It’s been a while since I updated.
Things have been crazy in this unusual time, as it is for most people I believe. I am mostly spending my time being an assistant teacher to my own children and unwillingly avoiding having an outdoorsy life on purpose and basically just extending my social distancing to also social media distancing. It helps a little to cope with this whole coronavirus madness staying away from the ever overwhelming media a little. I feel more strongly than ever that the media industry should be more responsible with what’s put out to be consumed as it directly affects the emotions of an audience reading/watching it.
But things have been looking up here in Japan. The TV news stop playing dreary, suspenseful background music and instead more focus is put on the recovery journey against upbeat melody. It makes me feel so much better. Today, the state of emergency has been lifted for all 47 prefectures since it was announced 1.5 months ago. Although this is no way near the end of the covid-19 war, I am just glad that things are somewhat back to what resembles a normalcy, and I just want to see people out in the sun again, to see the smiles again, be it behind masks or not.
Anyway, I have also convinced myself that I have taken a long enough break from blogging and here’s my attempt to restart my Japan journey, starting with a throwback of our family trip back to Nagasaki last Christmas, December 2019.
We spent two nights in Hotel Nanpuro, a traditional ryokan recently converted into a stylish beach resort. The kids had such a great time that I told myself that I would share this wonderful accommodation perfect for a family getaway sometime, and here it is.
Hotel Nanpuro, Shimabara Onsen
Shimabara Peninsula in Nagasaki appeals to me as a having some of the best relaxing suburb attractions – warm, friendly locals, onsen towns, quiet beaches, nature hiking trails at the national park. Access is not the most convenient as it takes about 2 hour to drive from central Nagasaki city, however if you are coming from Hakata via shinkansen, it actually takes around the same amount of time!
The hotel lobby instantly wins hearts, especially little ones. I’ve never seen so much of entertainment at a single glance in a resort before. A huge lounge lined with cozy sofas, chess sets on the coffee table, a wide selection of magazines. Make a beeline for that coffee machine at the self-service bar while you grab a book that catches your attention. Next to the lounge is an indoor playground for the underaged, who will be further enticed by a massive comic corner. There are even some fancy fitness machines (which claim to help you lose body fat by just standing on one) for those who want to lazily get active (me!!) while indulging in your favorite shojo manga.
Whoa. I already feel like I want to extend my stay within minutes upon entering the facility and it was pretty much love at first sight with Hotel Nanpuro for us.
There! A huge ball pit and mini bouldering wall for your energizer bunnies.
Parents can chill out with nostalgic Gandam or Slam Dunk series while your young ones tire each other out at the kiddo gym.
As if having a playground and a manga cafe is not enough, Hotel Nanpuro also houses an arcade-lite where you will find ingeniously improvised game machines literally made out of just TV slotted inside printed cardboards equipped with respective consoles to race your buddies on Mariokart and even go all out on Taiko no Tatsujin (yay hit that!).
It’s a little surreal how a hotel can feel so chillax resort-like, shopping-mall exciting, and so traditional-matsuri atmospheric, all at the same time. It’s crazy.
Also, not in this photo are darts, Play Station games, arcade fishing games and more!
For those looking to score some Insta points, you can also rent a yukata and dress up for free! It feels almost like a full-fledge omatsuri packed into a hotel, the only thing missing now is hanabi (fireworks)!
It was chilly winter during our visit, but I can see how this resort is so much more appealing comes summer as there are so much of outdoor fun for the entire family to enjoy.
I’d suggest to stay here for at least two nights to give your kids ample time to explore all the activities offered and you shall probably dodge the sulky but-we-are-not-done-yet faces and potential explosive tantrums by the time you check out.
Endless entertainment awaits – just leisure walks at the huge outdoor park, biking, engaging in ball games, remote-drive toy cars, etc etc!
And a mini canoe adventure too!
If your little ones cares for the animals, there are a couple of hungry goats to feed fresh cabbages to. Check out the house bunnies and guinea pigs too for some cuddly opportunities.
A walk further around the compound reveals a chill out lounge that overlooks the beach of Ariake Sea sweeping across the horizon. Now I feel like I’m in Bali.
It seems like exchanging vows by the sea front is a thing for many Japanese so the hotel makes a popular spot for wedding ceremonies too.
Down jackets and pools don’t go well together, but that looks like a lot of water fun, so come in summer time!
One thing I absolutely love about ryokans/resorts in the suburb is that they are often so caring for the little ones it’s almost guaranteed that you don’t have to feel stressed out about your children not being well-behaved. I mean… the last thing you want to do on a holiday is to get mad at yourself for losing your temper over spilled miso soup.
This paper mat placed below the children’s dining tray says “Dear parents, children’s job is to make a mess, and we did the same when we were little. Please don’t ever worry about any mess made on the table or around the seat, as we will gladly clean up after. It’s your holiday so please relax and enjoy.”
Nanpuro, just like most ryokan in Japan, serves a kaiseki-style dinner course. There are several courses to choose from based on budget.
You will find lots of fresh seafood dishes with ingredients from the abundance of Ariake Sea.
It was Christmas eve so we had a little celebration. In Japan Christmas means strawberry cake, which cheesiepetits were most looking forward to.
A friendly staff will also take your family photo during dinner and you can find it at the lobby’s photo board the next morning.
There several types of room you can choose from and for us it’s always tatami-style.
Room view again!
If you are in the mood to splurge, there are also rooms with private onsen!
Other activities around Shimabara
Dolphin Watching Cruise, Kuchinotsu
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【Nagasaki】Best dolphin watching cruise ever! 🐬 I’m sure there are many places for dolphin watching around the world but apparent this cruise at Kuchinotsu, Shimabara peninsula in Nagasaki has a 99% of sighting dolphins, and it’s not just a few of them but a whole pod of playful fish frolicking in the water constantly for a whole 30 minutes! The captain slows the boat down and tries to keep up with the wild dolphins and some of them swim up so close you could almost reach and touch them! We also spotted mommy and baby dolphins and @cheesiepetit really enjoyed the cruise 🐬🐬🐬. Super recommended! #cheesieinNagasaki #口之津イルカウォッチング
This is super recommended! It was such a precious experience, the dolphins were so so close!
Other than Dolphin Watch, we didn’t do it this time but Unzen (雲仙) is another great onsen town to explore. If you love nature, consider taking a hike at Unzen Amakusa National Park, one of the first national parks in Japan.
We always fly in from Tokyo and spending time at Nagasaki Airport is a routine before returning home, and the roof top space is the kids’ favorite. Don’t forget to savor a bowl of Nagasaki Champon or Sara-udon before you leave the prefecture!
Spotted an army of professional air craft cleaners all geared up for work. I’ll remember them the next time I recline comfortably into my spotless seat on ANA/JAL. <3
That’s all for now. Really can’t wait to hit the road again and report back to you all on what I find along the way in my favorite country on the planet.