Sisters in Japan, Day 11: Ito and the Jogasaki Coast

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K’s House with another ryokan (now museum?) next door

After a leisurely morning, Brady and I headed off for the Jogasaki Coast.  While the trip was originally supposed to be a family affair, Ricardo stayed back with LR so it was sister! time!

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Our room

We eventually made it after driving high up in the mountains (and fog!), which is not a route that I’d particularly recommend.  We stayed at K’s House Ito Onsen.  It’s a budget hostel in a former ryokan/onsen and it is super cool.  The reviews for the place are great and well-deserved.  There is a small onset facility on site, but we also went to a larger onsen in the Hotel Dankoen where we had a discounted pass.  This was very cool because there was an outside onsen that provides a nice contrast between the cool night air and hot water of the baths.

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Drink machine in the Hotel Dankoen!  Liquid courage for getting naked!

On the way to the Hotel Dankoen, I stopped by a walk-up sake window because why not? It provided an experience that helped make up for the one I missed out on when the drive-thru daiquiri placed was closed in Louisiana during SMS and my Deep South road trip.

After the onsen, we went out to dinner at a restaurant that was delicious.  It was also a little more expensive than we were looking for but the town was pretty dead and not much was open.  The food was quite good.

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Balcony view from our room

Although the day wasn’t as jam-packed as the prior, it was awesome!  Brady and I got to have a ton of quality time in the most beautiful setting.  I love the Jogasaki Coast and highly recommend it.  Given how affordable and amazing K’s House was, I’d probably spend 2-3 nights there as a home base for exploring more of the peninsula.

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Screenshot of the Hotel Dankoen Guide Map- go to the hotel site for a .pdf!

 

Sisters in Japan, Day 3: Osaka

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Today was an exciting day because it was the first Shinkansen ride for the entire M-R clan!  We left about 9 o’clock after that lil’ diva LR took for-ever to get ready. Seriously, good thing he was the last to shower because there would have been no hot water for the rest of us.

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Haha. I am so funny. I managed to get a quick workout in while we were getting ready and then we took a multi-train trip from Sagami-otsuka (Atsugi NAF) to Yokohama, Yokohama to Shin-Yokohama, Shin-Yokohama to Shin-Osaka (Shinkansen!), and then Shin-Osaka-Osaka-Nishikujō-Universal City.

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The hotel is nice and right outside the station and amusement park. It is an awesome location! After settling in and feeding the newest little Griffindor, we headed out to the Dotonbori/Nanba area.

We walked around and took in all the neon signs, sounds, and smells of Osaka. Osaka is known as Japan’s kitchen and there is so much good food!

We wandered around until I, at least, was starting to reach mild hangriness, despite a quick takoyaki break.  We went into a small Izakaya off of a side alley and got a great set dinner!

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We headed back to the hotel after briefly discussing moving onto a bar. But we needed a rest. Our mega-Harry Potter day was the next day and we had to be at our peak!

Boston graduation!

Sisters!

I arrived in Boston and after quickly seeing Ed and Meg, I went to sleep.  Ok, ok, first I ate the cannoli they brought for me as a consolation prize for missing dinner.

The next day, I woke up early and headed out for Brady’s commissioning ceremony.  It was such an honor to commission her and I was/am so happy and proud of her!  After the ceremony, we went out to a diner for brunch which was perfect since there was a table for 6 available without a wait.  Yay!  I had lobster egg benedict which was pretty good.
The graduate!

After breakfast, I took an Uber with Mom to the ceremony.  Normally I’m all about walking but I was in heels and my feet, especially the right, has hurt a lot since running for the train after the Beyonce concert in new boots.  We got to the ceremony and it was so great to be there for Brady’s graduation with the hooding and the diploma presentation.  The ceremony was very long since there were two schools graduating (medical and Sackler) but it’s ok, it was worth it to be there!

Continue reading “Boston graduation!”

Quality Time Weekend!

The past weekend was awesome!  On Saturday, SMS and I headed to San Jose after a delicious ramen lunch at Orenchi ramen.  SMS had gotten recommendations from two separate people so Saturday was the day to check it out.  It was delicious!  We both got the house special, which is a tonkotsu-broth ramen with slightly thicker, curly noodles.  My favorite part was the depth of flavor in the broth and the perfectly soft-boiled egg.  I’ve had a few better bowls in Japan but this place really held up against our previous ramen experiences.  SMS was also a fan.

Robot-san, v. 2

 After feeling slightly swollen after so much salty broth goodness, we hopped into the car for downtown San Jose.  We went to The Tech Museum of Innovation in San Diego where our admission + IMAX movie was free with active duty id.  Yeah!  The museum was cute but definitely geared towards kids and exposing them to mini-projects and experiments in the STEM fields.  That didn’t stop us from trying out the robot station though!  After SMS’ adventures in robot building at home, we wanted to check out how the museum curated the experience.

Going to the museum was also nice because SMS thought we were going to the art museum, which is usually more my speed.  So I got to accumulate awesome wife karma for thinking of a fun destination.  After the museum, we went to the San Pedro Market Square.  We decided to walk since the day was gorgeous and I decided to get lost and over-extend our walk by quite a bit.  Oops.

Part of San Pedro Market Square

Once we finally arrived, I loved the place! It’s two large buildings with multiple sections with many different restaurant/stationary food trucks/food court-type options.  We got coffees and dessert and it was really a treat.  There’s a huge picnic table area between the two buildings and the whole place and vibe were just delightful.

We love brunch!
Beautiful friends!

On Sunday, SMS had a conference to go to while I went into the city to have brunch with Brady and Rosa.  We went to the Mission Beach Cafe at Rosa’s friend’s suggestion and it was wonderful.  Brady got the French Toast for us all to share, I got the egg sandwich and Rosa got the winner dish of classic Egg Benedict.  There are several Bennies on the menu and I will definitely go with one next time I go.  The egg sandwich was good but messy, plus it was on a biscuit which made it slightly too heavy for my tastes.  I still ate it though!  The French Toast was also good, but it’s hard to beat my Mom’s so that’s that.

“A Sunday Afternoon in Dolores Park” by Daniel Doherty ’09

The Women’s Center

 Afterwards, we walked around the Mission District.  We went to Delores Mission Park and then went to look at a few murals.  First, we walked to the Women’s Center on 18th St and then we walked through Clarion Alley.  The last time I had been was in 2010-ish and it’s amazing how the murals have changed to reflect activism against rent increase and the “Evils of Tech.”  It’s awesome to see how dynamic art can be and reflect current issues and controversies.

Clarion Alley

Then we dropped Rosa off and went to the de Young Museum.  We really wanted to see the Turner exhibit and it was really awesome.  I was worried it would be crowded and while it was, I was still able to feel like I saw the paintings in an intentional, measured way rather than feel jostled and rushed.

Brady in front of one of my faves

My favorites were the two Roman paintings of ancient Rome and modern Rome that are paired paintings but currently held by two different institutions so often not displayed together; the “Blue Rigi, Sunrise” which is a watercolor with razor-sharp lines, an amazing technical feat; the “Snow Storm- Steam-Boat Off a Harbor’s Mouth” a action-filled swirl of stormy sea; and “Peace- Burial at Sea” which has amazing reflections off the water’s surface.

After the museum, we headed home where Brady packed up and the three of us went out to dinner. We went back to San Pedro Market Square (yeah!) where we had Mexican food to mark Brady’s last dinner in California, at least for a little while.  We dropped her off at the airport and while it was sad, it was such an awesome visit and she’s off to do such great things that I felt really lucky to have had this time with my favorite sister!

[Edited to add: The weekend was a three day fest thanks to Labor Day!  SMS and I headed out to Castle Rock Park and did a lot of climbing.  Well, SMS climbed a lot and I belayed quite a bit- the routes were hard!  Afterwards, we went for a hike which was really beautiful.  Then we went to a local deli for lunch.  It was a great day!]

So…you have a sister?

Has anyone noticed the insane amount of marketing/merchandise recently released for the upcoming Star Wars film?  It’s pretty nuts although Christmas shopping will be easy for any Star Wars fans in your life.  I guess I shouldn’t be surprised since I saw the Lucas films sponsored extravagant Star Wars tableau ice sculpture in Sapporo last Winter.  Anyway, just something I noticed.

So, yes!  I have a sister!  Ha, ha.  We had a lot of fun this week going out after work, especially when I left work early.  On Monday, we went to Palo Alto where we had oysters for Happy Hour at Gravity Bistro and Wine Bar.  It was pretty good but no Shell Shock.  We had the oysters, calamari and eggplant bruschetta.  It was tasty and we had fun but it’s not my favorite restaurant.  We decided to move on and try to find outdoor seating somewhere.  We ended up at Local Union 271 where we almost missed out on an outdoor table after we were waiting for it to be cleared and someone almost swooped in even though we were first.  That would have been a bummer but SMS saw what was happening and secured our table.  Hooray!  B and I shared a beet salad and chicken tacos.  It was all very delicious.  We then took a long-ish walk to the Stanford campus and went to the main courtyard, saw the Burghers of Calais installation and strolled through the Rodin garden.  It was really nice.  To make sure we didn’t incur a calorie deficit, we bought ice cream at the Scoop “microcreamery.”  The flavors there are subtle- not overwhelming sweet but really delicious.

Half Moon Bay

On Tuesday, we hopped in the car and drove out to Half Moon Bay.  We saw sandpipers and took a long walk on the beach.  This walk was made slightly longer by a closed trail and my erroneous map reading.  But, it was beautiful and we made it back!

Half Moon Bay

We went to the Half Moon Bay Brewing company for dinner, which was a cute place near the point where people watch the Mavericks surf competition.  We ate outside which was a little chilly but it’s so hard to choose indoor seating on a Summer’s evening, even if it is becoming a little more Fall-like.  We drove home and were stuck in a massive traffic jam from an accident ahead of us but we didn’t mind too much.  It was an opportunity to rest and digest!

Hopscotch

Wednesday, we went into Oakland for dinner and a concert.  Dinner was absolutely heavenly.  B read up on the area we were going to and there are a lot of awesome restaurants, bars and clubs.  It’s the Uptown section of Oakland and really cool.  We ended up going to Hopscotch, an awesome restaurant with a farm-to-table, American cuisine with distinct Japanese fusion elements- miso sauces, yuzu flavoring, etc.  The restaurant bills itself as an “upscale diner.”  I’d argue that it’s more upscale than diner other than the one of the seating areas which does look like a nice, old-fashioned diner or ice cream parlor.  We sat in the other dining area two doors over and it was exquisitely decorated with several tables set against a comfortable tufted, pale yellow leather bench.  I loved it.

Dinner was pretty epic.  We ordered a lot of dishes and ate everything. The portions were moderate and we were hungry.  SMS and I each had a Yonsai oyster, an oyster with urchin, roe and citrus soy. It was delicious!  The three of us shared the Kakiage appetizer and the Greens and Shrooms (broccolini, king trumpet, shimeji and mung sprouts).  The Kakiage was fried goodness but the greens dish was amazing with a really good miso sauce binding all the veggies.  Plus, I love king trumpet mushrooms.

For mains, we shared again.  SMS ordered the black garlic gnocchi, I ordered the salmon and B got the mussels.  I loved the first two and didn’t quite care for the combo of mussels and miso broth. Brady and SMS did so it was just a personal preference issue.

As good as dinner was, could things get better?  Yes.  We had desserts that were so awesome.  We had homemade donuts with an amazing butterscotch custard and an almond mud pie.  There was also a dessert drink menu and we ordered a Uptown Egg Cream, which was outstanding!  The drinks at the restaurant are really on point.  I had ordered a maple old-fashioned and Brady had an incredible Kentucky daiquiri with bourbon, strawberry, lemon and ginger beer.  I was leary of it initially because I thought the strawberry would be fake and cloying but it was real and awesome!

Set-up at the Fox Theatre

So yes, I highly recommend Hopscotch!  Afterwards, we went to the Brandon Flowers concert.  He was really good and I recommend any BF or Killers show.  I’m a little bit of a fangirl.

BF in action

Thursday and Friday were a little light on Brady QT since she went to Monterey on Thursday and into the city on Friday afternoon.  We’re going to meet up for brunch on Sunday and hang out until her flight Sunday evening.  *Sniff!*