Monday, March 1, 2010

Another Fabulous Weekend Gone By

Well, the title says it all! What a great weekend surrounded by friends!! It's weekends like this that make me say, "I don't want to leave Japan!" But don't worry, most of the people I spent the weekend with are leaving anyway, so I will be too!

Friday night I had a meeting with my Fuji Crew team for the Oxfam Trailwalker. We got together to talk about fund-raising and planned some practice hikes for the next two months. Our next hike will be overnight on Friday, probably from 9 pm - 9 am on Saturday morning unless it takes is less or more time to finish. It will be good to get an overnight hike in as we will be hiking through 1-2 nights in the real event come April. I'm sure many of you saw the email I sent about fundraising for the event, so please help me out as I train hard to finish the challenge! Our meeting was a success and afterwards we all went to dinner at a quaint little place called Safari. The walls are lined with big bookshelves, and everything is wooden. It was a cute atmosphere and I had the best cream cheese, salmon and cheese toasted bagel!

After dinner, three of us roadtripped through downpouring rain to the Izu. Kelly and I stayed with my friend Kari. We had some wine and watched The Cutting Edge in honor of the Olympics. The next morning we slept in and then ventured on our yearly strawberry picking adventure. The picture below is compliments of Kelly. Here we're posing in the huge greenhouse where the strawberries are grown.

Strawberry picking is a bit different in Japan. You don't actually bring any strawberries home, but instead it's all you can eat for 30 minutes. You pay a flat fee (a quite pricey one at that at $20, but it's all about the experience!) and can pick and eat to your heart's desire. They give you sweetened condensed milk to dip them in and it's quite common for the Japanese to count how many they eat. Their numbers put gaijin like us to shame, as I only finished a few over 20 strawberries, which equals out to $1 per strawberry. All in all, it was a fabulous time with lots of laughs!

The entrance to "Cafe Strawberry"

Finding the best ones! Another photo by KellyKilgore

Having some fun! Again, photo courtesy of KellyKilgore

After strawberry picking, we had a nice conversation with the workers. Always celebrities when foreign in Japan! We chatted for awhile and then bought some strawberry beer from them. I haven't drank mine yet, but it sounds quite interesting! I think it's locally brewed from the strawberries at their cafe if I understood right. Will let you know how it is!

Then we were on to our road trip to the best onsen I've been to so far. We drove through the mountains and a little over an hour to Ito, Japan. The ride included lots of music, car dancing and coffee. See below:

Finally, we reached our destination: Akazawa Onsen/Spa. It has indoor and outdoor baths overlooking the Pacific Ocean and a few mountains. It's absolutely amazing and one of the most relaxing places I have ever been! They also had some outdoor baths where you lay back and there are jets massaging your whole body. So great! The picture at left is the picture from the website, but a good idea of what it's like. We were there during the daylight and then decided to take a break and get some ice cream before going back in after dark. It was cool seeing the night lights of the surrounding cities in the mountains. See some more pictures of the onsen here.

Above I'm hanging out in the relaxation room where we got awesome massages for $2 (20 minutes) in the ritzy massage chairs. They are better than any of the other places I've been, even massaging your legs, thighs, hands, etc all at once! After we read and relaxed and cooled down, we headed back into the baths for our night view.

Then we got back in the car, and despite a short detour (oops! got a tidge lost!) we ended up at a specialized curry restaurant just in time to order before closing. I got a great beef curry and rice with naan on the side. A great night cap to our girls' day! Hope you all enjoyed the weekend!

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