Saturday, October 06, 2018

Day 3 - Rejuvenating day at Fuefuki-shi - Yamanashi Prefecture, Japan

D3 - 21 September 2018

Japanese cum International style buffet breakfast :)

Started my third day by having Japanese cum International buffet breakfast, which was included in the hotel rates. Loved the plate they provided to put the various dishes separately (see the photo above). And before moving on to the main topic, let me share few things that I found interesting in the restaurant and hotel that I stayed at in this post.

Card provided by the restaurant to 'chop' the table - Hotel Gracery Ginza - Tokyo, Japan

In Singapore, Singaporean usually 'chop' their table at hawker center or food court using tissue packet. But there, they used the card above as it wasn't uncommon for Japanese and other guest to dine alone.

When the blue card was presented on top of the table, it meant the table was free. And once the guest decided where to sit and in order not to let other guest occupying their table while they were walking around taking the food at buffet counter, they just had to flip the card up and changed the status of the table to 'occupied.' Wasn't it convenient? And as a guest, I would feel very much comfortable leaving my table to take another round of food.

'No room make up' gifts selection at Hotel Gracery Ginza - Tokyo, Japan

Next, was the above card. The housekeeping staff placed it on top of the bed so that guest would notice once they went inside the room. However, I took it for granted - ignored about the information that they tried to convey and just placed the card on top of the table without even had a look on it :D Well, I thought it was just a normal card informing the guest that the minibar items displayed on the card would be available upon calling the staff at receptionist. I only knew about the card's purpose when someone mentioned it to me the next day. Hahaha... :P

You could read the information on the picture clearly there and for me, I found it very interesting lah, the way the hotel tried cutting their operational cost and at the same time, they could give some rewards or souvenir back to the hotel's guest. Something to learn for hoteliers!!! ;)

Add-on facility provided by the Hotel Gracery Ginza - Tokyo, Japan

Next one was the item above. Well, our room size was quite small actually, typical Japanese hotel. Only limited extra space available for walking. Despite that, they still squeezed in such a small sofa at the corner of the room. My roommate tried sitting at the sofa upon our arrival and felt kind of weird why the pillow provided was hard to lean on, very unusual. Therefore, that time onward, we did not use the sofa much.

Until again, the last day of my stay, someone told us that 'it' was actually a back massager (an instrument or device designed to massage the body). Lol!!! How unobservant I was, wasn't I??? Could miss out many things from inside the room. Unbelievable!!! :D

Typical Japanese umbrella - transparent one!!! :D

The rain continued since the day before. Luckily I always prepared an umbrella with me so I was pretty protected from rain and sun wherever I went. I did not know about you, but I found it very interesting to see Japanese using the transparent umbrella (see the photo above). They only had the long umbrella with stick for this type of material and if I was not wrong, the price was quite affordable. I had seen them using it since my first visit back in 1989 and was still very much awed with it :)

Fuefuki-shi location in Japan's map (Source: Google map)

We took cab to Shinjuku Station where we would take our JR (Japan Rail) train to Isawa-Onsen, which was located at Yamanashi prefecture. The station was pretty big with many exit gates on it. Just take note, in the case you came separately with your travel mates, be sure to tell the cab driver which exit gate you wanted to be dropped at, because if you were dropped in the different one, you had to walk one big round (inconveniently - since you carried the big luggage with you) to reach the right one, and it happened to me. Luckily I met the security staff who could speak English and able to tell me the best way to reach.

Bento shop at Shinjuku station - Tokyo, Japan

One thing I loved in Japan train station was that they had many shops selling Japanese bento (a single portion take-out or home-packed meal usually packed in a box). They allowed food and beverage to be consumed inside the train since the journey was pretty long when traveling to other city. But most often than not, the food served was cold. Those loved hot food might not like this concept.

Mouth watering bento display selection :)

The above was displayed and available for sale. They were lovely, weren't they? There was even Shinkansen lunch box mainly prepared for children or for foreigners where they could keep the box as souvenir :) Japanese were very meticulous in preparing their dishes. I was often amazed by their patience and passion. For them, the look and color combination of the food was important. It was not only to look presentable, but also to taste good!!!

Snacks for short period traveling in Japan :)

Since I just had our breakfast buffet at the hotel and our train journey would only be a one-and-half hour ride, I got myself an onigiri (a Japanese food made from white rice formed into triangular or cylindrical shapes and often wrapped in nori/seaweed) with chilled milk tea while my roommate having sandwich and hot green tea. We both had baumkuchen cake as a snack as well :)

Enjoyed my train ride from Shijuku, Tokyo to Isawa Onsen, Yamanashi :)

I got a window seat so I could enjoy the scenery better. It was still raining but the view was still beautiful! :)

Ryokan Kikori - Fuefuki-shi, Japan

Once reached Isawa Onsen station, we took a cab to the hotel called Ryokan Kikori - a traditional Japan hotel mostly made of wood, designed like in old samurai era. It was two-storey high. The hotel rates included breakfast and dinner. One person rate was around S$250 per night (it meant a room for 2 would cost S$500 per night).

Inside the traditional Japanese hotel room - Ryokan Kikori, Japan

The room was actually very simple. It was a tatami base (a type of mat used as a flooring material in traditional Japanese-style rooms, traditionally made using rice straw to form the core). During daytime they would put a table and low-seat chairs in the main area (see the above picture), and at night (after we went for dinner), the room would have already been set up with futon (Japanese bed). The rooms were divided using paper sliding door, typical Japanese set-up, which you could often see on TV (or Doraemon cartoon series) :P

Ichifuji grape orchards - Fuefuki-shi, Yamanashi prefecture - Japan

We put our luggage and soon headed to the main destination of this trip - Ichifuji grape orchards :) Grapes were in the season!!!

Grapes, grapes and grapes!!! :D Love Japan!!!

This area was famous and perfect to grow grapes, be it for consumption and also for winery. These were the two types of grapes and their trees were quite different. The tree as you saw in above picture, consisted of one tall tree with so many branches on top and grew so many grapes on it, while the one for winery was short one and planted many at each row.

Japanese grapes tasted very different from any other grapes from other parts of the world. I had never eaten such a delicious grape like this before. Only then I understood why some people would deliberately visited Japan yearly just to indulge themselves with it!!!

Muscat or Pione??? Both were equally nice!!! :)

The size of the grape was quite big (even bigger than my thumb). Its meat was firm, but tasted sweet and very succulent. It reminded me the taste of the grapes gummy that Japan usually produced. So now I knew where the grape taste came from.

The green one that I was holding was Muscat type. 1 kg was sold at 2,500 yen (S$31.25). There were different types of green grapes available though, but the best one that this orchard offered and the most expensive one was this type, and amazingly, no seed inside!!! In Singapore it was available too in supermarket. For 350 gr grapes, it cost S$35 or for 1 kg, it cost around S$85 (the price was very expensive due to air-flown transport and other import cost).

The purple color one was called Pione. It was similar type with Kyoho grape. The texture of this grapes were different with Muscat. Its skin was thick and the meat was melting in the mouth. This one with seed though. But still, pretty nice. I loved it too!!! :) 1 kg cost 1,250 yen (S$15.60).

With the Ichifuji grape orchards' owner :)

The shop provided service to send grapes to other city in Japan too. You just had to tell the owner which grapes, how many kg, when and where to send, and they would calculate the postage cost together with the grapes cost right away. Apart from fresh grapes, they were also selling grape jam, grape juice (in bottle - from L'Orient winery) and sweet dessert wine (also from L'Orient winery). We bought them altogether for the consumption in the hotel :)

Apart from the grape samples that they gave away, we had more grapes and took it as our lunch. Wow!!! I never had grapes as lunch before! Hahaha.... So I was very grateful for that!!! Thank you!!! :)

More grapes at owner's orchards near her house - Ichifuji orchards in Fuefuki-shi, Yamanashi prefecture - Japan

After finished having grapes lunch and done with ordering thing, the owner brought us to her grapes orchards, located near from her house. She said the grape season was usually last only for 3 months in a year. We came at the right time!!! Well, the trip was planned only to eat this actually :D So, it was perfect!!! :)


At the road junction near to owner's house, there was this persimmon tree belong to somebody. There were many fruits on it. Amazingly, the fruits were intact on its branch like what you saw in above picture. I mean, if this tree was located in Indonesia, all the fruits would have long gone hahaha... When I saw it, my evil mind was even saying, "Why don't you pick some secretly and put them inside your bag??" hahaha... especially when the price of persimmon was expensive in Japan (1 piece cost 500 yen or S$6.25). But I managed to get rid of that mind :P So imagine those people who stayed around the area! Their integrity level must be very strong! Hahaha... Heads off to Japanese!!! :)

Isawa Onsen Spa - Ryukan Kikori at Fuefuki-shi - Yamanashi prefecture, Japan

We went back to hotel. There was still some time before dinner time so we decided to soak ourselves at the hot spring water pool that the hotel provided. The hotel had 2 places to soak. The above picture was taken at the other side of the building. The one I went to looked pretty similar, except for the pool shape, which was bigger and covered fully.

Just like other onsen (Japanese hot spring) spa, they usually provided similar facilities, such as: rattan basket to put clothes (guest had to be naked inside the pool area - only small towel was allowed and usually to be put on top of the head), bathing area (guest had to shower before and after soaking; all amenities like shampoo, soap, and  conditioner were usually provided), dry room (place to do your make up, dry and comb your hair, etc. plus resting place - foot massager was sometimes available). Some place even had sauna.

I soaked myself in. The water was warm with temperature ranges from 38 to 42 degree Celsius. It removed all the tiredness from the body and loosen up the muscles. You would feel a little lethargic afterwards, but it was common. I wore kimono (provided by the hotel) after that, which would then be worn continuously until sleeping time.

Traditional Japanese dinner at Ryukan Kikori - Fuefuki-shi at Yamanashi prefecture, Japan

Dinner was served at 6 pm. It was 8-course of traditional Japanese dinner serving variety of food from seafood salad, chawanmushi (steamed egg custard), cold tamago (Japanese sweet egg), cold soba or buckwheat noodle, fried cuttlefish ball with raw chili, steamed sliced pork meat, and finally the dessert - grapes jelly with whipped cream. All tasted so delicious and I finished every bit of it :)

Around the hotel with their olden time decoration - Ryukan Kikori at Fuefuki-shi - Yamanashi prefecture, Japan

With full stomach, it was only suitable to have a walk and little exercise inside and surrounded the hotel. The hotel had an alley where they kept many antics from olden times, which brought back many memories from the past :) So, still wearing the beautiful kimono, I did not want to miss the chance by clicking many pictures with it :D

Outdoor view - Ryukan Kikori

Guest was allowed to walk outside the hotel with their kimono too. They were even provided with geta (Japanese wooden slipper). The weather was a bit cool and you could see the mist derived from the steamed hot spring water from underneath the ground. It was so nice!!!

Beautiful full moon at the night sky - Fuefuki-shi at Yamanashi prefecture, Japan

The surrounding area was quiet and peaceful. At the back of the hotel, there was a river where you could have a peaceful time walking on its side with full moon up there accompanied your journey.

Grapes feast one more time to close our relaxing day!!! Yay!!! :)

After returned back to hotel, I gathered and had hearty chit chat with the rest, finishing the second bottle of the wine and munching on grapes once again to close our relaxing day sweetly :) Felt very grateful for everything and thank you to you know who you are for making this trip happened!!! Stay tune for the next post!!! Keep reading! :)

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