Archive for April 2016

New Zealand in March 2016   1 comment

Presenting the latest episode of
“Hawaiians in New Zealand”
starring: Lari and Mary
February 22 to March 10, 2016

Mary Ann Kadooka and I are best friends since our freshman year in college at University of Hawaii.  She was my maid of honor and I was her matron of honor, but we had never travelled together before. When we decided to go to New Zealand together, we started planning our trip rather than take a tour. We discovered that we had similar interests and wanted to see virtually the same sites. So we each planned different parts of the trip, sharing the planning process, making reservations, etc.

We flew by Hawaiian Airlines to Auckland and spent one day just walking around town and going to the Sky Tower to see the views of the city by day and by night. We caught a ferry (at the suggestion of the girl at the visitor center) to Devonport Island. It was a delightful little island. We walked around and had lunch there.

The next day, we caught the bus to Waitomo Glow Worm cave for an adventure with Black Water Rafting. Instead of riding a boat into the cave, we wore wet suits and floated in the underground river on inner tubes. Part of the way we had to walk through the rocky stream and we also had to jump two small waterfalls with our tubes. It was so much fun! We caught a bus to Rotorua where we stayed for 3 nights in a motel close to the visitor center.

Rotorua is known for bubbling mud pools, shooting geysers and natural hot springs, as well as showcasing their fascinating Maori culture. The first day, we visited Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland. We saw bubbling mud pools, pools of many different colors and Lady Knox geyser, which is “induced” by pouring soap into it’s mouth to make it bubble and shoot up. We also went to Hell’s Gate Spa, where we experienced hot mud bath spa treatments before going into the sulfur pool… very good for our health. We also enjoyed the Mitai Maori dinner show (similar to a Hawaiian luau) for tourists to be entertained.

We flew to South Island and stayed several days on the East coast of the South Island at Oamaru, where we took a bus outside of town to Moeraki Boulders, where huge spherical boulders are scattered along the beach; very strange and interesting! We saw the blue penguins come home to nest at night after feeding in the ocean all day long.

We took another bus to Dunedin, one of the best-preserved Victorian and Edwardian cities in the Southern Hemisphere. The center of their town is called The Octagon, and we visited the wonderful and free Dunedin Public Art Gallery right on the Octagon. We also enjoyed the free Otago Botanic Garden, the Otago University campus, the Chinese Garden and the Otago Museum. We also did a full day tour which included a train ride through the Taieri Gorge in the morning and a van ride in the afternoon to the Otago Peninsula, with gorgeous views.

We rode the bus to our next destination, Te Anau, on the west side of South Island. We stayed at a lovely BnB, where we met Ed and Barbara from Philly at breakfast, and then we took the bus to Milford Sound. I was surprised that the bus ride had spectacular views with high mountains and many waterfalls. We arrived at Milford Sound and boarded the Milford Mariner with cabins for our overnight cruise. We were awed by more spectacular views on Milford Sound-so many waterfalls so very beautiful! We enjoyed the views in the evening and again in the morning.

After disembarking, we took a bus to Queenstown, the place for many different adventurous activities such as bungy jumping. We walked around the lovely Queenstown Garden, did some shopping, we rode up the Skyline gondola, the steepest gondola ride in the Southern Hemisphere up to Bob’s Peak overlooking Lake Wakatipu. We took TSS Earnslaw across Lake Wakatipu to Walter Peak Farm for a fabulous buffet dinner and to watch sheepdogs n sheep shearing. We loved the famous burgers at Fergburgers, where there is always a long line.

Ed and Barbara, from Philadelphia, who were staying in the motel next to us had a rental car, and they drove us on a day trip to Wanaka, and on the way, we stopped to watch bungy jumpers at AJ Hacket bungy, off the Kawarau Bridge. We had lunch and a lovely walk along Wanaka Lake. New Zealand is a beautiful, scenic place with no freeways and no huge crowds. We had a wonderful time in New Zealand, and loved the friendliness of the people and gorgeous scenery.

Lari’s Top Ten:
10 The beautiful gardens in each city
9 Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland
8 Lovely scenery with cattle and sheep farms
7 Delicious food
6 The local beer
5 Moeraki Boulder beach
4 Taieri Gorge train ride and tour of Otago Peninsula
3  Mud bath spa at Hell’s Gate
2 Black Water Rafting in glowworm cave
1 Beautiful Milford Sound

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We spent a day in Auckland and went up on the Sky Tower and stood on the glass floor looking down 722 feet to the street level.

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We took a ferry to the island of Devonport.

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In Devonport, we strolled along the oceanside park path and went into the main part of town for lunch.

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We took a bus to Waitomo Glowworm Cave for our Black Water Rafting tour. We had to wear wetsuits and wetsuit socks and boots to keep us protected.

Each of us in the group posed at the beginning of the rafting tour, where we had to walk through the underground stream, float in our inner tubes and jump the waterfalls.

Here we are in the cave in a group photo.

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We stayed in Rotorua and enjoyed the night market.

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In Rotorua, we loved the mud spa treatments.

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At Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland the hot bubbling mud pool was so fascinating!

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At Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland the Lady Knox geyser has to be induced by adding soap into the opening before it starts to bubble and shoot up.

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At Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland, this is the artist palette because it has many different minerals and colors.

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At Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland, this bright yellow pool is called the Devil’s Bath.

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At the Mitai Maori Village, we had entertainment and a wonderful buffet dinner.

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We flew from Rotorua on the North Island to Christchurch on the South Island.

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We stayed in Oamaru on the east coast, where we watched the little blue penguins come out of the ocean to their nests at night.

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Just outside of Oamaru, we had to catch a bus to see the strange round Moeraki Boulders on the beach.

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Our next stop was to Dunedin, the lovely city settled by Scottish settlers. This is their beautiful train station.

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Our favorite in the Dunedin Botanic Garden was the rose garden.

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Baldwin Street in Dunedin is the steepest street in the world!

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On the Taieri Gorge Tour, we rode the train through beautiful scenery.

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On the Taieri Gorge Tour, we rode the train through beautiful scenery.

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We walked around through Dunedin to find street art like this one.

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After walking around town, we enjoyed cold Speight’s Beer.

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We loved the Chinese Garden in Dunedin.

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This bagpiper entertained in front of the train station.

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Milford and Doubtful Sounds are not really sounds, but fjords formed by glaciers in Fiordland National Park.

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We did not know that the bus ride to Milford Sound would be so scenic!

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Our bus to Milford Sound had roof windows to enjoy the views of mountains and waterfalls.

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We chose to do an overnight cruise on Milford Sound on the Milford Mariner.

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Milford Sound at different times of the day is just fabulous!

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Milford Sound at different times of the day is just fabulous!

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Milford Sound at different times of the day is just fabulous!

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Milford Sound at different times of the day is just fabulous! So many waterfalls to marvel at!

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In Queenstown, we rode the Skyline gondola for a fabulous view of the city!

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We rode the Skyline gondola for a fabulous view of Queenstown!

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The famous Fergburgers in Queenstown are a must! Yumm!

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At Queenstown Gardens we watched the ladies lawn bowling.

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We took the steamboat TSS Earnslaw to Walter Peak Farm for a fabulous buffet dinner and then watched sheep shearing.

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We watched bungy jumping at the Kawarau Bridge, but we did NOT jump!

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We enjoyed Queenstown a lot. This mall had many shops and restaurants to enjoy.

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In Cardrona, they had a fence full of bras for breast awareness.

Cuba and Miami in January 2016   2 comments

Presenting the latest episode of

“Hawaiian in Cuba”

starring: Lari

January 8 to 16, 2016

I decided that I wanted to go to Cuba before it changes with tourism opening there. So my friends, Marcus and Linda in Kansas City said they were going in December 2015, and I wanted to join their tour, but it was filled. I started looking for another tour and found Gate1 going from Miami in January, 2016, I asked a few traveling friends, who said no or had already been there, until Tom and Tyke from Fort Collins said they wanted to go with me. Yayy! Tom,Tyke, Marcus and Linda are part of “Roger’s Hiking Club” that met in Croatia 10 years ago. We named our group as such because they all knew that Roger hates to walk or hike, so it was all in fun.

So the tour started in Miami, and I booked two extra days there and contacted my friends Gary and Peggy from Orlando, to see if I could visit them, but they said it’s too far for me to drive, so they drove down to Miami, picked me up and I booked a nice AirBnB place for us three to stay in for 2 nights. It had two bedrooms, a bath, living room and a kitchen and was very convenient. We went to Fort Lauderdale to take a nice relaxing boat ride through all the fancy waterfront mansions, had lunch and that night we went to a wonderful Cuban restaurant for dinner. The adjacent bakery was a big hit with me and Peggy. The next day we drove down to Coral Gables and visited the Coral Castle built out of limestone/coral boulders by a very eccentric man from Latvia. They dropped me off at the airport hotel where the tour group was meeting.

We only had 3 days in Havana, but it was enough and the tour was less than $2000, including all meals, one night in Miami and the charter flight from Miami and back. There were 38 people on our tour and we met at the Crowne Plaza Miami Airport hotel for briefing. Being only 90 miles from the Florida coast, the flight to Havana was only 45 minutes long. The weather was not the best, with light rain on and off the entire trip. But the downpour was on the day we left, so we felt lucky. All of our meals were wonderful! They served mojitos before each lunch and dinner, with unlimited rum!

First day: the bus took us to Revolution Square, but everyone was fascinated when we saw the old cars parked next to the square. We took photos around the square, but mostly of the old cars. Then we drove along the Malecon, the highway along the ocean with a seawall where people hang out every night and the waves crash and splash over the wall. We had a fabulous lunch at El Literol right across the Malecon. We went to a cigar and rum shop to purchase our gifts to take home. We were allowed $100 in liquor and tobacco to take back to the states. So I bought $100 worth of cigars for my cigar-smoking friends here. Then we stopped to have margaritas at Floridita, where Hemingway used to hang out at the bar. After checking in to the hotel and a short rest, several members of the Old Style Car Club came to pick us up for dinner. We got to ride a red ’57 chevy convertible to dinner! After dinner, we went to San Carlos de la Cabaña Fortress, located in the municipality of East Havana, a UNESCO as World Heritage Site, where every night at 9 pm, a cannon goes off with a loud boom!

Second day: We spent the day in Old Havana, walking from St Francis Square to Army Square and to Cathedral Square. After lunch, we visited an art gallery barber shop owned by Pepito, who also started a barber school and a playground. For dinner we went to the Magic Flute on the 10th floor building next to the American Embassy. We had salsa lessons and a wonderful dinner there. Fun!

Third day: We drove outside of Havana to Santa Barbara Catholic Church, where they have a day care for toddlers and serve lunches to the elderly. We went to Ernest Hemingway’s favorite drinking spots, and also visited his home, where he lived for 21 years. After the tour, we enjoyed fresh squeezed cane juice and did a little shopping. After lunch, we went to “Fusterlandia,” the bizarre studio of artist José Rodriguez Fuster to see his amazing artwork all around with mosaics and even his neighbors’ homes were decorated in bright colors. His work is similar to Gaudi in Barcelona. After dinner, we went to Buena Vista Social Club night club show. It was very entertaining. The star was 80-year-old Tete Catura.

Last day: our flight back to Miami was delayed by 7 hours, so we spent 9 hours in the airport, which is very small and has hardly anything to eat… only ham and cheese sandwiches. People missed their connections in Miami, and had to stay overnight there and go home the next day. I had already reserved a motel near the airport, and so I checked to see if they had a room for Tom & Tyke, and the only room they had left was a suite for $150, so we reserved it. When we saw the room, we laughed so hard, because it was so raunchy with red lights, mirrors and a huge jacuzzi in the room. We all flew home the next day.

Lari’s Top Six:

6 Beautiful, old, and colorful architecture

5 Riding the red ’57 Chevy convertible

4 Salsa dancing lessons

3 Jose Fuster’s colorful home/gallery/studio

2 Pepito’s Art Gallery Barbershop and Barber School

1 Mojitos with every meal

*PHOTO CREDITS: Some of these photos are courtesy of Richard Brzeczek of Palm Beach, FL who has a fancy camera and graciously shared his photos with me.

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Gary & Peggy Gentry drove from Orlando to Miami and took me around the city to eat and play.

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Gary & Peggy took me to Fort Lauderdale on a relaxing boat ride along the waterways enjoying the lovely homes and huge yachts.

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We had Cuban dinner at Versailles, but wait! they also have a bakery! We could not resist…

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Coral Castle is a stone structure created by the Latvian American eccentric Edward Leedskalnin located in Leisure City, Florida.

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This bus took us all over Havana and more.

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The famous Malecón (officially Avenida de Maceo) is a broad esplanade, roadway and seawall which stretches for 8 km (5 miles) along the coast in Havana.

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Revolution Square was our first stop on the tour in Havana with Tom & Tyke from Fort Collins, CO.

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This was our first sight of the old cars at Revolution Square.

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Revolution Square

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Andrew, our tour director.

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They took us to a tobacco and liquor shop, where we all bought cigars and rum. We are allowed only $100 worth of both.

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I did not buy any rum, but just $100 worth of cigars for my friends back home.

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The Havana Old Style Car Club picked us up at our hotel to drive us to dinner at La Moraleja.

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Tom, Tyke and I chose a red ’57 Chevy convertible! It was so much fun to ride!

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Old Havana street scenes.

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Old Havana street scenes.

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Old Havana street scenes.

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Old Havana street scenes.

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Old Havana Plaza de Armas (army square) with book sellers.

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Old Havana street scenes.

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Old Havana street scenes.

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Old Havana street scenes.

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Old Havana-Pepito’s barber shop art gallery.

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Old Havana -Pepito’s barber shop art gallery.

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Lari gives Liz a massage.

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Our local tour guide, is Iris in the middle enjoying sugar cane juice at Hemingway’s home.

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Hemingway house, where he lived and wrote books for 21 years

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Hemingway’s custom made boat was built in Brooklyn for $7,400 and sleeps 8.

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Salsa dance lessons were fun!

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Fusterlandia, the studio, residence and wild kingdom of José Rodriguez Fuster, in Jaimanitas, at the northwestern edge of the Havana.

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Fusterlandia, the studio, residence and wild kingdom of José Rodriguez Fuster, in Jaimanitas.

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Fusterlandia, the studio, residence and kingdom of José Rodriguez Fuster, in Jaimanitas. He remade the neighborhood in his own image, so other houses on his street have his creations.

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While walking Old Havana, a cold coconut drink was in order! I was the first to get one, and I was finished when this photo was taken.

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Melia Cohiba Hotel Habana Club for Buena Vista Social Club fabulous show!

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Melia Cohiba Hotel Habana Club for Buena Vista Social Club fabulous show!

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Buena Vista Social Club: the star was 80-year-old Tete Catura.

 

Posted April 22, 2016 by lariyasui in South America

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Japan 2015 Oct-Nov   10 comments

Presenting the latest episode of

“Hawaiians in Japan”

starring: Lari and Debi

October 26 to November 15, 2015

After Roger passed away in July, Debi offered to take his place on this trip that we had planned, our first Fall trip to Japan. We got our rail passes here before we left and made good use of them going on several shinkansen trains. I arrived a day ahead of Debi, and Yumi and Koji picked me up at the airport. I spent the day with Yumi: first we had breakfast at a fancy hotel, then to Shibuya to see Hachiko the famous dog statue, then to Harajuku where we took fun photos, ate lunch and shopped at my favorite store, Daiso (100 yen) onTakeshita Dori (walking street).

After Debi arrived, we took the train to Nikko. We visited Ayako, who works at Nikko Tokanso Ryokan where Roger and I stayed in 2013. I took the memory book that I made about Roger, and shared it with all of our friends in Japan. Ayako cried when I told her that he had died and showed her his book. She gave us tickets to go to  Rinnoji Temple Garden (beautiful) and brought a platter of assorted cut fruit to our hotel.

We took a shinkansen through the mountains with many long tunnels to Niigata. We walked to Ichishima Sake Brewery, where the owner, Kenji Ichishima (Yumi’s friend) met us and showed us around his brewery, then his mother served us some fancy Japanese tea. I bought sake and some sembei, and after we shopped, Kenji drove us to the wonderful Tsukioka Onsen Murakamikan Ryokan. Debi and I enjoyed a feast for dinner and the relaxing onsen (Japanese bath, soaking in hot water pools).

The next morning after breakfast, we met Yumi and Asako at the Niigata train station, and went with them by ferry to Sado Island. Asako drove a rental car, so we were lucky to see all the sites on the island! First we rode the tarai (large bucket) boat, went to Kodo Taiko School for a one-hour taiko lesson with Sami and did some gold-panning at a tourist place. We went to Kiraku Ryokan Hotel and had a HUGE dinner and also went to onsen there. The next morning after breakfast, we went to the famous Sado Gold Mine, another tourist attraction. Sado Island has a mascot, the Toki bird (crested ibis), which is endangered. We visited the Toki bird reserve.

Debi and I left Niigata and took the shinkansen to Kanazawa. Our hotel was very convenient, right across the street from the train station. We bought an all-day bus pass and rode the bus to the 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, to the famous and beautiful Kenrokuen Garden and did some shopping.

We took a train to Kyoto and stayed at the Kyoto ANA Crowne Plaza hotel next to Nijo Castle. This was our favorite hotel. For 3 days, we went shopping, went to dinner with Masahiro Mori and his family, took a train to Fushimi Inari Taisha to see the thousand red torii, and went to Menbakaichidai, for Fire Ramen.. super delicious and fun!

We went to Kobe and stayed two nights, but hardly spent time in Kobe, because we took the train to Himeji Castle one day and to Arima Onsen village the next. The castle was recently opened after 5 years of renovations. Arima Onsen is a village with shops and several onsens… we did the gold onsen-very hot! and the silver onsen as well as a massage. We rode the ropeway up Mount Rokko and had lovely views of the autumn colors.

Our next stop was Osaka, where we had lunch with my friend Miho Ueo and her family, who just moved to Osaka from Sapporo. Yumi’s parents, Sosuke and Toshiko Kojima took us to Kushi Katsu dinner in the mall right next to our hotel. On to Nagoya the next day to visit with the Kurata family. The day we arrived, Naoto and Yuko with Tomoe picked us up at the train station and took us shopping, to lunch and to a Temple. That night, Naoto prepared takoyaki dinner for us. The next day, Katsumasa and Kazuyo took us around then dropped us off at the train station. They took us to Komeda Coffee for breakfast, then to a Temple and to Noritake China for a tour of their factory. The displays of the historical Noritake china patterns was wonderful.

We returned to Tokyo after Nagoya and Yumi and Koji met us at the train station, then we had soba dinner and they took Debi to the subway station to go to the airport and I took a train to Kazu’s house in Camp Zama, Sagamihara. I stayed with Kazu, Audrey and their 3 girls for a few days and we got to watch Azlyn play volleyball, went on a road trip to Takao to the Trick Art Museum, drove to Mt Fuji and saw Shiraito Falls and the lakes. One day, I walked to school with Azlyn and her friends, and I read a book to her class in her Japanese school.  We had lots of delicious food and went to some onsens, which I love very much! The hotter the better!

Lari’s Top 12:

12 Himeji Castle

11 Autumn colors everywhere

10 Ichishima Brewery with owner Kenji Ichishima

9 Wonderful ryokans with delicious breakfasts and dinners

8 Shiraito Falls

7 Takao Trick Museum

6 Fushimi Inari Taisha

5 Tarai boat and taiko on Sado Island

4 Taiko lesson at Kodo Taiko studio on Sado Island

3 Fire Ramen at Menbakaichidai

2 Food! Soba, Kobe Beef, Kushikatsu, tonlkatsu, sushi, pastries, fresh fruit in season: persimmon, pear, apple, tangerine

1 Onsens and massages, especially Arima Onsen village

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Yumi took me to breakfast to meet Kae Jibiki.

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I visited famous Hachiko statue at Shibuya Station.

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Daiso the 100-yen store is my favorite place to shop!

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In Harajuku, Yumi and I went into the photo booth that puts make-up on to make us look young.

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Debi and I took a train to Nikko, where we enjoyed the fall colors.

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In Niigata, Kenji Ichishima showed us around his sake brewery and drove us to our ryokan.

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We enjoyed the onsen (hot soaking bath) at the ryokan.

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The Ryokan futon bed on the tatami mat floor is very warm and comfy.

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We met Asako and Yumi and went with them to Sado Island, where we rode the tarai (bucket) boat.

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Kodo taiko school on Sado Island: Debi, Asako and Yumi playing taiko.

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Sami was our taiko instructor at Kodo Taiko school.

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I love the onsen -hot bath soak at the Sado ryokan.

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Ryokan dinner was fabulous! Too much food, we could not eat it all.

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We were so lucky that Asako drove us around Sado and Yumi navigated.

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This is Kanazawa station, and our hotel was right across the street!

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Beautiful and famous Kenrokuen Garden in Kanazawa.

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Masamichi owns Menbakaichidai Fire Ramen in Kyoto, and his ramen is super ono!

This video is taken at Menbakaichidai Fire Ramen shop in Kyoto!

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Fushimi Inari Taisha has 1000 red torii in Kyoto.

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We visited the famous Himeji Castle all new-looking after 5 years of renovation.

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I had to taste the famous Kobe steak in Kobe!

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We went to Arima Onsen village where they have gold onsen, silver onsen and more. We got a massage and had lunch there.

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We rode up to Mount Rokko on the Ropeway with glorious views of the fall colors.

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In Osaka, we had kushikatsu dinner with Yumi and Asako’s parents, Sosuke and Toshiko Kojima.

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In Nagoya, Naoto, Yuko and Tomoe Kurata took us around town to shop and have lunch.

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Naoto cooked takoyaki dinner for us at his home.

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Katsumasa and Kazuyo Kurata took us to Noritake Museum and lunch before taking us to the train station to go back to Tokyo.

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Debi went home to Hawaii and I went to stay with Kazu, Audrey and 3 girls at their home in Camp Zama.

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Kazu drove me, Allah and Aulia to Shiraito Falls near Mt. Fuji.

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Allah and Aulia acting like little old ladies with canes, but they were massage sticks.

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I walked to school with Azlyn and her friends from Camp Zama. I read a book to her class.

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After watching Azlyn play volleyball, we all drove to Takao Trick Art Museum.

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We all had fun at Takao Trick Art Museum… they have so many rooms with different optical illusions!

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After the trick museum, we went to onsen and dinner. Audrey is photo bombing me and Kazu!

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Before I left to catch my flight, the Hernandez and Ibaramoto families bade me farewell!

 

Posted April 18, 2016 by lariyasui in Asia

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June 2015 to NY, VA, MD, LV   4 comments

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Roger walking from BnB to Yvette’s apartment in Battery Park City

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We took Noakai to the top of Freedom Tower

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We had dinner at Miko’s restaurant, Serafina Meatpacking

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Roger at Hudner’s home

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Sharmaine and I having wine in Severn, MD

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Roger with Addie and Collin

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Bryan Voltaggio’s restaurant in Frederick, MD

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Matt and Audrey wedding

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Dinner with Dennis and Janne Hudner

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Las Vegas Waipahu reunion w/ Nani and Reto

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4 L’s taiko sisters at UNLV

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Taiko class with Tiffany at UNLV

 

Presenting the latest episode of

“Hawaiians on the East Coast and Vegas”

starring: Lari and Roger

May 27 to June 15, 2015

 

       We were invited to a wedding in Maryland, so we added on New York City and connected to Vegas for a class reunion making our trip three weeks long. First, we flew to NY to visit Yvette, Erik, Noakai and Marlowe (YENM) for a few days. We stayed at an AirBnB apartment close to their apartment in Battery Park City, right near the World Trade Center. We went to the broadway show “On the Town” and I saw “Kinky Boots”. We watched Noey play little league baseball, just a couple blocks from their apartment. We took Noey to the top of the Freedom Tower the day it opened and saw the awesome views from 104 stories up. We went to the World Science Festival at Greenwich Village, where the kids could do all kinds of hands-on science activities.

We took the Chinatown Bus from New York City to Arlington, VA. It cost $27 each and took 4 hours non-stop. Dennis Hudner picked us up at the bus depot and took us home. We stayed with Janne and Dennis for two nights and they loan us a car for a week. The first night, Janne prepared a nice supper and the second night, they took us to Clarity, a very nice restaurant in their neighborhood. After that we moved to an AirBnB in Hyattsville, MD close to University of MD campus in College Park. From there, we drove up to Laurel to visit and have dinner with cousin Gary and Sally. And the next night, we drove up to Severn to visit and have dinner with cousin Sharmaine, David, Collin and Addison.

I went by myself on the metro into DC one day to Senator Mazie Hirono’s coffee hour and another day to Congressman Mark Takai’s coffee hour. I got to meet other guests at the coffee hours and both the Senator and Congressman shared their goals and committees that they sit on in Congress. I discovered the Postal Museum right next to Union Station, and spent a couple of happy hours there.

Then we drove to Frederick MD staying at another AirBnB so we could attend the wedding of Matt and Audrey Shiomichi. The visit to Frederick, MD was so much fun! It is a small town about an hour NW of DC. We lucked out because they were having an Art Festival, which is held there the first weekend in June. On Friday night, we went to Volt, Top Chef’s Bryan Voltaggio’s signature restaurant. We sat at Table 21, only 8 seats in the kitchen, with 21 courses! It was fabulous and we enjoyed watching the chefs in the kitchen. After dinner, we went to a local bar to join the bride and groom-to-be having drinks with their friends. On Saturday, we spent the whole morning at the Art Festival, then drove out to see two covered bridges and get some fresh ice cream at the South Mountain Creamery dairy farm. Then we got dressed for the wedding and drove to the Stone Manor country club for the elegant and charming wedding and reception. Everyone (except Roger) danced the night away. We all had a grand time! Note: Roger has a difficult time walking, limiting his activities.

We returned to the Hudner’s home in Vienna on Sunday to return the car and the next day, Dennis drove us to the airport and we flew to Las Vegas for Roger’s all-class Waipahu HS reunion. At the California Hotel, we had fun at the hospitality suite talking stories with old and new friends, watched the slot tournament and attended a banquet where everyone gathered for a final dinner. I made sure to get a $20 massage almost every day while in Vegas. Roger and I rode the huge ferris wheel, The High Roller at the Linq before I dropped him off at the airport.

I stayed back for 3 days in Vegas to attend a Taiko Conference at UNLV. It was fabulous! There were hands-on workshops for us to learn techniques and exhibits and sales at the Marketplace and awesome performances at lunchtime and after dinner. My taiko sensei, Kenny Endo was one of the workshop leaders. I made friends with Leslie, Lorin and Lovelle, and we were the 4 Ls. We had so much fun, talking and laughing. After the conference, everyone left, and my flight was late at night, so I spent the evening with friends Danette and Jason, who live in Vegas. We went to massage together and then to dinner at Hikari for AYCE (all-you-can-eat) sashimi and sushi.

I am so happy that we took this last trip together before Roger died a month later.

 

Lari’s Top Ten:

10 Meeting the 3 L’s at Taiko conference: Leslie, Lorin and Lovelle

9 Enjoying the Art Festival in downtown Frederick, MD

8 Seeing Kinky Boots on Broadway, such a wonderful musical production

7 Taking Noey to the top of the Freedom Tower

6 Seeing friends at the Waipahu HS reunion at the California Hotel in Las Vegas

5 Attending coffee hours at Senator Hirono and Congressman Mark Takai’s offices

4 Matt and Audrey Shiomichi’s wedding

3 Taiko conference at UNLV

2 Visiting with family and friends

1 Table 21 at Volt (Top Chef Bryan Voltagio’s restaurant)

 

Posted April 17, 2016 by lariyasui in USA

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