A Brief Sojourn in Kamogawa, City of Breeze – Part One

After more than ten years of living here in Japan, we have practically visited most areas of interest: Nikko, Hakone, Kyoto, Osaka, Tokyo, Sapporo, Hiroshima, Nagasaki, etc. — you name it, we’ve been there (ok, maybe except for Okinawa, hehe). Lately, especially during business trips, we don’t even bother to check out the localities anymore. We’re already way past the “tourist” mode. Been there, done that. Yes, even naked public bathing. But that’s another post. :)

Last December, we found ourselves with a six-day holiday, with nothing to do and nowhere to go. Tsukuba is great, but we decided that we’ve had enough shopping at Q’t (this is pronounced as “cute,” and this is a small shopping mall here in Tsukuba). Now’s the time to relax. But where to go?

Coming from the Philippines, there is one thing we absolutely miss: the sea. To smell the salty air coming from the sea.To feel the sand beneath our toes. To lounge under the hot sun and sip piñacolada while reading on a hammock.

Wait. It’s still December. The beach is off-limits this time of year, silly. Still, we want to see the seaside for a change. The grand Pacific Ocean, why not? We decided that somewhere near Chiba would be perfect. I also found out, while trying to book reservations at hotels, that most of the rooms were either unavailable for reservations from December 28 to January 3, or were ridiculously expensive.

By some chance, I was able to find available rooms at a nice “petit hotel” (puchi hoteru) somewhere in Kamogawa. When I saw its location, I knew already that it was the perfect place for us. The house converted into a mini hotel is situated right at the top of the hill, overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Hence its name, “Hilltop Inn Branshe.”

Kamogawa is about 100 kilometers south of Tsukuba. For budget travellers, a daytrip would actually be recommended, as long as you can endure three or four hours of drive (one way), and still have enough energy for the return trip. But we wanted to go for relaxation, so an overnight stay it is. Wait, make that two nights. Let’s explore the neighborhood while we’re at it.

We’ve gone on road trips before, and we follow only one rule: I drive, Baggy navigates. He is more efficient at finding routes and navigating roads, while I am the only one with a Japanese driver’s license. :) Here is a map which I downloaded from Mapion, to give you an idea of how far Kamogawa is from Tsukuba.

About five hours later (we took a one-hour break for lunch), we found ourselves worming into the traffic of Kamogawa City. Luckily, we got there before sunset, which was a good thing, considering that I hate driving along unfamiliar roads when it’s dark (had a bad experience with this before). We found the hotel quite easily. Correction, mini-hotel. It’s actually a large, but cozy house converted into an inn. Complete with a dog outside (with its own dog house), and two snobbish fat cats who walk into the dining room every now and then. After checking into our room and resting for a bit, we were called to dinner. Yes, chibugan na! Dinnner and breakfast were part of the package. I’ve read online reviews about the hotel, and the food was one of the things that had excellent feedback. And yes, the hotel actually lived up to its reputation. The dinner course was simply…fabulous. As my sister said so emphatically in her best coño twang, “I’m so gonna come back here!”

For Aya, we paid only 60% of the rate, but she still got an adult’s portions for dinner. Three hungry adults ate her leftovers. :)
Main course for the night! Oishii yo!
Ice cream on cheese cake, plus coffee. Can I die now and go to heaven? 😛

The following day, we headed off to one of the main tourist attractions in Kamogawa. Kamogawa Seaworld, of course! Among their attractions are performing sea lions, dolphins, orcas, and beluga whales. Actually I’d never seen performing orcas before I came to Kamogawa. No, wait. I’d never seen orcas before coming to Kamogawa. I’ve already been to Osaka Aquarium/Kaiyukan (three times!), Niigata Aquarium (Suizokukan), Yokohama Seaside Park Aquarium, and Hitachi Oarai Aquarium. None of them had orcas. This is the only place in Japan where I was able to watch a performance by orcas, a family at that. As the sign at the entrance of Seaworld proudly proclaims: “2006 2 25, Orca baby born! The only place in Japan, orca family.” I also learned that orcas are called “shachi” in Japanese. Sort of sounds like a name you would give to a puppy, or kitten. Not a humongous mammal.

Entrance to Kamogawa Seaworld.
Photo at the entrance. That’s me, my sister, and Aya.

More in coming entries!

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6 Responses to A Brief Sojourn in Kamogawa, City of Breeze – Part One

  1. Toe says:

    You take great food pictures. That cheesecake-ice-cream-coffee combination is to die for! :) That’s really good… going to different places in the country where you live. You must speak good Japanese already if you drive without locals accompanying you.

  2. niceheart says:

    You got me hooked on “naked public bathing.” :) But where’s the naked public bathing? I know, I’m such a perv. :)

  3. kathy says:

    Yes, we’ve been here that long that we are already comfortable moving about on our own. Speaking Japanese is one thing, reading is another…argh…but we manage anyway. :)

  4. kathy says:

    Ah, so you’re interested about naked public bathing? One of these days I’ll post about my very first experience, hehe. :)

  5. Prab says:

    Dumb question: What’s with cheesecake? Most of the people I know with some sort of affinity with Japan seems to be hooked on it. Is it just a coincidence or something?

    And btw, the border surrounding the pictures is really apt. The shots look like they came from a polaroid camera. 😀

  6. kathy says:

    Cheesecake? It’s probably just a coincidence. It’s that or Japan-made cheesecakes are absolutely to die for. Anybody care to refute this? :)

    Know what, you’re the first one to comment on the “polaroid” effect of the photos. Thanks! :) Actually, I didn’t intentionally do it that way, it’s just how Serendipity (the PHP software we’re using) turns them out to be.

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