After our Hong Kong/Shenzhen trip, we headed back to Japan. This trip we decided to drive north of Tokyo, over to the west coast and back to Tokyo and trains. We landed in Narita on the 1st April and stayed at the airport hotel, and picked up our car the next morning.
Our first stop to stretch out legs was a little fishing port.
To get to Sendai we drove through the Fukushima exclusion zone, quite a sombre journey. Many roadside businesses had been destroyed and evacuated since the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami. There were security guards at every turnoff, checking cars, I assume to see they were locals with relevant business there.
We got into Sendai and checked into the hotel, and our car was scooped up by a car park lift. Went out for a walk to see Sendai at dusk and went to a nice seafood restaurant.
The next day we spent the morning in Sendai, we were right next to a camera store, so I made a visit and tried out lenses. They just have them security corded here, and no staff trying to make the sale - so you could just put them on your camera and see the quality, it was great.
We went to see the big Bhudda statue, which was spectacular. Inside, each level had little Bhudda displays and Samurai statues. The views from the top weren't that great as the windows were made very small so as not to distract from the statue. Take a jacket as the whole thing is made out of concrete painted white, so it was 10 degrees colder inside.
What does a Fox say? It's kind of a weird sound, like a three year old wingeing for an ice cream. Kinda wierd, the foxes were up close and there were tame ones you could pat, but the whole place was a little too touristy, people feeding foxes from a platform and watching them fight over the food.
The snow monkeys were well worth the drive up to the park which has such a narrow road then in places you would have to reverse back to let taffic pass. The park rangers do controlled feeding of the monkeys which ensures they hang around in the hotter weather, none were in the pools when we were there, but it was great to see them up close.
OK so I did push this one quite hard in snapseed, but all afternoon the sun and clouds danced around providing picturesque landscapes.
We spent an hour at the Wasabe Farm which had some shrines and statues to look at and had some great cherry blossom trees.
Tonight we went to Matsumoto Castle which had extended hours for the blossoms. There were food tents and traditional Japanese bands playing, and the castle looks spectacular when lit up at night.
On the way back to Tokyo we decided to make a side tour to see Mt Fuji up close. Unfortunately the weather wasn't playing our game, and decided that the cloud cover would stay for the morning. We had a look around the lake, it had a decidedly Queenstown feel.
We also made a little side journey to Lake something, pretty little beach resort.
Dropped off the Mark X, nice car with a 3L V6, a predessesor of the Toyota Chaser.