2018 Springtime in Japan   Leave a comment

Presenting the latest episode of
“Hawaiians in Japan”
Starring: Lari, Yumi, Yvette, Erik, Noakai, & Marlowe
March 21 to April 8, 2018

It was Yvette’s family’s turn to get treated to Japan by Mom. Last year, I treated Ryan’s family. This trip, I went ahead of Yvette’s family and stayed a couple days after they left. I flew into Osaka and took the shinkansen to Iwakuni. Yumi (my friend from Tokyo) rented a car and met me at the train station. We drove to the famous Kintai bridge and took the ropeway up the mountain to the Iwakuni Castle.

Famous Kintai Bridge in Iwakuni

Then we drove to Oshima Island crossing over the green bridge. First, we visited the Hawaii Emigration Museum where they have records of all the families who left Oshima island to settled in Hawaii. We met my relative, Hitoshi Okabatake, who took us to see the plot of land where, our grandpa Kimura lived before emigrating to Hawaii and also to see the grave where the Kimura ancestors are buried. It is amazing how he learned where the Kimura grave is located on the island, from when Kazu visited in 2016, but that’s another story. We enjoyed a fabulous dinner with the entire Okabatake family, Grandpa and Grandma, Hitoshi and Mariko, and their son Kota and Yumiko with their 3 children.

Green Bridge to Oshima Island

Hitoshi Okabatake showed me where my grandpa and his family lived, but now it’s an empty lot.

Kimura gravestone on Oshima Island

The next morning, Yumi drove us along the coast with lovely views of sea and mountain. Yumi makes me laugh because she drives so slowly that cars piled up behind us. Every so often she pulled over to let them pass! We went back to the Okabatake home and Mariko took us to pick oranges from their orange grove and Grandma took us to pick shiitake from her shiitake posts.

Grandpa supervises picking oranges.

Grandma shows Lari how to pick fresh shiitake

We took the ferry to Matsuyama on Shikoku Island. Yumi’s friend picked us up from the ferry station and took us to Matsuyama Castle where we enjoyed the sakura-cherry blossoms blooming. Matsuyama is the largest city on Shikoku and the capital of Ehime Prefecture. The next day, we took the tram to Dogo Onsen, which is 3000 years old. After Yumi left to catch her flight home to Tokyo, I went to a ryokan, Hotel Okudogo, outside of the city. This ryokan has several outdoor pools.

Matsuyama Castle with Yumi and her friends

After checking out from the ryokan, I took a 3-hour train ride to Takamatsu. It is a city on the northern coast of Shikoku island. I visited the Takamatsu Castle ruins and the lovely Ritsurin Garden. Then I went to Busshozan Onsen. The next day I took the Mariner 1-hour express train to Okayama. I walked around Okayama city before catching a train to Itami Station to stay with Ibaramoto grandma. We used google translate to communicate with each other. She made a wonderful dinner for me.

Ritsurin Garden in Takamatsu

Mrs. Ibaramoto in Itami City, Osaka is Yumi’s mother in law

On Thursday, I went to Kansai Airport to meet Yvette, Erik, Noakai and Marlowe. They were so happy to see me as soon as they came out of customs. We took the train to Namba Station in Osaka and had difficulty finding our AirBnB apartment. It turned out to be very cramped and unsuitable for children so we moved to a hotel with a large family room that Yumi found for us. We took the subway to Osaka Castle and it was glorious with all the sakura in bloom.

Osaka Castle

On Saturday we took a train to Minoo Station and walked up to Minoo Park. It was a lovely, leisurely, nature walk along the Minoo stream. We stopped at the Insect Musuem and did not go all the way to the Minoo Falls. Instead we turned back and went to Ooedo Onsen Monogatari Minoo, which was a wonderful family facility with restaurants, game rooms, resting rooms, toddler areas, ping pong room, massage rooms and more. We stayed all afternoon into the evening enjoying all the amenities.

We visited a temple along the Minoo Stream

Marlowe and Noakai by Minoo Stream

On Sunday we traveled to Nara to visit Todaiji Temple with the deer park. The kids went through the hole in the pole. The next morning, we went to Koriyama Castle Festival. On Tuesday we took the train to Kyoto.

Before going into a temple we cleanse ourselves.

Todaiji Temple in Nara with a very large Buddha inside.

Wednesday we took the old-fashioned open air Romantic Train along the Hozugawa River with sakura blooming everywhere! Then we rode down the Hozugawa river in a flat-bottomed wooden boat all the way to Arashiyama. It was fun going over some small rapids in the river. In Arashiyama, we hired two rickshaws to take us to the Bamboo Forest. After lunch, we took a small local train to Toei Kyoto Studio and enjoyed the Trick Art museum there.

Old-fashioned Romantic train ride up along the Hozugawa River

Hozugawa boat ride was so much fun!

Rickshaw ride into the bamboo forest in Arashiyama

Samurai actors at Toei Movie Studio Park

Trick Art Museum at Toei Movie Studio Park

On their last day, we went to Fushimi Inari Shrine with 1000 red torii. That night, they took a bullet train to Osaka to stay at a hotel near the airport for their flight back to New York City.

Fushimi Inari Shrine in Kyoto

I spent the next couple days in Nagoya, staying with Naoto and Yuko and their son Taisei. We all went to an onsen up in the mountains nearby, shopping and to Shiratori Teien Garden. Then I returned to Osaka to catch my flight home.

In Nagoya, Kats, Kazuyo, Naoto and Taisei took me to lunch.

Yuko and I are enjoying a cold one at the onsen.

 

Noey’s Top Five:
More favorites: deer, trick art museum, giant Buddha
5. Hozugawa River boat ride
4 train stations are really clean and modern and huge
3: the sakura in bloom
2: the onsens
1: the food is amazing and high quality

Yvette’s Top Four:
4. My birthday brunch buffet at a fancy hotel
3. Onsens
2. Hiking in the forests-Minoo, bamboo, Fushimi Inari
1. Going around with Lari

Marlowe’s Top Five:
5. Bullet train ride
4. The toy with the bento
3. Slurpy noodles
2. Cherry blossoms
1. Hozugawa boat ride

Eric’s Top Five:
5. Japanese toilets (came home and ordered a toto)
4. Koirala Bento Lunch-sakura special only $8
3. Giant Buddha temple at Todaiji in Nara
2. Hozugawa Boat ride
1. Onsens and massage

Posted August 1, 2018 by lariyasui in Asia

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2018 Winter in Tuscany with Leanda   Leave a comment

Presenting the latest episode of

“Hawaiians in Italy”

Starring: Lari & Leanda Santos

January 28 to February 8, 2018

Last fall I called Leanda and asked her if she knows how to drive stick, and she said yes. So I asked if she wanted to go with me to Tuscany on a 1-week Air, Hotel, Car deal for $600 pp. And she said yes, because she had never been to Italy and that she would drive. It was an unescorted package from Gate1 Travel-what a deal! So we flew to New York and stayed with Yvette. Noakai let us sleep in his bed and he slept on the floor. We visited Marlowe’s pre school. Leanda had never been to NY, so I showed her places like the Oculus, 9-11 Memorial, riding the Staten Island Ferry to see Lady Liberty, walking the High Line to from Meatpacking to Chelsea Market. We had lunch at Serafina’s Meatpacking, where my friend, Miko works. I met him years ago in Florence.

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Lady Liberty from Staten Island Ferry

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Grandma Lari visits Yellow Room at Marlowe’s pre school

We flew on a red eye on Emirates Airline to Milan. They have HUGE planes: 88 rows of 10 seats per row. There were so few passengers that everyone could lie flat in  empty rows. In Milan, we got our rental car and drove to Tuscany and found our hotel in Montecatini, a small village in Tuscany. It was cold and rainy almost every day there, but we made the best of it. We walked around the village and went to a hot spring pool to relax. We enjoyed delicious Italian dinners.

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Our hotel in Montecatini

We drove to Pisa where we went inside the cathedral and climbed up to the top of the leaning tower. Then we drove to Lucca, a lovely walled village. We walked partially around the city wall, then into the city for lunch. Leanda loved all the beautiful doors, so we took a collection of photos with Leanda and her doors.

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The iconic Leaning Tower in Pisa

The bell tower at the top of the Leaning Tower in Pisa.

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Love this tower with the tree on top in Lucca

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One of many Lucca doors Leanda loves

We took the train to Florence, because parking would be a problem there. We walked all over the city, first to Mercato Centrale then to Duomo and Piazza Signoria to see David, then to Ponte Vecchio. We had lunch at Gatto La Volpe where I met Miko several years ago, and back to Central market to shop for omiyage. Back to train station for gelato before boarding train back home.

Rainy shopping at Mercato Centrale in Florence

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David in Florence

We had lunch here in Florence, where Lari met Miko in 2007.

It’s the law: Gelato every day in Italy

On the one sunny day, we took the train to Viareggio for Carnivale. It’s mardi gras in Italy! They had a parade and people are dressed in costumes. It was so much fun!

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Carnivale in Viareggio

On our last day, we checked out and drove to Cinque Terre. We got all-day train tickets to the 5 villages. Cinque Terre means “Five Lands” in English and is composed of five crazily constructed small fishing villages located on rocks along the cliff in a spectacular landscape. First stop Riomaggiore, next Manarola, then Vernazza, (we skipped Corniglia), finally Monterosso. Leanda drove all the way to our hotel near Milano airport.  We stayed overnight and the next day flew back to NY on Emirates.

Riomaggiore

Manarola

Our last night at Milano airport hotel

Back in NY, we stayed with Yvette’s family again. We did more touring of the city, first to Times Square, Luke’s Lobster, Rockefeller Center, St Patrick’s Cathedral, Mood, Flatiron, Eataly, Union Square and Trader Joe’s. At Mood, the fabric store on Project Runway, we met Swatch the mascot at Mood. He is super cute!

We had fun with Swatch at Mood

It was a wonderful trip with a good fun friend, Leanda! We had a blast!

 

 

 

Posted July 30, 2018 by lariyasui in Europe

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2017 August San Diego and LA   1 comment

2017 August San Diego and Los Angeles

Mary and I decided to attend the Semi Annual Taiko Conference, this year located at University of San Diego campus. On my flight over to SD, I sat next to Christine Noble and we chatted almost the entire flight and became friends! We stayed at the Country Inn & Suites in La Jolla and rented a car. Since we got there a day before registration, we drove to Alpine to visit my friend Carmen Shagham. She showed us around her estate and all the work she has done in her yard. Then we went to lunch at Montana Grill Café.

Carmen and I are in her back yard.

After a lovely visit with Carmen, we drove to the UCSD campus to register for the Taiko Conference. Elsie was waiting for us, then Lorin and Lovelle came to join us for the Welcome Reception.

Elsie, Mary, Lorin, myself and Lovelle at Taiko Welcome reception.

Taiko Kanikapila-people just jump in and play!

On Friday we had opening session and breakout workshops all day and in the evening we enjoyed a Taiko Concert. We repeated the same thing on Saturday.

I was honored to meet Kristy Oshiro, awesome drummer!

Sunday morning was the closing session. After the closing, I drove down to Coronado Island to meet Mel and Karen Tanaka for lunch and to visit their lovely home on the island. Then I drove to Temecula to stay with Ali Nash. Her hubby is a firefighter in Long Beach so he was gone. We had a nice dinner downtown at Public House.

Mel grew up in Ewa Beach: his family owned Tanaka Store. He and Karin live on Coronado Island.

I stayed in Temecula with Ali Nash. Her sister Heather Bown played volleyball at UH and the US Olympic team.

The next morning, Ali had made me a bracelet with the beach glass that I gave her. Then I drove off to Anza to visit cousin Paola, her hubby Phil and daughter Beca, who was working at a campground on a lake. We hung out by the lake enjoying the sun before heading to the village for Italian dinner at Ferro.

Phil, myself, Paola and their daughter Rebecca at the lake where Beca works for the summer.

On Tuesday, I drove to Los Angeles to stay w/Tom and Margie Hernandez, Kazu’s Dad and Mom. Margie made Nopales-cactus. She cooked chicken, beef, beans, salad and Tom’s sister Rosemarie brought 2 peach pies. We had a feast! The kids all came for dinner and Tom’s brother Angel brought Grandma Hortense. Renae brought her baby, Quetzal, so it was a wonderful family reunion!

I stayed with Tom and Margie Hernandez in Los Angeles. Tom is Kazu’s dad!

Wednesday morning I had to say goodbye and drove to LAX to catch my flight home.

Posted June 25, 2018 by lariyasui in USA

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2017 New York, London, VA & MD   1 comment

2017 October
NY, London, VA-MD

I found a good deal on Gate1 for air and hotel to London. So I asked Debi if she wanted to go with me, and she said yes, because she’d never been to London. I have been there twice before, but never went to the museums, and so I planned to go to some London Museums. I flew non-stop on Hawaiian Airlines and stayed with Yvette for a few days. I visited Marlowe’s pre-school and spent time with Yvette and Marlowe during the weekdays. On weekends, we hung out with the whole family. I usually try to give Yvette and Erik a date night, and stay home with the kids while they do their own thing. So this time, I took Marlowe to the movie theater to see My Little Pony and then dinner at Hudson Eats while Noey was with his friends. On Sunday, I went with the 2 kids on PATH to NJ for brunch at Sapthagiri, their favorite Indian $10 brunch buffet. I like to stop at the threading shop to have my eyebrows threaded for only $6. We met Miko and Donna for late lunch with Donna’s parents. I had a date night with Noey, and we had tons of food and fun doing the “East Village Crawl”-we ate at 3 different restaurants to try different kinds of food!

 

Sunday brunch at our favorite Indian buffet in Jersey.

We had a late lunch with Miko and Donna and her parents.

East Village Crawl with Noakai.

Monday, Marlowe, Yvette and I took a car up to 6th Ave Michael’s store, shopping at Trader Joes and Old Navy, then lunch at NY Burger. That evening, I went with Erik and Marlowe to watch Noey’s soccer game then home for dinner. The next day, I read a story to Marlowe’s pre-school class and sang a song.

Marlowe has 3 teachers: Miss Janet, Miss Gyro and Miss Mildred.

On Wednesday, Yvette and Marlowe flew to Germany to visit Tara and I relaxed, packed and took the subway to JFK and met Debi at our gate for our red-eye flight to London. We arrived at Heathrow on Thursday, Oct 19 and took a city transfer to our hotel. They gave us a room right away so we could shower and rest then we walked around to eat Fish n Chips for our dinner at Hobsons. On Friday, we at breakfast in the hotel and caught the tube (London’s subway) to Leicester Square to buy discount tickets at the TKTS booth for The Mousetrap, a long-running mystery by Agatha Christie. We walked to the British Museum and had lunch there. Then we spent the afternoon riding on the HOHO (hop-on, hop-off) bus. We sat upstairs and enjoyed a relaxing tour of London. Then we went to see The Mousetrap play, after having some difficulty finding the theater. Afterwards, we saw Jamie Oliver’s Italian restaurant, so we had dinner there and took the tube back to our hotel.

At the British Museum

 

Victoria & Albert Museum

On Saturday, we went back to Leicester Square to buy discount tickets to see An American in Paris at 2 pm and tickets for Lion King at 7:30 pm. After getting our show tickets, we went to the Victoria and Albert Museum, where we spent 2 hours enjoying the exhibits. Then to our matinee by the tube, a light supper, then to our evening show at Lyceum Theater for Lion King.

We loved Lion King!

On Sunday, we got up early and took the tube to the Coach Station for our bus tour to Windsor Castle, Stonehenge and Bath. Our guide was Lucy and she was very charming and our bus driver was Ricardo. First stop was Windsor Castle, where we saw the Queen Mary Doll House and the State Apartments. Then a bus ride to Stonehenge then to Lacock village for lunch at The George Inn, oldest Pub in Lacock. Then a bus ride to Bath-by then we were tired so we just shopped.

Windsor Castle

Stonehenge

After breakfast on Wednesday, we checked out, stored our luggage and went to Camden Market and then to lunch at Taste of India. We caught a cab to Heathrow, flew back to NY, arriving close to midnight, and said goodbye there. Debi stayed overnight near JFK and I took a cab to a hotel in Chelsea.
Tuesday morning, I caught the GoBus to Vienna, VA for only $18. It was a large and new bus that arrived at 2 pm at the Metro stop in Vienna and Janne Hudner picked me up. We cooked dinner and watched Dancing with the Stars. The next day, Janne and I went to the movie Marshall after breakfast, and it was wonderful! After lunch, I borrowed Hudner’s car and drove to Laurel to cousin Gary and Sally’s home. We chatted and relaxed until dinner of Salmon, peas and rice noodles. Their Siamese cat, Tubs had passed away, and I played with the other Siamese, Crocket before bedtime. Thursday after breakfast we relaxed and drove to Ellicott City. We walked down Main St, checking out the many shops and had lunch at Trolley Stop. Then we shopped at Trader Joes and Savage Mill closer to home. We prepared dinner and Kat, Billy and Lily came and Matt and Audrey followed soon after. We all enjoyed the baked chicken dinner and of course, 14-month-old, Lily was the center of attention.

When I was there, they had just recovered from a huge flood, and now this June 2018, there was another flood in Ellicott City.

Kat, Billy and Lily-the golden child!

Front: Matt, Audrey and me Back: Sally, Gary w/Lily and Kat

On Friday, we relaxed all morning until we went to Mission BBQ for Navy Day lunch with some friends. Back home we rested and worked on organizing old photos from Aunty Carol, Gary’s mom who passed away. After lunch, I drove to Severn to stay with Sharmaine, David, Collin and Addison. After dinner, we went to watch Addie play soccer and she is dynamite! Even the ref came over afterwards to say she was his favorite player of the game! The next day, Collin left for a boy scout camping trip. We had quiche for breakfast. I helped them clean closets and went to help sell Girl Scout cookies. We went to Casa Dela Nonna for Italian dinner.

David, Addison and Sharmaine live in Severn, MD

On Sunday, we had breakfast burritos and went to help sell GS cookies, but it was too rainy so we closed up shop after half an hour and Addie’s soccer game was cancelled. After cleaning Addie’s room, we had lunch and I left Severn to drive back to Vienna, VA to return Hudner’s car. We had cannelloni for dinner with Dennis’ Mom, who comes every Sunday for dinner.
Monday morning, I had to leave for the airport, so Dennis dropped me off and I got home after a layover in San Francisco.

Posted June 25, 2018 by lariyasui in Europe, USA

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2017 Thanksgiving in Northern Cal   Leave a comment

2017 November San Jose
I fly to San Jose whenever Hawaiian Airlines has a sale. I rent a car and drive from one house to another to visit friends/relatives in the vicinity. This time, I stayed with Paul and Sigi in Point Richmond overnight, then to Santa Rosa to stay with Scott and Taylor. Tay showed me the devastation from recent fires in the newer and upscale hills area that all got burned. After a little shopping, we hung out and Tay cooked salmon for dinner.

2 of Sigi and Paul’s 4 doggies!

Taylor in their back yard! Scott is MIA-came home late from work.

The next morning, I drove east to Alamo to stay with cousin Carolyn. Her daughter, Jessica and family were there from LA for Thanksgiving week. On Wednesday, we celebrated Jose’s birthday with dungeness crab for lunch and crab pasta for dinner. On Thanksgiving day, I helped with dinner preparations and neighbors joined us.

In Alamo for Thanksgiving, my cousin Carolyn, Justin, Jordan, Jessica and Jose.

Friday after Thanksgiving, we shopped and had left-overs for lunch! After lunch, I drove to Lafayette to stay with Lovelle, my taiko friend. Lorin and Lovelle live near each other, and I met them 2 years ago at Taiko conference in Las Vegas. Three of us went to a Peruvian restaurant, Barranco for a delicious dinner. The next day, we spent the morning at Sausalito, walking and window-shopping. We had a delicious lunch at Scomas. Then to the city to shop at Muji and home to attend Taiko class.

Peruvian dinner at Barranco with Lovelle and Lorin.

On Sunday, I drove to the city to stay with Susan, Yvette’s high school classmate. We went to SFMoMa for lunch and enjoyed the art in the museum. My favorites were the spider sculptures by Louise Bourgeois and Walker Evans, prolific photographer of signs, faces, people on the street, and more, from all over the US. We went to tapas dinner at Contigo and had a very nice dinner with a bottle of red wine for me n Tom.
On Monday, Susan and Tom went to work, so I was on my own. I drove to the Academy of Sciences in Golden Gate Park then walked to the Japanese Garden. I drove to Ocean Beach, past Cliff House to Lands End for a walk in the woods and along the coast. What amazing scenery! After Susan and Tom came home from work, we went to B-Star, a Burmese restaurant-Yumm!

Art!

Giant spiders by Louise Bourgeois

Japanese Garden in Golden Gate Park

Forest at Lands End

Next morning I left at 5:30 am to drive to San Jose for my morning flight home.

Posted June 25, 2018 by lariyasui in USA

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2017 Pahoa HS Reunion in Las Vegas   Leave a comment

2017 September Pahoa Reunion in Las Vegas

Chris and I decided to attend together, so I arrived on Sunday morning and she arrived a couple hours later. We rented a car and drove to Trader Joes first thing! Then we went for a $20 foot massage (which is really a full body massage) and had Vietnamese lunch at my favorite place on Spring Mountain Road-LV Chinatown. We visited my friend Tiger Todd and Elena where they live there are lakes and ponds so we fed the ducks and koi. After that we checked in at the California Hotel. We met Scott and Janis Kinmore and had dinner with them at Honey Salt in Summerlin.

We visited Tiger and Elena and fed the koi and the ducks.

Pan roast at the Oyster Bar!

Monday, we took Janis to massage with us and went shopping afterwards. Back at the hotel we went to the Slot Tournament. For dinner we went to Carrabs with Greg and Tammy Pau and Scott and Janis. Chris, Janis and Tammy are 1969 Pahoa HS classmates. Back at the Cal, we socialized at the Hospitality Suite.
Tuesday we went to Palace Station Oyster Bar with Scott and Janis for brunch. Then we went shopping, and got massages (every day! for $20/hr). After more shopping we hung out at Hospitality Suite before going to our respective Class dinners. So my class of 1961 went to Main Street buffet with classes of ’60 and ’62.

Classmates, Joann, Wayne, me, Daniel and Gloria.

Class of ’60

Wednesday, I took Chris to $5 eyebrow threading on S Rainbow Blvd. In Hawaii, it costs $20! Then we got our massages. We checked out the Bellagio Garden. We decided to try two burger places, so first we drove to Summerlin to try Bachi Burger where we shared the Kiki burger w/side of brussel sprouts. Then we drove to the Strip and shared a Wahlburger with a side of string onion rings. Both were delicious! I could not choose one over the other. That night was the Pahoa HS banquet in the Aloha banquet room in the California Hotel.
Thursday, after Chris met the Kinmores and Paus for breakfast, we checked out and went to get our last massage before returning our rental car and going to the airport. I had a nice chop salad at the terminal restaurant before my flight home.

Christine’s classmates at the banquet.

Posted June 25, 2018 by lariyasui in USA

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2017 December to Las Vegas   Leave a comment

2017 CAFG to Las Vegas
Dec 1-11, 2017

I work part time for Chinen&Arinaga Financial Group in Mililani. The entire staff was treated to Las Vegas for the 25th Anniversary of the Corporation. Gwen and I planned all the fun activities while in Sin City for the 30 participants. But first, I flew to Phoenix to visit the Fulkerson’s in Prescott, AZ. I had fun in downtown Prescott with Derrill and Sandy, enjoying the Christmas lights and gingerbread houses and more. I stayed in their beautiful and huge home, and we visited a neighbor who had a newborn baby donkey. Derrill had a war going on with a gopher that refused to die no matter what Derrill tried! It gave Sandy and me a huge laugh whenever D would check on the gopher every morning.

Derrill, Sandy and Lari

Fulkerson’s house is so huge, you have to walk a mile from one end of the hallway to the other!

Derrill’s war with the nasty gopher.

Then I flew to Vegas and rented a car and first thing I did was go to eyebrow threading and massage. Then I drove to Dannette’s new home, where I stayed for one night. We went to IKEA the next day and a fabulous buffet lunch at M Casino. Then I visited Tiger and Elena before checking in at Orleans Hotel, where the whole CAFG gang was staying.
The next day, we went shopping and prepared for the activities for Friday. On Friday morning, everyone gathered at the Chinen’s suite for explanations for team activities. Orleans has several bowling lanes at their bowling center so in the morning, we went bowling. Then after lunch, 7 teams were assigned for the Scavenger Hunt. Each team had a car and chose which items to accomplish on the long scavenger list, which included the Venetian and the Bellagio Hotels and ending at the Town Square Mall. We celebrated with dinner at Texas de Brazil.

Alan, our CEO, had knee surgery and had to use the scooter. His wife, Flo, is the photo bomber!

Orleans bowling alley

The blue bowling team

The pink bowling team

The green bowling team

Purple scavenger team with a diamond necklace at Tiffany’s.

Blue scavenger hunt team at Victoria Secret

Yellow scavenger team with 3 blonds!

Red scavenger team at Victoria Secret.

Orange scavenger team found a redhead.

The pink scavenger team found the last place to meet.

On Saturday everyone got to select a fun activity: They could stay and gamble, go shopping, get spa treatments, or try Top Golf at the MGM hotel. For dinner we went to Hikari for AYCE for 37 people. At dinner, we announced the winners of the scavenger hunt… very high competition amongst the teams! Fun was had by all. On Sunday we checked out and left for home.

Hikari AYCE for results of the scavenger hunt! Party time!

This was the 4th place team, who had to give hugs to strangers at Hikari. Mike wasn’t happy!

 

On free choice day, some guys went to Top Golf.

Posted June 25, 2018 by lariyasui in USA

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2017 Denver in September   Leave a comment

2017 Sept. Denver
Sept 25 to Oct 2, 2017

My sister Christine is a new grandma, so I had to visit them in Boulder to see this golden child. Brian and Desmonne Bennett named their son Coen who was born in Dec 2016. So he wasn’t a year old when I first saw him. I took the bus from Denver Airport to Boulder, where Desmonne picked me up. It was very cheap and an easy one-hour ride. I stayed with Desmonne and Brian because Christine and Phil had not returned from their trip to Italy. First things first: I had to eat at Riff’s. The next day, I drove to Westminster to visit Shirley at home. We had a lovely visit before I drove back to Boulder. Christine’s 2 besties, Debra and Leslyn came over for dinner. We had a great time chatting. And of course, Coen was the center of attention!

Grandma Lari meets Coen for the first time!

The Bennetts at their Pearl Street front door.

Debra, Brian and Leslyn: 2 Aunties visit!

On Thursday, I drove to Fort Collins to visit Lynda at her friend’s home and we had breakfast and caught up with each other. Then I drove to Wortman’s and stayed with Tom and Tyke. Their daughter, Lori and her family all came for dinner. We had Tom’s famous meat loaf and Tyke made baked butternut squash –yummers!

Brian and Tom in back. Lori, Tyke and Lari in the middle Audrey and Marshall in front

I visited Robbie Stokoe at his bioengineering lab.

After breakfast on Friday, Tyke and I took their dog Kennadie to the Vet hospital to be checked. Then I drove over to visit Robby Stokoe at his bioengineering lab at CSU. Shirley’s grandson is a grad student there! I knew him since he was a baby! Then I drove back to Boulder.

Coen in Roger’s silk kimono

The whole gang at the Boulder Farmer’s Market on Saturday: Lari, Brian, Desmonne w/Coen, Christine and Phil.

On Saturday, Chris and Phil picked me up and we went to the Boulder Farmer’s Market. Desmonne, Brian walked over with Coen in his stroller. We relaxed in the afternoon. The next day, we had lunch at Riffs then we went shopping.
Monday morning, I caught the bus to Denver Airport to go home.

Posted June 25, 2018 by lariyasui in family, USA

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2017 Summer in Hokkaido   2 comments

Presenting the latest episode of

“Hawaiians in Hokkaido”

Starring: Lari and Anna Sumida

July 12-26, 2017

      This trip was unexpected because I got an email from Odetta Fujimori who asked if I was interested in taking her son, Keala Fujimori’s Holoholo Hokkaido tour, because there was a cancellation. So I asked Anna, who is teaching, and she said yes, since this tour was during her summer break. So we both signed up and Keala met us for dinner to give us details about the tour. Keala is our tour guide and driver and there are only 6 of us on this Lavender Tour: Ed and Odetta Fujimori, Joyce and Harold Asato and Anna and I. This custom tour costs $4000 not including air, but all meals and drinks are included. So Anna and I decided to fly to Tokyo for 3 days then we flew to Chitose to meet the tour group and came home from Chitose after the tour.

I found an AirBnB apartment in Shinagawa, and it was close to the train station and very compact-just right for 2 of us and much cheaper –about 1/3 the cost of a hotel! We adventured on our own. On the first day, we went to Tokyo Edo Museum in Ryogoku. Next door is a small Sumo Museum. We had chankonabe for lunch nearby-it was nice because we got to try a lunch special with small-sized serving instead of the huge bowl that the sumotori eat. Then we took the metro to Asakusa and Kaminarimon Thunder Gate and Sensoji Temple and then by train to Yotsuya, to meet my college friend, Sharon Banno, who has a very successful Amway business in Japan. She took us to her brand new luxury apartment and we met her husband for dinner at a local izakaya.

The second day in Tokyo, we met Yumi Ibaramoto at Yanaka and strolled through Yanaka Ginza then we went to Ueno and strolled through Ameyoko shopping street. We took a train to Ginza and Anna shopped at Tokyu Hands before meeting Yumi’s family at Umenohana, for fancy Yuba kaiseki dinner. Yuba is liquid tofu and you skim the “skin” off the top, dip it in sauce and eat it.

The next day, we decided to take a train to Tokyo Tower and returned to our apartment for our luggage before checking out and riding the train non-stop to Haneda for our flight to Chitose. When we arrived in Chitose airport, we were amazed at all the shops, food samples and everything in that airport. We had fun before we met Keala and our tour group.

Keala, our tour guide and driver extraordinaire, gave us such a wonderful experience, like no other tour-because it was personalized for the 6 of us. He took us to all the best places to eat, to wonderful and amazing experiences, to meet his friends and his wife, and so much more than any other tour could offer. We went to a kombu farm, where we could buy kombu directly from the farmer, to an udon factory, to glass blowing where we could make our own glass bowl or cup, to a dairy farm, to an asparagus farm, a melon farm, sunflower farm, lavender farm, blue pond, and so much more.

Our accommodations were superb, from regular hotels to little hideaway ryokans, to large fancy ryokans, and to a ski resort chalet. But the food! Unmatchable! He took us to the best ramen shop, the best tonkatsu, the best sushi, the best buta-don (pork on rice), the best izakaya, the best seafood in a fish market, the best seafood at a “secret” ryokan, -nothing but the best! I thought I didn’t like uni (sea uchin) until I tasted the sweet, fresh uni at the fish market. We shopped to our hearts content, because all we had to do was leave all our shopping in the van until the end, when we had to pack up all our omiyage into boxes. Hokkaido has the best ice cream-so creamy and good. They also have the best, sweetest melons, sweet cherries, mushrooms, oysters, hairy crab, and delicious asparagus. Depending on when you go to Hokkaido, you will encounter the best of each season in fruits, vegetables, seafood, and more. We went to 2 sake breweries and to Nikka Whiskey. I drank a lot of Sapporo Classic beer which is not exported, so only available in Japan. Sapporo was having a Beer Festival in Odori Park, with each block having a different brand of beer in tents all through the park. After shopping all day, it was great to sit and have a cold beer at the festival.

Of course, I really enjoyed all the different onsens at hotels and ryokans. The biggest and best was at Yoroushi Daiichi Onsen, where we had a beautiful suite and us ladies got to choose our own yukata. The onsen there had so many pools and a hot stone detox room-even a outdoor co-ed pool, which I ventured out to-no shame-just go for it. Another hotel had a rooftop onsen with a huge TV to watch while soaking. Anna and I enjoyed every minute of this trip! We are so grateful to Keala for providing us with nothing but the best and to Odetta for inviting us.

Anna’s Top Ten:

-10. People watching at Summer Beer Festival in Sapporo, Odori Park w/ Lari, Shorty, & Keala

-9. Keala cooked us delicious shabu shabu dinner in Niseko at Orchards Chalet w/ Niseko cream puffs, Niseko cherries, Furano melons, & Yamanashi peaches for dessert

-8. Sharon Banno’s million dollar condo in Yotsuya

-7. Umenohana restaurant yuba dinner (tofu based kaiseki dishes) in Ginza w/ Yumi’s family

-6. Kushiro Marsh: reminded me of my Father’s favorite Japanese crane calendar pictures he loved

-5. Seeing Olympic skier jump from top then from bottom – AMAZING!

-4. Biei to see Aoi Ike Blue pond

-3. Hokuryu Sunflower Park (and I bought seeds to plant!!!) and all the other farms: lavender, kombu, dairy, asparagus, melon,

-2.Shopping and Glass blowing in Otaru

-1. Owl Onsen Yoroushi

 

Lari’s Top Ten:

-10. All the beer and sake we could drink included with our meals

-9. The wonderful yuba dinner with Ibaramoto family at Umenohana in Ginza

-8. Meeting Sharon in Yotsuya

-7. Making my own bowl by glass blowing in Okura

-6. Watching the ski jumper at Okurayama Ski Jump

-5. The onsen ryokan in Yoroushi

-4. The kombu farm

-3. Aoi Ike blue pond

-2. The Onsens: I love soaking in the hot pools.

-1. The FOOD! Everything was super amazing & delicious!

 

We arrived at Haneda Airport in Tokyo.

We visited with Sharon Banno in Yotsuya, where she lives and works within walking distance.

Yumi went with us to walk through Yanaka Ginza and Ameyoko Ueno.

Asako (Yumi’s sister), Koji (Yumi’s hubby), Anna, Kenzo (Yumi’s son), Lari and Yumi having kaiseki yuba dinner at Umenohana-very fancy place!

On our last morning, we took a quick trip by train to Tokyo Tower.

I love chiso with my sashimi… yummm!

Every day, Keala prepares our day’s itinerary on a white board back of the front passenger seat.

We visited the Kikuchi family kombu farm in Cape Nemuro, far eastern part of Hokkaido.

This was my favorite: Yoroushi Ryokan. Luxurious room, delicious food for dinner and breakfast, and fancy onsen pools, indoor and outdoors.

Notice that the men have the standard yukata, but us ladies have different ones.

 

Yamauchi-san is Keala’s good friend. He owns an asparagus farm and a PV farm that he sells electricity to the grid.

Sunflower farm, so bright and cheerful!

Lavender farm.

Keala and his wife, Tomoko.

 

Melons are super sweet!

Nikka Whiskey is very, very good!

Nagashi somen-grab it as it comes down the bamboo chute!

Glass blowing at Kim Glass Design in Otaru.

Odetta blowing her glass at Kim Glass Design in Otaru.

Keala, Anna and I shared this large beer

 

Okurayama ski jump in Sapporo

Happy birthday, Harold!

At Chitose airport unloading from the van.

Sue sent me this photo of Houdini so sad, missing me while I travel.

 

Posted August 20, 2017 by lariyasui in Asia

Tagged with , , ,

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

Kimono cousins going to onsen bath

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