Capture Tokyo: Tokyo Disney Resort

 

Tokyo Disney Resort Hotels ♥︎ Ikspiari, Maihama

If you’re a Disney lover in Japan, you’ve probably had the chance to visit Tokyo Disneyland and DisneySea. However, for those of you who aren’t willing to always shell out the $80 for a day at Disney, I would recommend visiting the Tokyo Disney Resorts and the connecting Ikspiari mall nearby. It’s a great way to recreate that magical Disney feeling without breaking your bank account. The Tokyo Disneyland hotel might not be the ritziest hotel compared to the ones in Florida or Cali, but it does have that special Disney atmosphere. There are restaurants, bars, gift shops, and even a princess hair salon and photo studio! The hotel also features a cute little Alice themed garden in the back.

The Ikspiari mall (although not super Disney themed), does have its own unique décor. It’s home to many popular clothing shops (Folli Follie, Lowrys Farm, GAP, etc.), a movie theatre, hair salons, restaurants, etc. Each part of the mall has its own unique theme (cinema theme, futuristic theme, etc.). There’s even a jungle themed restaurant inside, where customers can enjoy eating in a Disney-esque jungle, while listening to the soothing sounds of the waterfall inside the restaurant. Walking all the way to the end of the mall, we came across a cute little pond with a romantic pagoda in the middle. I would definitely recommend bringing your date here to set the mood, haha! The little pond leads to another hotel, which although it’s not the main Disney hotel, is still within walking distance of the park and is just as beautiful.

Although I’ve personally never stayed at these hotels before, I would recommend walking around the area if you want to get a taste of Disneyland outside of the parks!

Capture Japan: Karuizawa

Karuizawa, Nagano

I know summer is creeping up on us already, so I wanted to post about a famous resort area in Japan that I recommend visiting! Karuizawa is a quaint city located in Nagano Prefecture (about 1hr away via Shinkansen). Many famous celebrities are known for frequenting the area… such as John Lennon and Yoko Ono as well as other Japanese celebrities. The luxury inns or ryokan in Karuizawa offer beautiful private villas for its upper class customers. Many of the buildings look distinctly European or Japanese, so the city has a very unique appeal and aesthetic.

Karuizawa is most popular in the summer due to its cool and breezy weather and lush greenery. In the 1900s, many wealthy merchants who owned ritzy boutiques in Ginza would set up second stores in Karuizawa in the summer to escape the scorching hot weather in Tokyo (hence the old shopping area in Karuizawa was named “Ginza” after its Tokyo counterpart). However, the newer area of Karuizawa, south of the station, is host to a brand new outlet shopping mall, which includes all the luxury European designers (Prada, Saint Laurent, Gucci, etc.). Aside from shopping, there are many hikes, golf courses, and other activities tourists can partake in!

While I wasn’t able to visit Karuizawa in the summer, I did get the chance to go this past February. During the winter, the city turns into a ski resort with relaxing hot springs or onsens! We ended up staying at one of the Prince Hotels (which is a Western Style Hotel). The hotel had a shuttle that would take us from the hotels (West, East, and Villa, The Prince, and Asama, I think) to the ski area, shopping mall, and station, so it was incredibly convenient. Although the winter scenery was beautiful, I would love to visit this city again during summer if I get the chance. Any chance to escape the summer heat!

Capture Tokyo: Mori Building

Sky Deck, Roppongi Hills

When it comes to city views, Tokyo Tower or Tokyo Sky Tree might be the initial obvious choices; however, I would recommend visiting the Sky Deck on top of Mori Building in Roppongi Hills! Mori Building stands at 238m tall at the heart of Roppongi and houses some of the world’s most prestigious international companies as well: Google, Goldman Sachs, Barclays, etc. just to name a few. The observation deck is on the 52nd floor of the building. It’s also the entrance to the Mori Art Museum and houses the popular cafe/ high-end restaurant, THE SUN & THE MOON, where you can enjoy the beautiful night view while dining. The building also features an open air sky deck on the roof of the building. The 360 degree view is absolutely gorgeous. I definitely recommend going during the warmer months though (perhaps from April-October), as when we went this past winter, it was unbearably cold! The winds were quite strong as well on the top of the building, so I would recommend bringing some warmer clothes for going up to the deck if you’re planning on visiting in the colder months!

Capture Japan: Okinawa Glass Bottom Boats

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Glass Bottom Boat Ride on the South Shores, Okinawa

I had the pleasure of visiting the tropical paradise of Okinawa last week! Although the weather has gotten a little colder in Tokyo, Okinawa is still sunny and warm (albiet a little hot). I was only able to visit the main island this time, but there’s quite a lot to do for first time visitors. Okinawa is sprawling with beautiful beaches at every coast. I visited the Southern part of the island in one day and covered the Northern in another. It takes about 3 hours by car to get from one tip of the island to the other! At most beaches, there are also fun marine activities available for visitors such as jet skiing, parasailing, surfing, fishing, etc. I opted for the less physical activity though and hopped on a glass bottom boat tour instead (perhaps I’ll try the parasailing next time, haha)! On the tour, the guide took us out pretty far from the shoreline, where I was able to get a glimpse of Okinawa’s beautiful coral reefs and its fishy inhabitants. In any case, Okinawa is a great place to visit, especially if you’re craving that warm sunny weather!

Capture Hawaii: The Royal Hawaiian Hotel

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The Royal Hawaiian Hotel, Honolulu

One of the best perks of being a resident of Hawaii, aside from the beautiful beaches and sunny weather, is its resort hotels! When I was in high school, one of my favorite past-times was leisurely walking around the various hotels in Waikiki…and if I was really lucky, my family would have a staycation, and we would get to spend the night for a couple of days! The Royal Hawaiian’s signature pink buildings were always a treat to visit, especially around the holidays. The hotel puts out decadent and elaborately designed Christmas trees and decorations for the holidays. Definitely worth walking around if you’re in town!

Taste Hawaii: The Signature Prime Steak & Seafood

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Happy Hour at Signature, Ala Moana 

If you’re ever in town and looking for a bar with a beautiful view, I recommend The Signature Prime Steak & Seafood restaurant found on top of the Ala Moana Hotel. The steakhouse is famous, of course, for its delicious high quality meat and seafood. Occasionally they serve a Wagyu Tomahawk Longbone on the special menu (which is my recommendation along with the truffle mashed potatoes)! In any case, the restaurant has a stunning view of the harbor, which is even more breathtaking at sunset. Sipping cocktails, overlooking the beautiful Hawaiian sunset… now that’s my ideal way to spend Happy Hour after work!

Capture Japan: Lake Ashi

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Torii Gates at Lake Ashi, Hakone

I recently visited Hakone over Obon break with my friend who I hadn’t seen in over a year. Hakone is generally known as a resort area and it’s the perfect summer getaway, especially since it’s located in the mountains making the area much cooler and bearable than Tokyo. My friend and I ended up staying overnight at a cute ryokan or traditional Japanese inn we found last minute. Next to our ryokan there was an onsen theme park with wine onsen, green tea onsen, sake onsen, coffee onsen, etc. My favorite was the sake onsen. I honestly thought going to the onsen in the summer was the worst idea ever but the cool Hakone weather made me change my mind, since the hot spring water felt so amazing in comparison. We spent a few hours at the park before lounging around at the inn watching the Olympics. Next time hopefully I can stay for a few extra nights, haha!