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After finishing school but before visiting the US, Kenji decided to go see his Grandmother in Kanagawa, and instead of taking the train through Tokyo like we often do, we wanted to visit someplace new on the way, so we settled on doing a mini-road trip through the Chichibu area of Saitama on to Yamanashi, across Mt. Fuji, and then to Kanagawa, and back to Gunma in a sort of small circle. We wanted to take it easy and enjoy the scenery, so we really didn’t have any solid plans. As a result, we were able to stop and see a lot of interesting things we normally wouldn’t have had time for!

We stopped to take pictures along a winding road above a river. It was a nice, cool break, and beautiful too! Can you find the photographer in the last picture?

Some more pictures of the area we were driving through. So green!

We stopped at a red light and saw a sign for Mitsumine Jinja, and Kenji really wanted to go, so we took a detour to the shrine. He remembered the shrine from a trip with his grandfather when he was younger and had always wanted to go back, so it was a good chance!

The entrance and a map of the shrine

Walking up to the main shrine area

A cool dragon

So green!

At the main shrine area

Grabbing a “mountain vegetable” lunch nearby the shrine

We headed on to Yamanashi, and enjoyed the scenery with its plethora of grape vines. It almost looked like we were among the vineyards of Europe instead of in Japan!

Sunset from the station, and a display on Gunma in the station!

A famous samurai dude statue outside the station

For dinner I had the most amazing tasting pasta dish I’ve ever eaten. I was 100% full, but it tasted so good I couldn’t stop eating!

As we were driving to find a hotel, we saw a bunch of fireworks, and followed them to the show! We were able to get so close, it was awesome to see! After that we found a hotel and enjoyed a relaxing bath before going to bed

We got a bit of a later start the next morning, and headed back up into the middle of Yamanashi to visit Shosenkyo, or the Shosen Gorge.

We hit the gorge right around lunchtime, so we had another yummy meal of local foods and fish!

The view of the start of the gorge from the restaurant, and checking out a map to figure out where to go

It was a bit of a walk, and took longer than normal because we kept stopping to take a million pictures!

Godzilla with a panda on his head. I don’t know.

Gorge pictures, ajisai, and Kenji doing what he does best… taking a loooooooong time to photograph something ;p

Us on a bridge looking into the gorge

And the awesome waterfall

Also big stones that look like they are resting on each other, but in fact the big overhanging stone doesn’t touch the bottom one at all!

A lot of people left coins in the crevices near the stones and the waterfall

On our way back we tried grape juice (SO GOOD) and grape-flavored soft cream (ALSO REALLY GOOD). I wish I could get them in Gunma!

We got back into the car only to stop again, first at the above temple with a LOT of stairs, a cute doggy, and a really beautiful grove I really liked

And a fertility shrine where people had hung thousands and thousands of paper cranes. It being a fertility shrine, it was… fertility themed, but I think I’ll refrain from posting those pictures here…

And Kenji, of course, taking pictures.

We were meant to get to our hotel during the afternoon to be able to enjoy it, but didn’t realize just how far of a detour we’d have to take… after all, Mt. Fuji was in the way! We got to the hotel very late, so weren’t able to do anything that night. The next morning, though, we did some swimming before heading to Kenji’s aunt’s house to see his grandmother.

Hotel pool and views

And Kenji and his obaachan 🙂