Tag Archives: japan

Costco Tokyo

Costco in and around Tokyo

Having a car in Japan doesn’t just entitle you to travel around this wonderful country, but also in-the-city convenience.

It’s certain that one of the real benefits of car ownership in Tokyo is the ability to get out of the city to find a bargain. Space in Tokyo is scarce, so many of major companies set up shop slightly outside the city and particularly those companies who are looking for warehouse space.

Costco is one of many American companies that has proved to be a real success in Tokyo. Since moving to Japan, Costco has expanded all over the country and in Kanto alone Costco has founded 11 stores.

One of my favorite ways to spend a weekend is to jump in the car and get out of the city and a visit to Costco is no different. If you’ve got space in your car, you will even be able to pick up some cheaper electronic equipment to take home.

Searching for your closest Costco in Tokyo is surprisingly something that’s not that easy to find online, with Google Maps currently not able to find all of the different stores within your local vicinity and therefore I have published this map.

Costco in and around the Tokyo Area
Costco in and around the Tokyo Area

On the map above you will find a numbered list of all of the stores and therefore should be able to clearly identify where your closest Costco is.

Key:
1) Makuhari
2) Kawasaki
3) Kanazawa Seaside
4) Iruma
5) Shimisato
6) Zama
7) Tamasakai
8) Chiba New Town

Happy shopping!

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Beppu, Yufuin and Oita

Having previously visited Oita Prefecture a couple of years ago and really enjoying myself; I decided that the time was right to re-visit Oita, taking a familiar route but stopping off at some new places along the way.

After flying in from Kita-Kyushu and having good intentions to visit the Fujien Kawachi Wisteria Gardens (which wasn’t open in late April 2017 for good reason, the Wisteria wasn’t even in bloom yet) we decided to take a slightly different route and head to the Kunisaki Peninsula instead. The roads in northern Kyushu, much like the rest of Kyushu, are excellent for driving. Clean, safe and relatively quiet during the April season.

The first port of call on our trip traveling from Kita-kyushu airport was to the Usa-Jingu shrine in Oita, Usi; this stunning little complex of beautiful shrines and buildings is a must do in the area. Prepare to drive for at least 2 hours to reach the Kunisaki Peninsula. Once at Usa-Jingu – which is the main shrine for hachimangu jingu in Japan – you will find some wonderful scenery for strolling around. You should allocate at least an hour of your day for visiting this stunning area.

From there, you may choose to visit Makiodo or other areas of the Kunisaki Peninsula – the Rokugo Manzien temples are some of Japan’s most famous – before heading on to your next destination. Our next stop was to the world famous onsen town of Beppu.

Beppu has so much to do and to enjoy. You can find several “hells”, known as Jigoku in Japanese. These are naturally occurring hot springs that are often with different colour water, smells and/or nature surrounding them. Parking is very easy to find in this area, so when driving around Beppu you should find stopping your vehicle relatively simple and cheap.

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After enjoying a wonderful meal and evening in Beppu, the following day saw us drive for a wonderful breakfast at Jigokumushi Kōbō Kannawa (Jigokumushi Kobo Steam Cooking Center), where you will be able to cook your food on the heat of the onsen. A great side trip is a short drive away, to Takasakiyama Monkey Park where you can find hundreds of cheeky monkeys (macaques) on top of their own mountain. A wonderful day out!

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A recommended itinerary from there is to drive to the pretty town of Yufuin and set up camp there. You will find it tricky to get around by car around Mount Yufu/Yufuin and so keep this in mind if you are reliant on your vehicle.

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After Yufuin, you may choose to head to Oita City, the main city in Oita prefecture. There are plenty of shops and restaurants here.

After Oita City, we decided to stop by Kitsuki town; a delightful little village on the way to Oita Airport. From there you will find many shops and a pretty little castle to explore.

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A journey into the Shizuoka countryside

One of the best journeys out of Tokyo and to the surrounding prefectures is a two day tour of Shizuoka. The prefecture hosts much natural beauty, including the stunning Izu region. A little bit farther than Izu is some of Japan’s most rural countryside and one weekend we enjoyed a lovely drive into Tamagawa.

map_shizuoka

The drive out of Shizuoka can be a beautiful journey, traveling through Tokyo’s rainbow bridge and through the central areas of the region; before heading onto the Shizuoka Prefectural Road 64 all the way into the countryside.

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One of my favourite parts of this journey is the countryside roads off of the highways. The journey is often littered with small hamlets built around winding, thin streets; thus as we noticed we did not see or hit a convenience store for at least 10km at times.

Once in Tamakawa, we stayed at the excellent camping centre owned by the prefectural government. This is approximately 40 minutes away by car from the Shizuoka central area.

shizuokacountryside

The journey will take at least 2 and a half hours from Tokyo, traveling 180km of beautiful countryside along the way.

Recommended for a nice, long weekend.

Takachiho

Takachiho to Oita, Beppu Hot Springs

Kyushu,  as mentioned in our previous article, is one of the most beautiful prefectures in Japan. With hundreds of miles of rolling hills and glorious green countryside; having a visit to this prefecture on your Japan visit itinerary is very worthwhile.

Japan has some of the most safe and modern roads in the world. The roads in Kyushu are amongst some of the most fun to drive. One such journey to take is a trip from Takachiho, in the Miyazaki prefecture, to the North East of Kyushu; Oita-ken. The Oita prefecture is famous for its onsens. Japan is a very seismically active country and Kyushu is particularly volcanic, this therefore makes for some of the most glorious hot springs in the country.

In Takachiho, one of the spots well worth visiting is the Takachiho Shrine. There are not many hotels in the local area, but from the central town to the shrine takes only five minutes and the roads in the area are quiet and fun to navigate.  A short walk will also take you to the Takachiho Gorge, which is amongst the most beautiful spots to visit in the entire country. Not often visited by tourists because of the location, with a car this is achievable. The Gorge has an area where you will be able to hire a boat and sail alongside the river and has some of the most excellent photo opportunities.

Takachiho Gorge
Takachiho Gorge

From there, a trip to Amano Iwato Shrine (882-1621; telephone: 0982-74-8239) takes approximately 15 minutes.

Amano Iwato Shrine
Amano Iwato Shrine

From Takachiho, you can visit Oita in approximately three hours. The roads – despite not being highways – are a joy to drive. Once you drive into Oita, the first port of call would be visiting The Hells (874-000); a selection of hot springs in different shapes, colours and varieties. Beppu itself is a city, so expect the roads to be busy and be on the look out for road signs, if you get lost and off the main streets in the city centre, expect a tricky trip to where you need to be.

Hells Jigoku Beppu
Hells Jigoku Beppu

One trip worth taking is just outside of Beppu, in another hot spring resort called Yufuin. Yufuin is less touristy, so the hotels are a little cheaper and better quality. A trip from Beppu to Yufuin only takes 10 minutes. With a car this is highly recommended.

At Yufuin, enjoy driving up and down the main street in the town. This is a traditional Japanese village and the shops and architecture are designed in a style of that era.  Finally, take a quick stop off at Kinrinko. The lake is famous for its morning mist, but this can only be seen prior to 11am.

Morning Mist at Kinrinko
Morning Mist at Kinrinko