Oshino Hakkai

It was a little more than an hour of driving from Fuji Safari Park.  I'm not quite sure as I slept for most of it—I think the best part of being on a tour is having someone else drive as I am usually the driver in the family (and when I'm not the driver, I'm the navigator, so I have to stay awake).  When we arrived at Oshino Hakkai, we were all sleeping, and I actually wanted to nap during this 1 1/2 hour block.  I'm glad, though, I decided to pull us out of the bus and stroll around.  Oshino Hakkai is such a quaint, little village.

Oshino Hakkai used to be part of Lake Utsu until Mt. Fuji erupted and the lava covered the north part of the lake and the south part of the lake became Lake Yamanaka.  Eight ponds formed in the northern part, which is now known as Oshino Hakkai.  The springs are fed by the melted snow from Mt. Fuji that filtered down the mountain's layer of lava.  It takes 80 years for the water to trickle down making it very clear water!

Next to this pond, they had water spouts where you could place water bottles and drink the water.  You could also dip your hand in the water, and it was really cold!

We couldn't see Mt. Fuji today.

He had a great time playing with the water.

The water is so clear that you can see the bottom of the river.

Flowers and watermill

We might not have a photo with Mt. Fuji in the background, but I do love this view with Oshino Village.

Our tour was almost over, so it was time for a treat!  He enjoyed grape soft-served ice cream while I enjoyed the green tea soft-served ice cream.  (I like to tell myself that it's a healthier choice.  HA!)

There were quite a few souvenir, restaurants and snack shops around the village.

The water is so clear!

I love that I can easily see fish swimming in the pond.

Dried corn

Exterior view of the mill

Interior view of the mill

The dried strawberries were delicious!  This was the first time I have ever tried them, but I did not want to pay &yen1,000 yen for less than a pound of dried strawberries.  Ridiculous!  Or maybe I'm just cheap.

I did, however, splurged ¥300 per peach for the kids.  They ate them to the core.  Delicious!  Something about Japan and their fruit because they're some of the best that I've ever tasted!  I took a bite of the peach, and I could see why the kids wasted nothing.

Oshino Hakkai
Location:  Shinobugusa, Oshino-mura, Minamitsuru-gun, Yamanashi 401-0511 Japan
Website:  http://www.oshino.jp/

Fuji Safari Park

Lions, tigers, and bears, oh, my!  I almost, almost, did not want to get up at 5:30 in the morning to get ready for the safari tour that I signed up for the kids and me a few weeks ago at Yokota ITT.  After a fun-filled day at Fuji Safari Park and Oshino Hakkai, though, I am so glad that we made it!  (I have been known to miss a tour by oversleeping.  I blame it on insomnia.  That's another story that I won't divulge into today.)

Fuji Safari Park is located in Susono at the base of Mt. Fuji.  It's a unique type of zoo.  It's the second zoo that we have visited this year where we enjoyed seeing animals from the comfort of our car, or in this case, our tour bus.  An even neater way to see the animals is to ride in a jungle bus, which has netting over the windows so visitors can feed the animals.  The animals are free to roam around while we drove through their controlled zones—basically, carnivorous animal families lived in their own zones, and herbivorous and mountainous animals shared their own zones.  There are 7 zones:  bears, lions, tigers, cheetahs, elephants, grazing animals, and mountainous animals.

Here's one of the jungle buses exiting the safari zone.  There are several animal buses that you could ride in, such as a rhinoceros, lion, tiger, elephant, or bear.  I'm not sure if it was the gloomy weather that morning, but from this distance, it looked like the people sitting inside the bus could entice the animals to come over.  

About to enter the safari zone.  Check out all the other cars waiting to get inside the park.

Our first stop was the bear zone.  This cub wanted some attention or some food.

Roaming around in a "natural setting."

The sign reads, "WARNING:  Lock the door and do not get out of the car."  At this point, I was really happy that we were in a tour bus where the kids can't reach for the door handle or power-window buttons.

There were so many lions!

Reminds me of Mufasa from The Lion King.

These lions brushed up against every car they walked by.

Tigers were in the third zone.

I feel like s/he could tell we were taking photos of her/him.

The kids enjoyed looking for the animals and then making their animal sounds.

Last glimpse of the Amur tigers.

Asian elephant

African elephant.  One way to tell the difference between an Asian and African elephant is that the Asian elephant has small, square ears while the African elephant has large, triangle ears.

Southern white rhinoceroses

Reticulated giraffe

There goes another animal, an eland, about to block traffic.  This picture also shows a stand where people can watch the animals, which is part of the walking safari adventure tour.

Grant's zebras and Bactrian camel

American bison

After driving through the safari zone, we had lunch at the Safari Restaurant.  I think one of the drawbacks of being part of a tour is the limited time frame.  We had about 1 1/2 hours for lunch and to visit the petting zone.  Since it was 11:00am, there was already a long line at the restaurant, but priorities first, so we enjoyed pork curry and ramen.  My eldest son enjoyed a whole bowl of ramen to himself!  

The kids enjoyed poking the rhinoceros on display while we waited in line to order our lunch.

Lunch and a bathroom break pretty much took a whole hour, so we only had less than half an hour to check out the petting zoo.  Luckily, when we entered the zoo, the first animals we saw were the red kangaroos.  

For ¥50, you can get a small bowl of pellets to feed the kangaroos.  The kids really enjoyed walking around the area to feed them.  

There were so many kangaroos lounging around.

I wish we could have seen more animals, but time had run out for us.  The kids did find these tunnels to run around right before we had to race to the bus for our next stop at Oshino Hakkai!

Fuji Safari Park
Location:  2255-27 Suyama, Susono, Shizuoka 410-1231 Japan
Website:  http://www.fujisafari.co.jp/

Seibu Lions v Softbank Hawks

This past Thursday, Saitama's Seibu Lions played against Fukuoka's SoftBank Hawks at the Seibu Dome.  It was my first baseball game cheering for the Lions, and it was a very fun game with the Lions winning (9-2).

There was a lot of cheering from the crowd this night.  It's actually a pretty good place to bring your kids.  Everyone is so loud that they won't be bothered with your kids being just as noisy or noisier than them.

Fans getting their victory balloons ready for "Lucky 7."  Right before the Lions take the bat, these balloons are launched for good luck.  It's really cool and fun; and great entertainment for the little ones.  I took the kids to the top of stairs where they proceeded to run around and play fight with their balloons.

Here's a short clip of the Lions at the bat during the 5th inning:

Seibu Dome
Phone:  +81-(0)4-2925-1141

Picnic Grove

We drove to Tagaytay for a short getaway from Manila.  Luckily, it was Holy Thursday when we made the trip over there, so there was light traffic in Manila.  It was nice to finally breeze through traffic for once (I really felt that I spent half my visit stuck on the highways!).  Well, that could only last for so long.  It seemed like the closer we were getting to Tagaytay, the worse the traffic was getting.  On our way to Picnic Grove, though, my family passed the time by pointing out landmarks like Enchanted Kingdom, Splash Island, and Manny Pacquiao's neighborhood in Laguna.  

One of my favorite parts about the road trip was seeing so many fruit and vegetable vendors, especially for pineapples.  The best pineapples that I ever ate was in the Philippines!

Once we finally arrived at the Picnic Grove, we had priorities.  We first enjoyed a great family picnic at the park.

Enjoying the view from the park.

Standing above Tagaytay Ridge Zipline, I got my first glimpse of Taal Volcano and Lake.

Closer view of Taal Volcano, which is an active volcano.  

We stood on the deck for awhile and watched people ziplining across the park.   It looked really fun. 

The courses are 250 meters long, and you can soar 300 feet above the ground at 60 km/hr.  You can also fly one way or two ways across the park.

We walked along a trail through the park, and no matter where we were, we could catch a glimpse of people zip lining.

You could also ride a cable car across the park.  It look like a great bang for your buck because it moved across extremely slow, so you can spend more time enjoying views of the lake and area.

Crossing a bridge on the hike.

There were quite a few souvenir shops and food vendors at the park; so while we waited in line for coconut shakes, the kids found some snake toys for entertainment.

Finally enjoying our coconut shake!  So refreshing in this heat!

My nieces, nephews and youngest son having fun at the park.

After much debate, I finally caved in and said I would go zip lining.  Tristan kept talking about wanting to fly, and I didn't know if we would ever return here.  There were lots of other children his age zipping through, so we decided to do it.  Another benefit of ziplining is getting a complimentary photo, so here it is!

It was a lot of fun!  So refreshing and great to see the views!  Tristan had an absolutely wonderful time and talked about wanting to go again!

Petting a crocodile.  They also had snakes that you could take pictures with and pet.

Flying kites in the sky.

Oh, and if you're up for it, you can ride a horse at the park; but even just sitting here and enjoying the views is a day well spent.

Picnic Grove
Phone:  +63-46-413-4206
Location:  Sungay East, Tagaytay, Cavite, Philippines

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