Wednesday, May 31, 2017


Location: Japan, 〒401-0337 Yamanashi Prefecture, Minamitsuru District, Fujikawaguchiko, Motosu, 212

This is the only destination we visited during the fourth day of our 6-day Japan tour. We had this tour right after arrived at Shinjuku Bus terminal of Tokyo coming from Keihan for 6 hours night express bus trip.

The Fuji Shiba-Sakura Festival

Fuji Shiba-sakura festival - it celebrates the annual appearance of 800,000 moss phlox blooms, which burst into life in a rainbow of pink and purple shades. Plus, the dramatic backdrop of Mt. Fuji means the festival provides an abundance of excellent photo opportunities.

Shibazakura (scientific name: Phlox subulata) is a perennial of the family Polemoniaceae, and a species of phlox. From April to May, it blooms in small blossoms of around 1.5 cm diameter, in red, pink, white, or purple. Native to North America, it is also known as “Moss Phlox” Noted for the resemblance of its flowers to cherry blossoms, it is a creeper plant, covering the ground like a lawn, and thus it is called “lawn cherry” (shiba-zakura) in Japanese. This feature makes it a popular choice for edgings or ground cover. ( For this year, it covered the period from April 15 to May 28, 2017 which was just timely because our Japan tour was from May 15-20, 2017. It opens from 8:00 A.M. to 5:00 P.M. The last bus that leaves the place is at 5:00 P.M.

Taken from the viewdeck of Shinjuku Expressway Bus Terminal

Without enough rest from an overnight express bus trip from Keihan (Osaka), we arrived at Shinjuku Bus Terminal where we bought our bus tickets going to Fujikawaguchiko where we have been still carrying our trolley luggages.

Still at the viewdeck of Shinjuku Expressway Bus Terminal

We did not have time to look for a restaurant to have our breakfast. Inside the bus terminal is Family Mart where we bought our food for breakfast. Tourists were arriving in big numbers and bus tickets are fast-selling like hotcakes. In fact, we were not able to get the bus tour package straight to the Shibasakura. We bought tickets from a local bus in same bus terminal but it was a cutting trip to Kawaguchiko station and we have to take another local bus to the site of Shibasakura.

The Kawaguchiko Station

Shinjuku Expressway Bus Terminal is a part of Shibuya, Tokyo where it is also known as the "New South Gate". The local bus charged us 1,750 yen which was at the time the exchange rate from yen to peso is 1.78 and it amounted to P983.15 for one way per head only. The bus travel was almost 3 hours.

Inside the Kawaguchiko Station

It was already 11:00 A.M. when we arrived at the Kawaguchiko Station and so we had our early lunch there. It was cold in this place. From there, we bought a tour package of 2,000 yen which is a round trip bus fare from Kawaguchiko to Shibasakura location inclusive of the entrance which is a one-hour travel going there.

The parking lot and the entrance site

As we arrived, the bus where we boarded dropped us and we walked to the Shibasakura entrance. Unfortunately, it was raining then and we did not have umbrellas with us. We waited for long for the rain to subside but it took long and so we bought umbrella where it costs 500 yen.

After the rain stopped (Model: Beng Sia)

It was still raining when we decided to buy umbrella so we can proceed to the moss phlox. The place is so magnificently amazing. Now words can exactly described the place. It was raining but countless tourists we roaming around the place equipped with umbrella. I spotted two groups having their prenuptial shooting there.

Such an amazing sight!

Gradually the rain had stopped and we freely roamed around the area. However, the thick clouds that covered Mt. Fuji were not showing any sign of clearing.

Taken from the Panorama Plaza

There was one part of the park called Panorama Plazaa where one can capture a good shot and we stayed there for 30 minutes. It is like a wooden elevated flatform where tourists are accommodated to get a good view of the wide expanse of Shibasakura.

Just at the foot of the Panorama Plaza

Panorama Plaza is just near the Footbath, Photo services and the Panorama Cafe. A few more meters farther is the Mount Fuju Gourmet Tent where it offers the Mount Fuji Delicious Foods Festival.

The Mount Fuji Gourmet Tent where tourists can dine

The Mount Fuji Gourmet is like a food court. There are vendo machines there where your can buy your meal tickets. So, you cannot buy them on cash but through the meal tickets you bought from the vendo machines.

Real flowers blend with the moss phlox

Part of the backdrop is the Ryujin-ike Pond

The tranquil Ryujin-ike Pond


Await pickup from Mode Gakuen Cocoon Tower, a short walk from the west exit of Shinjuku station, at 7:40am. After boarding a climate-controlled coach, you’ll make the 2-hour journey to Fuji Motosuka, home to the revered Fuji Shibazakura festival.

Monday, May 29, 2017


Location: Japan, 〒540-0002 Osaka Prefecture, Osaka, Chuo Ward, Osakajo, 1−1

This was the second destination on the third of my 6-day tour in Japan where the whole morning till 1:00 P.M., we enjoyed our stroll at the Universal Studios of Osaka. We took a train and headed to Osakajokoen station and lifted there.

The dynastic icon Osaka Castle in the midst of modern era


Source: Wikipedia

Osaka Castle is a Japanese castle in Chūō-ku, Osaka, Japan. The castle is one of Japan's most famous landmarks and it played a major role in the unification of Japan during the sixteenth century of the Azuchi-Momoyama period.

In 1660, lightning ignited the gunpowder warehouse and the resulting explosion set the castle on fire. In 1665, lightning struck and burnt down the main tower. In 1843, after decades of neglect, the castle got much-needed repairs when the bakufu collected money from the people of the region to rebuild several of the turrets.

In 1868, Osaka Castle fell and was surrendered to anti-bakufu imperial loyalists. Much of the castle was burned in the civil conflicts surrounding the Meiji Restoration.

Under the Meiji government, Osaka Castle became part of the Osaka Army Arsenal (Osaka Hohei Kosho) manufacturing guns, ammunition, and explosives for Japan's rapidly expanding Western-style military.

In 1928, the main tower was restored after the mayor of Osaka concluded a highly successful fund-raising drive.

During World War II, the arsenal became one of the largest military armories, employing 60,000 workers. Bombing raids targeting the arsenal damaged the reconstructed main castle tower and, on August 14, 1945, destroyed 90% of the arsenal and killed 382 people working there.

In 1995, Osaka's government approved yet another restoration project, with the intent of restoring the main tower to its Edo-era splendor. In 1997, restoration was completed. The castle is a concrete reproduction (including elevators) of the original and the interior is intended as a modern, functioning museum.

Taken from Osakajokoen Train Station

To reach Osaka Castle would need one to walk far from Osakajokoen train station. But along its way is mostly a sight of green trees and concrete road. The location is actually called Taiyo-no-Hiroba zone. From the train station, you will just walk down and turn left when you hit the Osaka-jo Hall.

Right side to Osaka-jo Hall with a bridge

There is a fountain before you hit Osaka-jo hall. On its right is bridge leading to Keihan Railway Kyobashi Station. But you are turning left and walk further.

This road will show as you turn left before hitting Osaka-jo Hall

Pass thru this point

You need to turn right on the edge of the road

This will show as you turned right in the previous picture and walk forward

This will show as you walk further

You will enter this gate with no entrance fee

Walk further and turn left when you see a bridge and cross it heading to the castle grounds

Part of the Yamazatomaru or Yamazato Citadel

After crossing the bridge, you will walk ascendingly as you approach the castle and pass through the Yamazatomaru. The whole area descending the tower of Osaka Castle is called Yamazatomaru. In the Toyotomi period, this area was designed to impart the quiet atmosphere of a mountain village, where many trees and vines, including pine, cherry blossom and Japanese Wistaria grew and where Hideyoshi and his family enjoyed tea parties and flower viewing.

Still a part of Yamazatomaru with the ramp ascending to the castle's foot

Reaching the foot of the castle

As you approach the foot of the castle, turn left an enter Tenshushita-shikiri-mon gate. Along the pavements are welcoming wooden benches with iron support for the tired guests. At its back are concrete viewdeck at deep drop with a lagoon down the base and overlooking the city's skyscrapers.

The other side of the castle

The castle can be best viewed on its other side which is somewhat flat green park. Fronting it is a road that divides the castle and the luscious garden park.

The dining kiosks and souvenir shops within the vicinity

The viewdeck which offers the best vantage point

The extreme right of the dining shops will offer the best point to get picturesque photos blending the castle, the backdrop cityscape, the lush green trees and the artificial man-made lagoon.

Postcard perfect picture (Model: Beng Sia)

This is what I mean: the backdrop cityscape, lush green trees and the tranquil man-made lagoon

Part of the cityscape

Another green revelation of Japan's cityscape

As I go back to the castle's main gate and heading to the Keihan Railway Kyobashi Station, I still captured nice photos where I included it here as I took them chronologically.

The upper part of the Yamazato Citadel

Crossing back the bridge from the Yamazatomaru zone

An opportunity for tourists to enjoy a lagoon boat ride

The bridge with the city's backdrop

The castle, the bridge and me

Back to the grounds of Osaka-jo Hall

On the left not shown in the picture is the Osaka-jo Hall. While the brown post-like structure is the center of the fountain which surrounds it. Past to this point is a bridge leading to Keihan Railway Kyobashi station but it was such a long, long walk.

That's what you will capture when standing from the bridge

Riverbank turned into mini green recreational park

After crossing the bridge, we entered the area of Osakajoshinbashi walk further for three blocks

This covers our long walk

We passed thru the MID Tower using escalators to the walkway bridge of Keihan Railway Kyobashi Station

The long walk at the walkway bridge

what you will see down the walkway bridge

What's inside the walkway bridge

Taking a rest at the Kyobashi Station

Kyobashi station is our entry point to take a train to the Keihan station where we boarded a 6-hour night express bus for Tokyo City which left Keihan at 10:00 P.M.

The bus station for Tokyo City

Took our dinner here at Don Don Tei in Keihan

Our night express bus for Tokyo City

Our bus trip to Tokyo ended our third day in Osaka while we were deep asleep boarding our bus.