Archive for the ‘Asia’ Category

Spring 2017 in Tokyo   9 comments

Presenting the latest episode of

“Hawaiians in Japan”

Starring: Lari, Ryan, Kara, Jensen, Madisen, Allysen

Co-starring: Gordon, Claudine, Chloe, Tyler, Audrey, Azlyn

March 16 to 28, 2017

I decided to treat Ryan’s family to their first trip to Japan, and invited Claudine and her family to join us. Audrey and Azlyn also tagged along. We stayed the first two nights in a businessman’s hotel near Shinagawa Station, one night at a ryokan in Enoshima (Kamakura), then one week in two rental apartments. The apartment was in a quiet residential area in Nakano, close to the train station, mall and supermarket only one trainstop away from Shinjuku Station. We walked to and from the train station and used our Pasmo cards to enter the station turnstiles. Pasmo is a handy card that you pre-load with yen and it makes it so fast and easy to enter the train station, without having to purchase train tickets each time. And you may use your pasmo card to buy things in a convenience store as well as at some vending machines.

We went to the Ohi Race Course flea market (like our swap meet) where people are selling their old antiques, clothing, toys, games and much more. Then we walked to the Shinagawa Aquarium where everyone enjoyed the different ocean creatures and walk-through aquariums. We all took a bath at the onsen in the hotel that evening after dinner. The next day we took the train to Kamakura to see the huge Buddha statue-very impressive. Along the way from the Daibutsu back to the train station, we stopped at a rabbit café, where the kids go in to pet some rabbits and also a hedgehog. We took the local train to Enoshima nearby, and it was super crowded! We got to experience rush-hour madness on the little local train. We got off in Enoshima, walked to Kinokuniya Ryokan, which was very small and traditional. I got 2 tatami rooms that could sleep 6 each. Since they were not ready for us to check in, we left our bags and walked around the area towards Enoshima Island to explore the neighborhood. Back at the ryokan, we settled in, and got ready for dinner. We had a huge spread-typical kaiseki-style dinner with many interesting and mysterious edibles. After dinner, we went back to our rooms and all our futon beds were lined up on the tatami floor. After taking their onsen bath, the kids decided to walk to Lawson’s convenience store to buy ice cream, so we told them to go by themselves. After the kids went to sleep, us adults stayed up to drink sake and talk stories until midnight.

The next day, after our walking tour of Enoshima Island, we took the train back to Tokyo and settled in at our Nakano apartment, which was our home for a week. On Tuesday we went to Yokohama-to Anpan Man and Ramen Museum and then the next day to Disney Sea-super crowded with long lines for everything. On Thursday, we took the train to Asakusa, where we walked down Nakamise Dori-shopping street to Sensoji Temple. After lunch we took a boat ride down the Sumida River to Odaiba. We really enjoyed the Sony Explora Museum in Aqua City-mostly because there were not many people in there, so we could do/play with all the fun interactive displays there. Then we walked to Palette Town, another mall, and we enjoyed Toyota MegaWeb there.

On Friday we took a 45-min. train ride to Mount Takao. There we rode a cable car up the mountain, and took a short hike. Back down on the chair lift then to lunch. We spent the afternoon at the Trick Art Museum, which was so much fun for both adults and kids! At the train station, they have an onsen, which we really relaxed us after a busy day. We took the train back to Tokyo and went to Shibuya to the Disney Store to shop and had Okonomiyaki dinner.

Saturday, we went to Tsukiji Market to see the huge seafood marketplace and all the shops adjoining. We had sashimi don for lunch. We went to Akihabara to check out the electronic city and then to Harajuku, where it was super crowded on Takeshita Dori. We ate crepes and shopped at Daiso (100-yen shop).

Sunday we went to Takashimaya Department Store in Shinjuku. We had lunch there and shopped at another Disney Store and at Tokyu Hands. The Yoshiki family left us to the airport to go home. So we went back to Harajuku but it was raining, and crowded with hundreds of umbrellas.

On our last 2 days without Yoshiki family, we returned to Yokohama to go to Cup Noodle Museum, where we could make our own cup noodle. And we returned to Toyota MegaWeb to reserve rides. The girls got to ride the cars, and the segway called Winglet. It happened to be kids day there, so they had many fun activities for the kids. We spent the whole day there before taking the train to the airport.

We were lucky to have Koji take care of our luggage in the beginning and end of our trip, so we could go and do things without having to take our large luggage. The food in Japan is so delicious. We had all different kinds of food experiences like Monja dinner where you cook your own on the teppan table, similar to Okonomiyaki. We had kushi yaki, ramen, Okinawan, and much more!

Walking to Ohi Racecourse Flea Market

Shinagawa Aquarium

Jason Hagiwara joined us for the day.

The Daibutsu or great Buddha in Kamakura

The rabbit cafe where the kids got to play with rabbits and a hedgehog.

Our fancy dinner at Kinokuniya Ryokan in Enoshima

The Kinokuniya Ryokan in Enoshima provides yukata for everyone.

They gave us candles to tour the Iwaya Cave on Enoshima Island

Kara and Ryan at the Iwaya Cave on Enoshima Island

Anpan Man Children’s Museum and Mall in Yokohama.

Disney Sea

In Asakusa this entrance to Nakamise Dori and Sensoji Temple is very famous!

The Sumida River boat ride from Asakusa to Odaiba was very pleasant and not too long.

Mt Takao has a monkey exhibit

It was late, so we did not see too many fish/seafood.

You can hardly walk on Takeshita Dori on a weekend.

In Harajuku the girls went into a photo booth and fun taking these photos.

We made our own Cup Noodle.

Madi is learning how to control the Winglet segway at Toyota Megaweb.

After checking out of our apartment and spending our last day at Toyota MegaWeb, Koji met us at the airport with all our luggage he held for us on the last day.

Yumi and Koji Ibaramoto helped us so much on this trip, taking us to dinners and taking care of our luggage.

Top Ten Lists:

Madisen(age 13):

  1. Disney Sea; I enjoyed riding all the fun rides and exploring that side of the park. Then, me, Jensen, Tyler, and Dad (Ryan) got to stay late and ride Toy Story Mania until the park closed.
  2. Late Night Grocery Shopping; Every night in Nakano, me, Azyln, and Chloe went to the LIFE store near our apartment to buy breakfast for the next morning.
  3. Toyota Mega Web; I GOT TO EXPERIENCE MY DREAM OF GOING ON A HOVER BOARD (but in this case it was called the Winglet). There was also all types of drive simulators to test out.
  4. Onsens; All though it took a little while to get used to, I enjoyed being in those hot baths. I especially liked the Mt. Takao cause it have multiple types of baths.
  5. Trick Museum; I liked looking at all the art in a weird perspective and taking trippy pictures.
  6. The FOOD; The food I enjoyed is Coolish, and the yakitori at the airport.
  7. Cup Noodle Museum; My favorite part there was making my own cup of noodles. I got to customize my cup, flavors, and toppings to my liking.
  8. Harajuku:  4 story Daiso & Crepes
  9. Enoshima:  Going to Family Mart with family to get Coolish.
  10. The different types of “rail transportation”…especially the Romance Train.

Ally (age 7):

  1. Takao Trick Museum:  I liked the funny pictures.  I had to figure it out,
  2. Disney Sea:  I liked ALL the rides & buying all the cool stuff they don’t have in the US (sunglasses/blankets)
  3. Toyota Mega Web:  Kids Day (I got to create art work that was projected on a screen & driving the car on a ride “simulator”)
  4. Yokohama Big “Ferris Wheel”: It was fun to ride with my family high up in the sky.
  5. Harajuku:  I found a squishy I wanted.
  6. Okonomiyaki:  It was cool to see when we cooked it at the restaurant.
  7. Cup Noodle:  I got to make my own noodle cup to take home.
  8. AnPan Man-Play area for kids and “anpan” from the bakery they had there.
  9. Mount Takao: Getting to see all the “red butt” monkeys
  10. Enoshima:  Caves and Ferry Boat

Kara:

1.  Shopping:  Daiso/Seria, Disney Store, Lawsons, Family Mart, 7-11 & all the other places I spent $.

2.  Disney Sea:  As a Disney “addict”…I was super happy to have the opportunity to go to Disney Sea,  I loved everything about it.  So different from the U.S.

3.  Shochu Ume:  I think I found my new drink!

4;  Food:  Everything is so light, fresh and pretty! AMAZING food, everything I ate was SUPER yummy!

5.  Family:  Spending each day with my immediate family.  What was an added bonus was to spend time with extended family!  I loved having time to talk to Lari, Claudine/Gordon, Audj and all the kiddies… PRICELESS! ❤

6.  Ryokan-Enoshima:  I loved the experience and food!  Amazing!

7.  Nakano:  I LOVED our little apartment!  It was so convenient & well equipt!  Safe neighborhood!

8.  Grocery Store:  Claudine!!!  Love the discounted food we would shop for!

9.  Odaiba:  The beautiful boat ride to Odaiba.

10. Romance Train:  Love how the seats turn and face one another and having a reserved seat!

Azlyn (age 13):

10. APA  Buffet Breakfast -I had a fun breakfast with family

9. Animal Cafe -we got to play with lot’s of animals

8. Aquarium -I had fun watching the dolphin show

7. Tokyu Hands -I shopped with cousins and grandma bought me pens

6. Monja and crepes -we learned how to make monja and crepes

5. Going to Lawson’s (just the kids) -was fun because we don’t usually walk around alone

4. Daiso -O had fim shopping for cheap with my cousins

3. Harajuku photo booth -I had fun taking pictures with my cousins

2. Winglet Segway -I learned how to ride a segway with Madi and Grandma

1. Staying at the Nakano Apartment -It was really fun braiding and watching Youtube together

 

Gordon’s top 10

10. APA Shinagawa Hotel: Onsen, Breakfast, Tiny room

9. Asakusa: Shops, Enormous shrine

8. Trick art museum

7. Mt. Takao: Chair lift, Steep tram

6. Enoshima Island: Eno=pass, So many shrines, Sea candle, So many stairs, Shops on the cliffs, Boat ride back

5. Nakano Broadway: Unique shops and restaurants

4. Tokyo Sumida River Cruise

3. Disney Sea

2. The Great Buddha of Kamakura, Daibutsu: To think how old it is. Built in 1215 and rebuild over the years because of damage its amazing.

1. Enoshima cave: imagine the dedicatioin and hard work to make those carvings years ago

 

Tyler’s top 10 list (age 9)

10. vending machines

9. onsen, ramen/food

7. disney

6. bunnys

5. monkeys

4. mizuno

3. flea market

2. trick art

1. sony

 

Chloe’s Top Ten List (age 12)

10. Vending machines/ grocery/ convenience store – Fun to use/ shop

9. Aquarium – Dolphins, penguins, different animals

8. Onsens: APA Shinagawa, Takao Station, Different experience

7. Trick Art Museum – Cool , Fun

6. Sony Museum – Interesting and fun exhibits

5. Daiso – Everything 1 yen! Cool items for sale

4. Disney Sea – Rides

3. Bunny and Hedgehog Café: Madison and Twitch/ Thumper, Pooping hedgehog, SO CUTE

2. Food – Yummy and sometimes different

1. Cousins – Fun to spend time together

 

Claudine’s top 10:

10. Ryokan – neat to see what a traditional hotel or house was like many years ago.  It was fun for 1 night, but glad we don’t have to sleep on hard futon like that every night.  The dinner was very fancy, with some unusual dishes (black snails!), and delicious (although I didn’t try the snail)

9. Enoshima island – caves were interesting and a little spooky, hike was fun, shops were fun

8. Mochi covered fresh strawberry shortcake at Lawson’s – the best mochi!

7. Odaiba boat ride – the boat seemed like a spaceship, it was neat seeing all the different architectural styles of the bridge we passed

6. Sushi at the conveyor belt restaurant at Nakano Broadway shopping mall – so ono for “fast food” sushi, some neat and different types of sushi, wish we could’ve eaten here again

5. Mount Takao – especially the onsen and chair lift ride – the hike was refreshing, the shrines had different types of temples, the monkey habitat was fun for the kids, the chair lift ride was scary and exciting, the pasta lunch was really yummy, the small shops had lots of ono snacks, the onsen was relaxing, so much fun with all the different soaking pools

4. Sony sound and light museum.  Neat interactive exhibits, wish I wasn’t so sleepy and tired that day

3. Trick art museum.  So much fun seeing all the amazing tricks of the eye

2. Shopping at the Daiso!!!  Wish I had another suitcase to bring home more stuff!

1.  Spending time with all of the family, seeing the cousins deepen their friendships, finding out new things about our family members (Ryan is grumpy, just like Gordon, just like uncle Roger) (I think aunty might be getting a little hard of hearing, she’s always yelling!)

 

Ryan’s Top Ten:

10. My favorite meal was coveyor belt Sushi (twice), but all the food was excellent

9.  Pallete Town – MEGAWEB Toyota City Showcase, Tokyo Leisure Land arcade and giant ferris wheel

8.  Enoshima Island tour

7.  Disney Sea

6.  Cup Noodle Museum

5.  Takao Trick Museum

4.  Shinagawa Aquarium

3.  Sony Explora Museum (bonus was the best toilet)

2.  Daiso and Seria 100 yen stores

1.  My favorite thing about family vacation is spending 24 hrs a day with the family!

Ryan’s Honorable Mention (Also Enjoyed):

Mizuno Store

Takeshita Street – Harajuku

Landmark Tower – Yokohama

Daibutsu

Staying at Ryokan

Public Transportation

 

Jensen’s Top Ten (age 16)

10 Mount Takao-the cold weather and riding the ski lift down

9  Tokyo flea market – I found old Nintendo stuff and antiques

8   Nakano Broadway – enjoyed walking through and finding a store that sold Kikaida stuff

7   Okonomiyaki restaurant -loved the food and the way they made it

6   Sony Explora in Odaiba -all the cool and different types of technology was very interesting

5   Going to onsets

4   Disney Sea -my favorite ride was Tower of Terror. I now have gone on three different Tower of Terror rides. Japan’s storyline is different from Disneyland and Disneyworld

3   Looking at all the vending machines and trying out the different types of coffees that each machine has

2   Going to convenience stores -Lawsons or Family Mart to buy Coolish and ume musubi

1   Spending time with family

Philippines in January 2017   Leave a comment

Presenting the latest episode of

“Hawaiians in Philippines”

starring: Lari & Freda

Jan. 20 to Feb. 4, 2017

 

When Freda asked if I wanted to go to Philippines with her, I checked my calendar and it was open so I said yes! I already knew 3 groups of people there, who had invited me to visit, so I was excited to go there! Freda has been there many times before and has a favorite hotel-Dusit Thani Hotel in Makati (nice area of Manila) and she has a favorite driver/bodyguard, Manolo. She also invited her birth mother, Petra from California, her dad, Nelson who lives in Kapolei, and her Aunty Nimfa, who lives next door to Freda and Pat in Mililani. So there were 4 of us ladies sharing a suite in the hotel, and Nelson, who stays near the World Resort casino, so he can gamble to his heart’s content.

One of our first adventures was to fly to the island of Palawan to stay at the beautiful Puerto Princessa Garden Hotel, so that we could take a tour of the famous Underground River near Sabang beach 2 hours drive from Puerto Princessa. Many tourists go to the Underground River, so we were fed lunch and had to wait our turn to board a double outrigger boat with motors that took us to the landing beach for the Underground River, which is really a cave with a river running through it. There are bats that live in the cave and we had to be very quiet so as not to disturb them. We wore headsets to listen to the narration for the cave and the boatman shined his light onto various sites inside the dark cave. After that tour, our driver took us to Ugong Rock where Freda and I climbed up inside a mountain to the top and ziplined down! It was so much fun!

Freda and her family are sponsors of Passion City Church in Tanza, Cavite Province, an hour’s drive south of Manila. There was a big all-day celebration at the church, where they honored Freda’s family who built the church and support it with monetary, clothing and toy donations. They had music, dance, games and food. It was a blessed and fun experience.

My friends who live in the Philippines are people I met on previous trips. The Rubin family in Manila and the Aquino family from Baguio were on my tour to Dubai in November, 2014 and they invited me to visit them. David and Robert have 2 homes in Hawaii and presently live in Manila and I met them on our Indonesian tour in the summer of 2014. So on my first day in Manila, the Rubins took me to Sunday brunch and touring around the city to Rizal square and other historical sites. We rode in a Calesa, pulled by a horse around the square. I was excited to see many famous and colorful jeepneys everywhere. They are the main public transportation for locals all over the Philippine islands.

One day, Manolo drove us 2 hours southeast to Pagsanjan Falls. This was another fun adventure! Just Freda and I went with my friend, David and our driver, Manolo. Each narrow canoe had 2 passengers and 2 boatmen who paddled us upriver and they had to literally pull us over the rapids! The river wound through a narrow gorge with high cliffs covered with vegetation and many waterfalls on both sides of us. When we reached the big waterfall, David, Freda and I went onto a raft that took us under the falls, where we were pounded by icy cold water! What fun!

Another day, I left Freda in Manila and took an overnight bus for 6 hours to Baguio City, to visit the Aquino family. I stayed there for 4 days. The first 2 days we visited many interesting sites in Baguio City, which is a hilly and mountainous town and so the inhabitants there have very strong legs from walking up and downhill and up and down many steep steps to get from one place to another. The next 2 days we drove all day to Banaue to see the famous rice terraces and drove all day back to Baguio after staying overnight in a Nipa Hut hotel in Banaue. The rice terraces are 2000 years old and are considered to be the Eighth Wonder of the World. The drive was very long with curvy mountain roads, where it was difficult to overtake the stinky diesel Jeepneys and the slow tricycles.

In Manila, I loved the shopping, and the spa treatments! I got several really good Filipino Hilot massages at various places. I also got a facial, pedicure, and other spa treatments for very reasonable prices. The Filipino peso is 50 to 1 dollar, so your money goes a long way there. All the food was very delicious! Pizza and fried chicken are very popular. But I like the traditional Filipino dishes like adobo, pancit, lumpia, lapulapu and more. I tried green mango with bagoong-Filipino fish sauce. Nelson taught me how to eat balut-a fertilized egg with a baby chick inside. I could not eat the baby bird with feathers and bones, but the Filipinos love that delicacy! Traffic in Manila is crazy, crowded and slow. All in all, this was a wonderful, memorable and fun trip.

Lari’s Top Ten:

10 Visiting the Passion City Church

9 The food was great!

8 Getting spa treatments, especially Hilot Massages!

7 Seeing my friends who live in Philippines: Aquinos, Rubins, Robert/David 

6 Staying in a Nipa Hut in Banaue 

5 All the sites in Baguio that Aquinos took me to

4 Banaue Rice Terraces

3 Underground River

2 Ugong Rock w/ zip lining

1 Going under the Pagsanjan Falls

img_3303

Elvie and Alcee took me to brunch at the fancy Shangrila Hotel in Makati.

img_3308

We rode the Calela, pulled by our horse, Bullet, who took us around Rizal Park and Luneta.

img_3394

Freda took us in front of our hotel, Dusit Thani in Makati. Petra is Freda’s mother and Nimfa is Freda’s aunty.

img_3386

Myself, Nimfa, Freda and Petra in lobby of Dusit Thani Hotel where we all 4 shared a suite.

img_3360

At Dampa, we picked out lobster, crab, fish, calamari, and tiger prawns for dinner, cooked to order.

img_3371

Petra and I are enjoying fresh coconut water!

img_3402

Freda with her Dad, Nelson and her mom, Petra when we arrived at Puerto Princesa airport.

img_3407

The Princesa Garden Hotel.

img_3527

We booked a tour to the famous Underground River.

img_3466

These are the many motorized double outrigger boats used to take tourists to the Underground River entrance.

bd775f54-e9cc-4f04-afd0-6dce426c1614

We rode on a motorized boat from Sabang beach to the Underground River entrance.

3a0389e3-9039-4d51-83cb-08fc8f618207

After we got off the double catamaran, we landed at this beach with beautiful cliffs.

475355c2-984f-498a-af9b-76b165c06eb8

Here we are in our canoe ready to enter the underground river cave.

img_3497

Our canoe quietly enters the cave, where it is dark, and our boatman shined his light on different formations that are described by narrator on our headsets.

img_3519

Now we are approaching the cave entrance as we finish our tour.

img_3452

I got to pose on the back of this carabao.

img_3440

Here is Freda on the carabao.

576a8c01-7ff9-4377-a3c5-e9a34f25d13c

Freda and I went on this adventure: first climb up inside the Ugong Mountain.

c8fc0b99-4109-4ba5-9ee1-f2c61a7268a7

Here we are climbing up inside Ugong mountain.

78b303c8-2fd8-432f-a14d-9dec533e55e6

Here we are at the top of Ugong mountain!

scan0028

Yippee! I am flying!

img_3571

At our Princesa Garden hotel, we walked far, far out on this boardwalk to the sand bar.

img_3577

When we reached the end of the boardwalk, we discovered that we had to walk through waist deep water to reach the sandbar!

img_3586

Here is the view of our hotel from the sandbar.

img_3618

On our last day at Puerto Princesa in Palawan island, we visited this place where the natives let us hold a snake.

img_3596

We had a wonderful lunch here at Ka Lui in Puerto Princesa.

img_3610

This is Lui Oliva, owner of Ka Lui . He collects all kinds of art and displays them in his restaurant.

img_3679

We spent one day at Passion City Church in Tanza, Cavite Province. This day celebrates all the sponsors of the church and here Freda is speaking to the congregation.

img_3699

All the people in this church got lucky numbers and prizes.

img_3708

The church served the sponsors a wonderful and delicious homemade lunch! The lumpia was to die for-crispy and tasty!

img_3640

One day, Manolo drove us to the famous Pagsanjan Falls with my friend David.

img_3652

Each canoe with 2 passengers and 2 boatmen, who took us up-river over rapids through a beautiful gorge.

img_3642

David and I were in one canoe and Manolo and Freda in the other.

img_3664

When we reached the falls, we sat on a raft that took us right under the thundering falls where we were pounded by ice cold water! What a thrill!

img_3725

I took a 6-hour overnight bus ride to Baguio where Nora and “Boy” Aquino met me and took me to their house.

img_3738

Baguio is a hilly city with houses crawling up and down the hills. Lots of steps and steep streets to walk up and down on.

img_3768

We enjoyed the Ben Cab art museum. Here is Boy, Tita, Nora, me and Naty.

img_1320

The Aquinos took me to all the sites in Baguio City. Here is the iconic giant Lion built on Kennon Road by the Lions’ Club.

img_3789

We rode a boat on the lake in Burnham Park.

img_3797

Here we are, Nora, Tita, Boy, Naty and I on the Burnham Lake boat ride.

img_3787

I dressed up in native costume for only 250 pesos.

img_3860

This is the entrance to Mines View Park.

img_3866

And the entrance to the Botanical Garden.

img_1420

This is Bell Church, a Chinese church.

img_3935

Right near the entrance to La Trinidad is Stobosa, with colorful houses.

img_1426

La Trinidad is famous for strawberries grown here at the strawberry farms. Since it was a rainy day, we did not pick any-I am just posing! We bought strawberries from the vendors there.

img_4004

On our all-day drive to Banaue, we stopped for fresh coconut water and spoon meat! Yummy! That is our driver, Cristo on the far left.

img_4012

Tricycles are the main means of transporting goods or livestock.

img_4032

Here is a basket maker taking his goods to market on his tricycle.

img_3984

I noticed that the jeepneys in the provinces are overloaded with passengers.

img_3966

Here is another jeepney overloaded with passengers.

img_1447

Our hotel in Banaue had 5 Nipa Huts for guests. Here is Boy at the entrance to his sleeping quarters.

img_1483

Here are Tita and Naty and I in our Nipa Hut. We had to climb up the ladder to our sleeping hut. The bathhouse was nearby with 2 toilets, 2 showers and a long sink for brushing teeth for all the guests to share.

img_4062

The famous Banaue Rice terraces are over 2000 years old and are considered the 8th Wonder of the World.

img_4061

Famous Banaue Rice Terraces. It took us all day to drive to Banaue from Baguio.

img_4055

Beautiful! Amazing!

img_4080

The view in the morning from our Nipa Hut Hotel.

img_4099

Back at Aquino’s house in Baguio, I got to taste green mango with bagoong.

img_4111

When Freda and Nimfa left a day before I did, I stayed with David and Robert in their lovely Makati apartment. Here we are having tapas dinner.

img_4120

The next morning, David and I walked to the market and got some good bargains and some iced fruit bars.

img_4119

I think I chose sour sop for my frozen fruit bar.

This is a video of Nelson teaching me how to eat balut.

Posted March 1, 2017 by lariyasui in Asia

Tagged with , , , , , ,

Okinawa Taikai October 2016   8 comments

Presenting the latest episode of

“Hawaiians in Okinawa”

starring: Lari & Shari

October 19 to November 4, 2016

I had first heard about Uchinanchu Taikai 5 years ago, when some friends went to Okinawa for the 5th Worldwide Unchinanchu Festival in 2011. This time more friends were going to the 6th Worldwide Taikai and I was interested in participating, so I asked Shari Tamashiro if I could go with her. I am so thankful that she let me join her! She has been to Okinawa several times and I have never been there. After finding out how expensive the tours were, we decided to go on our own instead of on a tour and we ended up saving at least a couple of thousand dollars each. First we booked a hotel, then our air on Hawaiian Air to Tokyo and home from Osaka. Then we booked flights on ANA to Okinawa and to Osaka. I planned the activities in Tokyo and Shari planned the Okinawa part of our trip and her friend, Masao took care of us in Okayama after we arrived in Osaka.

We were in Tokyo for 4 days. We visited Ghibli Museum, Shari’s most favorite place, because she loves Totoro! The next day we were on a special tour of the Imperial Palace grounds with Yumi’s friend Jibiki. We were very honored to attend a Gagaku program. Gagaku, literally means “elegant music,” and is the oldest surviving music in Japan from 1,200 years ago and is performed at the Imperial Court. That afternoon, Yoshiaki Ando and his daughter Tomoko picked us up and took us to Umihotaru, in the middle of Tokyo Bay by tunnel from Tokyo and bridge from Chiba. They have shops and restaurants and a view of Tokyo from the bay. Then we went to Asakusa, where we enjoyed the Japanese shops on the walkway to Sensoji Temple. Then we had monja dinner nearby.

Early the next morning Kazu picked us up and drove us and the Ibaramoto family along with Asako (7 of us) to Nikko. It was serendipidous to meet Hiroki Sakamoto-Graphic Man, who flew a drone overhead and we met him again at Lake Chuzenji. You can find Hiroki’s amazing videos on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wn-BNbfWO2g  We enjoyed the lovely fall colors around the lake and the Kegon Waterfall.

The next day was travel day. We took a train back to Tokyo from Nikko and took the subway to Haneda to catch our flight to Naha. Shari’s friend, Chizu picked us up and took us to her house for dinner that she made. Everything was delicious! We stayed at the Tsuboya Garden House, a small hotel in the pottery district of Tsuboya, owned by Naoko and Dingo, who have a cafe that serves vegan breakfasts.

The 6th World Uchinanchu Festival was amazing. Okinawan people from all over the world gather every 5 years for this special festival. We marched in a parade and the local people showed so much gratitude to Americans, especially those of us from Hawaii. They had a huge Opening Ceremony at the Cellular Stadium, and you could see contingencies from Peru and Brazil as well as Hawaii. There was much music and dance to entertain us. Each village/city/province also hosted the guests who came from those places. Shari and her family are members of the Itoman club in Hawaii and we went to Itoman for a wonderful party hosted there for us with lots of food, entertainment and gifts. There was a closing ceremony at Cellular Stadium with fabulous entertainment with, eisa drummers, dancers, singers and fireworks.

Shari has many friends in Okinawa, since she is the producer of the Eisa Festival in Hawaii and goes there often. Her friends drove us around and we caught the monorail to get around in Naha. She celebrated her birthday 3 times with different groups of friends! We also got to go fishing on a fishing boat, and I caught 7 fish, my first time fishing with a reel. One of our parties was at an izakaya that prepared the fish we caught from our fishing expedition. We also rode on a Sabani boat, the traditional small, wooden fishing boats of Okinawa with paddles and orange sails. Many Okinawan izakayas have unlimited food and drinks for one price. So you can imagine how much fun we had! My favorite drinks were Orion beer and Shikwaasa Sake! (Shikwaasa is a small lemon). I loved all the food! Everything was so delicious and I got to try many traditional Okinawan dishes. Shari took me to some museums where I learned a lot about the Battle of Okinawa during WWII.

We flew from Naha to Osaka and stayed at the wonderful Yubara Hakkei Ryokan in Maniwa, Okayama. Shari’s friend Masao and his wife showed us around the area, and we enjoyed the onsen soaking at the ryokan… they had one downstairs from the lobby and one on the roof, which we loved-sitting in the hot spring tub in the cold autumn air, enjoying the fall colors on the trees nearby. There was a public onsen across the river, where both men and women bathed out in the open in the hot spring waters on the banks of the river. We tried that one too, but they gave us modesty cover-ups to bathe there. Masao drove us to Matsue Castle in Shimane Prefecture on the Japan seaside. We took a boat ride around the castle, had lunch and visited Lafcadio Hearn Museum. Masao also took us to a Salamander Museum.

We were very lucky that so many friends took us to amazing places to visit and experience on our entire trip in Tokyo, Okinawa and Okayama. This truly was a memorable trip, one that no tour could have done. Thank you, Shari!

Lari’s Top Twelve:

12 Matsue Horikawa Meguri-boat ride around Matsue castle

11 Delicious food and onsens at Yubara Hakkei Ryokan in Maniwa

10 Learning the history of the WWII Battle of Okinawa

9 The trip to Nikko and Lake Chuzenji w/Kazu and friends

8 Marching in the Taikai parade

7 Izakayas where we could eat and drink as much as we liked

6 Shikwaasa -a small lemon-like fruit

5 All the many parties, especially Shari’s 3 birthday parties

4 Eating all the delicious food, especially the vegan breakfasts

3 Meeting all of Shari’s Okinawan friends

2 Enjoying the Ceremonies at Cellular Stadium

1 My first time fishing on a real fishing boat and catching 7 fish

 

Shari LOVES Totoro at Ghibli Museum

Cat bus at Ghibli Museum

img_1716

This is the Gagaku stage after the performance.

img_1750

With Shari and Tomoko at the giant gate/entrance to Sensoji Temple in Asakusa.

img_1755

One of many wonderful Japanese shops along the way to the Sensoji Temple.

img_1769

Yoshiaki cooked our monja dinner after driving us around the Tokyo area.

img_1775

Here is the monja that Yoshiaki is preparing for our dinner.

img_1779

Kazu, me, Shari, Asako, Yumi, Koji & Kenzo drove up into the mountains from Nikko to Lake Chuzenji. We stopped here for a view/rest and met Sakamoto-san with his drone

img_1785

Lovely fall colors on our drive up to Lake Chuzenji with Kazu and Ibaramoto family

img_1783

We met Hiroki Sakamoto with his drone. Look for his YouTube videos under “Graphic Man”

img_1821

We met up with Hiroki Sakamoto again at the lake. Here he is controlling his drone over the lake.

img_1818

Hiroki Sakamoto’s drone flying over Lake Chuzenji

img_5825

Beautiful Lake Chuzenji with Shari

img_1895

Here is our travel group at Kegon Falls entrance.

img_1877

Kazu and I at Kegon Falls.

img_1859

Yumi, Koji and Kenzo under a lovely Momiji-Japanese maple tree.

img_5867

3 monkeys at Toshogu Shrine in Nikko

img_1973

We arrived at Naha airport in Okinawa.

img_1984

Shari’s friend, Chizu, met us at Naha airport with this sign and a Shari mask.

img_2017

Dingo, a professional wrestler, and Naoko own our hotel, Tsuboya Garden House, and they cook delicious vegan breakfasts.

img_2024

Shari and I took a Bingata class where we painted our own items and took it home with us. These ladies are painting a large wall hanging.

img_2033

Pigs feet on display at the Heiwa Dori market.

img_2040

Shaved ice snack while shopping in Heiwa Dori market.

img_2060

We marched in the World Uchinanchu Festival parade!

img_2074

In the parade I met my neighbors, Wayne, Kevin and Lisa Shibata.

img_2067

Also met Jan Uesato in the parade!

img_2086

Our hotel was in the Tsuboya pottery district, so we got to visit some lovely pottery shops, and watched a demonstration of items made on the pottery wheel.

img_2111

I sat with Ethel Miyasato, Jimmy and Geri Oshiro and their son Chad and his family, at the Opening Ceremony at Cellular Stadium

img_2120

Opening ceremony at Cellular Stadium had great entertainment!

img_2225

Shari and I met Governor David Ige and his wife, Dawn at Cellular Stadium after the opening ceremony. We are doing the Shisa (lion) pose

img_2358

We rode the efficient monorail around Naha.

img_2172

Shari and her family come from Itoman town in Okinawa, so we went to a welcome party in Itoman, with entertainment and dinner.

img_2174

Birthday princess!

img_2178

Shari’s friends threw her a birthday party-this was the first of 3 parties. Shari loves to have everyone do the shisa pose for photos.

img_2191

Fishing expedition with Alton Chung, and Arisa, who drove us to Kitanakagusuku.

img_2197

Capt. Yasunobu Tanaka on his boat Daiyasumaru took us fishing

img_0250

Here are all the fish we caught!

img_2329

And here we are eating the fish we caught, prepared by Izakaya where we had Shari’s 2nd birthday party.

img_2148

Okinawa Prefecture Peace Museum

img_2167

Folded paper cranes at the Himeyuri Noto hospital caves where teenage girls worked during WWII Battle of Okinawa.

img_2348

Shuri Castle in Naha

img_2240

The Worldwide Uchinanchu Festival closing ceremony had great entertainment and fireworks at the Cellular Stadium.

fullsizerender

Shari’s 3rd birthday party was hosted by these young handsome guys who are all Eisa drummers.

img_2488

We just arrived at Yubara Hakkei Ryokan in Maniwa, Okayama with so much luggage! Mostly omiyage given to Shari by Okinawan friends.

img_2489

Okami and Chef Masahara at Yubara Hakkei Ryokan where we enjoyed exquisite cuisine by the Chef.

img_3044

Our ryokan had 3 onsen, and this outdoor onsen on the roof was our favorite one!

img_2503

Across the river from our ryokan was an open, public onsen bath.

img_2527

Shari’s friend, Masao drove us to Matsue Horikawa Meguri-boat ride around Matsue castle

img_3091

Shari, Ikuyo and husband Masao had to lay flat when the roof of our boat was lowered to go under the low bridges.

img_2607

Saying goodbye to our lovely ryokan friends: Okami, Shari, Chef Masahara, Ikuyo and Masao in front.

Posted February 28, 2017 by lariyasui in Asia

Tagged with , , , ,

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

IMG_1643

Yumi took me to breakfast to meet Kae Jibiki.

IMG_1655

I visited famous Hachiko statue at Shibuya Station.

IMG_1663

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

IMG_1664

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

IMG_1706

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

IMG_1762

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

IMG_1768

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

IMG_1780

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

IMG_1880

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

IMG_1837

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

IMG_1881

Sami was our taiko instructor at Kodo Taiko school.

IMG_1870

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

IMG_1871

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

IMG_1908

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

IMG_1919

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

IMG_1938

Beautiful and famous Kenrokuen Garden in Kanazawa.

IMG_1959

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

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

IMG_1972

Fushimi Inari Taisha has 1000 red torii in Kyoto.

IMG_1999

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

IMG_2020

I had to taste the famous Kobe steak in Kobe!

IMG_2103

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

IMG_2113

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

IMG_2161

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

IMG_2166

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

IMG_2211

Naoto cooked takoyaki dinner for us at his home.

IMG_2226

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

IMG_2233

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

IMG_2260

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

IMG_2244

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

IMG_2336

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

IMG_2362

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

IMG_2494

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

IMG_2540

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

IMG_2547

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

 

Posted April 18, 2016 by lariyasui in Asia

Tagged with , , , , ,

Indonesia July 2014   Leave a comment

Presenting the latest episode of
“Hawaiians in Indonesia”
starring: Lari and friends
July 10 to 28, 2014

               Marie Milks invited me to join her and her friends on a Journeys tour to Indonesia. So seven of us ladies had a wonderful adventure: Marie and Sandra, Jean and Vicki, Janice and Lauren. We started in Ubud, Bali on our own, where we went shopping, had spa treatments and a day at the Bali Zoo, where we were thoroughly entertained by Jacky, the orangutan, who threw a banana peel at Sandra. 

               We started the tour in Sanur beach on the southeast shore of Bali. We went to a large family temple for the royal family and Pura Tanah Lot, a temple that was surrounded by water at high tide. Next we flew to Java, where we spent a day in Semarang with Johnny, our singing guide. We visited the Alas Kedaton Monkey Forest, home of hundreds of monkeys, where we could take photos holding a snake and a bat. Then we went to Tay Kak Sie Buddhist temple where we poured oil offerings for a bright future and released birds to symbolize letting go of bad karma. Sam Poo Kong Memorial is designed like the Forbidden City, in honor of Zheng He, who was a sea explorer.
                In Kalimantan, Borneo, we spent three days in the jungle at Rimba Lodge on the Sekonyer River with our guide Azie. Each day, our klotok, (a traditional motorized wooden boat), Harapan Mina, took us miles up and down river to various feeding stations of the Tanjung Puting National Park, where we could watch the orangutans. They did not disappoint… they put on entertaining shows for us! We watched as they ate and hoarded bananas, flew from branch to branch high up in the treetops, and we especially loved the little babies hanging on to their mamas. Arie, the chef extraordinaire on the Harapan Mina cooked the most delicious meals of our entire trip! On the last night in the jungle, we had a special treat… Azie and the Harapan Mina took us downriver from our lodge and parked our boat at a spot along the river where the fireflies lit up the trees like Christmas lights. It was a magical and ethereal experience, with dinner under the stars while watching the fireflies dancing in the trees. I shall never forget that special treat!
               We flew back to Java and stayed overnight in the lovely Manohara Hotel on the grounds of Borobudur, the world’s largest Buddhist temple, a UNESCO world heritage site. We rose early the next morning before sunrise, and walked over to Borobudur, which was constructed in the ninth century with over 500 Buddha statues. We climbed several steep stairs up to the top to sit and wait along with other tourists for the sun to rise. It is shaped like a giant square pyramid and we walked around one of the levels and back down to the bottom. Close by, we visited 2 small temples, Pawon Temple and Mendut Temple with 3 Buddhas. Then we drove to Yogyakarta to visit the Sultan’s Palace and had a buffet lunch. After checking in, we rested before we went to dinner at Purawisata where we enjoyed a Ramayana Ballet performance.
                The next morning our guide Kukuh took us to Prambanan, another UNESCO World Heritage Site, and the largest Hindu temple in Indonesia. It was built in the 9th century with 240 temples. In the 16th century, an earthquake completely destroyed it. Early in the 20th century, restoration began and today, 18 temples have been rebuilt. It is like a giant puzzle, putting together huge stone blocks that fit together like giant legos. Next to Prambanan, we visited, by small train, 3 Buddhist temples that are also being reconstructed.

                We visited 3 factories. We watched how they make the puppets out of leather, cutting designs and painting them. We also learned how batik is made. It is a time consuming process of waxing, dying, removing wax, rewaxing and redying over and over for every color. We visited the silver factory, and watched them make intricate silver jewelry. My favorite shopping was at the outdoor street markets where I could bargain for items such as batik sarongs, blouses, tshirts, dresses, jewelry and so much more. Every chance we had, we took advantage of spa treatments. All over Bali there are so many small and large spas that offer body massage, foot massage, head massage, body scrub, ear candling, manicure, pedicure, facials and more, for around $5 to $10 per hour. We often spent $15 or less for 2 hours of treatments.
                Our last adventure was to fly to the Flores Islands where we lived on the schooner Tarata for 3 days. Our guides Paul and Wilson took us to see the Komodo dragons on Rinca and Komodo islands, and took us snorkeling twice a day. The snorkeling was simply amazing! In the clear blue waters of different islands, we saw all kinds of fish, coral, and sea life, such as jellyfish, manta rays, and more. We combed the beaches for shells and other sea treasures. And the crew on the Tarata, took such good care of us! They fed us 3 meals a day, helped us get on and off the boat to snorkel, and took us to watch the flying foxes at sunset: bats flying out of the mangrove island.
                At the end of the tour, all six ladies left Bali to go home and I stayed by myself for 3 more days, on Kuta Beach, on the southwest shore of Bali, where the sunsets are awesome and surfing is great. Many tourists, mopeds and cars crowd the streets, where I ate, shopped and got more spa treatments. Bali is a wonderful and beautiful place to visit with bargain shopping and spa treatments. I got body massages, foot massages, body scrubs, facials, manicure, pedicure, ear candling, and my favorite, a hair spa treatment with scalp massage. This trip was truly an adventure.

Lari’s Top Ten:
10. My favorite food: nasi goreng (fried rice) and Bintang beer
9. Wonderful, delicious, and cheap meals: our favorite meals were prepared by Arie on Harapan Mina, our klotok on Sekonya River in Borneo. He made the most delicious crunchy fried chicken!
8. Guides Paul and Wilson with the crew on our Schooner Tarata, who took such good care of us for 3 days in the Flores Islands -Komodo Islands and snorkeling
7. Johnny, our charming and informative singing guide in Semarang, Java
6. Prambanan (soul of universe), a Hindu temple, struck my soul as movingly beautiful and spiritual. Not sure why, but I liked it more than Borobudur, although both were special.
5. Snorkeling in Flores Islands was amazing in clear azure seas
4. Enjoying the antics of the orangutans in Tanjung Puting National Park
3. Getting spa treatments almost every day in Bali
2. Flying Foxes flying out of a mangrove island after sunset in Flores Komodo Islands
1. Fireflies and candle light dinner under the stars on the Harapan Mina, in the jungle

Janice Top Five:
5. Borobudur
4. Trying not to get mosquito bites or contracting malaria
3. Eating dinner under the stars while watching fireflies
2. Seeing flying foxes
1. Snorkeling and seeing beautiful reefs

Sandra’s Top Five:
5. Shopping in Ubud
4. Snorkeling at Komodo Islands
3. Sunrise at Borobudur
2. Eating good Indonesian food
1. Visiting Jacki, the orangutan at the Bali Zoo

Vicki’s Top Five:
5. Dinners provided by Journeys
4. Spa treatments
3. Komodo dragons
2. Orangutans
1. Snorkeling

Marie’s Top Five:
5. Being serenaded by Johnny
4. Dinner of fried chicken while enjoying the fireflies and stars under clear skies
3. Being transported back in time to the glory of Borobudur and Prambanan
2. Being up close and personal with the orangutan
1. Snorkeling opportunities

Lauren’s Top Six:
6. BINTANG!
5. Borobudur & Prambanan (soo amazing!)
4. Eating awesome food, especially Arie’s (even when I was sick)
3. Seeing orangutans & komodo dragons in natural habitat (and all the other wildlife)
2. Fireflies in Borneo w/ candlelight dinner under ALL THE STARS!
1. SNORKELING IN KOMODO ISLANDS!!!!!!!

Jean’s Top Five:

5. Borobudur

4. Holding a python and fruit bat

3. Seeing komodo dragons

2. Boating down the Sekonyer River with delicious meals and seeing monkeys in the wild

1. Snorkeling

Our room at Rouge Bali villas in Ubud

Our room at Rouge Bali villas in Ubud

Rouge Bali villas in Ubud

Rouge Bali villas in Ubud

Bali spas are wonderful! $5/hour for most treatments

Bali spas are wonderful! $5/hour for most treatments

Shopping in Ubud

Shopping in Ubud with Sandra, Vicki, Marie & Jean

Bali Zoo

Bali Zoo

Jacky the orangutan, Bali Zoo

Jacky the orangutan, Bali Zoo

Griya Santrian Hotel, Sanur, Bali

Griya Santrian Hotel, Sanur, Bali

Royal Family temple, Bali

Royal Family temple, Bali

Monkey Forest, Bali

Monkey Forest, Bali

Lauren holding snake at Monkey Forest, Bali

Lauren holding snake at Monkey Forest, Bali

Janice holding bat at Monkey Forest, Bali

Janice holding bat at Monkey Forest, Bali

Pura Tanah Lot, temple in the ocean

Pura Tanah Lot, temple in the ocean but this is at low tide

Sam Poo Kong memorial hall, Semarang

Vicki, me, Sandra, Jean, Marie, Lauren, Janice @ Sam Poo Kong memorial hall, Semarang

Johnny is the BEST guide ever!

We all loved Johnny, our guide in Semarang.

klotok, Harapan Mina -Borneo

Our klotok, Harapan Mina in Borneo

Our guide, Azie, on klotok, Harapan Mina -Borneo

Our guide, Azie, on klotok, Harapan Mina -Borneo

Rimba Lodge, Borneo

Rimba Lodge, on Sekonyer River, Borneo

Rimba Lodge, Borneo

Rimba Lodge, Borneo

Roger, the orangutan, Tanjun Putin National Park

Roger, the orangutan, Tanjun Putin National Park

Wild proboscis monkeys on Sekonyer River

Wild proboscis monkeys on Sekonyer River

Atlas, the orangutan in Tanjung Puting National Park

Atlas, the orangutan in Tanjung Puting National Park

Tanjung Puting National Park

Tanjung Puting National Park

Tanjung Puting National Park

Tanjung Puting National Park

Tanjung Puting National Park

Tanjung Puting National Park

Sekonyer Village

Sekonyer Village

UNESCO World Heritage site, Borobudur, Java

UNESCO World Heritage site, Borobudur, Java

Sultan's Palace, Java

Sultan’s Palace, Java

Prambanan, Java, UNESCO World Heritage site

Prambanan, Java, UNESCO World Heritage site

Prambanan, Java, UNESCO World Heritage site

Prambanan, Java, UNESCO World Heritage site

Labuhan Baho in Flores Islands

Labuhan Baho in Flores Islands

Tarata, our floating hotel in Flores Islands

Tarata, our floating hotel for 3 days in Flores Islands

Cabin on Tarata, our floating hotel in Flores Islands

Cabin on Tarata, our floating hotel in Flores Islands

Flores sunset

Flores sunset

Komodo dragon

Komodo dragon

With Marie on Tarata

With Marie on Tarata

Komodo Island

Komodo Island

Snorkeling in Flores Islands

Snorkeling in Flores Islands

Snorkeling in Flores Islands

Snorkeling in Flores Islands

All of us with Tarata crew

All of us with Tarata crew

Kuta beach, Bali

Kuta beach, Bali

Kuta beach, Bali

Kuta beach, Bali

Kuta beach, Bali

Kuta beach, Bali has great shopping & much traffic

 

IMG_1366

A snorkeling beach in Flores Islands

 

Posted September 1, 2014 by lariyasui in Asia

Tagged with , , , , , , , ,

Japan with Jensen 2014   3 comments

Presenting the latest episode of

“Hawaiians in Japan”

starring: Lari and Jensen

March 17 to 31, 2014

Yumi had been asking for Jensen to come to Japan for several years, so we finally agreed to let Jensen visit with her son Kenzo. Jensen had to get his passport, so he could travel overseas for the first time. I booked Hawaiian Airlines to Osaka Kansai and we stayed in the Osaka area for two weeks. We stayed at Ibaramoto grandma’s home in Itami right next to the Itami train station, which was very convenient.

We took a day trip by train to Nara with Yumi and Audrey who came to Osaka from Tokyo by shinkansen. It was a rainy day, and our first stop by bus was to the Todaiji Temple with the deer and the large wooden Buddha in the temple. When I bought sembei to feed the deer for Jensen, the deer surrounded me immediately and started to attack me… they bit me and I yelled and tried to give the sembei to Jensen, but he refused take it, so I finally threw it on the ground and the deer stopped biting me. Then we went to the temple to see the largest wooden Buddha and walked to the back, where one of the poles has a hole the size of the Buddha’s nostril. The legend is that if you can crawl through the hole, you will have good health and wisdom. So I crawled through and nearly got stuck, and had to be pulled out. I guess I gained weight since the last time I went through it easily years ago. Jensen, Yumi and Audrey all went through it too.

The next day the four of us took an overnight bus tour to Kanazawa, stopping along the way at Shirakawa village, where it was snowing, and stayed at Wakuma Ryokan Onsen. Jensen enjoyed his first snow experience. After breakfast, we drove north to Wajima morning market, where we shopped. We had  lunch at Togi where they have Ganmon rock, with an arch by the sea. Then we went to the lovely Kenrokuen garden in Kanazawa. It was a beautiful, sunny day and we saw some flowering ume, but it was too early for the sakura.

Before Yumi and Audrey went back to Tokyo, Mrs. Ibaramoto dressed Jensen, Audrey and me in beautiful kimono. When Yumi and Audrey left, Jensen and I took the shinkansen to Hiroshima. We stayed at the Hokke Club hotel near the Peace Memorial park. The first day, we took the streetcar and ferry to Miyajima Island. We got some beautiful photos of the famous red torii in the water at low tide. Then we walked around the island to the aquarium and had lunch. The next day we visited the Hiroshima Peace Memorial park and museum, which Jensen was very interested in. Then we caught the shinkansen back to Osaka and Kenzo came from Tokyo to Grandma Ibaramoto’s home to stay with us. He took us around the neighborhood and we went to the Osaka Aquarium, the Transportation Museum, and to the nearby onsen.

The two boys and I took the train to Kyoto and met Koji, Yumi’s hubby/Kenzo’s dad there. The four of us went to Kinkakujin (gold) pavilion, Toei Movie Studio, and Hozu River boat ride. Riding through the rapids was great fun! After the river ride, we rode a rickshaw around Arashiyama and had lunch there. Koji took us to Kyoto Fire Ramen, which was a fun experience for all of us. Then we toured Nijo Castle at night, which was beautifully lit up. We saw Kiyomizu Temple, Sanjūsangen-dō Temple with 1000 buddhas and the Steam Locomotive Museum.

We had so much delicious food! -ramen, soba, curry, okonomiyaki, Kushi Katsu, tonkatsu, manjyu, mochi, robata sushi, miso soup, tempura, oyaku dombori, omerice, and the musubis at convenience stores and train stations are so good! In Osaka, we did some shopping near Osaka station and at Shimsaibashi shopping arcade which is 1/3 mile long between Umeda Station and Namba Station.

We would like to thank Yumi, Koji and Kenzo Ibaramoto for helping us to plan our trip and joining us for fun tours in the area. Also thank you to Yumi’s parents, Sosuke and Toshiko Kojima and Koji’s mom, Mrs. Ibaramoto for their warm hospitality.

Jensen’s top twenty:

  1. Pokémon Center
  2. Toei Movie Studio
  3. Toto toilets are warm and have all kinds of amenities
  4. Sakura
  5. Insect Museum and Transportation Museum
  6. Temples/Shrines
  7. Aquarium (Osaka)
  8. Hozu River Boat Ride
  9. Rickshaw Ride in Arashiyama
  10. Nara Todaiji Temple with the Giant Wood Buddha and the pole with the hole
  11. Public Transportation-trains, subways, buses, etc.
  12. Convenience Stores: Family Mart, 7-11, Asnas, etc.
  13. Onsens/Public Baths
  14. Tamago Meshi/Sushi
  15. Book Off -got some used games
  16. Bandai Store
  17. Hiroshima Peace Memorial
  18. Shirakawa, my first time to see snow
  19. Curry -ate it over 10 times.
  20. Nara Deer, that attacked Grandma Lari

Kenzo’s top five:

  1. Hozu River ride
  2. Machiya traditional townhouse in Kyoto
  3. Golden temple and Nijyo-jyo in Kyoto
  4. Umekoji Steam Locomotive Museum
  5. Rickshaw ride in Arashiyama

Lari’s top seven:

  1. Transportation Museum
  2. Steam Locomotive Museum
  3. Toei Movie Studio
  4. Miyajima Island, my first time there
  5. Onsens
  6. Hozu River Ride (last year it did not have as many rapids as this time)
  7. Fire Ramen

 

Pokemon Store

Pokemon Store

Kushi Katsu

Kushi Katsu with Yumi, Asako & Mr. Kojima in Osaka

Grandma Ibaramoto made delicious breakfasts every morning

Grandma Ibaramoto made delicious breakfasts every morning

Hungry deer at Nara, Todaiji temple

At Nara, Todaiji temple many deer attacked Grandma Lari, who had sembei.

Jensen going into the pole in Todaiji Temple

Jensen going into the pole in Todaiji Temple

Pulling Jensen out from pole in Todaiji Temple

Pulling Jensen out from pole in Todaiji Temple

Our bus & driver for 2-day tour to Noto Peninsula & back to Itami City

Our bus & tour director for 2-day tour to Noto Peninsula & back to Itami City

Snow at Shirakawago

Snow at Shirakawago

Jensen's feet are too big for ryokan slippers

Jensen’s feet are too big for ryokan slippers

Dinner at Wakuma Ryokan Onsen

Dinner at Wakuma Ryokan Onsen

Ganmon rock formation, Noto

Ganmon rock formation, Noto

Kenrokuen Garden in Kanazawa

Kenrokuen Garden in Kanazawa

Grandma Ibaramoto dressed us in kimono

Grandma Ibaramoto dressed us in kimono

Shinkansen

Shinkansen

5-story pagoda at Miyajima

5-story pagoda at Miyajima

Rice paddle invented @ Miyajima

Rice paddle invented @ Miyajima

Miyajima Island at low tide

Miyajima Island at low tide

Hiroshima Peace Memorial

Hiroshima Peace Memorial

Two Japanese boys

Two Japanese boys

 

Toei Movie Studio

Toei Movie Studio, Kyoto

 

Fire Ramen @ Menbakaichidai - Kyoto

Fire Ramen @ Menbakaichidai – Kyoto

Fire Ramen! Very hot, very delicious!

Fire Ramen! Very hot, very delicious!

Fire Ramen! Very hot, very delicious!

Fire Ramen! Very hot, very delicious!

Nijo Castle at night

Nijo Castle at night, Kyoto

Romantic Train to Hozu Riverboat ride

Romantic Train to Hozu Riverboat ride

 

P1020470

Hozu riverboat ride

Hozu Riverboat ride

Hozu Riverboat ride

Rickshaw ride, bamboo forest, Arashiyama

Rickshaw ride, bamboo forest, Arashiyama

Kiyomizu Temple, Kyoto

Kiyomizu Temple, Kyoto

Locomotive Museum, Kyoto

Locomotive Museum, Kyoto

Robata sushi

Robata sushi

Posted August 31, 2014 by lariyasui in Asia

Tagged with , , , , , , ,

Japan in April 2013   1 comment

Presenting the latest episode of
“Hawaiians in Japan”
starring: Roger and Lari
April 9 to 26, 2013

View slideshow:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

When my nephew, Kazu moved to Japan in March of 2012, we planned a trip for this April hoping to see cherry blossoms in full bloom and to visit Kazu and all of our friends in various cities. Now that Hawaiian Airlines goes to four Japanese cities, we used HAL and got a good fare to Haneda. This was not a tour, so we had to plan everything on our own. We got lots of planning help from Yumi Ibaramoto and Kazu/Audrey. We ordered our rail pass online, picked it up at JTB in Ala Moana and made reservations at hotels and ryokans. We used the trains extensively to get to Nikko, Nagoya, Takayama, Kyoto, Hakone, and back to Tokyo.
In Nikko, we stayed at a ryokan Nikko Tokanso and fell in love with Ayako, who is the front desk greeter, bell person, room service, concierge, and shop salesperson, all rolled into one. She works so hard doing so many different jobs and is the only one who can speak English. We woke up to snow outside our window the first morning. It was so magical, like a fairyland. That afternoon it all melted away, but then it hailed just as we were leaving for our tour of Nikko National Park, which included Kegon Falls, Ryuzu Falls and Lake Chuzenji.
In Takayama, we were there for their spring festival. Each year, they have a festival in April and another in October We were so lucky to be able to experience the Takayama Matsuri with parades, floats, and food. The 12 floats are called Yatai and are over 300 years old, each one with intricate carvings and decorations. We also visited Hida Folk Village near Takayama. It’s like Sturbridge Village or Polynesian Culture center where you see how they lived back in the olden days.
We also stayed at Katsumasa and Kazuyo Kurata’s home in Nagoya. He has a car, so we were driven all around Nagoya to gardens, temples, parties, restaurants, dinners, and to the Toyota Auto Museum. We also met their neighbors the Shimoyamas and had dinner at their son, Naoto’s home with wife Yuuko and son Taisei.
In Kyoto, we had dinner with old friends, Koichi and Chiyako Mori and their son Masahiro and wife Tomoko. Masa used to come to Hawaii and visit us in Pearl City and my parents in Hilo when he was young. Now Masa is a doctor who does brain research in Nara University. It was a very nice reunion.
Yumi and her mom, Toshiko, who lives in Osaka, met us in Kyoto and stayed with us at two different temple ryokans. Ninnaji Temple in Kyoto and Hieizan Enryakuji Temple on top of Mt, Hiei, just outside of Kyoto, overlooking Lake Biwa. Yumi arranged for us to tour the Kyoto Imperial Palace as well as the Tokyo Imperial Palace. We also rode on the Romantic Train up the Hozugawa River and rode down river on small boats that could go through the small rapids.

In Hakone, we met with friends Mikio and Masae Tada, whom we had met in Madrid years ago. We visited their home in Manazuru and had a lovely visit with them.

Kazu has a minivan and he drove us from a ryokan with onsen in Hakone to his army base home, in Sagamihara and to Enoshima island and Kamakura as well as different restaurants and onsen around his neighborhood. We missed Audrey and Aulia, who were at our house in Hawaii for a conference. I went to visit and read a book at Azlyn’s 3rd grade class at the Japanese school that she attends outside the army base housing. Then I walked to Ailah’s pre-school to visit her and met her teacher and principal.
In Tokyo, we stayed at the Shinjuku Prince hotel and met with Yumi’s husband, Koji, for dinner one evening, because he works at the Shinjuku Police station nearby. Yumi and her sister Asako took us to Akasaka Ninja Restaurant, which was an adventure in dining. We were able to shop at Pepe next to our hotel, which has 8 floors of shopping, including Uniqlo and a 100 yen shop.
The weather was chilly and cool. Too bad we missed the peak of sakura blooming, (this year the peak was in March) but we enjoyed the cherry blossoms that were still in bloom, and the beginning of azalea season. And of course, we really loved the food! There is nothing like the taste and presentation of food prepared in Japan.

Roger’s Top Ten:
10. Hida Folk Village in Takayama, where I got to ride an electric car around so I didn’t have to walk. It was da best!
9. Akasaka Ninja Restaurant where Ninjas lead you through a dark maze with steps, narrow halls dead ends and a drawbridge to get to your table. Ninjas serve with fire, sparks, and fun ways for the strange but delicious food. Thanks to Yumi and Asako for taking us there.
8. At Nikko Tokanso we woke up one morning and looked out our window to see everything covered in white snow! It was really cool-cold, in fact! We reserved a bus tour to take us to Lake Chuzenji and Kegon Falls, but instead, we got a private tour via taxi. Hail was drumming down on us as we left the ryokan, and the drive up to the mountain lake was snowing. Nikko is where the 3 monkeys come from: see no evil, hear no evil and speak no evil.
7. Kazu took us to a ryokan in Hakone that was awesome. They had so many onsens: a public bath for men and women, a family bath, and a private bath just outside our room. Young couples would go bonkers, but Lari and I went oh la la too.
6. Yumi and her mom, Toshiko took us to a mountain top temple and ryokan. First we took a funicular, then a cable car-gondola to the top, and finally a bus that took us to the temple ryokan. It was a modern ryokan with a view of Lake Biwa.
5. In Takayama I had hidagyu steak that was very expensive. My 5 ounces of steak cost $64. You don’t need teeth to enjoy this steak, it’s so soft and melts in your mouth. It’s the best steak I ever ate.
4. We visited friends in Japan, which made our trip so fun. I was overwhelmed by everyone’s warm and generous hospitality.
3. Kazu took us to an onsen where we stuck our feet into a fish tank and fed the fish our toe jams. The fish nibble on our feet and it was a tingling feeling, another new and neat experience.
2. The Kyoto Imperial Palace tour was a one-hour walking tour with a beautiful English-speaking guide. It was okay but I enjoyed the Tokyo Imperial Palace tour better because we were chauffeured around for an hour, thanks to Yumi’s friend. They had a super duper bonsai collection. The bonsai are rotated into and out of the palace for the Emperor to enjoy. The royal carriages and horses used by the Emperor and dignitaries was also impressive.
1. For the most part, the weather was cold. We saw quite a lot of sakura, despite missing the full bloom. So we did get to see some up in the mountain areas of Nikko and Takayama. I did not know that Japan had so much azaleas. Probably more than those we saw in Wilmington, NC when we went to their Azalea Festival.
*My favorite thing I brought back from Japan was a phone charm for my cell phone. I got a “saru bobo” with a bell, which is the mascot of Takayama and means monkey baby.

Lari’s Top Ten:
10. Shopping at the 100 yen shops and Second Hand shops.
9. Toyota Auto Museum near Nagoya was very interesting.
8. Both the Kyoto and Tokyo Imperial Palace tours were wonderful.
7. Visiting our friends and relatives was very special and fun!
6. In Kyoto, the Hozugawa Romantic train ride and riverboat ride was so much fun!
5. Ryokans: we sat on the tatami floor at low tables to have tea and manju and slept on futons on the floor and took our bath at the onsen.
4. Takayama Matsuri was wonderful. After the Snow Festival in Sapporo, this was my second Festival, and it was fabulous. The parades, the floats (yatai) and the sakura in bloom made it very special.
3. Ayako at Nikko Tokanso stole my heart. She was simply amazing! She does everything at the ryokan with such a cheerful and friendly manner.
2. ONSEN: I love, love, love to soak in the hot and steamy pools after scrubbing myself clean and rinsing off in the wash area. I guess it’s because I grew up with furo at my house.
1. FOOD: I love all the food we ate in Japan. Everything is delicious. I think I travel to eat. Everywhere I go, I love to eat.