We had bought a spare 5-days railway pass which will be expired end of the year, therefore, we decided to go to the Kansai area of Japan, which is also a place in Japan we had not visited in before. Kansai is famous for Ishe Grand Shirne, seafood and pearl. Of course, the more research, the more surrounding places we would like to visit.
We landed Nagoya on an autumn and headed directly to Yunoyama Spa area by railway. We stayed in a modern hot spring resort. The resort is owned by two master chef in Japan. Apart from the artwork like constructions, the resort attracted us because of the good restaurants, dessert places and bakery they had. The resort offers three types of breakfast – Japanese, Western and Breads. We choose Western option but were regreted that we should choose the bread option. The bakery is like heaven for every bakings-lovers. On just a morning, there are already almost hundreds type of bread ready as your choice. Mouth-drilling it was, we grab big portions of bread with us heading to the nice stop.
Leaving Yunoyama Spa area by railway, we went to Toba. Toba is the hometown of a famous Japan pearl jewellery brand. There even had an island named after the founder of the pearl brand. Everything you use and see in the town is related to pearl, from the shampoo, candies, pen.
Upon arriving to Toba, we first headed to have lunch in a place ran by Ama. Ama are women who dive into the sea in a special method and making living by catching seafood, e.g., lobster, abalone and all kinds of clams. The place is by the sea and like a hut, with not many decorations. Simple as the place is, one can get the freshness seafood just caught from the water the same morning and cook live in front of your dining table. This is also a way to support the living of Ama nowadays.
We stayed in a hotel with “Pearl Hot Spring”. It is a high-class expensive hotel in Japanese style. We would strongly recommend one to check-in on time to fully enjoy the facilities and meals they served. The hot spring is shining as they got powder of Pearl. Who needs milk/ chocolate bath when there is peal powder hot spring? No worries, you can buy the peal bath salt to share with your friends and family at home
We headed to Kashigojima Island for pearl-shell hunting before leaving Toba for Nabari end of the day. We had been searching a lot and asking local tourism board for pearl hunting experience farm. Luckily, we come across one with webpage in Japanese. Even more luckily is the owner’s daughter speaks great English as she had been studying in USA before. We took the railway from Toba to Kashigojima and then taking a ferry to a smaller fishing village island. It’s like when you take a ferry from Sai Kung to those small outlying islands. The lady was already on the pier waiting to pick us to the “farm” where they grow pearl-shell in something like “fish raft”. Inside the experience little house by the sea with “fish raft”, we got to choose our own shell and open it with a knife provided by them. It’s completely luck whether you will get a bigger/ smaller pearl and a pinkish/ greyish pearl. You can eat the white meat like sashimi and the organs are to the fish in the fish raft. This is a fun experience. There are shops around Kashigojima island selling pearl jewellery atvery good price.
We headed to Shorenji area in Nabari from Toba in the evening by railway.
Waking up in Nabari, we went to Akame 48 waterfalls area for en experience to attend Ninja course. There are ninja clothes in different colors for you to dress up, as well as the ninja shoes. We went up to the mountain for learning/ practising different tricks. We got to practise throwing “Ninja Stars”, walk on a narrow wood by the wall and hide ourselves. Back to Nabari, we stayed in Shorenji, a place up in the mountain and famous for the reservoir as well as grapes. We had a wonderful dinner in the Hotel in Shorenji at a great price.
Weather was windy and rainy on this date, so we stayed in Shorenji hotel enjoying the outdoor hot spring overseeing the reservoir & valley. We also headed to Saga by railway (just a few stops away from Nabari) for some delicious beef meal.
We asked the Hotel to help us book a graph picking experience. It was a day after heavy rain so no one else visited the grape farm. We join the all-you-can-eat grape programme and picked our favourite batches. The grape was locally grown and supplied. The types of grapes are not seen outside Japan, though they were not as sweet as the one traded internationally. The farm are open for sale of grapes as well. We took the railway heading to Kuwana, then taxi to Nagashima Spa Land. Little did we know that Nagashima Spa Land got so much to offer for one hotel room rate. Really worth every penny spend on the hotel room rate when it includes, buffet breakfast and dinner; entrance fee to different attractions (e.g., spa land, amusement park, flower garden e.t.c.)
When we arrived to Nagashima Spa Land, the reception gave us a pass. It is like a passport gives you entrance to many different places. We visited Nabana-no-sato for the light festival. You may have seen photos of this places before. A wonderful huge garden with many beautiful light decorations.
Back to the resort, we enjoyed our own hotel onsen (with one outdoor and one indoor pool), as well as a large “hot spring” area belongs to the resort itelf. I could describe it as “Hot Spring Amusement Park”. This is the biggest hot spring we had ever visited. There are a total of 8-10 hot springs for female and another 8-10 hot springs for male. You got to experience hot spring with different temperature, different ingredients and different location. Some are with “massage” effect too.
Waking up from one of the Hotel inside Nagashima Spa land, we head to Nabana-no-sato again for the “rose exhibition”. It was worth the morning spent there. There was also a flower market next to Nabana-no-sato. For children, they can go to the amusement park; for shopaholic, they can go to the outlet mall; for someone love embracing nature, they can go to Nabana-no-sato, a flower garden; for someone love hot spring, there are huge hot spring areas for them to relax. This is truly a fun tourist spot for everyone.
Free shuttles are available to commute to different places inside the resort. Airport bus is found next to the outlet shopping mall.
If you would like to experience Japan other than shopping, you can try to plan a route like the above.