Saturday, January 29, 2011

Hakone Yunessun

As stated in an earlier post, we have decided to take advantage of weekends off-call and experience as much of Japan as possible. We decided this weekend to head towards Hakone, a hot springs area, for the day to go to the 'Yunessun". This is a mixture of hot springs spa and amusement park.

The drive was only about 2 hours (we got lost for about 20 minutes though - so about 2:20) and we were there! Parking was easy and the people working there seemed used to English speaking customers and were very nice in explaining what we needed to do.

First, we split off (boys and girls) to the locker rooms to get ready. When we were done, we met up in the first area known as the Aegean Sea pool. This was a huge heated indoor area with shallow waters, jet sprays, bubbles, etc. They even had a 'thunder and lightning' theme accompanied by cool splashed of rain water coming down at you once in a while. I think the kids would have been fine if we stayed in this area all day. There were a lot of other people - but it never felt crowded.

Next we headed up the stairs to the dreaded OUTSIDE! It was freezing out. Literally. We were up in the mountains, snow still covering the ground. So to run outside in your bathing suit was less than desirable. But right outside the doors was a hot tub to soak in and warm up your body. Then, you could walk up the stairs to "rodeo mountain". There were 2 more tubs at the top of the stairs, to regain your warmth again. One was super hot, another was just hot. Once you were boiling hot again, you could get to the top of the slides and have fun! Evie was too small to go down the slides - but she still went up and soaked in the top with me. Patrick and Gavin went down a few times (as Evie and I sat in the lower hot tub) and I went down once with Gavin (just to experience it. It was so awesome to be outside in freezing air - but be totally warm. I am so glad we went in the winter - as I think the experience would not be as amazing in the summer.

After we had our fun with Rodeo Mountain, we headed back inside for the Dr. Fish. This is a large pool that has those fish (you know you have heard about them) that eat the dead skin off of your feet. It tickles to high H*LL but was such a cool experience. The kids were troopers and joined us. We told them they were "kiss fish" that kiss your they were excited! After the first few squeals (from all of us - including Patrick) you started to get used to the tickling feeling. The kids flinched everytime one touched them, but I tried to stay still to get a few on and get some pics. You got 4 minutes in the pool - which was long enough!!!

After the kiss fish, we headed towards the outside pools. The kids were most excited about these for some reason when they saw the brochure. The was the chocolate bath, the coffee bath, the red wine bath, the green tea bath, the sake bath, the charcoal bath and a waterfall bath. Each supposedly has benefits for your skin or health - but all I know is they felt like heaven. Again, we had to muster the courage to take the first steps outside to get into the hotness - but we were so happy we did! I think the kids liked the red wine bath the best (they are my kids, of course) because it made them look purple! I liked the sake one because it was the hottest. The green tea one was also very I couldn't really give a favorite. Just imagine how you feel after sitting in a hot tub for a while - and multiply (safely) by 5 hours!!! So utterly, totally exhausting and relaxing. It was great...especially because the kids loved it just as much as Patrick and I did!

Here are a few of the outdoor pool pics:

Coffee Bath -

Red Wine Bath -

Green Tea Bath -

Sake Bath -
no pics

Charcoal Bath -

Waterfall Bath -

Random Bath at top of mountain -

What the kids looked like on the way home -

Friday, January 28, 2011

Gyoza making!

Yesterday I had another culture group activity. We went to the local community center (off base) and the Japanese ladies taught us how to make gyoza (dumpling-like things) and soup. We had an awesome time and I can't wait to make them for Patrick (he LOOOves them)!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Evelyn's school

I am sure I have posted how reputable Evelyn's school is...receiving accolades as one of the best in Japan. They have a waiting list to be accepted and is well known as being the best around. Well, now they can actually say they are the best IN THE WORLD! Click here and see what I mean! Check out the fist video (her school is Fuji Kindergarten in Tachikawa, Tokyo area. They have been awarded top honor for exemplary education facilities that promote learning and well being! I am very happy for them as they have such amazing staff and an amazing school. You are going to be jealous that you didn't get to go to a cool school like this!!!

Monday, January 24, 2011

A different mind set...sort of

I feel as if I have finally hit the much anticipated '6 month mark' in Japan so I am finally considering it home. I have had a change of mind set/heart in planning vacations and time with our family. I still look forward to visiting the states (that is why I included 'sort of' in the title) - but I am also concentrating a LOT more on enjoying our time here! I am loving my Japanese Culture Groups, especially when we go off base and learn more about their culture (see pictures from my last outing below). Even Patrick is getting into this new mind set. He has had many patients come through his office, heeding the advice of enjoying our time now...not waiting until the last year to do all the things Japan has to offer.

So, in response to our new mind are a few of the fun activities we have planned for the 1st quarter of 2011!

Hakone Yunessun -
The Yunessun is a spa resort zone where you can enjoy more than 25 different kinds spa related services and fun water recreational activities. It is like being at the beach, so bring your swimsuits. The main Spa facility is called The God's Aegean Sea and will amaze you with its fantastic aqua surroundings.There is a Mediterranean theme for the amusement spas along with the Turkish Hamam and the Ancient Roman Baths. Combined with the relaxing Spa enjoyments at Yuneesun it also has a less relaxed, more wild side, including huge waterfalls and water slides. Fun for the whole family, both young families with their young children can enjoy being together. Yunessun is a place to experience in Japan!

The New Sanno Escoffier Valentine's Day Dinner - The New Sanno Hotel, situated in the heart of the world's most expensive city, offers 149 luxurious rooms. Available to I.D. card holders and their guests, The New Sanno offers a variety of accommodations and restaurants in a helpful, English-speaking environment. The Valentine's Day Escoffier Dinner is an eight course dinner accompanied with a selection of fine premium wines and fabulous live entertainment to enhance the evening. We have a double room booked, and a babysitter to come watch the kids in our room while we attend the dinner. The next day, we plan on visiting the Tokyo Tower and sight seeing around town.

Ski Vacation - We were able to steal a friend's ski vacation (their son broke his foot so they couldn't go). They had done a ton of research for a good family place to go (that speaks English) and loved their trip last year. Alpine Lodge is situated in the mountain township of Minakami, one of Japan's premiere hot spring and ski resorts in the North of Gunma Prefecture. The lodge is primely located in the Yubiso area (valley of the hidden hot springs), which lies in the center of Minakami's 9 ski fields, with the closest field just 200 meters from the back door. They have Western style bunk beds (instead of mats on the floor like traditional Japanese hotels), American food (hamburgers, fries and beer), as well as give private ski lessons in English. We plan on enjoying the onsens (hot spring baths) the first night, private ski lessons for the kids the next morning, then family ski time for the rest of the trip.

Karaoke - Another trip into Hachioji with my Culture Group (from Olympus). Fun night of drinking, eating and singing!

Nagano - We are so excited to go see the snow monkeys, as well as the famous town/resort that the Olympics were held. We plan on staying up there (still have to book a room) and skiing with the kids again at the kid park.

These are just the weekends that Patrick has off and we have nothing else as you can see we are starting to really fit in here!