VanDusen Botanical Garden, Vancouver

VanDusen Garden is a sight to behold!  Named after Canadian lumberman and philanropist, Whitford Julian VanDusen, it is one of five parks in the posh Shaughnessy neighbourhood, occupying a parcel of the old Shaughnessy Golf Course. The man who designed the garden, R. Roy Forster, was given the second highest honor for merit, the Order…

Gastown Stroll and L’Abattoir Dinner, Vancouver

Since 2009, Gastown has been a National Historic Site of Canada.  It was the nucleus from which the whole city of Vancouver, British Columbia grew. Its name was derived from the “founding father of  Gastown,” a Yorkshire seaman, “Gassy” Jack Deighton, who opened the district’s first tavern in 1867. His statue remains among the post-Great-Vancouver-Fire historic buildings…

Bowen Island Photography Hike, British Columbia

Still part of Metro Vancouver, Bowen Island is an island municipality in Howe Sound, a network of glacier-produced narrow ocean channels between bodies of land northwest of Vancouver. From Vancouver, you can take the BC-99 Northbound bus to Horseshoe Bay and take the 30-minute BC Ferries service to Bowen Island. The aisle to open water,…

Coal Harbor Morning Hike

“Nice bike!” a man on a bike hollered as he rode past! I was the only human within earshot so I soon realised that I had been hiking on the bike lane at Coal Harbor! Whether a straightforward “Out of my way” or a sarcastic “nice bike” was better, I learned to be mindful of…

Queen Elizabeth Park, Vancouver

Queen Elizabeth Park is one of the top go-to places for Autumn leaf-peaking in Vancouver.  It used to be a forest with salmon-spawning creeks, making it a favorite hunting ground for bears, wolves, and elk.  In 1870 when Europeans settled here, they got rid of the wild animals, cleared the forest, and built pathways on the…

Amasake Chaya, Hakone’s Last Edo Period Teahouse

Tradition. History. Culture. Food. Drink. Nature. Tale of the Faithful 47 Ronin: Check, Check, Check, Check, Check, Check, and Check! They come together in this 400 year-old thatch-roofed countryside teahouse set amidst the lush mountains of Hakone. To facilitate travel, the town of Hakone— famous for its year-round stunning natural scenery, hot springs, and expansive options…

Planning a Lake Kawaguchi Trip

Ideally, if you can do a Hakone overnight trip at Hakone, experience the onsen and explore the mountains, lake, and villages there, then the next morning, move to Lake Kawaguchi to continue to experience this magnificent Mt. Fuji Five Lakes area. Below is a sampling of suggested stops but there is so much more to…

Maple Corridor, Lake Kawaguchi

A news crew documents the first day of Maple Corridor Illumination. Summer took long this year so the leaves have still been getting enough sunshine and chlorophyll, staying green and delaying autumn. It is when the weather gets too cold, hours of sun are shorter, and the leaves are deprived of chlorophyll that they turn…

Den’s Inn, Lake Kawaguchi

Coffee and Hot Chocolate at this homey hostel cafe just across Kawaguchi Lake Forest. Den’s Inn looks Western outside but once you enter, traditional Japanese custom of removing your shoes at the entrance [and using the slippers they provide] applies. [Just a note so that you mind the socks you put on for this trek…

Kawaguchiko Music Forest

A musical theme park, Kawaguchiko Music Forest is situated right by picture-perfect Lake Kawaguchi. With the right weather conditions, you could get a view of Mt. Fuji as well. This is a lovely setting to take in the spectacular environs of Yamanashi Prefecture. There is a museum and event hall to complement the gardens. Catch live…

Tenjo Yama Park Mt. Kachi Ropeway

For a Mt. Fuji Sighting Site, take the Lake Kawaguchi Mt. Tenjō Ropeway to get to the peak of Mount Tenjō, famous for being the place of the Kachi-kachi Story. If you have time to go to the Fujiya Cookie store before or after your ropeway ride, try the different flavours of Mt. Fuji-shaped cookies. (They…

“Spring of the Gods”: Oshino Hakkai Springs

Not-to-be-missed Mt. Fuji World Cultural Heritage Site and Japanese national monument, Oshino Hakkai Springs is situated in an idyllic, picturesque village in the Fuji Five Lakes region where you can explore nature, history, food, and culture while chasing Mt. Fuji. On a clear day, you might see her majesty, the elusive Fujisan.  If you happen…

Planning Hakone Day Trip from Tokyo

Driver-san took us to the mountain top to see this: He said, “Kaba.” That was because the gorgeous scenery in front of us was on the cover (kaba) of the  Hakone travel magazine!!!😍 What a lovely view to cap our Hakone visit! Not bad for an iPhone camera (my shot, not the magazine’s 🙂 [Thank…

Hakone Checkpoint (Hakone Shekiso)

Imagine you were a young girl and had to leave your family to be sent to a heavily-guarded compound to work under a strict feudal rules. Day in and day out, all you did was work, work, work.  Violators of rules are severely punished. You are walled in and watched from all sides by weapon-wielding guards….

Lake Ashi Cruise Hakone and Taxi Information

I’ve been on a Lake Ashi Cruise before but I’m so thankful that this time, the Hakone Sightseeing Cruise we took, takes a different route altogether. [I showed Driver-san the picture of the red pirate ship and I tried oh so hard to tell him that this is the lake cruise I want to take….