Gotemba Premium Outlets
Japanese retailers are really ahead of the curve, how do you get people to come to your stores? Make it a train station and they come right to your door, genius! The same goes for out of the way outlet malls like Gotemba, previously we spent a bit of time navigating a few different trains and a courtesy bus to get there but this time we tracked down a direct bus from the Yokohama CAT station. For around 1700Y one way (discount for return trip) we didn’t have to worry about dragging our luggage through stations and finding a seat on a train. Plus it was on the way to the 5 lakes area where we were heading, so it’s a win-win 😀

Travel tip: Bus routes, costs and departure locations for Yokohama can be found here and all other locations here
Travel tip: There are storage lockers on site (to the left of the main entrance from the bus stop, near the toilets)
Travel tip: Remember to grab a discount coupon booklet from the information booth
Travel tip: Remember to check the departure times when you arrive so you can plan your day accordingly (they run about ever hour so it could be a wait till the next one if you don’t)

Photo tip: There is plenty of lovely rolling scenery on the way there so keep your camera handy

Photo tip: On a clear day, keep an eye out for Fuji-san, its visible from the bus stop but a better spot is the walk bridge between the two mall sections

Travel tip: really goes without saying but its always worth popping into manufacture’s stores for regional exclusives and limited edition items

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Kawaguchiko
Coincidentally, they also have a bus that goes to where we needed to be next, Kawaguchiko, luck or crafty planning? 😉 Same deal as before, door to door station service, no faffing about.

At Kawaguchiko station there are two bus services (red, green) which run in roughly clockwise and anti clockwise routes around the southern side of the lake. These cover most of the affordable hotels and some of the local attractions. They run every 15-30min for only a couple bucks but having arrived late afternoon amongst a couple busloads of tourist groups, the services were struggling to meet demand, so after about 45min of waiting we grabbed a cab to our hotel (Kawaguchiko hotel). The hotel is only about 1km from the station, easily walkable but not so much after a long day and with luggage in tow.

Travel tip: If you did have to wait at the station, there are hot meals available from the small eatery inside.
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Click for full Kawaguchiko Hotel review here

Its rare that you can get the trifecta when it comes to hotels – good accommodation, good value, good location, usually one of those factors has to be sacrificed and its usually cost. Being out in the country side with a lot less options makes it even harder to score this so if you want the other two you need to pony up on the dinero. If not, manage your expectations, you saving money means corners are cut somewhere and in this case its in the general upkeep of the place.

To me, it felt a lot more like staying at your friends’ beachside place during schoolies or spring break, it was more the fact that you were there that mattered than the place where you dumped your bag and crashed out for the night. Sure, the carpet could use a steam clean (or just have new runners laid) and the window sills and the like could do with a vacuuming but the linen was clean along with the bathroom and for the double room we got, there was a welcomed amount of ample space compared with other places we have stayed at in Japan. In general, it definitely has a mum and pop store feel where they’ve just done the same thing for decades and its worked so they haven’t bothered changing anything.

All staff however were the usual Japanese kind of helpful even with minimal English but if you are after a more detailed response, track down one of the younger staff members. Rooms were quiet with minimal foot traffic, though being at the end of a hall helped. They also have bicycles for hire and there’s paddle boats on the lake (not related to the hotel).

We didn’t get to try the in house catering, the restaurant was booked out (and had to be booked in advance) but not to worry, there are plenty of eating places within walking distance. Exit the hotel and go right^, there are a couple buildings that look like they have or more so, HAD a restaurant but we couldn’t tell for sure as they weren’t open at all over the days and nights we were there (well there was one with a door open but in the same way a haunted house has a door open with no lights on, eep!). Further along there’s a small Asian takeaway but keep walking along the scenic waterfront till you get to a large intersection where the road hooks to the right*, here you’ll see a Lawson’s amongst a string of restaurants and souvenir shops. We went with the Indian place across from Lawson’s with no regret, good portions and reasonable prices.

^ – look over your right shoulder, you might be lucky enough to see Fuji off in the distance

* – following this street with a couple back street zig zags will take you back to Kawaguchiko station which is about a 15min walk. Reasonably easy but some of the streets are narrow with no footpath so navigating this with big luggage could be a little difficult, a cheap taxi ride might be the way to go for some. This route also includes a couple smaller supermarkets if you want more than what a convenient store offers.

Hotel staff actually recommended turning left out of the hotel and to go around the block for restaurants, which on a quiet night was a bit difficult to tell the difference between a hotel and a restaurant (the few along this street all looked like hotels). Eventually you’ll reach a major road, turning left here will lead to a few Japanese style fast food restaurants and a convenience store. It’s a much longer walk, about 15-20min but felt much longer with no scenery. Google maps shows a short cut route through some very small “not sure if lane or someone’s drive way” kind of “streets” but it was impossible to navigate these at night as most were poorly lit, if at all.

Overall, the location, surrounds and price more than made up for the short comings of the hotel, if we end up out that way again, it would definitely be considered.

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Travel tip: if you’re going to air clothing on the window sill, don’t open the opposite window! (duh!) but if you do, make sure you know how to use a tripod like giant chopsticks ;p

Next we try to catch some pink moss (yes pink moss) and a glimpse of Mt Fuji close up at the Fuji Shibazakura Festival and Chureito Pagoda.

Since we’ve covered a few of these destinations previously, I’ll try not to waffle on too much (mmm waffles)…

We arrive into Narita exhausted after a grueling 12hours in transit (hooray cheap flights -__-‘ ), so instead of messing about with multiple trains into Tokyo and back out to Yokohama, we chose the limo bus service which is a direct run to Yokohama CAT (city air terminal). It also runs about every 15min so no sweat if you miss one.

Travel tip: tickets for the bus are available at the airport via the respective counter or vending machine, the kind staff will even draw you a map of how to get to the bus stop.

Travel tip: the airport is also a good place to get your Suica card (if you don’t already have one) and to break some big notes so you can begin hoarding coins for the inevitable vending machine purchases.

The ride takes about 90min which isn’t very scenic at night but you might be lucky enough to spy some boy racers channelling Fast and Furious/Need for Speed on the freeways.

We stayed at the Richmond Hotel in Otamachi which ticked our usual holiday accommodation boxes of price and location. Bashamichi station is a couple stops from Yokohama station and then it’s a short walk to the hotel.

Richmond Hotel full review here

The Richmond is one of the better value hotels in the central Yokohama area, we chose it because of its walkable proximity to the bay area attractions, Chinatown and transport. From Narita we took a limo bus directly to Yokohama Station, from there its only a couple stops to Bashamichi station on the Minato Mirai line. Take the south east exit (there’s a big map of the surrounding area on the upper level of the station), this will pop you out at a large intersection with “life saving” Lawsons diagonally behind you. Head straight down this small scenic street (full of restaurants and even a Gold’s gym), stay on the right side, after about 6 (small) streets you’ll see it on your right, cant miss it. If you see a Family mart across the road, stop! You’ve literally just walked past it 😉
The walk takes about 5-10min with suitcases and a toddler (:
If you walk in the other direction (north east) out of the station you will get to the World Porters shopping mall (hello Teddy’s Bigger Burgers!), Cosmo World fun park, Cup Noodles museum and the harbour itself. Its only about 1km from the bay to the hotel which is nice for an evening stroll.

The area around the hotel was reasonably quiet by our standards, yes there are restaurants and a couple bars that are open later but no hordes of rowdy people milling in the streets or loud music.

The hotel itself is great, ample room by Japanese standards but if you’re one of those people that go on holidays to stay in your room (why, I don’t know), spend (much) more and look elsewhere. Regular double room was big enough for our two suitcases and a pop up sleeper for our toddler with room to get around those things.
Service was equally good, standard Japanese efficiency and friendliness. Even when we opted for no turn down service they still left a bag with bottles of water and extra towels just in case.

The breakfast buffet is at the hotel’s shared restaurant which leans more towards Asian style than Western – which is limited to chipotles, dinner rolls and scramble eggs. If you don’t mind both, like trying new things or have it included in your room cost then its worth a try otherwise you’ll find better value at the many other options nearby eg. Pork buns from Family mart 😉

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Travel tip: If you’re looking for mobile data while in Japan, I couldn’t fault a 14 day vistor’s sim from B-mobile for about 2200Y. Usage limits to 1Gb per 3 days so no p2p or streaming but more than enough data for map reading and social media brags 😉 Though if you’re using AirBnB most will offer a free portable wifi hotspot which you can take out and about with you. Note: these will have usage limits and from our experience were a little patchy with service at times and would also occasionally drop the hotspot connection.
UPDATE: check the bmobile site, their plans have since changed

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Mitsui Outlet
This has been on our to do list for the last couple trips but since it was a little bit further out in the opposite direction of our other activities we’re only just getting to it now.



Getting there:

The website provides everything you need including travel options. For us it was a short walk south from the hotel to Kannai station, change at Shin Sugita and Torihama then a short walk, past the cutest bunch of little baseballers ever, to the mall. It is located on the bay so you get a lovely seaside vibe on a sunny Sunday morning.

The layout of the complex takes advantage of this and is mostly outdoors with covered verandas and boardwalks. The stores cover the usual big name brands including Adidas, Asics, Reebok, Beams, Timberland, Levis and XLarge/Xgirl, most offering a tax free option for tourists.

There is also a water play area and simple side show alley style games for kids in the central “town square” area. A large carousel and roaming churro vendors add to the carnival vibe.

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Chinatown
We stopped into Chinatown on the return journey, it was far bigger than we expected, covering more than just a couple streets and blocks. It is however what you would expect from any such place around the world, food and plenty of it with a side of bargain shopping and haggling. If you haven’t eaten that day, grab a pork bun the size of your head to tie you over till dinner 😉

Being on a tight schedule we only walked the main street but you could easily spend the better part of a day exploring all the side alleys here.

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Cup Noodle Museum
Another illusive attraction we missed previously, but not this time! Being an all ages (targeting mostly children) theme park it was the usual mix of kids everywhere and lines a plenty to queue at, that said, most lines moved quickly and kids are conveniently knee height (j/k :p ). The build your own noodle cup area was especially deafening with hoards of school excursion kids but it added to the whole feel of a busy production line, which roughly follows:

1. Sterilise your hands and take a cup
2. Cup custom area – you can go to town drawing your own designs on the cup
3. Pick and choose bar – staff fill the cup with noodles and your choice of flavourings before sealing and shrink wrapping.
4. Bagging station – you construct an ingeniously design balloon bag to safely transport your noodle cup home. (Aussie travellers – remember to declare this when coming through customs)

Venturing to other (much quieter) floors in the building sees a more traditional museum layout with noodle history, flavours and of course lots of cup noodles.

Travel tip:
Groups are let in at a scheduled time to avoid overcrowding, you can choose your preferred time when purchasing tickets. If you plan on making a day of it, register for a noodle making class as well!
Note: Commentary is in full Japanese and only some staff speak a little English.

We finally finished off the day with Teddy’s Bigger Burgers at World Porter’s then a nice evening stroll back to the hotel.

Travel tip: Best time to visit World Porter’s is in the late afternoon, crowds are very sparse and the food court is quite deserted.

Coming up next, we make our way to the Fuji 5 lakes area via our fave Gotemba outlet mall.

02.27.2018

Birthday drinks and a boogie to some classic rave anthems mixed by some of the eras greats all on vinyl? Don’t mind if i do! Candee Flip delivering yet another fantastic night of fun and good times.

Check out the full gallery below!

Big Fish Little Fish Family Rave events finally made their way to Brisbane with old school rave legends Binary Finary in tow. The event was complete with arts, craft, face painting and of course, lots of hands in the air dancing! If you have kids that need to burn off some energy, we seriously recommend getting along to the next one! Smiles for miles and fun for everyone!

Check out the bumper gallery with social shots below!

Socials

Electric Gardens made its return to Brisbane with veteran hit maker and party rocker, Fatboy Slim, with support from Gorgon City and MK.

Check out our mega photo gallery including socials below!

Socials

Massachusetts locals and purveyors of beard punk, Four Year Strong blasted through nearly 20 songs in an hour on their Rise or Die Trying 10th anniversary tour at The Triffid.

Wow, what a night! Sure we’ve got decades of love for G-Shock and may be a little bias but the night couldn’t have been any less than perfect! So much delicious Asian street food from Tsuru, social lubricate from Kirin, indoor/outdoor venue at The Sheds for the perfect (last day of) spring night and of course the warm hospitality of Jo and the rest of the awesome team at G-Shock Australia.

We were also treated to a talk from Mr. G himself, Kikuo Ibe which included a demonstration of the renowned shock protection with him spectacularly pegging the DW5600 watch off his wrist at a solid sheet of metal! He also unveiled a pair of “yea, we’re just showing off now” all sapphire crystal outer GW5600’s, said to cost around $100,000 each and take about a month to make. Also on display was an Aussie exclusive collab with creative all rounder TA-KU with his take on the humble DW5600 square (DW5600TA-KU-1D) along side the current line up of 35th anniversary releases with the Big Bang Black and Golden Tornado series.

Coincidentally it was pretty much 2 years to the day since our last G-Shock event outing for the Sneaker Freaker collab release and so far judging from the infallible track record, we simple can not wait till the next one!

Check out the full gallery below!

Aussie collectors, enthusiasts or if you simply want more info, a legit check, ideas for sneaker pairings 😉 or just want to chat, head on over to @theGcollective on Facebook and instagram for your dose of G related content. Also don’t forget to follower G-Shock Australia for official news straight from the source.


10.29.2017

So about 10 years ago, it was a very sad day when Brisbane’s drum and bass institution, Rudebwoyz decided to retire from its years of monthly nights, leaving us and many others sad but our livers quite relieved. Fast forward a decade and with a blessing from the bass gods the event was relaunched and it was like it never left! ..all we had to do was walk a couple doors down to the new venue at Capulet 😉

Check out the highlights below!

fff

After 16 years of reaching for the lasers, dancing on podiums, everything from hardcore to DnB to RnB in the pod, warm water taps and crammed cuddles in the furry egg, Family finally ended its reign as one of Brisbane’s prolific clubs and has been reincarnated as Ei8ht. Having spent so much time dancing and photographing there it wasn’t an easy task to trawl through the mountain of photo archives… so I didn’t :p Instead, just cherry picking a handful of the biggest most memorable events that have photographic evidence.

2003 – DJ Craze
2004 – UNKLE
2006 – Bass Australia
2007 – Gatecrasher
2008 – 7th Birthday w/ Nick Skitz
2009 – Ferry Corsten and Giuseppe Ottaviani
2009 – Trance Nation w/ TyDi

Farewell Family, gone but not forgotten! …well except on those nights where we can’t remember what happened.

Big Sound engulfed the valley once again and as always delivered everything from RnB and soul to indie rock and metal. With such a huge lineup over the three days its impossible to catch everyone but we managed to get to OKbadlands, Maribelle, Tia Gostelow and The Beautiful Monument.

Check out the bumper gallery below –>

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