2022 Japan: Time in Ikaho

We had an amazing Japanese breakfast at the Royal Park Shiodome before leaving Tokyo to visit our sister city Ikaho/Shibukawa in Gunma prefecture. We were met by our friend Mr. Ito who drove us to Ikaho and took us to our favorite udon restaurant, Shimizuya, for lunch. This restaurant is a 17th-generation business in existence for over 400 years! That is older than the United States! The udon and tempura were so good! They make their fresh udon with no machinery every day.

After lunch, we visited Hosui-ji, a Taiwanese temple that serves as the Japanese headquarters of the Bukkosan Buddhist sect and had an audience with the head reverend/minister(?). The views are amazing from this temple. After this visit, we arrived at our friend Mr. Omori’s ryokan and checked into a lovely and large room with a private onsen. Before a soak, we walked to the famous stone steps where I found my birthday step. I hope it brings me luck! At the steps, I soaked in the onsen foot bath and found and bought a pair of comfy geta.

I was so happy to have had time to soak in the onsen tub in our room before dinner. That energized me for a wonderful dinner with friends from Ikaho and a post-dinner karaoke for a nightcap.

I awoke to amazing sunrise views from our window at the hotel and then had another amazing Japanese breakfast before checking out and heading to our final stop at Hotel Tenbo where we rejoined the official group. Look at this luggage for just me (and my husband) and my friend. The first order of business was to head to the opening ceremony of the Ikaho Hawaii Festival. It felt so special to see the winning Merrie Monarch hula halau and musicians Waipuna from the island of Kauai. After lunch, I enjoyed another onsen soak before a French-inspired dinner and then off to the hula show where we had the chance to watch the winning halau perform. Just WOW. We ended with a nightcap at the hotel lounge where Godzilla was a topic of conversation.

On our final day in Ikaho and in Japan, we checked out of the hotel in the morning and then headed to an official meeting at the city hall and then lunch with the mayor and other government officials. We had some Japanese-style local food including locomoco for lunch.

Our group took a final photo at the stone steps and the Ikaho sign. Then went to a store called Chikyuya for shopping for traditional Japanese items. I wish we had more time to look around in that shop. There were handicrafts, kimono, and clothes — so much to see and definitely not enough time. We headed for the airport with a couple of stops at rest stops along the way where we found yet even more things to buy and bring home. We flew on the inaugural JAL post-pandemic flight from Narita to Kona. Luckily we also had lounge access since not many stores were open at the airport, although we did find even more things to buy at the airport!!! Upon our arrival in Kona, we were greeted by the governor and lei as well as snacks from Big Island Candies and Kona Abalone! What a fun experience and an amazing trip. Living Hilo Style in Ikaho!

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