Kaz Hicks


Am I crazy! Maybe? - but I'll let you all give me your verdict when I return to Oz. Enjoy the blogs and please, take a minute to comment every so often. I'm sure it will help me to read notes from family and friends when I am feeling really homesick.

Asia » Japan » Tokyo March 27th 2018

There was no hurry to get out of bed …..so we didn’t. This worked pretty well as it generally means we only have 2 meals for the day as the first one isn’t till lunchtime. We strolled towards the station and found pancakes for Mal (of course!) and I decided to try something that resembled a toasted sandwich. It wasn’t, but still tasted delicious whereas the coffee was always a gamble on whether it would be drinkable. We were on our way to find the Samurai Museum and follow the first of our walking tours. Eventually we came up with the strategy to use the map, (not the instructions), then see if we could find ourselves on my phone using google map and follow which way the dot was moving, then turn the map in that ... read more
Blossoms ready to blossom
Camellia's in downtown Tokyo
Cherry blossoms in Tokyo

Asia » Japan » Tokyo March 26th 2018

After our very cold and wet day on tour it was lovely to wake to almost sunshine and no rain. It was still very cold with a top of 15c to look forward to. We decided to hang out in the motel lobby as we couldn’t get into our little house until 3pm. Keiko was still looking after us all and making sure we got on the right buses and flights – reckon she was going well above the call of duty but she was also the one who had organised wake up calls for everyone for the first 2 days of the tour! Of course 5 mins before our bus to the station was due, I had to go to the toilet. and as I ran back was greeted by Keiko asking why I hadn’t ... read more
What we discovered down a little side street in Osaka
Spiderman looking for a bite to eat in Osaka
Minion overlooking the busy streets of Osaka

Asia » Japan March 24th 2018

We had to be up and organised for our bus departure at 8:30 and I have to say that this group is one of the most punctual I’ve ever been with. There was only one night we had to wait because of a misunderstanding, otherwise everyone was that at least 5 mins early. This day was no exception and after a hearty American breakfast that wasn’t very nice (scambled eggs which looked like mashed potato and tasted as if they’d been mixed the egg with cream) we headed out into the freezing pouring Tokyo weather. First stop was the Meiji Shrine with huge wooden Tori Gates. Normally these are coloured red but as this shrine was dedicated to the last Samuri emperor who modernised Japan, they decided to leave it natural rather than the Chinese red. ... read more
Sake barrels outside the Shrine
Tori Gate at the Meiji Shrine
Copper roof in preparation for the 150 years celebration

Asia » Japan » Tokyo » Shinagawa March 24th 2018

The perfect day for a sleep in greeted us the next day. Top temp of 7c, rainy and windy. Mal and I had a 2 sec meeting and decided that brunch was the only option. Finally emerged from the hotel complete with coats and hotel umbrellas. Mal’s need for a pancake meant that we ended up in the first restaurant with a pancake picture. Aunty Millar’s was very good and with full bellies we headed off into the miserable weather. Negotiated successfully through the train station and wandered around the streets, in and out of shops. A comforting thought for women around the world is that we are all used to standing in queues and Japan for its sophistication and brilliant ideas, is no different to any other country when it comes to underestimating how many ... read more

Asia » Japan » Shizuoka March 24th 2018

We headed off from our lovely hotel to see more beautiful scenery and glimpses of cherry blossoms. However, the main aim of our journey was to explore the magic of Asahi beer and how it is made. The journey to have beer by 11 am was made all the more enjoyable by the lovely cherry blossoms that were earlier than usual. We arrived at Asahi to start our 40 min tour which was very informative. Dad you would have loved it and it reminded me of the days when you used to brew your own beer, although theirs was on a much larger scale and included robots to do all the work. The stats were amazing! The challenge was set for us to drink 3 jugs of different beer in 20 mins and I was determined ... read more

Asia » Japan » Shizuoka » Mt Fuji March 20th 2018

Well what a difference 12 hours makes! From freezing winds and overcast skies, we were greeted by the most beautiful clear blue sky and crisp air in which to depart Kyoto. Not taking any chances, Mal and I had pulled out all the thermal underwear and covered them with as many other pieces of clothing we could find. Needless to say, we spent the next 12 hours stripping off layers off and putting layers back on, with not even half the amount of time walking out in the elements we had done the day before. Our first stop was to the Heian Jingu Shrine in another part of Kyoto and a walk around the most magnificent gardens. There was also a people's market across the road so we wandered around there until it was time to ... read more
Holygram in the tourist shop
Yep....he's really happy to see another temple!
Waiting for our bullet train

Asia » Japan » Kyoto March 17th 2018

Keiko warned us to rug up but I didn't really take her seriously. Very,very bad rookie mistake to think that we would be going in and out of places and therefore not cold for very long. Don't get me wrong... I layered up..... just not enough. First stop was another castle similar to Osaka castle (because it was built by the same bloke... I mean Shogun), only it was smaller as it was only needed to impress the emperor, until the Shogun lost his power which happened a short 300 years later, I think. Anyway, it was very beautiful with magnificent murals painted on the screen doors and is the oldest intact wooden building (400 years). It even has a floor that sounds like a nightingale when you walk on it due to the metal braces ... read more
Modern day girls in ancient clothing
Bonsai Cherry Blossom
Golden Pavilion again

Asia » Japan » Osaka March 14th 2018

Our day started with trying to negotiate the buffet breakfast for familiar food. We met our guide Keiko, a lovely lady with fantastic English. We travelled to Osaka castle with its magnificent moat, enormous stone wall and amazing structure. It was our first taste of Japanese gardens which included glimpses of blossoms. We climbed the 8 flights of stairs to the top of the castle and looked out over magnificent gardens to see the blossoms almost ready to burst out. Yes, almost ready... but there were some and I have been informed by a friend currently in Tokyo, that they have arrived. The weather was spectacular to say the least - 21 degrees and sunny! It seemed that everywhere we looked there was a photo opportunity that couldn't be missed. We jumped back on the bus ... read more
Entry to the castle
View from the top of the castle
Beginning of many garden photos

Asia » Japan » Osaka » Osaka March 14th 2018

After a long flight we found ourselves walking through a very quiet, well lit, excellently signed tunnel to our beautiful hotel in Kansai International airport. While Narita airport in Tokyo was not particularly impressive, Osaka's certainly did not disappoint! Having only been in Japan for only 24 hours, we are constantly amazed at the technology and efficiencies. Going to the loo has taken on a whole new perspective as we get used to all the 'extras' provided. Even though finding the flush button can be a little time consuming, the heated seats are well and truly worth the incovenience, let alone all the other features designed to give you the cleanist clacker possible! Imagine my amazement to also discover that trains not only arrive, but they do so on time and are so clean and quiet. ... read more
View outside our room at Kansai airport
Starting our walking tour around Osaka city
Airport fun

Oceania » Australia » Victoria » Melbourne » Footscray March 12th 2018

Well it is now the night before we leave for Japan. I make note of this because for the last few days, while enjoying the Victorian beachside towns of Ocean Grove, Barwon Heads, Queenscliff and Torquay, we seemed to have lost the ability to know what day it was. The result, we kept packing each night as if we were leaving the country the next morning (que ‘eye roll’). Perhaps we were just excited to go on our trip, but it ended up being very annoying as it meant the I had to keep unpacking for more clothes to wear. But tonight is definitely all sorted for our 5.00am start to Japan. We have even been able to practice for the cooler weather over there, with Melbourne doing its usual drop of 10 degrees after 2 ... read more

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