Monthly Archives: March 2014

Welcome Back to Tokyo

sakura edit
The Cherry Blossoms greeted us upon our return to Tokyo, and for the next week or so, it is the annual season for hanami (flower viewing) — during the day the parks will be filled with picnics of families, friends and co-workers; and at night the canopies of trees along the streets will be lit for evening strollers.


Nozawaonsen – Farewell (until next time!)

As we sadly depart Nozawaonsen and head back home to Tokyo, we will leave you with a shot from the ski area’s Hikage Gondola.


This particular gondola transports skiers, snowboards, snowshoers, and the occasional snowdog (yes, we saw several of them) from the base of the slopes up 2,274m (7,461 feet), which is about 3/4 the way up the mountain.

From a kinda-related / interesting historical fact / edutainment standpoint, Nozawaonsen hosted the biathlon competition in the 1998 Nagano Olympics and is known for their pickled vegetables.


The Japanese ryokan, is a type of traditional Japanese inn that originated in the Edo period (1603–1868), when such inns served travelers along Japan’s highways. They typically feature tatami-matted rooms, communal baths, and other public areas where visitors may wear yukata (light cotton robe) and talk with the owner or in our case, other guests.

This simple little room serves as our afternoon tea room and private sitting area, and at night, we roll out the futons from the closet to create our beds.


7-Eleven Update: Mochi Ice Cream


At the convenience store, there are these little plastic containers that contain ice cream with a soft mochi shell. There are regular vanilla flavored treats, chocolate, and the one featured in this post: strawberry with chocolate filling. The mochi doesn’t have much flavor and doesn’t seem to be sweetened. If we haven’t talked about mochi before, it is pounded sticky rice, it’s chewy and just tastes like rice. Beneath the mochi layer, there is ice cream, strawberry flavor. After a bite of just strawberry, there is chocolate. For a small amount of chocolate it is a very strong but pleasant flavor. As you can see, each container has two mochi ice creams. The container comes with a little stick to pick up the mochis with. Looking at the packaging from this angle makes it look like a face. The ice cream was well flavored and I did like it. That’s it for this Ice Cream Update.

How to eat Lychee


Lychee is a fruit with tough skin thats is pinkish-red when it is ripe and green when it is not. It is a tropical and subtropical fruit native to a few providences in China, but can now be found around the world.

At the hotel in Kyoto, there is complementary breakfast and served at that breakfast is lychee. I, being the fruit lover that I am, decided to try lychee without trying it before. I got the little fruit and tried to open it. I tried to bite it open, to cut through the middle, and nothing worked. I didn’t know how to get past the strong skin so I looked up on Google: “how to open a lychee” and the first result was “WikiHow: How to Open a Lychee Fruit: 4 Steps”.

I read that page and it said that to open a lychee, I need a lychee(naturally), and a knife. Take the said knife and make a circle around the stem located at the top of the fruit. So, I did. After the nearly-transparent fruit was revealed, the WikiHow told me to peel away the skin. Once I did that, I ate the fruit.

It tastes like a rose flavored grape with a large (large compared to the size of the fruit) pit/seed in the middle. Lychee doesn’t look the same on the outside as it does on the inside. If you ever come across one, don’t judge a book by its cover, crack it open and give it a try.