Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Shibazakura & Cherry Plucking Trip

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One-day trip to Yamanashi with Hato Bus.

From the two gatherings in the two previous days, my next outing during the Golden Week holidays was joining the gang for a trip to Yamanashi prefecture. Literally, "yama-nashi" (山無し) means "no mountain", but actually, the place we went has a different kanji character - 山梨. We had to board the bus from Shinjuku station, which means we left our place in Inage at half-past five the morning! Sounds very early but during this time of the year in Japan, it's already bright by that time.

The journey to the first location took us about two hours. Although we had feared that the traffic would be congested along the highway, as it was still the Golden Week holidays, we were lucky to reach there according to the schedule.

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Stopped at a rest area. Guess what are these? Canned bread, which looked more like canned food for pets lol!

The first location we went was to the Fuji Shibazakura Festival at Motoyoko Resort. I have seen pictures from some of my friends before this who had visited this place. Looking at their pictures of colourful pinkish shibazakura carpeting the garden, with Mount Fuji and the green  mountain range in the background on a clear day with blue sky, the bright and contrasting colours it provides will make anyone amazed.

That is why the moment I got to know about this place, I made it a point to visit it sometime while I am still in Japan. Finally, I got the chance to visit this festival, which is held for only the third time.

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A lake (竜神池) at the middle of the garden.

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Rows of colourful shibazakura which just started to bloom.

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The temperature this year was colder than previous years, which explains why the flowers weren't in full-bloom yet, it was only forty percent from being fully-bloomed.

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Just like sakura, rainfall and temperature are two main factors that determine how fast or slow of the blooming rate of the shibazakura.

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There's a temporary observatory deck in the background for visitors to get a better view of the whole place.

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The reflection of Mount Fuji (逆さ富士) at Lake Motosu (本栖湖) is actually the image printed on the old 5,000 yen and 1,000 yen note.

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This is the 1,000 yen note and the real thing. The phenomenon can only being seen once or twice a year, on a sunny day without strong wind and the lake would act as a mirror to reflect the image of the mountain.

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Mount Fuji and the shibazakura, another poscard-quality shot.

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A closer shot of Mount Fuji, the symbol of pride for the Japanese.

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We are the symbol of pride for Malaysia lol!

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A macro shot of the shibazakura, with the blurry image of Mount Fuji in the background.

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There are five kinds of shibazakura planted in this garden, and this is one of them.

So far, I have seen the longest river in Japan - Shinano River from my three years of living in Nagaoka, and the tallest tower in Japan - Tokyo Tower just before the end of last year. And now, I have finally gotten the chance to see the tallest mountain in Japan - Mount Fuji, after more than three years living in Japan.

But to be honest, I have lived in Malaysia for more than twenty years, yet I have still to see Mount Kinabalu or Rejang River in real lol!

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Try guessing what is this thing.

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A drum which uses human head to beat it?

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It's actually a traditional Japanese taiko, made of raw wood, aged more than 800 years. It's not used for performances but for the visitors to get inside the drum and feel it when the drum is beaten.

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This gigantic drum fits about 12 children or six adults at a time.

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A kawaii-looking food ticket machine.

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Stalls selling the normal food and souvenirs.

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The only group picture of all six of us, taken with the guide, who told us to call her C-chan haha!

Our next stop was at Fuji View Hotel to have our buffet lunch.

The traffic from the shibazakura garden to the hotel was so jammed, that it took almost twice the normal time needed. So, we took the chance to recharge ourselves first before the makan session begins. Remember, it was a buffet, so nobody is better than Malaysians when it comes to buffet haha!

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Kok Hong, at the "chocolate fountain" haha! Don't worry, I know the correct name for it - we call it "chocolate fondue", right?

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This is just the first round. Guess how many rounds we went during the lunch?

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Went up to the observatory floor at the highest floor of the hotel to get a better view of Mount Fuji.

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A lake at the opposite end.

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 The hotel, seen from across a lake.

The next destination was to the sakuranbo farm for さくらんぼ狩り (sakuranbo-gari), or literally, plucking the cherries.

During the journey there, C-chan explained a little bit about the cherries and how to pick the cherries which are sweeter and taste better. Basically, the redder the skin, the sweeter the cherry is. So, she advised us to go for cherries which are from the higher parts of the trees as the fruits are exposed to more sunlight, hence the skin is redder.

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Yamanashi prefecture is well-known for its high-quality grapes, which makes it the number-one wine producing region in Japan.

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Momo (桃) or peach, which will be harvested in the summer.

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JA Fruits Yamanashi (Iwade Branch), the location of the cherry farm.

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After we were given some brief explanations, we entered the green house.

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The Japanese in our group had already started plucking away, but we were more busy taking pictures lol!

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These are a bit sour.

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One the other hand, these cherries with red skin are the best! Sweet and juicy.

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Steel ladders were provided for us to climb up to the higher parts of the trees. So, we turned orang utan and had fun plucking and eating the cherries non-stop up there lol!

Our initial plan was to smuggle in a few plastic bags so that we could ta pao some of the cherries back home. Typical Malaysian attitude, isn't it? Haha! Too bad however, because the staffs were standing around us all the time when we plucked our cherries. Mission failed! In the end, we had no choice but to cancel that plan lol!

But, being kiasu like the Singaporeans, we wanted to make sure that our trip there was a worthwhile one. So, we just plucked and ate and plucked and ate for non-stop, that we realised that we were the only ones remaining inside the green-house at the end lol!

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My hands were too big for the cherries.

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These are just a small fraction of our harvest. 

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Cherries on sale outside, for people who wish to buy them back as souvenirs.

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Just take a look at how expensive the cherries are? I think we ate the cherries worth more than 8,000 yen for each person lol!

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Another group shot at the cherry farm.

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One of the two guides who was with us for the day, distributing some jelly to everyone. 

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It was something jelly-like thing, grape flavour.

Our initial fears that the traffic on our way back to Tokyo would be jammed was eased, as it wasn't as bad as we first expected. We were supposed to reached Shinjuku station at seven in the evening, and guess what? We reached there at seven sharp! Nobody will beat the Japanese when it comes to punctuality.

We hanged around the area around Shinjuku station, while looking for places to have our dinner. Everywhere was full-house and after 965356789 attempts, we finally found a restaurant haha!

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"Relax and unwind in cozy private space and Japanese modern floor."

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A touch-screen menu for ordering.

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I guess the Japanese guy who took this picture was a bit drunk, judging by the blurry photo.

There's a story behind that group picture taken at the restaurant. It has a bitter-sweet memory to me personally, because it will always remind me to the day that my camera bid farewell to me. I initially tried to place it on a wooden divider and set it on self-timer.

My action however, shocked the Japanese sitting next to our table. Perhaps the camera felt shy on my behalf, hence it decided to commit suicide; just like the Japanese lol! The camera now has a dent on its lense and whenever I turned it on, its eyes just won't open fully haha! That story was brought to you by Shei Pien. 

Anyway, here is a random siao photo we took when we stop at the rest area, on our way back to Tokyo.

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Tokyo is to the left!

That sampat pose earned us weird stares from several people who walked by haha!

12 comments:

Tempus said...

how'd u guys get to go on these trips? is it like some traveling agency or something? how much you paid?

argh!!! fuji actually looked quite fake from those pictures... too bad you didn't get to hike the mt now... maybe in a few more months..."hor?"

sakura said...

there's actually such thing as canned bread? O.o

n tat 'taiko' really can fit 12 children/6 adults?.. really so spacious? did anyone of u got inside d drum? lol..

btw, nice hols u hv there :)

mg said...

loveeeeeeeeeeeeee cherries, cant wait for summer.... but before that, golden kiwis during winter. yumssss :D

calvin said...

@ tempus:
yes, it was through some traveling agency, in which we booked online. to be honest, i am not a fan of having tour guides to take us around places when i travel, but this is just a one-day trip, so it was fine with me :)

perhaps mount fuji looked a bit fake due to my poor editing haha! now is certainly not the climbing season; it is only opened during summer ;)

calvin said...

@ sakura:
i am not really sure about that canned bread, as it was also my first time seeing it :)

that was what the guy told us when we asked him, because my friend teased me that i am too huge to fit inside the taiko haha!

calvin said...

@ mg:
winter is the season for golden kiwi?!
great! can't wait for it xD

kae vin said...

go buy a dslr!

the mount fuji photo will then be much better

and I love the siao photo.

Feel so Malaysian. Jap wont do such things lol.

Baby^Girl said...

please pay me copyrighted money !!!
the camera story was created by me !!
Lol !! C-chan explained about cherries?? i think i was sleeping ! hahaha ...
your friend teased you too big ...
who are you mention-ing ??
nvm .. thats why ur camera suicide and leave you alone ! :P
i like the tokyo photo !

calvin said...

@ kae vin:
i know somebody has just gotten himself a dslr, but i am still a bit noob to own one xD

that siao photo was a random idea from us during the stop-over, before we boarded the bus :D

calvin said...

@ baby^girl:
haha, okay-lor, i will credit you with that story, alright? =P

yes, she even talked about the history of mount fuji earlier that morning. not sure if you heard that. you guys were just to busy sleeping in the bus all the time, i know xD

yes, somebody said i was too big. to prove that he/she was wrong, that is why i asked that ah pek if i can fit inside that taiko haha!

i love the tokyo picture a lot too!

Ken said...

The scenery is so picturesque!
Agree with Kaevin, get urself a DSLR!

Me, as a Sabahan never been to Mt. Kinabalu. So, please don't feel shameful lar...

Haha...

calvin said...

@ ken:
i don't know why, but i keep telling myself to stick with compact cameras and rely on my skills to produce nice pictures. but don't get me wrong-lah, okay; i'm not boasting about my photography skills xD

there is a saying, the closer you are to a tourist spot, it's more unlikely that you are gonna visit the place. so, that's a very common thing ;)