one day to spare.  Happy Travels!  – Zeke Lyons, January 2018

http://www.komadori.com/