Allison Day


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On our fourth day in Japan, Rachael’s husband rented a car (both he and Rachael are licensed to drive in Japan) and we went on a road trip!


Driving to Mt. Fuji

This was especially cool, because this meant Son and I got to see a side of Japan we would have never gotten to see if we were there by ourselves, taking the trains everywhere.


On the road

One such example is the Japanese rest stops.


Outside of the rest stop

We stopped at a rest stop on the way. Holy cow, Japanese rest stops there are extravagant!


Allison and the Fuji's outside of the rest stop

It had lots of restaurants, shopping areas, and tons of parking. It was practically a mini-mall.


Bird's nest at rest stop

Then it was back on the road.


Back on the road again

So where were we going, you ask?


Approaching a tunnel

Through the countryside, under mountains, to a very well-known Japanese mountain…


Driving through tunnels

Mt. Fuji!


Chocolates at the Mt. Fuji gift shop

Or rather, Mt. Fuji gift shops!


Mt. Fuji gift shop

Mt. Fuji wasn’t open for climbing yet, and for good reason – while it was hot and humid down in Tokyo, it was freezing, rainy, and incredibly windy up the mountain.


The Fujis on Mt. Fuji

So it was a game of dart outside for a photo…


The Fujis on Mt. Fuji

…then back into the gift shop where it was relatively warm.


Mt. Fuji gift shop

Then wait for a break in the rain and wind to venture out to the viewing deck where you might ordinarily find a beautiful view up the mountain to one side, and down the mountain to the other.


Path up to the viewing deck at Mt. Fuji


Fuji family walking up to the viewing deck


Part of a temple


Viewing deck at Mt. Fuji

(Though we mostly just got clouds.)


View from the viewing deck


Temple at Mt. Fuji

Then a sprint back to the car with Squirrel gripping onto my hand and running alongside me, because oh my goodness, it was so cold and windy and rainy!


Walking back towards the gift shops

By then we were all starving, so after the winding drive down the mountain, we drove around in search of a place to eat.


Allison's udon

We found a little udon place in a strip mall. It was one of those places where everyone stared when we walked in, and they had no English menu. A very good sign!

Thankfully both Rachael and her husband are fluent in Japanese, so it didn’t take too much trouble for us to order.


Son's udon with horsemeat

I got a half-bowl of udon with aburaage, wakame, and egg. It was fantastic (though to be honest, we were all starving by then), but the best part by far was the noodles. They were very obviously made in-house and hand-cut, and they were delicious! After all that wind and rain, this really hit the spot.


Allison's udon

Son got a slightly more exotic bowl of udon. Any guesses as to what kind of meat was in his!


Horsemeat udon

Horsemeat!

It was the only meat they had available (the woman taking our order was very apologetic to us gaijin for that). It was interesting – like a lean, very flavorful beef.


Inside the udon shop

And for only 950 yen for both bowls (about $12) it was a steal – we all left stuffed to the gills.


Squirrel at the udon shop


Parking lot


Mr. Fuji inside the udon shop


Other shops in the strip mall


Classic Japanese drink vending machine


Fujilings in the car

We started to head back… and then somebody decided they needed a potty stop as we were about to get on the freeway.

Luckily, Son realized that we could turn into the Mt. Fuji Visitor Center and use the restroom there, which meant that we got to check out the Visitor’s Center really quick before we left the area.


Mt. Fuji Visitor's Center


Visitor's center


Visitor's center


Outside the visitor's center


Visitor's center


Map outside


Driving back

And then we were off!


Oh hi, traffic

But we weren’t heading back to Tokyo just yet.


Hey, is that a Coco's?

(Random question: is it weird that every time I see a restaurant that I consider to be “American” – like this Coco’s, or a Denny’s, or, as you’ll see in a minute, Red Lobster – I kind of really want to go try it out, just to see how it’s different?)


Small-town Japan


Driving on the left side of the road

No, we had a very important detour to make.


Hey, nice car!


Red Lobster

We went to Costco!


Costco

Seriously. We went out of our way (since we were paying to rent the car all day anyways) to visit a Costco.


Entering Costco

It was probably the freakiest experience of the entire trip.


Japanese Costco looks just like American Costco!

A Japanese Costco seriously looks just like every single Costco you ever see in the US. Same layout, nearly the same signs…


This is seriously weird.

The only difference is that their seafood selection strikes envy into my heart. Seriously, why can’t we have ridiculously fresh uni and tuna and ikura and 20 different kinds of seaweed at our American Costcos? (Yes, I’m whining. You would too, in my position.)


Costco

So seeing Costco was cool, yes. (Did you know that you can use your Costco Membership Card anywhere in the world? Kind of wish we had brought ours!)

But just seeing a Japanese Costco was not the real reason why we came here.


Allison with the Hokkaido milk soft cream in the Costco food court

Nope, we were here for the Hokkaido Milk Soft Cream. (200 yen)

After all the times Rachael has mentioned it while we record our Miso Hungry Podcast, of course I had to try it.

It was ridiculous. So good. I want more. I can see why she raves about it!


Hokkaido Milk soft cream

Rachael’s girls needed several more potty stops after we left Costco, so we ended up stopping at a 7-11 and picking up a few things to eat later.


Fried rice onigiri

Son got a fried rice onigiri, and picked out a couple more things for me that I ate later that night.


Motorcycle shop

Then it was back to Tokyo, for real this time.


Checking out a Honda


Honda butt


Hello again, Tokyo

The Tokyo Tower looked mystical all lit up in the fog.


Tokyo tower at night


Empty Tokyo streets


Traffic and a train


Shiodome offramp

Once we got back, we left Rachael and her family at their hotel (and returned all the now-broken umbrellas they had borrowed from the hotel that morning – the poor umbrellas didn’t stand a chance against the crazy Mt. Fuji winds!) then headed back to our hotel to rest for a bit.


Son with all the Fujis' broken umbrellas


Inari from 7-11

We got into another of the 7-11 purchases – an inari with some sort of mixed rice inside.


Inside of inari

Then we headed out to wander Shimbashi station, looking for something to eat. We had passed this place called Soup Stock several times already, and it always smelled good, so Son decided he wanted that for dinner (I wasn’t very hungry by then).

We got a meal that included butter chicken curry, Tokyo borsch, rice, and orange juice. I wasn’t too much of a fan, but Son enjoyed it.


Soup Stock

And for dessert, a custard-like tart from a nearby bakery.


Tart


Ikura onigiri

Son got his soup and a yummy custard tart, and I ended up in bed with an onigiri.

Yep.


Allison in bed with an onigiri

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Comments

  1. Perrins Aybara says:

    everything looks so good. just a question though and this might be my American road trip exprience mind set, but is the food that you purchase from the 7-11′s and all the other road stops good compared to the food from in the city? is it freshly made or a prepackaged kind of snack? the fried rice onigiri and the inari look fresh made, but also looked prepackaged. i know while road tripping in the USA i wouldnt eat any food from the stations or 7-11′s just bc of all the bad expriences from when i was a kid. lol

  2. Wholesale Nike NFL Jerseys says:

    Freshly baked or pre-packaged snacks? Fried rice balls and Inari look fresh, looked at the pre-packaged

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