The Omoshiro Tube at Hitachi Seaside Park

Did you think all there is at the Hitachi Seaside Park were rolling hills of Nemophilia flowers?

Nope, nope, nope.

This nationally operated park is fairly large and has everything from barbecue corners to cycling courses. There is also a playground of sorts in an area called Pleasure Garden. (*insert innuendo of choice here*). It’s actually a pretty popular spot, though random, with anime themed attractions, semi-roller coasters and even a bmx course.

But we were only interested in one thing…the Omoshiro Tube!!!

This orange tube of fun (which is literally what the name means) is over 400 meters long and it twists and turns around this corner of the park. It is part obstacle course, part observation deck and we had tons of fun on it, as the name indicated!

So if you’re ever at Hitachi Seaside Park to see the flowers, do so. But take some time to see other areas as well. Like the ferris wheel or the beach area by the ocean that we didn’t have time for. It’s definitely worth visiting.

On our way back to Tokyo, we stopped by a parking area on the highway that had a giant Hello Kitty vending machine. Naturally we had to take a photo of it…but just as we were snapping pictures, a man with five dogs walks by.

I’ve seen two, maybe even three, dogs but this man had FIVE.

Hello Kitty vending machine took to the back burner and we were all over the dogs, which according to the nice owner were a mom and her kids. They were so well behaved and sweet as can be, my friends and I were smitten.

You just never know who you’ll meet on the highway! x

Here are some photos:

The Hitachi Seaside Park in Ibaraki

Something about fields of blue that make even rainy days seem bright!

Nemophila flowers in Hitachi Seaside Park (or Hitachi Kaihin Koen in Japanese) are becoming incredibly famous and this park is a popular place to be during Golden Week. These are pictures from last year, actually, but I thought now would be the perfect time to share as any!

I went by car with some friends on a rainy day. It wasn’t suppose to rain but you know how spring likes to trick you that way. But when you’re with your friends, it really doesn’t matter. We bought ourselves an ice cream cone and took a walk around the park.

We were walking up a hill when a little girl passed us in a rush, pumping her arms in an effort to reach the top of the hills as fast as her little legs could carry her. My friends and I were chatting about how lazy we were, watching her leave us in the dust.

When we finally did reach the top of the hill, the scene before us was pretty incredible. I later learned that the hill is called Miharashi-no-Oka (translated: Hill with View) and is 58 meters above sea level. You could see past the blue fields that surrounded us to the green woods beyond, including a big ole ferris wheel. You could even see the ocean, which surprised me.

Just as I was wishing we had better weather for the view, I noticed the little girl that had rushed past us before, wandering around with a half sob on her face. I recognized this look, the brave face of a little one frantically looking for the familiar face of a parent while their heart beats a thousand miles a minute. I’m sure we’ve all had that exact same expression on our faces in the earlier years of our lives.

After a quick look around to see if someone was looking for her, I went over to crouch down and asked her if she was lost. With quivering lips, she nodded her head. So then I asked her what her name was. She mumbled something but I couldn’t quite manage to catch her name, so I asked her again, leaning in closer to hear. She must have though I was deaf because she stuck her mouth literally to my ear and shouted “MANA-CHAN!”

She had my ears ringing but bless her, I did get her name 😉

My friends and I called out for her parents and they were soon there, huffing and puffing up the hill. Apparently Mana-chan had really left them in the dust and they had just reached the top. The sudden relief on her face was apparent as she was scooped up into her dad’s arms and all was well in the universe again. Awww.

Satisfied that we had done our civic duty, we headed back down the hill. It was a good day!

Here are some photos:

HITACHI SEASIDE PARK (国営ひたち海浜公園)
605-4 Onuma Mawatari, Hitachinaka-shi, Ibaraki JAPAN
茨城県ひたちなか市馬渡字大沼605-4
TEL: 029 265 9001

The Ayame Festival in Ibaraki

Japan enjoys flower festivals.
So much so that it’s almost impossible to get through a season without stumbling upon one flower festival or another. This was back in June (can we just pause the calendar for a minute? time flies!), when my sisters and I got together in Ibaraki, and because this Ayame Festival is apparently pretty famous in these parts, we decided to stop by.
The festival features Ayame, a type of Japanese Iris. A sign said that there were over 500 types of iris growing here. I had no idea there were so many types! We saw a variety of purple and yellow iris, all very delicate and beautiful. I liked how the park had many walkways so you could really see the iris up close.
There is a river the flows along the flower park and you could take a ride up the river in a boat, where someone rows for you old-school style. The park also has a very unique bridge that gives you a great view from above and is picturesque from bellow.
Here are some photos: 

Did you go to any flower festivals this year? Which are your favorites?

SUIGO ITAKO AYAME FESTIVAL (水郷潮来あやめまつり)
Suigo Itako Ayame Park, 1-5 Itako-shi Ibaraki JAPAN
茨城県潮来市あやめ1-5 水郷潮来あやめ園
TEL: 0299-63-1187
Annual Festival: Mid-May to late-June

The Birthday Weekend in Ibaraki

I started last month with a weekend with my sisters in Ibaraki.
When you have a sister living in Chiba, another in Ibaraki, and you in Tokyo…it’s going to take at least a weekend to spend quality time together. Especially when it involves a special birthday!
My baby sister turned twenty in June. TWENTY!!!
Hard to believe that she’s officially an adult now (twenty is the official age of adulthood in Japan). I’m still trying to get my mind around how in the world she grew up so fast. At the same time, I’m so incredibly proud of the strong and caring person that she has become. 
She’s busy with exams and classes in her second year of nursing school, but we dragged her away for a sleepover weekend and, most importantly, a birthday cake with candles!
You may know our family is big on candles. We believe that a cake is just a regular cake unless it has candles. Then and only then is it a birthday cake. We also tend to lean towards as many candles as your age (should be interesting what happens as we get older…).
We had no plans but to be lazy , which is sometimes the best kind of weekend when you’re together. Most of the photos are my view from the car, to and from the bus station and Y’s apartment, but you get the idea.
Yay for sister weekends and birthdays! x

How was your weekend? Have you ever been to Ibaraki?

The Golden Week Road Trip: Movie Night

The day after our drive up from Chiba, we were back in the car and heading to Costco to pick up things for our movie night.
Living in the city, I tend to forget that in some places a car is a necessity, and not just a luxury. I’ve never had a problem not having a car in Tokyo. Especially when renting a parking lot is so expensive. But every now and again, I like sitting in a car and not have to be squished against hundreds of people on the train. 
So with my sister at the wheel, we sped off to Costco. It’s the best place to buy certain things like a box of navel oranges or paper towels by the bulk. We also got a couple (and by couple, I mean a shopping cart full) of other things, too. I totally blame the size of the shopping cart.
Next, we stopped by Tsutaya to choose our movies. Our general rule is, each one of us chooses a movie we want to see. Also, no complaining about someone else’s choice!
I chose The Magic Hour, a hilarious Japanese movie directed by Koki Mitani. My sisters chose Mirror Mirror, the Julia Roberts movie of Snow White, and Iron Man II, because this was the only one we hadn’t seen in the series yet.
We maybe got ice cream, too.
Finally, we headed home to start the movie marathon. It seems like we all like movies with a touch (or depending on the movie…a large dosage) of comedy. We pretty much laughed our heads off throughout the whole night! But then that is what movie nights are all about. x
Here are some photos:

Listening to music and stopping by Starbucks on our way to Costco.
Sippin’ on the new banana frappuccinos…yum!

The drive-thru drinks from Starbucks wish you a safe trip 😀

My sister got the Mango Passion Frappuccino!

Looking through the aisles of Costco.

My sister showing off her skills on the ukulele ;D

Our shopping cart looked like this at the end…not too bad for three girls, right?
My baby sister stocking up on things she’ll use at school.

We ate lunch at Costco and had their ever large slices of pizza.

I can never manage to finish the whole slice…I mean, look at it. It’s bigger than my face!
We got ice cream, too. My double chocolate cheesecake and hawaiian crunch was amazing!

Taking a group sister shot with our ice cream…movie nights are the best!