Scoring sweet swag, reviewing awesome products and living the rad mom life.

Posts tagged ‘family friendly japan’

Kirin Tea Factory Tour

If you’ve ever visited Japan, then chances are you have enjoyed a Kirin beverage.  Whether you ordered an ice cold beer or grabbed a bottle of tea out of a train station vending machine, it was mostly likely manufactured by the Kirin company.  Well I recently had the opportunity to take a tour of the Kirin Tea Factory and now I’m here to…spill the tea! 😉

IMG_9063

When we first arrived, we were greeted near the parking lot, given a visitor’s badge, and escorted to the entrance of the facility.  Everyone was super cheerful and made us feel like V.I.P. 🙂

IMG_9142

Then we were taken to a classroom where we could take some fun photos with the tea props while we waited for the whole tour group to arrive.

And yes, selfies are a must! 🙂  #ilovetea

IMG_9091

Once everyone arrived, the facilitator showed us a short video about the Kirin Tea Factory and explained what to expect on the tour.  Then they took our photos (I’ll explain why later) and we had to walk through a sanitation machine that sprayed us with sanitized air.

IMG_9136

My four-year-old hated this thing!

We were then taken to a room where we learned about the history of the Kirin tea leaves and saw how the plastic bottles were made.  The kids really enjoyed watching the bottles getting heated up and shrunk down to size.

Then we were able to see the machines in action, however, no photos are allowed in this area because the process is proprietary and basically all a secret. 😉

We entered a last room where they demonstrated how the label stamping machine worked.  We could use our brochures to slide it through a device that stamped the date.  This was much harder than it looked as you had to slide the paper through at just the right time – not too fast or too slow – or else the date would not be centered.

Remember when we took our photos in the beginning?  Well, it was for our own custom labels!  How cool?! We even got to watch the label machine in action!

But the surprises didn’t end there!  We went back to the classroom and learned how to make a special drink that was super delicious!

Also, in the room was a “magical” vending machine where we were able to choose two free drinks! Yay, Swag! And one of them was the newest available Kirin beverage – Citrus Tea! Yum! And the kids were all given the bottles they saw being shrunk earlier in the tour!  More Swag!

Overall,  I really enjoyed this factory tour!  It was very inexpensive, free parking, warm staff, kid friendly, and just a fun way to spend a couple of hours learning more about Japanese culture.  One thing to note is that the employees speak pretty limited English and will only facilitate group tours if it is hosted by someone who speaks both Japanese and English for translation purposes.

And in true Japanese fashion, there was a souvenir vending machine.  I opted for the adorable tea spoon! 🙂

IMG_9141

Have you tried a Kirin drink before?  Which one is your favorite?

~SM

Advertisements

7 Things You Will Love About Mount Takao

I really enjoy living near Tokyo because there is always something interesting to see or do, but sometimes it can be a bit chaotic and overwhelming with the constant hustle and bustle.  As much I love spending the day in the city, my soul really belongs in nature.  I recently took a trip to Mount Takao and it was an amazing place that I think everyone should visit!

IMG_3616

Mount Takao is conveniently located about an hour outside of Tokyo (in the Hachioji region) and can be accessed by train or car.  Depending on where you are coming from, both could be viable options.  I carpooled with a few friends and we split the toll/parking fees as well as found parking pretty easily.  There are a several parking lots surrounding the park and fees vary, but start at 1000 yen.  Get there early and shoot for a weekday as this is a very popular hiking destination and can get crowded quickly!  So here are a few highlights from my trip that I think you will like – even if you don’t like nature. 😉

  • You can shop and eat!  Once you arrive at the park and before you set off on your hike, check out the little shops along the main path.  You can stock up on snacks for your hike or you can have a meal at a restaurant.  And even if you aren’t hungry, it’s still fun to look at all of the unique foods and trinkets.
  • There are cable car/chair lift options!  Don’t feel like making the 2 hour trek up the mountain?  No problem.  Mount Takao offers a cable car and a chair lift option for your viewing convenience! Both will take you halfway up the mountain and both cost about 980 yen for round trip.  We took the chair lift (the line is much shorter for the chair lift) and it was an awesome ride!  You get to be closer to nature and enjoy the quiet sounds of the nature as you sit back on your ride.  One thing I will mention is that there are no safety bars on the chair lift, so hold on tight to your kids, dog, backpack, etc.  Also remember to smile – there will be a photographer sitting amongst the trees who will take a souvenir photo for you!  You can purchase your photo for about 800 yen.  But hold on to it!  You will have your photo taken again on the way down and you can trade in your photo if you decide you like the other one better!

IMG_3415

  • Different paths!  There are a few different paths you can take up to the summit so take a look at the map and determine your route before your adventure.  But the other cool part is that you can also take a completely different path down to the bottom too!  Which means double the scenery!  Yay!  There is also a monkey park that is pretty popular, however we didn’t have time to check it out so it will be on my list for the next visit!

IMG_3432IMG_3453IMG_3461IMG_3480

  • Temple (Architecture)!  Along with the nature views, you can also check out the Yakuoin Temple and admire the architecture during your trip.  Temples and shrines all have their own unique designs and details so even if you’ve seen 20 temples you will always find something new to appreciate at the next one. Mount Takao is very sacred to the locals so you may see some religious and cultural practices taking place throughout your hike, but especially around the temple area.
  • View from atop (with beer)!  Once you disembark from the cable car/chair lift it takes about 45 minutes to reach the summit of Mount Takao.  Some paths are a little harder than others but I saw plenty of children, elderly, and people with dogs out on the trails.  One of the paths is paved (but with some steps along the way), so even someone with a wheelchair or stroller could enjoy part of the hike. At the top you will find lots of places to sit and enjoy the view!  On a clear day you can even see Mount Fuji!  And bonus: there’s beer!  Yes, that’s right – there is also a café and convenient store at the top that sells food, ice cream, mochi, coffee, and beer!
  • Dango!  You will see many treat options around Mount Takao, but the most popular choice is Dango.  It’s a dumpling on a stick that has a sweet/salty or soy flavor. It will only cost you a few hundred yen and it’s basically the Mt. Takao thing to do. 🙂

IMG_3626

So what did I love most about my Mount Takao experience??

  • The amazing views!  My hike took place around early November so I really enjoyed viewing the fall foliage and crisp air.  Whether I was waiting in line or taking a break along the hike, there was always something beautiful and interesting to look at.  The people we encountered along the way were also very friendly and polite and it was great to see so many people out enjoying nature.

Visiting Mount Takao was an amazing spiritual experience and I can’t wait to go back!  Each season offers a unique perspective of scenery so no two hikes are the same.  I also love that this park is great for people of all ages and abilities! It was fun to do with a group, but it would also be fulfilling to do it solo as well. I guarantee that you will leave here refreshed, restored, and your soul will be filled with joy and gratitude! Please visit if you get the chance!  You won’t regret it! 🙂

IMG_3630

“The mountains are calling and I must go.” ~John Muir

~SM

I’m All the Way Up (in the Tokyo Tower)

If you ever come for a visit to Tokyo, one of the most touristy things you can do is visit the Tokyo Tower!  At 1,092 feet high, it’s one of the tallest structures in Japan and a must-see during your next trip.

IMG_2936

On the outside, it just looks like a cool looking communications structure.  But, on the inside there is actually a museum, theme park, restaurants ,and plenty of shops.  I’ve had the opportunity to visit the Tokyo Tower twice – once in the evening and once during the day – and both times did not disappoint!

The first time I went, it was during the Illuminations in the winter.  Illuminations are basically Christmas lights multiplied by 100 that last from November-February.  You can find them all over landmarks and popular attractions in Japan during this time period. For the Tokyo Tower, they had an Illuminations area at the base of the tower, where there were tons of orange lights and lots of photo ops.

Did I mention you can get some pretty amazing crepes at the base of the tower, too? Also craft beer!

After the lights and crepes, we headed up to the Main Deck Observatory for some sweet views of Tokyo!

IMG_3009

You can also grab a drink and hit up a smaller souvenir shop on this level.  And you can check out this super adorable sparkly pink version the Tower! 🙂

IMG_3032

And if you visit on the weekend or a holiday, you might even catch the Tokyo Tower mascot (yes, there’s a mascot) – Noppon! My kids thought he was Patrick Star from SpongeBob, but they were excited to see him nonetheless.

IMG_3034

I will say there is something pretty dazzling about the evening views from the Tokyo Tower.  It’s mesmerizing to see Tokyo lit up in beautiful lights!  Also, don’t forget to stroll through historic Shiba Park to take in some more sights!

IMG_2952

My next visit was during the day which provided even more unique views!

IMG_6547

This time, we (my cousin and I) headed all the way up for the “Top Deck Tour” because we are fancy like that.  For the Top Deck Tour, you ride the elevator to the Main Observatory, then go to a secret room for a whole different tour.

IMG_6506

You will be given a special phone and headphones so that you can listen to the presentation and tour in English (or language of your choice) and you also get a cup of lemonade and learn a secret hand signal! 🙂 Then, you go into a much smaller elevator to head up to the Top Deck.  Now, I love heights – I’ve hiked some pretty tall mountains and have even gone skydiving – but this little elevator almost gave me a mild panic attack.  Not only is it small, it’s see-through all the way around and it shakes a little as it gets higher.  But, no worries, the nice elevator controller lady explained that it was “just the safety mechanism kicking in”.  A piece of info that would have been handy before entering the elevator.  Anyways, once you reach the top, you enter into a disco ball.  A literal DISCO BALL! Like I said, things are fancy up here.

IMG_6514IMG_6522

The day was a bit foggy, but the views were still nice.

IMG_6534

There’s also an opportunity to stand on a floor window and look below!

But is there SWAG?  Why yes, there is!  Besides the scenery, cup of lemonade, and secret hand signal, you also get a free small photo (with the option to upgrade to a larger one for a fee).

IMG_6542

Nothing can stop us…we’re all the way up.

And if it’s your birthday, you get an envelope filled with coupons for free and discounted stuff within the Tower.  For instance, a coupon for a free crepe!

IMG_3027

Overall, the Tokyo Tower was a breathtaking experience that I will remember forever!  I highly recommend a visit during your next trip to this gorgeous city!

Day or night, the views do not disappoint!

Have you been to the Tokyo Tower?  What did you love about it?!

~SM

Tag Cloud

%d bloggers like this: