Monday, October 16, 2017

Octoberfest in Yokohama 2017

Ein bier bitte!

Rain couldn’t stop the Sakura Crew from having a blast in Yokohama for Octoberfest!!

This is my first time celebrating this fun holiday, and doing it in Japan put a special kind of twist on an already festive celebration!

After we paid 300¥ each for an entrance fee and donned our yellow Octoberfest paper bracelets, we made our way to the counter to chose our beer type and Stein size.


I chose the smallest size Stein (who really likes warm 🍺 blech...) Which required a 1000¥ deposit. Then I picked an original beer, priced at a whopping 1200¥. 😨


We then walked the aisles to find a spot to sit amongst the thousands of drunken Octoberfest-ians. Luckily, we saw a couple small openings at one table and the crew occupying the surrounding area happily scooted to make room for us!


We managed to have a spot pretty close to the stage and at 730 the band took the stage! What an amazing show!!! Between the German and the Japanese, I was pretty clueless about what was happening. However, with the repeating verses and the girl on stage demonstrating the dance motions, I was able to keep up with most of what was going down.

There were some mighty big glasses. I bet the deposit on that guy was over 5000¥. And, I can't imagine what I would do if it was dropped! Side note: whenever someone did drop their glass the whole tent would erupt in clapping and cheers. 

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The food was delightful! Beer and pretzels and a plate-ful of sausages!!! Yummmmmm!!!


Jaimie, Wendy, me and a thousand of our Japanese friends!


Delightful plate of sausage! The one on the right had a curry barbeque sauce on it.....so much YUM!


Saw this new window on our way home. It was entertaining to see Mary, Joseph, Baby Jesus and their Wise men with Dori just swimming swimming swimming in and out of their stable.


Quick shout out to the BIL, Clayton....We packed out our household goods last week and only kept a laptop with us. Well, that little 'poorer crashed a few days ago. Here we are in our last few weeks in Japan and I have no way to publish blogs about our last few adventures 😭 I thought I'd just use the blogger app on my phone and iPad to get it done. Unfortunately, the app no longer works on Apple devices....I guess that's why I've seen so many bloggers move away from this platform. Anywho.....long story short....Clayton saved the day by uploading these pics for me. 💜

Monday, October 9, 2017

Goodbye, Japan Tour part 1 ~ Yokosuka City



This is how a lot of our trips start...
tears from Kenzie.  Oy...she did
cheer up within two minutes
of this shot.
The countdown has begun! 😔 We are in the final stretch of our Japan tour....about 32 days remaining.  As part of our time remaining, I decided the we would pick our favorite places to visit, one each week (more if we have time) until the last week here.  Today's goodbye tour was of Yokosuka City.  The plan was actually to go to Flower World, but with rain forecasted off and on all day, we had to make a last minute adjustment.


Our favorite ramen shop.  We call it Red Door Ramen.  


 The signs around town are always a fun time for us.  This one has a good joke with it today since almost every one of my pictures of Garytt has him either eating the candy I bought him or showing off the ice cream he was eating.  


See what I mean?  LOL  He was so excited to get the candy that his best bud, Jacob, shared with him when he lived here.  So, this is the local mall.  It used to be the Daiei Mall.  Now, it's called Aeon.  We've bought many groceries here, eaten many delicious meals ~ in fact, our first meal in Japan was at Daiei and it was at Ducky Duck with Kris' boss where we all were introduced to omlerice ~ and we've enjoyed dance performances here.



Aeon was decorated for Halloween.


 This is a fun wall just off the main street.

There's always a random flower to be amazed by!

And, I may have had to promise to buy whatever fun 7/11 or Lawson's or FamilyMart meal they wanted on each of our Goodbye Tour trips.  Today's feast:  Egg salad sandwiches (one of our absolute favorites!  This one, however, is a limited edition sandwich and it included mustard.  Mackenzie was not grooving to the mustard.)  Garytt had a ham and cheese sandwich that he devoured before I could get a picture.  We also got gyoza to share (I may have just eaten it all myself though ;).  And, I found a delightful tea to try.


Sunday, October 8, 2017

CFAY Fire Prevention Week Festivities

This weekend kicked off Fire Prevention Week at CFAY.  We started with a speedy parade Saturday morning and then, after meeting friends at the gate, made our way to the fire station for some fun fire learning'!



This is a local Japanese boy's school playing drums.  They were amazing!  Garytt was fascinated and loved the fact that he could feel each beat in his chest.  We also got to see the Fisherman's Dance which is a part of Japanese Sports Day festivities.


We all had fun playing at each station, but how could putting out a fire with a real fire hose and then getting inside a fire truck not be the highlights of the day?!  

Daddy helping Garytt put out a fire!
  
Now, it's Kenta's turn!  They were taught how to adjust the spray so that they could move closer to the fire to put it out.

Now, it's Isao's turn to help little Momo put out the fire!


The boys had a lot of fun putting on the equipment and sitting inside the gigantic fire truck!


After Kris took this shot (where he was actually pretending to talk into the radio) he informed us he was going to be a fireman when he was old enough....I'm not sure how he can avoid it...it's in the genes from both sides of the family...Havens and Wheelers.



Onto the games!  Can you unroll a hose and knock down a set of bowling pins?  It's harder than it actually looks!


Next, we learn to stop, drop, and roll!  


Final activity for the day....the bounce house and slide!  
Can you tell which set of shoes belongs to my kid?  


The big bounce house where the kids went up and down, up and down, up and down, and then repeated that a couple more times :)





Brother and Sister trip to Hiroshima, Miyajima, Himeji, and Kyoto!

View from my hotel room.  That's the Peace
Memorial just past the bridge and then
the A-bomb Dome to the back right.
It's a Street Car!
Would you like to know how to force your brother to adjust quickly to the time difference from Texas to Japan, even after 24 hours of travel?  Make him get up early the next morning, hop on a train for several hours, and then tour Hiroshima for a few hours!!  That's how we Havens people roll!!
So, after a speedy bullet train ride down to Hiroshima, we found our hotel, checked in, took a little rest and then ventured out into the city!  We only had two days, people!  We had to hit the ground running!  Well, walking.  Kinda quick, especially when we were almost hit by....wait....I'm getting ahead of myself.

First, the Hiroshima Peace Memorial.

(Note to my "fans" 😂:  I've done all the cities in this blog before, so not as many pictures from things I've already done.  Unless Clayton was being silly.  Or he was teaching me something new on the ofttimes mysterious camera.  Or we almost died.  Or it was something new.)

The Gates of Peace

I don't think we made it down this far last time I was here. 


The last time we were here one wing of the Memorial Museum was under construction.  On this visit we were able to see what the construction was all about.  Wow!  Such a change from the last time!  There was so much more to read and so many interactive pieces.  


Still, just as soul moving.  


They turned every wall into a mural of the city after the destruction.


There used to be a big, round table map of the city with a red ball hanging over it to show where the bomb fell.  I'm sure you've all seen it in textbooks or documentaries.  Well, it's changed to a digital representation projected from a tabletop now.  From before the bomb to after.  

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The walls around the next room explain the horrors of atomic energy, from the beginning of nuclear testing all the way to current threats in the world.


The before and after of the Industrial Promotion Hall...now known as the A-bomb Dome.
Every time I see the original I'm shocked at how much building used to be there.


This little section of the museum talked about Japan's activities in the Pacific and it's involvement in the war leading up to the bomb being dropped.

After we toured the Museum for a while, we decided to head back to the rooms for a bit to recover from the oppressive heat and let the rain storm that was moving in go on past us so we could walk through the rest of the park without getting drenched.  Well, we walked across the road and just as we made it to the other side we first heard (not sure I've ever heard lightening BEFORE I saw the flash) then we felt -- like, vibrations in the skin and the hairs on my arms raising up -- the bolt of lightening that struck the NHK building that was less than 100 yards from us.  😳  Uh, I guess when the weather app shows lightening flashing all over your screen you should definitely take shelter!!

Okay, now that all of Zeus' bolts were safely stowed, we wandered back out into the insanely thick blanket of atmosphere to explore the rest of the park.


We took a little walk around the Dome and then made our way over to a garden Clayton found.  Something new for me!


Shukkei-en Garden


We saw quite a few beautiful flowers here.  




This afternoon's lesson was leading lines.  Sometimes I got it, sometimes I didn't.  Does the bridge lead your eye to the hill and then to the bushes up the hill?  Maybe?  


This place really was a photographer's dream.  There's a photo opportunity around every corner.  Probably why we were there until the guard told us the park was closing soon and we needed to make our way to the exit.  Well, I'm assuming that's what he said, it was all in Japanese. 


Tisha will appreciate me telling him to be careful on this bridge....watch where you're going!...I know how you like to fall into the water on vacations.  I've heard the stories!


At the back of the park we found many, many, many of these little fellas!


A couple artsy shots.



What's for dinner?  Uh...Coco's, of course!!!


Second lesson of the day...how to shoot at night.

Hiroshima Castle




A-bomb Dome with a cross shadow just left of center on the third floor.


The next morning we made our way out to Miyajima.  It was a fairly easy ride out to the island and there weren't many people even on the train.  (My earlier statement of:  not too many pictures from places I've already been...well, they don't count for this day because this is MY FAVORITE-EST place!!!

First up:  DEER!!!!!


When we came last time we arrived just before the tide was all the way out.  So, the full tide moment is something totally new to me.  It's amazing to see it with all the water underneath!








This, folks, is the largest shamoji in the world!  I'm not sure where to find the rice bowl that you could use a scoop this large in though.  


Japanese streets, a pagoda, and blue skies!


Hey, Clayton, how about we go to the top of the mountain?  I didn't get to do that last time and I really wanted to do it!  

Okay, sure, but let's take the ropeway part of the way up.

Sounds good.

Perhaps one of the silliest ideas of the trip...just one rung below the idea to walk around in a thunderstorm.  :/

Should we 'run a little'...
Uh, it's like 112 degrees, I think not.
We may have gotten lost...I mean, taken a detour.  A few nice ladies at a restaurant pointed us back in the right direction.  So beautiful!


The views on the way up were phenomenal.  
The fact that there was no air flow in our flying oven was not so amazing.


After a rest in the air conditioned hut at the top of the ropeway, we ventured back out into the heat to walk to the top of the mountain!


Looks like this guy thinks the hike is easy-schmeezy!  Relaxed, with sunglasses and a nice beanie!  
We got this!


What in the world were we thinking???????  We sweated our way up to the first little flat space, looked at the shrine buildings, exclaimed:  The top is up there somewhere!  Then, turned around and went back to the air conditioning before heading back down the mountain.  Over 100 degrees with air so thick you could cut it = DON'T CLIMB A MOUNTAIN!!!!

This picture was taken at the beginning of our walk.  It really doesn't look like a lot from here.  But, I'm pretty sure we reached 16 bazillion steps at some point on that hellacious monstrosity!


We did find a few interesting things to look at while we tried to recuperate from the trek and inhale as much water as possible before the harrowing journey back down...or, across....or, maybe down, then up, then across.  Oy....it was hot....did I mention it was hot?


Green maple grove.


I couldn't leave the island without having the best, Best, BEST oysters I've ever had in my life!


Tide's out!






We did walk out so Clayton could get a picture with the Otorii


After getting back to the hotel and then resting and showering-again-we headed out in search of food.  What we found was a quiet little noodle shop.  Sosososo tasty!  Pick your noodle, your flavor, and your toppings.  Get a ticket.  Present it to the guy.  Wait for food.


Get food and giggle at how many onions are on top.  Then, devour the deliciousness!


The restaurant sign was pretty neat.


On the morning of day three we were up early so we could hop a train from Hiroshima to Himeji for a few hours before making our way to Kyoto.  This is what happens when you go to a Japanese train attendant and say, "Where do I go?"  He draws you a map--with color coded instructions!  
I love Japan!

Himeji

I couldn't walk past a manhole cover without taking a picture!   We arrived at Himeji Station and quickly found a giant locker to stow our stuff until we were finished.  


A different view for me this time.


When it's so darn hot outside you take every opportunity to cool off....misty fans,  hand held fans, and cool bottles of water.


Today's camera lesson:  Framing


A surprisingly empty hallway.  This was taken in the princess's castle, which sits right next to the main keep.  That's the princess sitting on a red rug...well, a life-size statue of her anyway.


So, if you download the Himeji app you can use it to get little movies and other interesting facts as you walk through the grounds.  As you pass certain markers and scan the code you win little picture guys to add to your photos.  Me with a little castle girl.  Clayton in his warrior gear!


We had a little extra time before the train to Kyoto, so we decided to hop into a cute little cafe...rephrase....a cute, little *air conditioned* cafe.  


Kyoto Day 1

We decided to make the first day into a night tour since we didn't arrive early enough to hit up too many normal hour-ed shrines.

7-11 dinner in front of the river and watching the cranes.

Yasaka Shrine



From Yasaka Shrine we made our way to the Gion district in search of the notoriously hard to find Geisha.  While Clayton was setting up his camera to get a few shots of the beautiful side streets I meandered several feet down the street.  As I was casually hanging out on the sidewalk a cab came to a stop right in front of me.  Guess who was in the cab?!?!

GEISHA!!  Three GEISHA were in the cab!!!!!  I was so shocked that I fumbled with my camera and barely even got it out in time to get a picture. One of the Geisha got out of the car and then as soon as it moved past, she quickly walked across the street, stepped in the door, bowed and then shut the door.  It happened so quick that none of my pictures are good shots.



Woot!  Success!  Now I can check that off my Japan bucket list :)

A few shots on our way back to the hotel for the night.


Just a random little gate on a random back street.  I must say, walking the back streets to the hotel was much more relaxing than walking amongst the many many people on the main drag.


This is how I ended my night.  Apple chu-hi!  OHMYGOODNESSYUMMY!!!!


KYOTO DAY 2

We started our second day at Ginkakuji ~ The Silver Pavilion

We arrived just a few minutes before it opened and then basically had the whole thing to ourselves (and maybe a couple dozen other people).  Great luck!!



Our plan for the day was to just wander down Philosopher's Path and step into any temple or shrine that looked interesting to us.  

Honen-in Temple





Back onto the Philospher's Path


Taiho Shrine

This is a neat little shrine with so many different animal statues.  It was a very quiet area.  Not many tourists make it into these little shrines, I guess.   




Next stop:  Zenrinji  This one had a lot of beautiful picture shots.  I remember coming here a couple years ago and seeing the amazingly red maples.  This time they were all green, still beautiful!


Last time we just walked into the front entrance, took a few pictures and then left.  The crowd in there was insane!  This time there weren't even a quarter of the people as last time.  So...we went in and took a look around.

At the back of the grounds there was a pagoda on the top of the hill.  We apparently didn't learn our lesson about climbing mountains in the summer in Japan, because we trudged on up the many stairs to get a view of the area.  The buildings in this temple were so close together that it was hard to get a good shot of them.  There's a nice walkway down there that is probably a beautiful shot if you can find the right angle.


The maples are so pretty



Several more steps down the path and we found ourselves at Nanzenji.  This is the temple with the aqueduct.  I was looking forward to getting up there and seeing the water.  But, they have the top blocked off so you can't even see the water.


We decided to walk the streets a bit and see what we found that piqued our interest for dinner.  So, we wandered onto the shopping street.  Not as insanely crowded this time around.


Kirin City for dinner.  The fish and chips were delightful!  The beer was yummy, too!



KYOTO DAY 3

So, since we had such luck yesterday with beating the crowds at Ginkakuji, we decided to do the same with Kinkakuji ~ The Golden Pavilion.  Well, no such luck here.  Wow....the annoying...ANNOYING....pushy tourists that were here!!!  


"Wherever you go, the dragon
always keeps his eyes on you!"
My pictures are a little out of order here...It's really hard to fix, so the timeline is slightly off.  We went from Kinkakuji to Ryoonji, which was a new place for me, so a few more pictures from there.  The pictures below actually go to Tenryuji first. 

Tenryuji


I love how these buildings curve around through the trees, just like a dragon.



At the back of the complex is the bamboo forest.  My last pictures of these street was so full of people that it managed to distract from the trees.  Not so this time!  Clayton found the perfect spot and showed me how to angle myself and the camera so I could get a shot without a soul in it!!!


Hangry anyone?

Our final stop for the day was Nijo-jo.  The castle was pretty close to closing time, but we had just enough time (and energy) to make it through before the place closed.

This gate was completely covered for construction last time I was here.


Such a beautiful castle!  And, the nightingale floors make it fun to walk around in.

I might have laughed at this point...a lot...a nice contraption to walk through in order to cool yourself off from the sweltering heat.  A tunnel of ivy and mist!  So refreshing....if you're Japanese size and the sprayers are a good 6-12 inches above your head.  Clayton, however, was only about an inch shorter than the sprayers so he just had a spray blasting of the top of his head.  OMG...I laughed so hard at this!!!  Good times!!  #TallPeopleProblems #IDontHaveThatProblem



Ryoanji ~ Peaceful Dragon Temple

Okay, back up a few hours....we left Kinkakuji and caught a bus just down the street to Ryoanji.  We were lucky enough that as soon as we walked into the place we were greeted by two students who wanted to give us a tour of the place.  They got to practice their English and we had a guided tour where we heard so much more information that we ever would have received had we tried to read a pamphlet and guess what we were looking at.

This is a mini version of the famous rock garden and it's made so that blind people can touch it and 'see' what the garden looks like.  How awesome is that?!


We had a nice peaceful walk through the whole temple.  The two rocks in the water are used to measure the depth of the water.


This is the famous moss garden.  It is supposed to represent clouds and dragons.


One of three mirror lakes in Kyoto and our tour guide's personal favorite.


This Zen Rock Garden has 15 rocks in it.  You can't see all 15 from any spot in the whole area.  We were shown a spot where we could see them all, but the only reason I was able to count all 15 was because I knew which rock looked like just one, but was really two.  


This evening's dinner was a little back street ramen shop.  I had lemon ramen.  It doesn't sound all that great, but oh my!!  So much yumminess in one bowl!!!  I could totally see eating this when suffering from a head cold.


KYOTO DAY 4

Ninja train
So, the plan for today was to get up before the sun so we could get to Fushimi Inari before the crowds in the hopes of getting people-less pictures.  Mother Nature, however, had other plans.  After waking up to storms, we decided to wait it out until the rain cleared.  Once at the station to make our way to the shrine (well, and missing our actual train because I couldn't figure out which platform to be on....hint: if there are no people waiting on your platform...probably not the right one.)

The rain didn't really stop, just flipped between sprinkling and light rain.  Once we were under the torii gates we were mostly sheltered from it though.  Until the point we decided to turn around. 


This place.......so much amazing in one place!



Cute little chipmunks, I think, heading up the mountain.


We decided to take a little side-shoot off the main path to see what we could find....a cool top-of-a-torii shot.


This is the point we decided to turn around and head home.  Juggling camera, bag, and an umbrella can get a little tricky.



After touring Fushimi Inari we went back to the hotel to shower and then make our way home.  First, we had some time to waste, so we dumped our bags in lockers at Kyoto Station and took the bus to the Rail Museum.  


The train was full of stuff to see and do.  A lot of the fun stuff was for the short set of people...10 and under.  There were trains from throughout Japanese history.  


This was a cool remote controlled area.  you can see the kids in the center of the train board.

This place is huge! 

A roundhouse!  

Kyoto Station is beautiful!

The inside of the station...as we were trying to figure out how the heck to get to the other side where our bags were.  This way?  No, this way!  Nope, maybe up and that way?  Yes!  That's it!

We hopped on the Shinkansen and made our way back to Yokosuka station after we filled our bags with snacks, drinks and a Bento for Clayton.  I found crab onigiri....delicious!