Food/Trip Planning Assistance Needed for Yokohama
I'll be taking my mother to Japan in Spring 2013. She feels like it will be her last trip to see Japan and her family (she will be 80 when we go), so I want to make it a memorable trip. I want to do two to three indulgent, memorable meals (whether they are at a restaurant or even an onsen) that would cost no more than 75.00 per person (I'd be paying for as many as 5 people), drinks not included.
Her family lives in Yokohama, so I'd really appreciate any food tips that are within 1-2 hours of there. I want to ask her sisters where we can go, but they don't speak English and I don't want to use my mother to translate the question of, "What are some special places I can take my mother for her last meals here?" My aunt also has expensive taste, so I'd like to do -some- planning on my own.
One thing my mother absolutely wants to do is go to Tsukiji and have some sushi there--she hasn't been there in many years.
We are open to ALL Japanese food and would appreciate ALL recommendations.
Here are my specific questions:
1. Are there any specific cities/prefectures within an hour or two (by train) from Yokohama that would be good for a fairly active 80 year old to walk around? A plus, obviously, would be hole in the wall food joints combined with good sites to visit. I read that Kamakura and Niko were two areas that aren't too far from Yokohama...anyone have any thoughts on either place?
2. What kind of game plan should I formulate to go to Tsukiji (is one day of the week better than others, is the tuna auction a "must see"?, what's the best train station to get off at) and where is a solid place to eat there?
3. Can anyone recommend an onsen that is reasonably priced and also provides good meals?
4. The two to three memorable meals I mentioned above doesn't have to be at a 5 star joint or fancy. The food just has to be very, very good. I realize my price of 75.00 per person may be limiting me, so if this is unreasonable, let me know so I can figure out how to cut other costs to raise my limits.
I really appreciate any input that can be provided; I'm hoping that by starting planning now, I can come up with some stuff that will make my mother's trip very memorable.
I have one good recommendation for a place to go out to in Yokohama that's not too pricey but is very welcoming and is only a few stops from Yokohama station. Koba's Table, which just opened in December, is a lovely little place with only six seats, all along the counter looking into the open kitchen. Chef and owner Kobayashi is incredibly welcoming and the food is excellent. Nothing on the menu tops 3000 yen and even with an arrangement of 6 small starters for each of us, soup, an appetizer, main, cheese and desert, along with a nice Chateau Naf de Pap (6000 yen), and Chinese tea, dinner for the two of us ran to only 2200 yen total. You could easily do it for much less. I would say the style of food is a French / Japanese fusion. His address 1-22 Naka-ku, Ishikawa-cho 1-22 and the tel: 045-641-7286. We've already been back!
A lunch at Matsubara-an, in Kamakura (nearest station: Hase station), is a great option before pottering around the attractions in the area: Daibutsu (the big Buddha) and Hase-dera. The setting, in a traditional Japanese house, is lovely and they have soba lunch sets for ¥2,800 and ¥4,800, or you can order from the a la carte menu at dinner.
As to the onsen there are many choices in Izu or Hakone that web searches will bring up. As a alternative I would suggest the Ooedo Monogari Onsen in Odaiba.
For a group of ladies, some elderly it would save quite a bit of time and money.
There are also about 16 various food vendors.We were there in May and had a restful three hours just lounging around. Didn't have any meals though apart from some delicious green tea ice cream.
I visited Oedo Onsen Monogatari with a friend about 10 years ago. It's a day spa and kind of a theme "attraction" in Odaiba. It might be an option to visit after Tsukiji. However when I was there, there were a lot of kids. It wasn't really a classic onsen experience and the food was nothing special. If you've been treated in the past to a proper onsen by your auntie, I'm not sure that this is an equivalent experience. You might want to look into somewhere in Hakone or perhaps Atami. The later requires no transfer. It's a straight shot from Yokohama and many of the resorts will provide pick up/ drop off from the station. Atami is rather known for seafood. I'm assuming they get if from the port nearby in Numazu.
Kamakura is a nice day trip. You can walk up the main tourist street from the station to Hachimangu Shrine. A roundabout way to get there is to ride your local train to Shonandai and then take the Odakyu Line to Fujisawa. Maybe eat lunch in Fujisawa (there are many places close to or attached to the station) and then ride the Enoden Line to Hase to see the Daibutsu and then to Kamakura. The Enoden is a scenic fun ride through a couple of towns and along the coast where Enoshima and Mr. Fuji are visible. Sit on the right side...From Kamakura, it's a straight shot up to Yokohama....I've run a similar circuit with guests many times. Always a pleaser.
Atami sounds interesting, thanks for the heads up on it. Looks like there are many things to do there, according to Trip Advisor.
I loved the suggestion you had in your last paragraph, even if its too much for my mother to do, I can do this day trip alone since your instructions are pretty clear. Thank you so much!
Hi there, I am going to assume that you have never been to Japan after reading your post. I was wondering if you could provide just a bit more information.
What train station does her family reside near and what are the activities that she has her heart set on accomplishing during this visit?
Train stations in Japan ARE the hubs of nearly every aspect of society. As such that should be the jumping off point for nearly any discussion involving what you do, or what you want to do. figure out what you want to do and then you find out which little area in Yokohama or Tokyo does that thing the best and you go there and get it. Japan is full of things like that. Were one to attempt to sample a single item from the menu of every restaurant within a 15 minute walk of my house I would likely be eating non-stop until the day I die and I have yet to reach middle age. I'll give a specific example of this....you mentioned that she definitely wants to go Tsukiji and you are certainly going to want to get sushi there, but why not take her down to Miurakiagon and visit Misaki Harbor as well and go to the Market where much of the very best Tuna sold in Tsukiji gets brought in off the boat.
That is one very small example of what I meant above and I hope this helps somewhat. I will be happy to provide more specific assistance if I have the knowledge that would serve and certainly if you provide the station name it would be much easier to point you in the right direction. All of that being said, food should never be an issue in Japan. The Japanese love to eat and they don't do anything half-way. I can almost guarantee if you visit with the open minded attitude indicated in you post that you will find it impossible to avoid having several of the best meals you have ever eaten no matter what city, station or little hole in the wall looking fire hazard of a shop you wonder into(omg those are really some of the best ones!). In short: Eating in Japan is something that does not ever need to be considered until you are hungry.
Again I hope this helps and I certainly hope you have a fantastic trip. oh,.....the 75$ you mentioned you would like to keep the bill at....one thing that many places in Japan will offer is a set which provides all you can eat or all you can drink options, take advantage of these. Something such as Yaki-niku which is fun, delicious and usually offers this type of deal where you get one or two hours time during which you can grill and eat as many incredibly delicious thinly sliced meats and vegetables as you can handle AND if you are the one paying, you don't end up with a 4000$ (no joke) surprise at the end of the night as opposed to the 300 or 400$ that it would cost to go AYCE. Just a suggestion, as you mentioned the price point and the fact that you would be dining with 5. Japan can be VERY expensive, especially in the evening.
Have fun and I hope you succeed in making the trip everything that your mother is hoping for!
This isn't my first trip to Japan, but it's the first one in many, many years (and as an adult).
My mother's family is near the Tsurugamine station in Yokohama and I think the only thing she really wants to see this time is Tsukiji. The other thing she wants to experience is an onsen. We have been to several, all paid for by her sister, but this time I am the one paying (no where near my aunt's expensive tastes) and of course, my mother and her sister are many years older. The rest of the time is probably going to be spent with her family, sitting around and eating food. I suspect going to Japan is much like visiting NYC-find one neighborhood and stick with it to avoid being overwhelmed.
As far as restaurants go, I want to focus on anything that is highly recommended and close to the Yokohama train station. I don't want to make my mother travel/walk -too- much, so if I could stay within 3-5 stops of the Yokohama station, and then find a place within walking distance of the station we end up at, I'm guessing that would be ideal. We eat everything (not Andrew Zimmern crazy, but "pretty much" everything), so if you have a recommendation, you have no idea how much I'd appreciate it.
At first glance, the onsen mentioned in one of the replies looks like it's fairly easy to get to, I just have to look harder at how it relates to the train lines going through the Yokohama station. I'd like to spend one night in an onsen.
I'd give anything to attend a sumo match or practice, but not sure how lucky I would get in attending in April....
Thank you so much for taking the time to reply; I appreciate it so much!