Chewy Junior #2 is on the way!

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YES WE ARE PREGNANT!! 😀 We have been keeping this a secret for the longest time!
This piece of good news totally caught us by surprise last year because misterchewy and I weren’t planning for a second child so soon as we wanted to wait till Chanelle is slightly older. However, what has happened has happened, and there’s no turning back lol. I have always wanted to have at least two kids by 30 but didn’t have the courage to do so. I guess it’s fated! 🙂 I’m currently in my third trimester and will be popping sometime in August! We are keeping baby’s gender a surprise for now! 😉 As with my first pregnancy, Chewy Junior #2 has been pretty kind to me and I’m constantly in high spirits, even at work. Haha! During my first trimester, I experienced only very mild morning sickness but I was extremely lethargic especially during the first 6 weeks when I didn’t know I am pregnant! It’s weird that I still do not have any weird or strong cravings, just the occasional fast food perhaps. I’m thankful for being pregnant because I can indulge in ice cream before bedtime without any guilt! LOL. You should check out our fridge! We have like 4 tubs and 2 boxes of ice cream!

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I was about 5 months pregnant when we were in Japan, and it wasn’t the case that I wasn’t really showing yet. The thick layers of clothing helped to conceal my baby bump a little 😛 Here’s a clearer recent photo of 3 plus 1! 🙂 It feels really surreal that misterchewy and I are gonna be new parents all over again soon! Little misschewy is equally excited because we told her she’s gonna be a jie jie! Well, WE LOVE KIDS!! *Throws confetti and sprinkles baby dust* 😀

Kyoto Kimono Rental and Photoshoot by Yumeyakata

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Hello chewys! This will be our last post documenting our Japan trip and we have saved the best for last! Apart from our visit to Shirakawa-go which we had blogged about previously, another highlight of our holiday would be..

The Chewy’s very first kimono wearing experience and outdoor photoshoot in Kyoto!

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Kyoto is the best place in Japan to explore traditional temples, shrines, gardens, as well as for tourists to immerse themselves in Kyoto’s rich culture. Over the years, it has become very common and increasingly popular for tourists visiting Kyoto to go sightseeing in a kimono.

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There are so many kimono rental shops in Kyoto so it’s highly advisable that you do sufficient research before your trip to ensure that everything goes according to your plan!

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I was initially overwhelmed by the various recommendations provided online and began to shortlist based on two factors: 1) Price and 2) Provision of photoshoot services.

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Yumeyakata was the best choice because it offers one of the lowest kimono rental rates at ‎only ¥3500/person (~S$44) upon reservation. Please note that all prices mentioned from here on excludes 8% tax. Female and male couple kimono rental rates are quoted at ‎¥6500 – ¥7000 (~S$81.50 – ~S$88) and I reckon it’s a really good deal considering you get to wear the kimono the entire day, as long as you return to Yumeyakata by 19:30! If you wish to make a reservation, you may fill in an online form via Yumeyakata’s website or email info@yumeyakata to have your enquiries answered. Sisca was our main contact person and she was very prompt in all email communications, at times going out of the way to make sure our needs were met!

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Apart from the really affordable price, Yumeyakata is one of the few kimono rental companies in Kyoto to offer both indoor and outdoor photoshoot services, which Yumeyakata terms as “Location Photo Plan“. Photoshoots are carried out by a team of professional photographers, some of whom can converse in Mandarin and English! Their profiles and photography works can be found on Yumeyakata’s website and you can even designate your desired photographer at ‎an additional ¥2000 (~S$25).

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Depending on the location(s) chosen, the photography package price starts from ¥‎22000 (~S$276) and you get to receive over 200 beautifully captured photos from a 2-hour photoshoot! Yumeyakata also offers a “One-Day Location Photo Plan” where you can hire their photographer for an entire day! This is definitely a good choice if you are touring Kyoto with a group of friends!

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A photoshoot usually starts at 10:30 or 14:30 and since it takes about 1.5 hours to get ready, we chose to have our photoshoot in the afternoon to avoid being late as we had to travel from Osaka. As we had a bit of time upon reaching Kyoto, we visited Kiyomizudera and subsequently took a train and alighted at Gojo station. From Exit 1, we only had to walk straight for a couple of minutes before reaching Yumeyakata’s store!

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Not surprisingly, the place was packed; a good sign that business was brisk. I had to fill in a form indicating our heights, along with some other information and we were handed recyclable bags to store our shoes and clothes. We were first ushered to one of the floors to pick our kimono, which is estimated to take about 30 minutes. I almost hyperventilated at the vast array of kimonos available! One tip would be to first browse through some of Yumeyakata’s kimonos collection online to get a rough idea about your preferences. I knew I wanted large bold prints against bright colors like pink. Knowing what you want right from the start makes the picking process a lot easier! For ladies, we also had to pick an obi and sash, and you are advised to choose contrasting colors to make your outfit stand out.

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Due to privacy reasons, there are different levels that cater to female and male customers exclusively. Also, photography is strictly prohibited when getting dressed as there are other customers around. A professional dresser helped Little misschewy and I into our kimonos and it took only 15 minutes.

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Hairstyling is optional but I highly recommend it if you want to at least look like the real deal at the end of the day! Depending on the type of hair styles chosen, prices range from ‎¥‎1500 – ‎¥‎5000 (~S$19 – S$63). Hairstyling will take another 15 minutes.

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Our photographer, Yang Suhao, is a Taiwanese, so we communicated easily in Mandarin. From Yumeyakata, we took a short taxi ride to Gion, our location of choice and commenced our photoshoot. Suhao put us at ease with his warm smile and good naturedness, which made us enjoy the photoshoot. When Little misschewy got tired and became cranky towards the end of the photoshoot, Suhao remained very patient and encouraging.

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Even though we only spent two hours in Gion, we had a fun and memorable time posing for photos in our traditional kimonos. Some of the passers-by went, “Kawaii-neh!” while trying to take photos of Little misschewy. We were also very lucky that there were beautiful cherry blossoms to serve as a nice backdrop in some of our photos!

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The two hours passed by very quickly and we cabbed back to Yumeyakata after the photoshoot as we had no intention of wearing our kimonos till late evening. We received a link via email to download close to 300 photos the very next day! Our family photos were really well taken thanks to Suhao and these will serve as wonderful memories for us to keep!

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This is one of my favorite photos, which I have selected as my iPhone’s wallpaper!

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For more information on Yumeyakata and a complete overview of its services available, please head to http://www.yumeyakata.com/english/. Alternatively, there is an e-brochure http://www.yumeyakata.com/english/images/top/en.pdf for the more important and condensed information.

Kyoto Kimono Rental Yumeyakata
600-8103
Hosai Bldg, 353, Shiogama-cho, Nishiiru sakai-machi, Gojo-dori, Shimogyo-ku, Kyoto-shi, Kyoto, Japan

Tel: +81-75-354-8515
Special phone line for Chinese & English: +81-75-354-9110
Fax: +81-75-354-8506
Business hours: 10:00 ~ 19:30 (entry by 6 pm) *Subject to changes depending on the season*
Closed on Dec. 31 until Jan.3 every year.(Return by 17:00 on Dec. 30.)

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Stay connected with us on Facebook www.facebook.com/missuschewy and on Instagram @missuschewy 🙂

THE CHEWYS’ MARCH 2016 JAPAN 10D9N ITINERARY
(Tokyo – Osaka – Kyoto – Kanazawa – Shirakawago)

Day 1: Singapore to Narita Airport > JR Narita Express to Tokyo > Check into Airbnb at Kita-Ikebukuro > Asakusa Temple & Shopping Street > Shopping and dinner at Sunshine City

Day 2: Tokyo Disneyland

Day 3: Tsukiji Fish Market > Ueno Park > Shopping at Ameya-Yokocho Market > Tea at Fujiya Peko-chan Milky Restaurant > Pokemon Centre at Sunshine City > Dinner at Ichiran

Day 4: Tokyo DisneySea

Day 5: Fujiko•F•Fujio Museum (Doraemon Museum) and Doraemon Cafe > Shopping and dinner at Harajuku

Day 6: Shinkasen from Tokyo to Shin-Osaka > Check into Airbnb at Shin-Osaka > Osaka Castle > Dinner at Dotonburi (Namba station, Midosuji line)

Day 7: Shinkansen from Shin-Osaka to Kyoto > Kiyomizu-dera Temple > Kimono rental and outdoor photoshoot > Dinner at Kichi-Kichi Omurice > Shinkansen to Shin-Osaka

Day 8: Thunderbird Limited Express from Shin-Osaka to Kanazawa > Check into Hotel Nikko Kanazawa > Kenroku-en Garden > Kanazawa Castle > Lunch at Sushi Zanmai > Omicho Market > Higashi Chaya District > Tonkatsu dinner at Tomikinton (富金豚)

Day 9: Nouhi bus from Kanazawa to Shirakawa-go > Sightseeing around Shirakawa-go > Nouhi bus from Shirakawa-go to Kanazawa > Thunderbird Limited Express from Kanazawa to Shin-Osaka > Dinner at Dotonburi (Namba station, Midosuji line)

Day 10: Kansai Airport Limited Express “Haruka” from Shin-Osaka to Kansai Airport > HOME SWEET HOME

Win FREE Tickets to Aviva Superfundae 2016!

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Thanks to Imagine+, we are giving away FOUR tickets to Aviva Superfundae 2016!

Date: 4th June 2016, Saturday
Time: 10am – 9pm
Venue: Gardens by the Bay, The Meadow

Superfundae is a one-of-a-kind funival where you can indulge in some unique, quirky and all-out fantastic all-day play with your family. There are more than 30 free curated games including water slides and wet play areas, arts and crafts stations and mini races too!

The day will end with a relaxing outdoor movie screening on the nice green grass at the Meadow along Gardens by the Bay.

For more info on Aviva Superfundae, head over to their website!

In the meantime, if you would like to win some tickets for your family, please visit www.facebook.com/missuschewy to take part in our giveaway contest!

Exploring the Villages of Shirakawa-go

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I had not heard of Shirakawa-go until one night, as we were having our me-time after completing the household chores, misterchewy casually mentioned that he came across some photos of this village in Japan. He went on to rave about how beautiful the entire village was captured in photos, especially during winter, but also remarked that Shirakawa-go would be totally out of the way and inconvenient to be included in our itinerary. I merely listened because I wasn’t so keen initially and less than two weeks before our trip, misterchewy decided to try his luck again. I figured it would be a nice change to include a small village in our itinerary, since we were had planned to go to Tokyo, Osaka and Kyoto.

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We tried searching for a ryokan in Shirakawa-go that could accommodate us for a night, via Japanese Guest Houses, but we were informed that all the ryokans were fully booked for the second half of March. As mentioned in our previous post, we stayed in a hotel in Kanazawa instead. From Kanazawa station, we boarded the 8.40am Nohi route bus. We had reserved our seats the day before at the Nohi Bus Reservation Centre located at Kanazawa station. A round trip ticket costs ¥3290 (~S$30). Prior our trip, misterchewy checked the Nohi bus timetable online and planned our itinerary accordingly. We reached Shirakawa-go at around 10am.

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Of all the places in our itinerary, Shirakawa-go was the coldest! Little misschewy was already dressed in numerous layers of thick clothing, so we made her don a knitted owl beanie. Hehe.

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Declared a UNESCO world heritage site in 1995, Shirakawa-go is famous for its traditional gassho-zukuri farmhouses, some of which are more than 250 years old. If you notice, the farmhouses’ thatched roofs actually resemble the hands of Buddhist monks pressed together in prayer, and that is exactly what Gassho-zukuri means — constructed like hands in prayer.

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Most of the beautiful photos we saw online were of gassho-zukuri farmhouses covered in thick snow during winter. In fact, Ogimachi Village in Shirakawa-go typically gets covered by one to two meters of snow during the peak of the white season. However, we were there in March and although it was still very cold, all of the snow had already melted by then and we got to see a different side of Shirakawa-go instead.

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Myozenji Temple from afar. It has the biggest thatched roof in the village, which when covered in snow, is simply magnificent.

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Breathtaking, isn’t it? This is the Shiroyama Viewpoint, which offers nice views of Ogimachi Village and its farmhouses. We took a shuttle bus at about ‎¥200 (~S$2.50) per adult and we were glad we did because even though the viewpoint can be accessed via a walking trail in about 20 minutes from the centre of the village, the walking trail is a steep upslope!

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We strolled back to our starting point, which was the place where we alighted the Nohi bus, and had lunch at this small cafe. The place was packed with cold and hungry tourists like us!

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Curry udon to warm ourselves up!

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Since we had plenty of time before our scheduled bus back to Kanazawa, we decided to walk around and take more photos.

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We were so surprised when it began to snow! :O

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Little misschewy was also very thrilled and she even tried to ‘catch snow’ (in her own words) with both hands. 😀

Here’s one of the videos we took!

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We spent about 4 hours in Shirakawa-go which we felt was more than sufficient. However, if you prefer to explore every nook and cranny of Shirakawa-go, it is highly recommended that you stay in a ryokan. I would definitely love to visit Shirakawa-go again and witness its idyllic winter landscape!

Stay connected with us on Facebook www.facebook.com/missuschewy and on Instagram @missuschewy 🙂

THE CHEWYS’ MARCH 2016 JAPAN 10D9N ITINERARY
(Tokyo – Osaka – Kyoto – Kanazawa – Shirakawago)

Day 1: Singapore to Narita Airport > JR Narita Express to Tokyo > Check into Airbnb at Kita-Ikebukuro > Asakusa Temple & Shopping Street > Shopping and dinner at Sunshine City

Day 2: Tokyo Disneyland

Day 3: Tsukiji Fish Market > Ueno Park > Shopping at Ameya-Yokocho Market > Tea at Fujiya Peko-chan Milky Restaurant > Pokemon Centre at Sunshine City > Dinner at Ichiran

Day 4: Tokyo DisneySea

Day 5: Fujiko•F•Fujio Museum (Doraemon Museum) and Doraemon Cafe > Shopping and dinner at Harajuku

Day 6: Shinkasen from Tokyo to Shin-Osaka > Check into Airbnb at Shin-Osaka > Osaka Castle > Dinner at Dotonburi (Namba station, Midosuji line)

Day 7: Shinkansen from Shin-Osaka to Kyoto > Kiyomizu-dera Temple > Kimono rental and outdoor photoshoot > Dinner at Kichi-Kichi Omurice > Shinkansen to Shin-Osaka

Day 8: Thunderbird Limited Express from Shin-Osaka to Kanazawa > Check into Hotel Nikko Kanazawa > Kenroku-en Garden > Kanazawa Castle > Lunch at Sushi Zanmai > Omicho Market > Higashi Chaya District > Tonkatsu dinner at Tomikinton (富金豚)

Day 9: Nouhi bus from Kanazawa to Shirakawa-go > Sightseeing around Shirakawa-go > Nouhi bus from Shirakawa-go to Kanazawa > Thunderbird Limited Express from Kanazawa to Shin-Osaka > Dinner at Dotonburi (Namba station, Midosuji line)

Day 10: Kansai Airport Limited Express “Haruka” from Shin-Osaka to Kansai Airport > HOME SWEET HOME

One-Day Kanazawa Trip: Kenrokuen Garden, Kanazawa Castle and Omicho Market

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We have come to the best leg of our Japan trip, which I will be sharing over two blog posts! When misterchewy and I first planned for this trip, we had intended to visit only Tokyo and Osaka. It was less than 2 weeks before our flight that we finally made up our minds to visit Shirakawa-go! One of the major reasons which held us back initially was the thought of having to travel long hours by train and bus with a toddler, which can be quite inconvenient and tiring for us. We eventually managed to convince ourselves that everything would turn out fine and we would have the time of our lives! Not surprisingly, all the ryokans in Shirakawa-go were fully booked for the second half of March and we made Kanazawa our stopover instead.

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Woke up bright and early to catch the 7am Thunderbird Limited Express from Shin-Osaka to Kanazawa! We left our two big luggages in our Airbnb and brought only the small one along since we were only going to spend a night in Kanazawa. This was our 7-Eleven breakfast on the go!

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Reached Kanazawa station after 2.5 hours! Do you know that Kanazawa station is one of the most beautiful train stations in Japan?

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Even though it was very last minute, we managed to secure a room at Hotel Nikko Kanazawa, and it was a 5 minute’s walk from the station! We paid about S$150 for a night and it was totally worth it!

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Our cosy room was perfect for the three of us!

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The view from our hotel room.

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After freshening up, we took the JR bus using our JR pass to Kenrokuen Garden, classified as one of Japan’s “three most beautiful landscape gardens” alongside Mito’s Kairakuen and Okayama’s Korakuen. There is an admission fee of ‎¥310 per adult. As you can see, we specially packed a thicker set of clothing for our trip to Kanazawa and Shirakawa-go because these places were so much colder! Shall let the photos do the talking!

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Small tea house selling snacks and souvenirs.

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I don’t remember we had lunch but misterchewy wasn’t hungry so I made him buy these dango for Little misschewy and I to share.

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When in Kanazawa, eat GOLD FOIL soft serve ice cream!

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There were a few stalls outside Kenrokuen Garden selling gold foil ice cream at various prices and we randomly purchased from one at ‎¥890 (S$11). Definitely not cheap but so delicious! I’m not sure if the gold foil played a role in enhancing the soft serve’s taste!

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Enjoying my precious ice cream outside Kanazawa Castle!

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We headed to Omicho Market, in search of some of the freshest seafood available! It was late afternoon by the time we got there, thus the market was not very packed.

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We ate uni straight out of its shell at only ‎¥500 (S$6)!

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Little misschewy was shocked to see a gigantic fish head that she ran to us, whimpering that she was scared. Hahaha.

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Stopped by Sushi Zanmai for more food, plus we needed to sit and rest after a long day.

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We visited one of the many temples in Kanazawa and shortly upon our arrival, it began to drizzle.

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Most of the tea houses were closed by the time we reached Higashi Chaya District in the evening.

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There are a couple of shopping centres around Kanazawa station which is very convenient for tourists. It didn’t take us very long to decide what to have for dinner! Good thing we got there early because a queue was seen forming outside Tomikinton Kanazawa Forus shortly after we placed our orders.

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The tonkatsu was seriously good! The outer crumbs were fluffy and crisp while the meat was amazingly tender and juicy! Rice, side dishes, cabbage, miso soup and tea are all free-flow!

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Walked around the mall for a bit before calling it a night!

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We will be sharing details on our trip to Shirakawa-go in our next post! Stay connected with us on Facebook www.facebook.com/missuschewy and on Instagram @missuschewy and @misterchewy 🙂

THE CHEWYS’ MARCH 2016 JAPAN 10D9N ITINERARY
(Tokyo – Osaka – Kyoto – Kanazawa – Shirakawago)

Day 1: Singapore to Narita Airport > JR Narita Express to Tokyo > Check into Airbnb at Kita-Ikebukuro > Asakusa Temple & Shopping Street > Shopping and dinner at Sunshine City

Day 2: Tokyo Disneyland

Day 3: Tsukiji Fish Market > Ueno Park > Shopping at Ameya-Yokocho Market > Tea at Fujiya Peko-chan Milky Restaurant > Pokemon Centre at Sunshine City > Dinner at Ichiran

Day 4: Tokyo DisneySea

Day 5: Fujiko•F•Fujio Museum (Doraemon Museum) and Doraemon Cafe > Shopping and dinner at Harajuku

Day 6: Shinkasen from Tokyo to Shin-Osaka > Check into Airbnb at Shin-Osaka > Osaka Castle > Dinner at Dotonburi (Namba station, Midosuji line)

Day 7: Shinkansen from Shin-Osaka to Kyoto > Kiyomizu-dera Temple > Kimono rental and outdoor photoshoot > Dinner at Kichi-Kichi Omurice > Shinkansen to Shin-Osaka

Day 8: Thunderbird Limited Express from Shin-Osaka to Kanazawa > Check into Hotel Nikko Kanazawa > Kenroku-en Garden > Kanazawa Castle > Lunch at Sushi Zanmai > Omicho Market > Higashi Chaya District > Tonkatsu dinner at Tomikinton (富金豚)

Day 9: Nouhi bus from Kanazawa to Shirakawa-go > Sightseeing around Shirakawa-go > Nouhi bus from Shirakawa-go to Kanazawa > Thunderbird Limited Express from Kanazawa to Shin-Osaka > Dinner at Dotonburi (Namba station, Midosuji line)

Day 10: Kansai Airport Limited Express “Haruka” from Shin-Osaka to Kansai Airport > HOME SWEET HOME