a few weeks ago, yoshi 'won' a coupon at work for a hotel in sasebo. a special deal was printed on the coupon, if you mentioned a special occasion, you could get an upgrade. yoshi called the hotel and asked if it was ok to use the coupon for our family (you know, because of the kids). apparently it was, and so we booked it for the actual day of our anniversary. yoshi is a kind man, a loving husband and father, and i am grateful that he remembers our anniversary, but this trip really was just a kind of chance thing, not something he does every year!

but hey, i'm not one to look a gift horse in the mouth, i LOVE to stay in hotels and don't get the chance often. with all of yoshi's early mornings and late nights, the two of us have been looking forward to this for weeks! we didn't tell the kids we were going anywhere until the day before, so they had no idea they had something to look forward to! ha!

since we were going on a friday, we planned on NOT taking the toll roads and highways. navigation told us it would take at least three and a half hours this way (which isn't that far, truth be told. it takes us about that long to get to victoria's house) so we hit the road just before ten. we decided to rent some new videos (we've been renting a lot of DVDs lately, me getting the disney stuff and yoshi getting anpanman. i had no idea anpanman was so freakin' funny! baikinman kills me on a regular basis. tooooo funny!) and then we were on our way.

we did take the urban expressway (the city's toll road) in fukuoka. then it was pretty smooth going from there. we had lunch at a sushi place somewhere between karatsu and imari (if you know me, then you know how much i hate sushi and this is pretty amazing!) and then made a stop at the michinoeki in imari.

michi-no-eki imari, saga
(you can see that hiro is quite camera shy recently) (and i'm guessing imari is known for its beef)

we got to the hotel at around four. it is on top of a mountain, with the obligatory curvy road. thank goodness none of us get carsick! we went to our room, which reeked of cigarette smoke. we were offered the other 'best room' (which meant a wide balcony, i think) but the view from the balcony was blocked by architecture. i went to check it out, but we decided to stay with smokey room and just left the balcony door open while we went out to dinner. the kids enjoyed the beds, sasha and hiro tumbling and tommy getting wedged in between.


(who needs playgrounds??)

so, here we have the best room in the hotel, i think, with a big patio and the highest level with rooms (so, the best view). we could see pretty much all of sasebo city, including several naval ships, and the '99 islands', which was very lovely from afar.

big balcony



99 islands

then we went to dinner (even though there were three (or four?) restaurants in the hotel, the chinese one was booked, the european one was super expensive and hey, we had sushi for lunch so we (i) wasn't in the mood for the japanese one), a steak restaurant yoshi found out about on the internet. it's called jidaiya, and apparently it's famous for it's lemon steak. i ordered the beef stew, yoshi the lemon steak, and we shared with the kids. sasha loved the lemon steak and hated the stew, hiro was the opposite. tommy ate whatever (because he's like that) and we actually ordered more lemon steak and an order of garlic toast. it was a great meal and wasn't very expensive!

we went back to the hotel and as we passed the lounge, it was empty, so i convinced yoshi to have a drink. one of those things in japan, but we took our kids with us. for the first time (for me, anyway), our kids got free drinks. just plain orange juice, but it was very nice, they all had something to occupy them for a few minutes while we enjoyed our cocktails. we took a few pictures, it was very romantic (but not so romantic with three genki kids there).

romantic hotel bar

we went back to our room, which was quite cool, but not so smelly. then we went to the hotel bath, with was similar to an onsen, but was rather small, and so rather crowded (there were a couple of tour buses there at the hotel). hiro and sasha insisted on going with me, so tommy went with yoshi. then it was back to the room and tried to go to sleep (because EVERYONE has to sleep next to me. *sigh*) we woke up rather early in the morning. i think the kids slept lightly because even though i tried to be quiet, they knew when i was out of bed and that was it. ah well.

before breakfast we took a lot of photos. also, the kids loved the hotel pool. sasha even insisted that i go back to our house and get her bathing suit! yeah, not happening kid.

good morning!
(from our room's balcony)

hotel in the morning

then it was time for breakfast. i think we all ate far too much, but hey, it's a holiday! after breakfast we went back to the room and got ready to go. we left at about ten (check out was at eleven) and drove up the road to the very top of the mountain. that's pretty much when the nikon ran out of battery and the rest of the day was shot with my olympus. the view was really nice, but the look out point didn't have very high walls or fences, so not very toddler friendly! there were some telescopes and hiro wanted to try one out, but neither yoshi nor i had any money. so, yoshi went back to the car and that's when he realized he left a bag at the hotel. oops! not too much of a bother, though, since we were literally 200 meters up the road from there. back to the hotel for the bag and then we went to the zoo!

viewing plaza

the zoo in sasebo is rather small, but quite lovely because it is also a botanical garden and they have lots of flowers planted there. we were in time for baboon snack time, which meant we could pelt, uh i mean throw food to, the baboons. the lion's pen was very nice, but the elephant was pretty dismal. poor thing. we walked around the zoo and then decided to have lunch. after lunch we drove to the pearl sea resort, which is where the boat tour of the '99 islands' is. i took a load of pictures there, it's very lovely. i had also taken this boat ride several years before because one of the trips i took with my fellow teachers when i was an ALT. i will show you a couple of pictures more but you can check out my set (now with all photos) at flickr here. after the boat ride (which was actually harrowing because tommy ran everywhere (when he wasn't being held) and i was sure he was going to hurtle down the stairs) we walked back to our car, stopping to get omiyage and a sasebo burger on our way. then we drove home and kidlets slept in the car.

sea king ship

lovely islands

i had a great time, and i think everyone else did, too. thanks for the trip yoshi, it was a lovely anniversary!