On my birthday this year, the danna took a couple of days off. Both of us are not the gifts type of person. We sort of reached an unspoken understanding where we won’t have to go through the headache of what to buy each other during special occasions, but to decide together for a small holiday somewhere.

Last year we went to Okinawa, and this year we both wanted to travel up north to Tohoku.

The main reason was really just to give Tohoku some support. I have heard and seen heartbreaking interviews about how bad the people in the disaster areas after 311 have to struggle for a living, and every damn time it bring me to tears. Although just us visiting the area per se would not change anything about the people’s lives in Tohoku, i hope at least the presence of some tourists there will encourage the people there to hold on and persevere , or at least even just a little smile and brighten up their day. 🙂

So we have chosen Sendai, (Miyagi Prefecture) which takes about 4-5 hours drive from Tokyo.

We passed by Sano rest area for breakfast!

In Tokyo the sakura were almost all gone that time, and in Sano, it was still full bloom! 😀 But further up north, they weren’t even blooming for another week, so this whole sakura thing was really really tricky. You need a lot of luck!

Such a beautiful and happy sight :3

This is one of the cutest mascots i’ve seen in Japan!!! 😀

Sano is famous for ramen so it has got a bowl as hat and the fella’s hair is made of ramen lolol

 

Tamago Kake Gohan (plain rice with raw egg) only 300 yen!

 

This is a complete meal that puts a big big smile on me every time

I can eat this for the rest of my life T____________T

 

There was also an ichigo (strawberry) fair!!

Tochigi (te prefecture we were in) is quite famous for its Tochiotome strawberries! Although i still prefer Amao from Fukuoka

Tochigi limited Tochiotome Strawbie Kitkat!

 

Make a wish

 

Tochigi limited phone strap

 

 

After breakfast we continued our journey to Sendai (2-3 hours drive). The weather was not very good, it was raining throughout 🙁

Reached the central station.

The whole mall was deco in pink for sakura season.

To be honest there isn’t much touristy things to do in Sendai. But just like everywhere else, it has its own food specialty, and it is Gyu Tan (ox tongue).

 

“The Gyutan Street”

There was at least 5-6 Gyutan specialty shop, and we had a hard time deciding which one to go. The most famous one obviously had a long queue outside but we wanted to be hipsters so we went into another quiter one lol

Grilled ox tongue atsukiri (thickly sliced)

Tofu with ox tongue mince

And clear soup.

It was soooooo goooood. T____T

 

And then we went souvenir shopping!

The famous “Sea Treasure” box

 

This is a Tohoku limited, it’s not matcha or wasabi!! It’s this thingie called “zunda”. In the picture is Zunda Mochi.

It looks like Edamame, and to me it tastes like pandan wtf.

 

And the most famous Sendai custard snack called Hagi No Tsuki.

 

 

After shopping, we went and check in to our hotel!

Or rather, our Ryokan, a traditional Japanese style hotel, normally comes with hotsprings ^^

If you happen to travel to the suburb and haven’t experienced ryokan before, it’s highly recommended, because it’s my FAV type of accommodation ever! 😀

First of all it looks like this:

 

Where is the bed… right?

Well, once you check in, the hotel staff in traditional yukata will come and serve you light snack and tea, and then you get to relax. they will come back shortly after to help you arrange the tatami bed (where the table belongs), and tatami bed is the mostestestestest comfortable thing ever during winter.

Another thing i love about ryokan is that everyone in the hotel practices traditional Japanese etiquette and manners, every one is unbelievably extra extra polite and when they go out of your room they have to bow on the floor wtf.

 

 

And then everybody who stays in the ryokan will change into yukata. Normally guys in green/blue and girls in pink ^^

 

The whole point of staying in the ryokan is really just to slooooowly relax, go to the gift shop and buy snack and beer back to the hotel to drink and watch tv, and then go to the onsen (hotspring), many many times lol.

 

Dinner

 

I love going to their giftshops! Trust the Japanese to sell the most bizarre things ever, really.

When i was in Nagasaki they had Castella Cake Juice wtf.

In Sendai they have Gyutan Cider WTF.

 

Anyway, this ryokan that we stayed in is very famous for its natural onsen!

It has like a public big bath for men and women, another indoor onsen for men and women, a private onsen room free for rent, AND a natural hotspring outdoor.

And because it was so exclusive, it has alternate time/day for men and women to enter separately. I went in first.

There was a looooooong wooden walkway

 

And then a looooong wooden stair case

You walk till the end, push open the door…

It is the outdoor hotspring.

When i went there i was the only guest, so i sneaked in my phone for pictures wtf. You are welcome.

The river outside looks like this.

I swear the color is exactly like that!!! And can you see the mini waterfall?  There was lots of steam coming out from it and i believe that’s where the thermal spring comes from. Directly. Into the bath. On me.

 

I love onsen so much, you will have the best sleep ever after a 15 min soak.

 

Finishu.

So lazy i never wear my Yukata properly lol

 

 

Next day!

This ryokan has the best breakfast buffet i’ve ever had! It has like 10 counters or so making traditional Japanese food on the spot. FREE FLOW MENTAIKO AND SHISHAMO AND TAMAGO OMG

They even had a pastry chef who makes dessert on the spot for you omg i felt so spoilt and also feel super touched by the effort they put in T__T

Mine!

Shishamo and mentaiko and tamagoyaki, and crap miso sou and fresh kiwi juice.

 

His!

Grilled salmon and nikujaga and shirasu and natto and fresh milk.

 

And then onsen tamago and pink rice 😀

 

 

I’m not sure if it is just this ryokan, but i love the suburbs in Japan because they really make so much extra effort to make your stay /experience super comfortable, be it a hotel or a restaurant. Or public toilet wtf.

 

A Sendai public toilet actually has wet wipes! I don’t know why i was so impressed by this lolol. I don’t think many toilets give wet wipes lo hahaha

 

 

And then the hotel room and the hotspring bathroom has like a million types of soap, face cleanser, moisturiser, toner etc etc

 

And then the tissue is forever folded triangle one. This was in the hotel restaurant. Right after a customer leaves the table, they waitress will immediately clean it up AND fold triangles lol

 

In the onsen they have sterilized hair brushes

Free hairbands for the long hair ones (me me me me me)

The sign board says they have prepared 3 different types of shampoo, you can use whichever you like. The attention to details is incredible.

 

When we checked out we receive an origami frog, which means safe journey back.

I know it’s trivial but i really appreciate all these super small details la…

 

 

So we had to get back to Tokyo the next day.

“Ganbarou Tohoku”

On the way back we passed by Kunimi rest area, in Fukushima.

I was very happy because the whole souvenir shop was full of tourists!!! 😀 (Although you can’t see it from here because it was raining so nobody stayed outside lol)

I guess there are many people just like me, travel to Fukushima just so they can give very small support for the people there, in hope that they can recover sooner 😀

 

We bought our last gyutan before heading back 😛

I bought Fukushima Hello Kitty <3

 

And then continue our journey back to Tokyo, and stopped by Utsunomiya for gyoza 😀

Famous gyoza shop

 

Yummy!

 

 

Back home! Lots of souvenir from Tohoku 😀

Yamagata cherries

 

Oh and the sakura trees along the highway :3

 

Ok that’s all!

I didn’t know it would end up such a long post. Thank you for reading!

 

 

 

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