After finally getting to ditch our luggage at the Yaesu Fujiya hotel a couple blocks from Tokyo station, we once again had time against us as we rushed out to Gotemba, home to the Premium Outlets mall and the last day of “Golden Week”, a nation wide sale which only happens a couple times a year.

It’s a bit of a hike – made longer with the wait and change to local trains then a (free) shuttle bus before you actually get there.

Travel tip: budget about 2 hours (door to door) to be safe (should be less if you get the right connections) from Tokyo station. Once you get to Gotemba station, walk down the stairs and out to the car park, you’ll see a big sign for Premium Outlets with times for the shuttle bus, which runs about twice an hour. Remember to plan your return trip so you aren’t left stranded out in the sticks!

Travel tip: kill a bit of time at the small store which sold a bit of everything. Cool vintage cameras adorn the windows.


The mall is very unassuming amongst the trees and mountains on the small roads leading to it. The complex is split across two sections divided by a scenic bridge and river (see first image). Two reasons why we chose to come out here, first, the Golden week sales – which were sadly disappointing, most stores had sales but nothing even close the the fire sale that’s hyped about online. The second reason was sadly also a little disappointing – to see Mt Fuji without having to go to it but thanks to the ever present haze it was completely invisible until just after sunset when its looming prescence was revealed as a silhouette.


Travel tip: Mt Fuji is viewable from many spots around the mall and from the shinkansen travelling between Osaka and Tokyo, however its most likely to be shrowded in cloud and haze, but if you’re lucky, you might get it on a good day as seen here, photoed from the shinkansen by one of our friends, thanks Troy!

So, back to the shopping. First stop is the information booth to grab your travellers discount booklet which sports coupons for percent off or after purchase bonuses. Most excellently, these worked on top of the already reduced items. Golden Week may have let us down but these made up for it in a small way, especially at the Nike Outlet store, which was definitely a highlight and some of the best bargains we came across on the whole trip. However, being the first day we were reluctant to fill the suitcases so early on. Turns out that helped A LOT but let’s just say, next time we’re just going to bring an extra one πŸ˜‰


The rest of the stores are what you’d expect from the Premiun Outlet chain(and very similar to other branches around the world (re: Hawaii 2012)). Stand outs for us included Adidas (nice variety of stock and generously discounts); G Shock (a couple items were slightly reduced but nothing you couldn’t get online for a lot less); Bandai (all full RRP but the coupon helps a bit with the decision making, although we found quite a few items were cheaper outside of Tokyo – most noteably Den Den Town in Osaka); Lego and Sanrio are always fun to stop in, the former requiring just that bit longer with all their displays πŸ˜‰ (see bonus photos below); Nikon– prices were like the G Shocks – cheaper online but it was nice to venture into a mothership, Reebok, Puma and The North Face are worthy of a quick look in as well.

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There’s also the swanky labels that put the premium in to “Premium Outlets” like Armani, Anna Sui, Burberry, Bvlgari, Dior, Dolce and Gabbana, Gucci, Harrods, Hugo Boss, Jimmy Choo, Prada and Ralph Lauren but far out of reach for our modest wallets and tastes!

Finally, the foodcourt offers a nice variety of western and eastern eats and desserts covered mostly by local brands.
Note: it closes before the shops do so you may want to eat first if its coming towards the end of the day, but of course you can always count on Macca’s (off to the side of the complex) if you miss out!

Next we catch the Catbus to the Studio Ghibli museum!


If you have any questions on our travels, where to buy, what to do or just want to share your own stories, hit us up on the Soulbridge media facebook page.

Japan 2013 part #1 – Arrival
Japan 2013 part #2 – Tokyo International Toy Expo
Japan 2013 part #3 – Gotemba – Premium Outlets mall
Japan 2013 part #4 – Tokyo – Studio Ghibli Museum
Japan 2013 part #5 – Tokyo – Kichijoji and Nakano
Japan 2013 part #6 – Tokyo – Akihabara
Japan 2013 part #7 – Tokyo – Tamiya HQ, Diver City
Japan 2013 part #8 – Yokohama – Zoorasia
Japan 2013 part #9 – Yokohama – Ramen Museum
Japan 2013 part #10 – Nissan HQ and Yokohama
Japan 2013 part #11 – Osaka – Nanba Shopping
Japan 2013 part #12 – Kyoto
Japan 2013 part #13 – Tokyo – Harajuku, Shibuya
Japan 2013 part #14 – Osaka castle, Umeda Sky building
Japan 2013 part #15 – Osaka Aquarium and Tempozan wheel
Japan 2013 part #16 – Osaka Universal Studios


Pearl Harbour

One of the biggest tourist attractions in Hawaii after beaches and luaus is a more sombre affair and the site of a battle that led to one of the most devastating retaliations in world history.

Not being anything close to history buffs (I haven’t even watched the whole movie in one sitting) we didn’t really know what to expect but like most historic places in America, it has been converted to cater for the masses similar to an amusement park, the main difference being you aren’t allowed to take in anything that can carry things. Any kind of bag (shopping/grocery included), backpack or case (including lenses cases) has to be checked in to the cloak room at a hefty $3 per item (small building off to the right of the main entry gates). Bottles or cans of liquid are also out, so where possible, best to just leave it in the car/hotel.

Once inside, its quickly noticeable that it is far from a joyous place, I don’t mean the mass of screaming kids running around, I mean bottom line, it’s a memorial, a place where people go to honour family members and comrades. Seeing a solider in uniform huddled around his sobbing family and an old veteran facing the ocean with his head bowed quashed my excitement of “checking out cool war stuff” and made me remember where I was. I don’t know how the photojornos from the likes of Nikon Walkley Press Photo awards can do it – detach themselves from an environment of sadness or suffering. Drunken revellers are easy to ignore but I definitely cant bring myself to vulture over such moments or try to share such a moment that wasn’t mine to share, so out of respect, I holstered the camera around these parts of the grounds.





The solemn disposition of this nature aside, the lead attractions – the USS Missouri, the Bowfin submarine and a ferry out to the USS Arizona memorial above the sunken wreck of the battleship of the same name were as expected, very busy, so we decided to forgo the “rides” and just take a semi-peaceful walk around the grounds to view some of the memorials and relics instead.

Travel tip: Tickets for the attractions can be pre booked directly through the National Parks Services

There is a large gift shop with a wide variety of merchandise, from historic photos, medals and models to tacky patriotic fan fare.

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Travel tip: Even if you do the “rides”, you only really need to budget a couple hours here. If you’ve got extra time to kill, you can make the trip over to Ford Island via shuttle bus for the Aviation museum and Missouri battleship memorial. Time it on the right day and you’ll be able to bare witness to one of the many air shows hosted there.

The center opens early at 7pm daily which is handy in planning multiple stops for the day, one of which could be a spot of shopping…

Shopping – Aiea

The pearl (*cough* sorry…) for shopping in this area is the Pearlridge center, second only to Ala Moana in size but its fully undercover and has a monorail (yes that’s right my Hindu friend!) that connects its two halves, sure beats walking!

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Divided into “uptown” and “downtown” sections our choice amongst the stores were Hot Topic, Champs, Footlocker, Footaction, In Soles, In4mation, Journeys and the Sanrio cafΓ©, but the store we spent the most time in was Razor Concepts/Razor Sports. A combination of sporting memorabilia and clothing on one side and a wide selection of toy, hobby, games and collectibles on the other. Prices were average to good and sale items were plentiful. Large display cases with “not for sale” items also adorned the stores with vintage collectibles and prestige memorabilia such as an autographed pair of Shaquille O’Neal’s monster size 22 Reeboks!


A couple other spots in the area are Toys n Joys (actual domain has been closed and taken over by another company) – this is the smaller of their stores stocking more paintball guns and Airsoft replicas than anything else and The Hobby Company – tucked away amongst rows of industrial and commercial buildings and businesses this place has a good size selection of scale model kits and other hobby related items.

Aiea is also home to the largest 2 flea market/swap meets on the island, which we will be getting to later.

Shopping – Waipahu

If you’re coming from Honolulu it’s a bit of a hike but its only a short drive from Pearl City. The highlight and pretty much the only sight amongst all the residential housing is the Waikele Premium outlets.

We’ve come across Premium outlets a few times in our travels and they rarely disappoint…mainly because there’s a Nike outlet store πŸ˜‰ but sadly there wasn’t one here. From research there possibly used to be one but not anymore. That left Adidas, Vans and “Factory brand shoes” to pick up the failed attempt at a bargain for us, you however may have better luck with the other stores on hand.

The plus side is they’re open till 9pm every night except for Sunday so heading there after dark will give you a more relaxed experience as the place is pretty quiet then.


Over the road at the Waikele Centre there’s a Kmart, Old Navy and Sports Authority and a bunch of places for a bite to eat. Amongst the regular fast food places there’s our first day friends, Chili’s Bar and Grill and a Korean BBQ but it was Genki Sushi with its angry little logo that drew us like moths to a flame. Slotting us in just before closing time gives them an extra thumbs up!

Next up, we get thrifty and hit up the swapmeets.

If you have any questions about our adventures, feel free to hit us up on facebook.

Hawaii 2012 part #1 – Arrival
Hawaii 2012 part #2 – Waikiki
Hawaii 2012 part #3 – Honolulu shopping – Part A
Hawaii 2012 part #4 – The Big Island – Volcano tour
Hawaii 2012 part #5 – Shopping Honolulu – part B
Hawaii 2012 part #6 – Tattoo Honolulu / Boardshorts: A Perfect Fit art exhibits
Hawaii 2012 part #7 – Pearl City area
Hawaii 2012 part #8 – Swap meets and Made in Hawaii festival
Hawaii 2012 part #9 – Cook offs and Car shows
Hawaii 2012 part #10 – North shore
Hawaii 2012 part #11 – Windward shore and Sealife Park
Hawaii 2012 part #12 – Chief’s Luau at Sealife Park
Hawaii 2012 part #13 – South shore – Diamondhead crater, Hanauma bay