MARCH 23RD - APRIL 14TH, 2010
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Tuesday, April 13, 2010


didn't have internet last night, so we're updating the blog today!

first of all, we must thank josh hart a BAJILLION times for this amazing stay at the hot springs. he is one of erik's best friends and groomsmen, and as our wedding present he bought us this night at this AMAZING hot spring hotel. this place couldn't be more perfect. we are in LOVE with it!!! it's called tennomaru and it's in gamagori :)

now onto the details!

here is where we were located 

a shuttle picked us up from the gamagori station, and took us 30 minutes UP A MOUNTAIN (all while listening to classical versions of music from the anime movie "my neighbor totoro", and no, i'm not joking haha) to this fabulous place. we knew from pictures the views would be great, but we had no idea they were so great because they were so high up a mountain! we thought the building was just really tall! haha

anyway, the people who worked there were all super nice, and they even rang a cool gong outside as we walked in! then, only one guy working there spoke pretty good english, so they sent him over to talk to us about everything haha...he asked us when we would like to go to dinner that night, and explained where everything was, etc. 

THEN! before he showed us where our room was, he asked, "honeymoon, yes?" and we said, "yep!" so then they gave us a pair of special scissors and set up a ribbon across two posts so we could pose for a picture (about to cut it) and then after the picture they told us to cut it and that it symbolized "good luck" or "happy marriage" :) then they said how they were going to print out the picture for us and gave it to us when we checked out! how cool is that?! here it is!

anyway, back to getting us to our room...the guy then led us to the elevator, but the elevator was SUPER small. 

since we had all our huge luggage with us, erik and i got in with the luggage, and there was still a tiny bit of room for the guy to fit in, but instead he hit the "close door" button for us, spoke some japanese super quick, then dashed away. i laughed because i thought the rest was up to us to find the room (not that it was hard to do, it was just funny the way he did things haha) but erik said, "oh! i think he booked it up the stairs!" and sure enough, once the elevator opened, there he was! WAITING for us! it was hilarious hahaha...so then he continued showing us the way to our room and once we got there, he let us in, and continued to show us around the whole room telling us what everything was. haha, he was so very nice :)

so here are some pictures of the amazing room we had! it was SO PERFECT.

and our private hotspring right on our own balcony!!! 

by the way, our special rooms even have their own special sign haha

and they gave us yukatas to wear!!!

it was all just too awesome. LOVED every bit of it! 

we had made dinner reservations for 7pm, so down we went and really had no idea what to expect haha...we had thought it miiiight be something similar to ume no hana (with the 16 courses) because this place is very traditional japanese, but we had no idea we would be right! so here comes another HUGE meal!

our place setting once we arrived:

then they brought out this special "wedding rice"! it once again is supposed to be for a happy marriage :) it was so cute how they made it special for us though! the guy from earlier who showed us our room even came out to say, "you see, rice is normally white. but if you notice...this one is red" with a huge smile on his face haha...it was great. everyone is so nice!!!

so, we started eating after the wedding rice, and here was a bunch of sashimi (all raw fish). it was absolutely amazing!!! there was even squid in there ;)

but next...WAS A SNAIL! he asked us if we wanted it boiled, baked, or as sashimi, and we both said, "BAKED!" haha...and...we actually ate it! it wasn't all that bad, really. the bottom half was even similar to liver. the top part was rubbery and hard to chew though

afterwards we were rewarded with steak haha...

then some soup with mushrooms, tofu, salmon, a weird grey dumpling, and some other white fish in it

then a delicious eggplant and the other thing on the right was a type of dumpling that sort of melted in your mouth. both were very good

next was some white fish, shrimp, asparagus, and pumpkin squash all tempura battered! YUM!

then some white rice and miso soup with a side of pickles. you pour the miso soup into the rice bowl for this dish :)

next was an AMAZING raw peeled tomato in some sort of delicious dressing. erik isn't a fan of tomatoes, so he really missed out on this one haha...it was SO good. 

getting close to the end we had some melon and tea

and finally, ice cream! all different flavors. green tea, chocolate, mango, strawberry, and another flavor that was another kind of tea

oh! and this was the cute sign on our table reserving it :) had to take a pic haha

and then our really nice server took our picture for us! she didn't know much english, so it was hard for her to try to explain what the dishes were, but i was happy i got to use some of my japanese on her!!! i actually got to say a few sentances! she liked that :)

afterwards, the view from our balcony looked pretty awesome, so i took a picture of that too.

THANK YOU AGAIN, JOSH!!!!! THIS STAY WAS SOOOO GREAT! loved every tiny bit of it :)

right now we are at the park hyatt tokyo! the same hotel as the one in Lost in Translation! we're pretty much freaking out right now and taking a million pictures, so expect another blog update with all that info in it later ;)


  1. It all looks so incredible! Although, Erik will have to explain to me how he will eat a SNAIL but can't eat a raw tomato!! Have a safe trip home! Love you guys!! XO

  2. How will you ever top this?!!What a trip. Now I want to go to Japan too.

    Love, mom

  3. Hi, I ran across your blog and it's been so helpful! We're heading to Japan (keeping fingers crossed) in mid-May and we'll also be staying at the Park Hyatt in Tokyo.

    I've booked several other places (we'll be traveling to Kyoto, Hiroshima/Miyajima, and Hakone)- how did you find out about the transportation? We're purchasing the JR Pass, but not sure what exit to get off, if our hotels are near the JR stations, etc.

    Also- where can I book the Tennomaru hotel in Gamagori? The pictures look outstanding!

    Sara :)

  4. just sent you an e-mail, sara! :D

  5. Hi, where can I book this Tennomaru in Gamagori? And how to get them for pick-up like what you did? Are the dinner already included in the price or you will need to book and pay extra? I will be travelling to Kyoto, Kobe, Gamagori, and Tokyo. Should we buy 2 weeks JR Pass? I will stay at the same hotels you were staying at Shinjuku and Kobe. Any suggestions? Thanks.

    1. we booked it through japanican.com (here is the link to tennomaru on there: http://www.japanican.com/hotels/accessmap.aspx?st=5426001) and you want to make sure you choose the "open-air bath" option so you have one in your suite.

      it. was. FABULOUS.

      also! once you book, e-mail japanican directly at support@japanican.com and let them know you will need a shuttle to pick you up for tennomaru on the day of check-in. you get off at the gamagori station, and the shuttle will take you to tennomaru if you ask them in advance, and it's free!!! they also take you back to the gamagori station the next morning :) it was perfect!

      dinner (and breakfast!) was included in the price. it truly was an amazing deal for everything that you get.

      if you plan on going to all those places, the JR pass is a must. you will easily get your money's worth! they are a lot of money, but, they save you a TON of money.

    2. Hi Jacqui,
      Yes we have booked it last night! There are 2 options for open-air bath, one is smaller room size than the other, and for the smaller room, we cannot choose the menu and location (like western/jap style, in the restaurant/dining room). Which one did you get at that time? At the end we got the bigger room, mainly because I only want to have Jap dinner.
      OK, I will email them regarding the pick up shuttle.

      Did you use the JR Pass 21 days? And did you use it all the way from the airport til back to the airport? Total I will be staying for 15 days, so I am going to buy 14 day JR Pass, that means from the hotel back to the airport, I will need to pay separately.

      Thanks for replying!

    3. we got the smaller room at tennomaru (i think). we didn't have any choices for dinner or breakfast. the dinner was all japanese, and the breakfast buffet had both :)

      we had the 2 week JR pass, and we had the same problem as you! off by 1 day. so, we had to pay to go back to the airport separately too.

    4. I am still halfway reading your 2nd trip! Omg how exciting! I've noticed that you bought NEX Suice Pass in Tokyo. Initially I was thinking to buy 14 day JR Pass and activate it when we arrive at Osaka Airport and use it until the day before the last day we have to go to Narita Airport. But now I am thinking if it is better to just buy 7 day JR Pass and activate it 2-3 days after we got to Kyoto. First of all, to go to all those shrines and tourist objects in Kyoto, since our hotel will be in Kyoto, can we walk to all those places or do we need to take public transport? I've heard public transport in Kyoto and Osaka are not covered by JR Train, so need to be paid separately. Is it correct?
      So if all those shrines walk-able, then we can just walk for 2 days then activate the 7 day JR Pass on the 3rd day for 7 days, which will be the day we arrive at Tokyo. Then in Tokyo, we can just walk to nearby objects or purchase single ticket to day trip places, like Nikko, Kamakura, and Hakone. Do you think this is better or the cost of purchasing those single tickets are actually the same as the 14 day JR Pass? The difference between 7 day and 14 day JR Pass is almost $200. And if I purchase 7 day pass, that means I need to buy the ticket from and to airports separately.

      I have been spending hours in understanding the train and subway lines, and I am so lost. Not sure how to go from one place to the other. If you don't mind, you can walk me through how to get to places for day trip and when we need to change hotel, which station and exit, and change to bus/subway etc. So if it is OK with you, I will explain more on my next message :-).

    5. i'm happy you're liking my other blog too! :)

      for the JR pass, it sort of depends on how long you plan on staying in tokyo first. we always activate it on the first day going to the other side of the country (kyoto/kobe/osaka/etc). suica is all you will need while in tokyo. there's really no point in using the JR pass while in tokyo. it's the long bullet trains that make you save money with it. e-mail me at jacquikes@gmail.com and we can chat more about your itinerary and i can help you better with when to activate it :)

      in kyoto, we walked to a lot of places, but took the subway when we could, and of course chose JR subways when we could so we could use our pass, but, you're right, it's not always available, so you have to buy individual tickets. depending on where you are staying in kyoto, you might need minimal subway transportation though. when you e-mail me, we can chat more about this too.

      train rides in tokyo are very cheap (like $1.50, $2.00, etc). the train system there is absolutely amazing. your suica card will be like a debit card, deducting money off of it as you swipe in and out of train stations. SO easy! you can always add more money to it at the station machines too. very easy, and there is an english button on the machines, so don't worry! :) to go to nikko, i think it was $40 per person though. a little more expensive. kamakura was just like $8 or $10 i believe.

      i remember it took me a long time to try and figure the train system out too before leaving for our trip. i really wanted to fully understand it before getting there because i wanted to waste no time in getting places! and, i know it seems REALLY confusing now, but it's actually really simple once you get there and can see things. another VERY helpful thing, was this website:

      you enter in your departing/arrival stations and it tells you how to get there! SOOOO helpful. we used this ALL the time while we were in japan. it's probably the most helpful website for japan, actually hahaha :)

      anyway, e-mail me, and we can definitely chat more :)