The Ocha no Sato Tea Museum, Plus a Detour to Shizuoka’s Questionable District

After exhausting Shizuoka’s offerings, we hit the road for the Ocha no Sato Tea Museum about 40 minutes away.

We paid a typical admission fee of 300 yen (about $2.80 USD) per person. I don’t know how Japanese museums manage, charging so little. The building looked brand new, and there was staff everywhere.

We wandered the exhibits, sampled some tea, strolled the Japanese garden, and of course visited the gift shop. Green tea ice cream is definitely A Thing in Japan, and the gift shop didn’t disappoint.

I expected the museum to overlook sprawling tea plantations, and it sort of did. We saw several adjacent tea fields, but the relatively flat elevation meant few stunning vistas. Apparently the surrounding hills offered such views, but we were content with what we saw on the road.

After leaving the tea museum we headed back to Shizuoka to grab some lunch and wait for the car. Somehow we found ourselves in a highly questionable neighborhood that featured lots of gentlemen’s clubs, bars, and a mind boggling number of karaoke joints. Everything was shuttered, opening late afternoon. Thanks to the magic of The Google we quickly found our way out of there and back to a respectable lunch place.

Here’s the new top! We’re on our way home now.

We hoped that the heavy cloud cover from this morning had lightened up enough to give a Mount Fuji sendoff on our drive home. And we got it!

Until next time, Fuji-san!

We Really Tried to Enjoy the Sites of Shizuoka

So the Miata is at the shop, and we have a loaner car and six hours to kill. The Lonely Planet Japan guidebook doesn’t even list Shizuoka at all, and we quickly learned why. The Toro Ruins looked interesting enough, but alas–closed on Mondays. Same with the Shizuoka City Museum of Art.

So at the recommendation of the repair shop owner, we willed our way to the water.

Ok. So that filled about 15 minutes.

I asked the shop owner about the tea plantation at Kanaya, Ocha no Sato. Japan’s largest tea plantation, the Interwebs tells me! Hm, very far, says Shop Owner-san. Forty minutes!

Considering that we exhausted the charms of Shizuoka city by 10:30AM, we decided to go for it.

Arriving at tea plantation shortly.

Road Trip! Let’s Stop at the Best Rest Area Ever

It’s Memorial Day, a US holiday that is known in Japan as…Monday! That’s right–the kids are at school as usual, and Mark and I are on the road for a quick trip to Shizuoka, a city two hours away.

Two months ago Mark fulfilled his wish for a second car while nipping a looming midlife crisis in the bud: he got a deal on a 2000 Mazda Miata MX-5. Pre-martayaki readers may recall that Mark owned the same car in the same color back in the late 90s. The super low price came with a catch: the original soft top needs replacement.

So we’re on the road to the nearest Mazda shop that can provide the parts and proper installation for a car that old.

A brief glimpse of Mount Fuji on a cloudy day

And road trips mean rest stops! We stopped for a break at a super shiny rest area, possibly the nicest one anywhere.

We found the shop! Now it’s time to grab our loaner and spend the day exploring the greater Shizuoka area.

Our loaner!

Nikko (Mostly) Through the Kids’ Eyes

Last weekend we headed to Nikko, a historic city nestled in the mountains northwest of Tokyo. The kids wrestled the camera away from me a few times, so I decided to showcase our trip mostly through their eyes. Though of course I can’t help but add a few snaps of my own at the end….

But first, the kids’ view.


And a few of my shots.