Mom's visit to Japan: Tokyo Skytree, beaches, hikes, & Disney Sea! - Summer Vacation 2013 - 2013年夏休み!Pt. 2

Hello again, everyone! In contrast to my previous post, the weather today is clear, sunny, and cool! Only one week remains until my school's annual sports day event, so hopefully this great weather continues through next week!

As promised, here is the followup to my summer vacation pt. 1 post. The second part of my summer vacation was a real treat indeed. My mother came to visit me here in Japan (this would be her second visit), and this time for two weeks! Her previous visit was only a week long, and while we had a lot of fun and visited many places, it felt rushed and hurried due to the short amount of time we had. This time we were able to relax a bit, take it slowly, and still enjoy some wonderful places in Japan.

While I had just earned my drivers license here in Japan, I did not yet have a car. This made traveling reduced to trains, bicycle, and on foot for most of the trip. If you have never been to this area of Japan in the summer time, it gets quite hot and humid. Both of us being from Texas, we are no strangers to this type of summer climate. However, air conditioning is a bit different in Japan. Most homes are not centrally cooled, and rely on wall air conditioning units, electric fans, and open windows for cooling. Needless to say, we were both exhausted from the heat most of the time. I've grown a bit accustomed to the summers here, but my mother unfortunately is not. We didn't let that stop us from having fun though!

Our first few days were spent just settling in and meeting some of my friends here in Japan. My friend Chris also had his parents visiting at the same time, so both of our parents were able to relate to the different culture, the heat, and the arduous task of having to use chopsticks for every meal!
At Toriden in Suzumenomiya


Our first venture outside of Utsunomiya was to Tokyo. She had visited Tokyo on her previous visit, but this time our goal was to visit Tokyo Skytree. Skytree is the tallest structure in Japan, the second tallest structure in the world, and was opened in May of last year.
Tokyo Skytree
View from the bottom up!

It is still so popular, that we had to reserve a ticket just to wait in line to buy entry tickets! But it was well worth it. Taking the elevator to the first viewing area, we found ourselves up in the clouds and being able to view all of Tokyo for miles around!
View of Tokyo from Skytree

Once back from Tokyo, we took a bit of a rest from traveling too far for a few days and caught a movie. The following Sunday though, we were back traveling, only this time we stayed within Tochigi prefecture, and luckily had a friend drive us to the location! We went to a place in North Tochigi called Shojinzawa, which hosts a natural spring. You can take your empty containers are fill them up with fresh water to your hearts content. In summer time, the area is breathtakingly beautiful.
A wooded stream in Tochigi, Japan

After a nice hike, we filled our bottles and headed home. But we did not rest long, and the next day we were bound for the beach, in Kamakura to be exact. As an aside, as long as I have lived in Japan, only until recently did I discover a wonderful thing called Seishun 18 kippu, or Youth 18 Ticket. For only around 11,000 yen ($110) you can purchase a ticket that will enable up to five travelers to travel anywhere in Japan by train, or for use of a single rider, or multiple riders on the same day, or different days. The use is up to five times so you have to choose how many riders and how many times carefully. But it is significantly cheaper than having to constantly buy local train tickets.

Back to Kamakura and the beach, we arrived to a hot and crowded tourist town. Kamakura is a fairly small town in Japan, but it used to be the capital of the Empire centuries ago during the Kamakura period. Now it is host to the giant statue of Buddha, many temples and shrines, and many beaches! We did not have time to visit the giant Buddha statue (I had done so a few years ago), and only one temple, but our focus was the beach. It was surprisingly not as crowded as we expected, and we had a nice enjoyable day.

Tired from our long day and the beach and the 3.5 hour train back home, I had forgotten that I had the Seishun 18 ticket in my pocket and ended up leaving it in there when I did laundry! Thankfully, the ticket was still intact and readable, but the next time we used it the station attendant was quite shocked at it's condition.

Our last journey on the visit was to Tokyo Disney Sea. Japan has two Disney theme parks side by side, Disneyland and Disney Sea. Disney Sea is aimed more towards the whole family, and includes more thrilling rides such as roller coasters and the selling of alcohol. This was an absolute blast, and we were able to ride most of the rides for the entire day.
Entering Tokyo Disney Sea

On the Indiana Jones ride at Tokyo Disney Sea

Tokyo Disney Sea

After Disney, Mom had a few more days to relax and prepare for her trip back home. One surprise that she received from some of my Japanese friends was a very stylish yukata (worn in the summer time).
Mom in a Yukata

And with that, her two week journey came to an end. I saw her off to the airport and we said our goodbyes. It is hard being away from friends and family at such a long distance, but it makes the reunions that much more special.

The last week of summer vacation was spend relaxing and enjoying time with friends in Utsunomiya. It was a summer of achievement, adventure, and spending nice, quality time with Mom.

The next entries will cover events and trips that I have taken in the previous 3 years of being in Japan, that I have not written about yet. I'll start with the oldest one first and work my way to the present. I'll definitely cover my Sports Day even for next week as well. 

Shea



Mom's visit to Japan: Tokyo Skytree, beaches, hikes, & Disney Sea! - Summer Vacation 2013 - 2013年夏休み!Pt. 2 Mom's visit to Japan: Tokyo Skytree, beaches, hikes, & Disney Sea! - Summer Vacation 2013 - 2013年夏休み!Pt. 2 Reviewed by Shea Roberts on 8:46 AM Rating: 5
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