Inuyama and Nagoya

For our last day, I decided to take it easy on the newcomers. They were obviously tired already so I just chose two castles for the day. Something more traditional in contrast to the city sprawl of Tokyo. After arriving in Nagoya and leaving our baggage in the lockers at the station, we took a 30 minute train ride North to Inuyama.

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We got off at Inuyamayoen Station and walked by the Kiso riverside where you can spot the castle keep jutting out at the top of the hill. There were several local vendors setting up along this same path.
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Cherry trees were also abundant along the path but only a few were in full bloom.
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We arrived a bit before the castle opened so we explored a few shrines around the vicinity.
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Inuyama Castle is one of five castles (Himeji, Hikone, Matsue and Matsumoto being the other four) considered as national treasures in the country and is the oldest standing castle keep in Japan.
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At the top you get nice views of the Kiso River and the castle town.
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We went back to Nagoya via Inuyama Station so we could pass by the castle town for lunch and buy a few souvenirs.

There were more people in Nagoya Castle than the last time I was there. Sakura season really brings out the festive nature in the Japanese!
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The lovers taking a break
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There were some martial arts duels ongoing as well.
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It was still early in the afternoon when we finished walking around Nagoya Castle. I wanted to visit a riverside park in Nagoya known for being one of the best cherry blossom spots in Japan but I saw that my companions were already beyong exhausted. So I cut the sightseeing short and took them to Oasis 21 to rest up until we had to leave for the airport. There’s always a next time! 😀

Hanami and Yozakura in Tokyo

I had a list of hanami spots to check out in Tokyo but had to cut it significantly. The exhaustion of the previous day at Disneyland had us leaving our accommodations around 11AM – very late by my standards!

Before joining the sakura viewers, we had brunch at Sushizanmai in Ikebukuro.
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Tokyo Disneyland

Confession time! I like Disney movies but not so much that I would be super excited to go to Disneyland. I’ve had several chances to go to one over the years (Hong Kong and Tokyo before this trip) but it just wasn’t something I felt I needed to do. This trip, I acted as the guide for my brother and his girlfriend, whose only request was to go to Disneyland. If I were given the choice, I would have gone to Disneysea since this was a theme park unique to Tokyo. However, my brother’s girlfriend was a huge Pooh fan so we ended up going to Disneyland.

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Experiencing the Weirdness of Robot Restaurant

I’m back in Tokyo again! This time I tried to catch sakura season (more on that in later posts) but first I had to go someplace I’ve wanted to see ever since my sister showed me her videos 2 years ago – Shinjuku’s Robot Restaurant! I didn’t have anybody to watch it with when I was here last December so I didn’t go here back then. Now I’ve got my younger brother to join in on the craziness so I got us seats via Japanican. Prices are higher if you buy on site so if you’re interested to see this, book online.

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Minalungao National Park

My brother told me about this place in Nueva Ecija where the turquoise water of the river runs between limestone cliffs. I searched and saw several blogs on this seemingly “undiscovered” place, the Minalungao National Park. Apparently, its a place known to locals but only (relatively) recently to outsiders thanks to the power of social media. I suggested to my colleagues that we visit it as a potential site for their ecology classes (and to swim and beat the summer heat).

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Siargao revisited

My first trip this year was to siargao with my family. We explored more of the island than in my previous visit. We rented a van to bring us around the entire island and exploited the largest contiguous mangrove forest in the country. We were only able to surf on the day of our departure since the tide cycles weren’t the most convenient during our stay.

Kids playing at low tide
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Winter onsen experience in Kusatsu

Kusatsu is recognized as one of the top the onsen resort towns in Japan. Originally, I just wanted to go to any onsen during my trip. When I saw how accessible Kusatsu was from Tokyo, I made sure I made time to go there. Dipping into a hot spring on a cold day is one of my favorite winter activities after trying it in New Zealand.

Yubatake – source of Kusatsu’s hot spring
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