Year in Review: 2015 Travel Highlights

January 2015: Yokohama and Kamakura

Red Brick Warehouse Yokohama
With my mother and brother in Yokohama Red Brick Warehouse

If you have been following this blog, you must know that my mother and brother came to visit me here last year. It was their first time in Japan and they experienced a lot of first times too. First time in a cold country and first time to see snow. Yep! It snowed in Kanagawa by the time they’re getting ready to leave. I toured them around Yokohama where we visited Chinatown, Motomachi Shopping Street, Yamashita Park, Red Brick Warehouse and Minato Mirai. It was a long day because of all the walking. Because of their excitement, it was funny that cold didn’t bother them at all.

We also toured Kamakura to see Engakuji Temple and the famous Great Buddha. It was actually my first time in Kamakura and I just relied on my phone’s navigation system. Guess what we didn’t get lost. Both expressed that they felt being in “Japan” when they explored Kamakura compared when they were in Yokohama.

February 2015: Hida Takayama and Shirakawa-Go

The famous red bridge of Takayama
The famous red bridge of Takayama

On Valentine’s Day, I planned a trip to Takayama and Shirakawa-Go. I chose these places mainly because of the Shirakawa-Go Light Up Event. This trip was actually very challenging for me because I did all the planning and bookings. It was also our (my husband and I) first trip together outside Tokyo. My husband did not actually look forward to this trip because of the long distance travel.

Takayama is about 5.5 hours bus ride from Shinjuku which explained his grumpiness the entire trip. There was a point that I wasn’t treated well and was hurt so bad because I did everything I could to make the trip fun yet, he showed his inhuman side. HAHA. I know you are curious but if you want to read what really happened you may read my blog about Shirakawa-Go.

March 2015: Cherry Blossom Sightseeing Around Tokyo

The beautiful weeping cherry blossom tree of Rikugien Garden
The beautiful weeping cherry blossom tree of Rikugien Garden

I went to many places around Tokyo to see Cherry Blossoms. This was something I wasn’t able to do during my first year in Japan because my husband underwent a shoulder operation. So when the 2015 Cherry Blossom Forecast was officially announced, I looked for beautiful places around Tokyo where cherry blossoms are the popular attractions. I even went to off-the-beaten path Yanaka District to avoid the crowd.

April 2015: Beautiful Tulips of Showa Kinen Park

A yellow tulip in Showa Kinen Park
A yellow tulip in Showa Kinen Park

It was yet another solo day trip for me because my husband had a Rugby game. I had heard from other Navy wives that tulips were gorgeous in Showa Kinen Park and that if not visited within the first and second week of June, it would wither. So I hurried to the park. It was my first time in Showa Kinen Park and it’s so huge that you needed a bike to tour the whole place. But since I didn’t have the courage to ask where to rent a bicycle, I explored the park on foot. It took me about 5 hours to explore the entire place. Wow. I still remember how tired I was that day.

May 2015: Visiting the Acadia National Park

Beech Mountain Trail of Acadia National Park
Beech Mountain Trail of Acadia National Park

We visited Maine last year mainly (no pun intended) to spend time with my husband’s family especially with his grandfather. Truth to be told, each time we are scheduled to fly there, my heart would thump because I always love the idea of “Maine.” I always love to see the stillness and the quiet side of the nature it has.

It was my first time to explore the Acadia National Park, specifically the Beech Mountain Trail. When we reached the top, it was a scene that I have never seen before in my hikes in the Philippines. The trees covering the mountains are just too beautiful to take my wandering eyes off it. It was when I felt jealousy to Mainers who live nearby. They can hike it everyday! I even imagined myself hiking the Acadia National Park every week if given the chance to live there for long.

June 2015: Hiking Mt. Nabewari

Hasedera Temple Hydrangeas
The h ydrangeas of Hasedera Temple.

I would say that hiking Mt. Nabewari was one of my favorite travel highlights last year. Why? It was the most difficult hike I have ever done, more difficult than the Yabitsu-Toge trail of Mt. O-yama. Aside from that, we met a hiker who had shared insightful stories. If you wish to know more about our hike, go ahead and read my separate blog about it. June was also hydrangeas season. So I went to Kamakura and visited Hasedera Temple which is famous for this type of flower.

July 2015: Enoshima Island from North to South

The main shrine of Enoshima
The main shrine of Enoshima

I explored Enoshima because I wanted to test my new fisheye lens, which I later sold because I have a new mirrorless camera. I still remember how scorching hot it was when I visited it. My legs almost gave up and was so tired after touring the whole island from northern to southern coast. There was one thing I would never forget seeing that day though, a group of young fashionable girls wearing high heels. The heck were they thinking. Enoshima was full of stairs. What made me angry was they still looked fresh when I looked haggard with my sneakers. I just ate mango ice cream afterwards.

August 2015: Seawall Acadia National Park

Visiting Frenchboro, Maine
Visiting Frenchboro, Maine

We went back to Maine in July and stayed there until the second week of August. Our visit there was not for vacation but to pay respect to my husband’s wonderful late grandfather, Bampa. I would say that this was one of the most memorable trip for me because it was my first time to visit a very small quaint town called Frenchboro.

September 2015: The Big Announcement

Philippine Festival in Yoyogi Park
7 Weeks Preggy at the Philippine Festival in Yoyogi Park

Right guys. Doctors confirmed that I was pregnant! Since it was the most crucial stage of pregnancy, I had to avoid any activities involving too much physical strain such as strenuous hiking. In the end, my September wasn’t really filled with much traveling except attending few events like Philippine Festival and Tokyo Game Show.

October 2015: Relaxing Trip in Kawaguchiko, near Mt. Fuji

Autumn has started
Autumn has started

October is always so beautiful because of the leaves changing colors. Since the previous month has no real travel activity, I became bored and planned a trip to Kawaguchiko. It was the trip that made me realized that I’m nearing 30 and starting to appreciate the joy of “slow travel.” That a single day trip isn’t for me anymore. I just want go to a place, explore, spend a night or two, relax, and go home.

November 2015: Observing the Crazy Halloween in Roppongi

Despite being pregnant, I invited a friend to Roppongi to introduce her to the crazy world of Halloween in Tokyo. Our original plan was to catch the last train going home but that didn’t happen. She ended up enjoying the night drinking more, dancing even more, and became unstoppable. As the one who invited her in the first place to have fun, I didn’t want to ruin her night. We weren’t able to catch the last train and ended up staying at cheap onsen (hot spring) hotel in Roppongi. I was thankful of what we did because after the crazy night, who wouldn’t want to relax in an onsen and have a comfortable place to sleep.

December 2015: Exploring Kawagoe for the First Time

Carpet of ginkgo leaves in Kawagoe
Carpet of ginkgo leaves in Kawagoe

Tourists visiting Tokyo would usually explore Kawagoe as a day trip. But like I said, a single day trip is not for me anymore. So we spent 2 nights in an AirBnB apartment in Ikebukuro and explored Kawagoe the next day. I couldn’t recall though why I booked for 2 nights instead of just one. Also, my sister and her boyfriend came to visit me in Japan. They only stayed for 5 days, 4 days technically, so I made sure that they get to experience the beautiful ginkgo season in a small part of Tokyo.

I hope you enjoyed my Year End Post for 2015. Thank you for reading and thank you for being part of it!

If you have any questions or comments, I would love to hear it. Just leave a message at the end of this post and I’ll be happy to answer you!