Thursday, 31 May 2012

The big white bridge

The whirlpools were quite impressive, but I was quite taken by the big bridge above it. Apparently, we had driven on this bridge in the bus when we were on our way to the boat, but I had missed it due to being asleep! It was so pretty against the brilliant blue of the sky and the darker aquamarine blue of the sea. I love how beautiful it was. It was perfect weather too, just perfect before the rainy season! (Which has sadly now arrived!) It is quite similar to the Shimonoseki one, and actually I bet there are a lot of similar ones all over in Japan, considering its an island and all...

Naruto Whirlpools

The whirlpool boat was very busy, but I guess that was reasonable considering that the weather was beautiful, and the sea was great. I think as foreigners, we overran the whole boat! It headed out from the pier, towards the bridge. Underneath the bridge there are these natural whirlpools. Some of them are small, some of them are bigger, but they are still, really cool. But exceedingly hard to take a photo of! I tried for a long while, but hung out with everyone for the majority of the time, taking funny group photos!

Naruto Pier

After some playing on the rocks, we now headed back up near the bus to grab some now with dry flip flops thankfully. We ended up staying and having udon in the bus centre area, and getting some nice phone charms. I've been a bit relaxed on picking some up from my travels lately, so I was glad to get some. Then we headed for another long drive back into Tokushima to Naruto, where the famous whirlpools are. We got our tickets, and hung out and ate ice cream. Well actually, Sandy, Jake, and I all got different chocolate ice creams, and tried them all out! We sat on the edge of the ocean, over the very blue sea, and looked for jelly fish, and actually saw a few too! It was very pretty there, and I was all excited for the boat ride!

Scrambling over the rocks

When I dated Mike, I learnt a good deal about scrambling, and how much I prefer climbing rock faces than I do trodging up a mountain (poor me and Mt. Fuji!) Down near the river there were all sorts of rocks, big ones, small ones, awkward ones, and I spent a good few hours with Josh trying to cross the river, climbing up some Lion King-esque rocks...nicknamed Pride Rock, and generally frolicking. I loved trying to climb up all the big rocks, especially to scare Sinead and Abel, who were having a lovely time on top of a rock. Finally, after chickening out on jumping across the river, I decided to wade across it. So off went my shoes, and I started to walk across....untill I dropped one of my trainers. It floated away quickly downstream...thank goodness someone saved it or I would have been a one-shoed monster all the way back to Yamaguchi!

Kazura rope bridge

While Gavin and I waited for the bus, the day before, we had seen lots of intersting posters for this rope bridge. So we were quite excited to find out that we were actually getting to go there. After our group photo, we all climbed into the bus for another long coach ride to the other part of the Prefecture where the bridge was located. It seems to be quite random, where it was built, but now, the Japanese have turned the entire area around the bridge into a tourist attraction. When you stop in the giant car park, you can see some restautants, and lots of little shops along the way. We headed right down to the bridge, and I let most people go in front before I went, mainly so I could take some photos, but also because I really was a little nervous. My feet were definitely small enough to fall through the cracks! I was relieved however, to see that the vines had been reinforced with some steel wires, like on normal bridges, so I felt much better about not failling down into the rocks below. When I got to the middle, it was very beautiful, but with everyone wobbling around, and feeling quite....unsteady, I quickly made it to the other side, and had someone take my photo, just to prove that I had made it in one piece! After, we wandered around down to the rocks, passing little udon shops and places with fish heads on a could eat those if you wanted! I passed and just headed for some run scrambling by the river!

Pretty Pretty Kochi

When we had arrived at the school the evening before, we were all pretty tired, desperate for a shower, and then the Yaki Niku began. The school was creepy enough and interesting enough that we explored, and then just spent the evening chatting. So it wasnt untill the next morning that we actually got to see just how beautiful the place we were staying was. I knew that Tokushima was beautiful, but darn, Kochi-Ken was too. I couldnt get over how green everything was. We started the morning with no showers (for some reason no water!) but thankfully I had had one the night before! It was beautiful and sunny and so I got to eat french bread out on the playground with some of the lovely girls from Europe who were also on the trip. They are all studying in Kobe, and it was just so nice to have Europeans around. The majority of my friends in Japan are English, but in Yamaguchi, they are mainly American. Was nice for a change! So we sat and chatted, and packed up our bags before a celebratory group photo! I have to say, this Why Not!? group were the best people I have ever travelled with (not only because I didnt have to do any planning, but because they were all so nice!) and so we ended up taking a lot of group photos over the holiday. I love this one of me and Josh, but I still look short compared to him, and I think I was standing on a ledge too! Either way, we look happy, which we were the entire weekend!

A creepy school and a firestarter

After getting back to the rafting place, getting dry, and another supermarket run, we headed to this creepy old school up a mountain. It had been turned into a strange youth hostel, and we were staying in the old music room. To be honest, the rooms were lovely, and we had beds and everything. The creepiest thing was the long school coriddors. With the dark walls, I was pretty scared, and everything creaked and groaned. After taking a shower,and finally getting all the river water off of us, we sat down and started thebarbeques. It took a long time, and someone decided it would be a great idea to give me a flame torch and a fan! Pretty scary if you know me! In the end, I ended up fanning the fire, and then once it got going, we proceeded to nom on several kg of meat and veggies. I had sneakily bought marshmallows, and enjoyed teaching people how to roast them on chopsticks after. We did a lot of fun things after dinner, mingling, Josh taught me how to swing dance, I taught him how to jive, I played Dodgeball and even taught some people some soccer skills...and because it was in the middle of nowhere, the party never had to stop!


So we got into our boat and headed out for the best, and possibly scariest experience of my life. We didn't get far, before all the boats huddled and the instructors asked one of us to jump in. For some reason, I volunteered, and threw myself into the water! Oops!But, now I was wet, I was ready for the rapids. And boy were they big. Big and fun. The first one was scary, but after that, they were just lots of fun. We played tons of games in the boat, tipping it, jumping off the sides, and we also got to ride down the rapids on the front of the boat, which was super fun. And a bit scarier with the view! There was a lot of splashing the other boats, and using oars to tug people out of their boats! We ended up in the water alot, spinning the boat while we stood on the edges. We also climbed up a HUGE rock face and jumped into the water. I didn't get scared untill right before I jumped, but it was a great rush! Possibly the best experience of my life!

Getting our kit on!

So we arrived at our meeting point, and the bus was a bit late, so Gavin and I sat in the sun and had some food and ice cream. Eventually the bus arrived, and we all got some food before we got onto the bus and headed for Tokushima. It was a pretty long bus ride, but very fun. There were about 40 of us. Mainly people were from Kobe and Osaka, Kyoto and Nara, and a lot of people had been on these WhyNot?! trips before. So I was very hopeful. We stopped in this beautiful part of the world. I knew Tokushima was rural, but it was unbeievably beautiful. High mountains, a beautiful river valley and green trees. It was so pretty! I fell in love with it at first sight! We had a lovely bento box first. To be honest, it was the best bento I've had in my entire time in Japan. Next, everyone changed into bikinis, and then lined up to get wetsuits. O, boy were the wetsuits tight! But then we suited up with helmets, shoes and lifejackets. The helmets were great, because it had everyones name of them. During the week I had bought a really cool waterproof, shock proof camera, which I clipped to my lifejacket and started taking photos of everyone. It was awesome, getting to act silly in our wetsuits. JoJo, who I think was from Kobe was definitely the ringleader of the group, and had brought along a waterpistol from the Hyaku Yen store. A crazy, but great idea! I love how everyone posed when I took their photos, espeically Josh! Then we seperated ourselves into boats, I joined my lunch group, and then we headed into a bus. Wearing so many clothes was hard, and a bit tight, but ensured we had a lot of laughs! We drove along the mountains untill we came to a rocky beach, unloaded, got some oars, and headed off for a safety talk, about how not to drown....which didn't really make me feel terribly better, but at least I now wouldnt die...

Riding the AnpanMan train!

I stayed Friday night in Takamatsu in Kagawa with Gavin, and the next morning we headed out to meet the WhyNot!? Bus tour which was picking us up and taking us white water rafting. After a few train stops, I had seen an advert for an Anpanman train. I didnt think anything of it, untill, low and behold, our train pulled up and it was emblazened with Anpanman. The seats had him on it, the roof, everything. The outside was especially cool, but the lady at the station had given us a stamp book. Every place that the train stops has a special Anpanman stamp, and even one on the train itself!

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Fun in Omijima

After my crazy Golden week and time in Tokyo, I figured I needed a weekend close to home. So on Friday, I headed over to Nagato. I had dinner with Jamie and Tom, who are the nicest, funniest boys on this planet. Then we met up with Amariah and went to the boy's favourite darts bar. Needless to say, I am terrible at darts...and often hit things with them (but thankfully no people!)It was a pretty late night, and when we got home, Jamie and I stayed up for ages chatting. I love that about him, we can chat about anything! The next morning, after a nice lie in, and then breakfast at Joyful with Jamie and Tom, we headed out to Omijima. It's this little island right near Nagato, and while you can walk to it, it is much easier to drive now that Tom has a car! On the island, they used to do the Leaver's party, because there are little tiny cabins for people to stay. We also saw some people learning to scuba dive there. It's something I really want to do, but I dont think I could manage the instructions only in Japanese! Off the coast of these islands are theses beautiful stone pillars and arches. Then we went down to the beach. It was really rocky, and I went into the small caves, and tried to find heart rocks, and just had a good time. Japanese beaches arent terribly clean, but the sea was very clean!
Then, after watching Jamie, who waded out into the water, and then climbed onto the rocks, I decided I needed to as well! Probably not my smartest idea while carrying my big lovely Canon camera! But, we had a nice, relaxing time just looking at the sea, took some photos, and just enjoyed the warm weather. It was very grey, but hot, so I think I will have to come back and see it when the sea and the sky are blue, and maybe even take a boat tour which goes around all the little islands!

A solar eclipse

Monday was the solar eclipse. It has never happened where I am, anytime it has occured, and this year, I was so lucky as it passed over Tokyo and the southern part of Japan. I worried all night about getting up in time, and then, at 7am, headed out with my Panda themed solar filters (only in Japan can they be cute!) to see this amazing phenomenon. It was pretty cloudy, but I was lucky enough to get a photo of it! Pretty eerie as the world went black!

My lovely Expat life

After shopping in Ginza, we tried to get everything into many many bags (I think I ended up with 6!) and then headed over to Shinagawa to meet the Nobles. Daddy and Jack used to work together years ago, and maybe 4 years ago, Jack and Jeanne took a expat job in Tokyo, and have looked after me since I've been here. They are sadly, so sadly, heading back in June to the UK for good. I haven't seen then so much since I have been here, but it will be quite scary knowing that they aren't there if I need them. Or just want a little. We had a lovely lunch at TY Brewery, overlooking the harbour. It was so nice, especially in the sun. And the place was full of expats, and their families. It reminded me of my life back in the UK, because we have been expats for years. And what my life is like whenever I am in Tokyo. We finished up and walked along the river to the station, where I said goodbye to them. There were lots of tears. And Jeanne is like my Mummy and gave me lots of hugs. I never thought it would be that hard. Or that sad. Because it never is long enough with my family.

What I do best - Shopping in Ginza

On Sunday, Daddy and I spent the entire morning in Ginza. We started out in the Softbank store. On the 2nd floor, they had a Beetle bug. And not any bug, but one decorated like a dog, complete with a tail, and when the top isnt down, they have cool straw looking hat! I thought a) it was amazing that it was on the 2nd floor, and b) it was the cutest beetle bug ever!We spent time in Forever 21, Zara, and Addidas, I really didn't get very far down the street, because I found too many cute things! And Daddy was so lovely, and just waited while I tried on everything! I am so lucky to have a Daddy like him. It was so kind of him to take me shopping. I had forgotten how much I loved Ginza!

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

The Alice cafe

After filling ourselves with lots and lots of steak and baked potatoes and bloomin onion, we headed back to Ginza to try and find the Alice in Wonderfland Cafe. I had seen the photos origionally when Dan and Toni went there in the summer, and a lot of friends have been going to a lot of cool theme cafes.Basically, all the waitresses are dressed like Alice, there are giant teacups, cool card themes, and a Cheshire cat room. Even the food is all Alice and Wonderland themed. We ended up getting amazing cool little cocktails (with special magic sparkles!) and deserts that look like the Catipillar! It was so much fun, I loved it!

Cosmos at The Outback

After our shopping in Ginza, which was so fun (having realised I miss serious shopping trips like that) we met up with my friend Alain who is living in Tokyo. It was nice to get to go to a "home" restuarant, considering that usually, the prices are about 4-6 times more expensive! But we had Cosmos, and steaks, and baked potatoes and a Bloomin Onion. It was too much food, and very rich, but so worth it just for the steak. Real steak!

An afternoon in Venice

The main entrance way to Disney is an exact replica (almost I hear) of some hotels and the Grand Canal in Venice. It was such a lovely sunny day, and we decided to go and sit and watch the gondolas go by. It was a lovely mock up of Venice, not dirty, or smelly, and lovely colours. The buildings were so detailed, and instead of just store fronts, they actually are stores and some hotels and restaurants. The colours were all pinks and yellows and pretty creams. I think it would be pretty cool to stay in the hotel actually in the park. From the windows you could overlook the entire park! What a cool thing to wake up to! We got some yummy gelato and sat under and umbrella and because of the sun, it was just perfect. It was easy to imagine that we were actually in Italy! After, we had exhausted all the rides, and food, so we decided to call it at day (at about 3pm) and head into Ginza for some shopping!

Thursday, 17 May 2012

The most amazing place

At the very top of the castle, hidden away in a little random turret, was the most amazing place. I never expected to see such a random, cool place in the middle of Disney Sea! I walked into this amazing solar system room. I wasn't sure why it was there, but it was so cool. You could rotate each of the planets one at a time, with a set rotation period and axis spin too. What I liked the best was the amazing music and atmosphere in the room. There was beautiful classical music, which kind of reminded me of the Da Vinci Code. And along the walls, there were pencil drawings which looked like they are straight from Da Vinci's notebook. I spent a lot of time wandering around, taking photos and just sitting and listening to the music. I think it is one of those places that just makes me happy. I wish I could have spent time just sitting there, or I wish it was closer, and I could come there to think.

Canons at Disney?

One of the areas I hadnt spent any time in before was the castle area across from the Venitian part. I'm not sure technically, what genre it comes under, because it seemed like an English Castle, but maybe it was connected to the Venitian bit. Either way, there are some cafes, a nice restaurant, a movie about Leonard Da Vinci, and some things for kids to do that take them on a tour of the castle, finding clues. Upstairs, there is a ares where you can try out some of his inventions, like his winged "airplane". Daddy really enjoyed the model ships that you could guide around this giant map room, and sometimes there were high winds or rain to throw you off course! Downstairs there was also a ship tethered to the castle, where you could explore, and the dock area was turned into a water park for little kids. We loved the canons most of all. I thought they were just for looks, but actually you could pull them and it would make a gigantic noise which could be heard all across the bay! We thought it would have been better if they made a big splash in the bay! How crazy is it to be playing in Disney. Usually we are riding rides, but actually getting to go and climb on things, blow things up and make things work was so much more fun! I think my favourite part of any Disney Park I have ever been to was in this part of the park! The theme of the Castle really reminded me of England, when we were kids we got to play in the dungeons and the stocks at castles, or with the court jesters, this was just like that!

Disney Sea with Daddy - Arabia

This is probably my favourite picture of me and Daddy from the weekend he spent here. It was taken in front of the Aladdins Carpet ride (like a Dumbo ride) in the Arabian section of the park. The tiger is one of my favourite characters, and you can buy little plushies of him in the park too! There arent many rides for big kids in this area....actually I can only think of 2 rides, the flying carpets and a huge, multilevel merry go round. The area is so lovely, and actually I think they have Indian food somewhere there, but I never make time to try it. What is fun, is that it reminds me of an idealised Middle Eastern town...but of course without the smell, the crime or the dirt. It is literally spotless, even though they try and rough up the edges a little and make it look worn. There even is a nice little market with pretty saris as awnings, and nice Middle Eastern teas! In the heat, I'm sure you could easily imaging yourself somewhere in a hot, desert country town!

Disney Sea with Daddy - Port Discovery

It wasn't quite warm enough to ride the water bumper cars in the Port Discovery area. It is meant to be an updated version of Tommorowland in Disney, and instead of looking like space-age Jetsons from the 50s, it looks very much like Firefly, with the crazy shapes and silver and gold accents!

Disney Sea with Daddy - Lagoon

My favourite part of Disney is the Mermaid Lagoon which is based on the underwater kingdom in The Little Mermaid. Ariel is everywhere, and everything is shell and water themed. I don't think there are any older kids rides in this part of the park, but Daddy and I found the best part of the park, the popcorn!We found sea salt (but with no butter), black pepper, cranberry, rasberry and milk tea. For each flavour, there is a different bucket which you can get and then refill later on in the park. The Duffy one was adorable and shaped like a picnic basket, but, sadly it was filled with Milk Tea popcorn. In the Lagoon, we found caramel popcorn, undoutably the best, which happened to come in a Spring Voyage bucket, which is the theme that was running at that time. I know that Disneyland was doing Easter shaped ones in the other theme park too. Daddy and I ate a lot of the caramel popcorn, mainly for breakfast and then as a snack throughout the day. The queue however, was astronomical, it had to be 40, or 50 people long! I love the shells and the detail in this part of the park especially, so I got Daddy to take some awesome profile picture worthy photos of me with the swirls of blue, purple and green!

Disney Sea with Daddy - Jungle Time

One of my favourite places in the Disney Park is the Amazon/Safari part which is near the top of the park. Generally, I just walk through this area, because the rides for the lines are so long. But thankfully, it wasn't very busy on the Saturday that Daddy and I went. When Risa and I had visited in December, the queues for everything were two long. In the jungle/safari/amazon area there are two main rollercoasters. Raging Spirits, which is a small rollercoaster. We waited in the single rider, and it was great, but the roller coaster was unbelievably slow! I have never been on such a slow coaster! It was nice and loopy, and there was a 360 degree loop in it too! I guess I should have known that it was slow, because we got to keep our bags on the ride! The other big ride is the Indiana Jones one. I was really excited about this, because it is probably the biggest Movie ride in the park. The queue was quite long, but eventually we got to the front where the ride splits into the single rider queue. It is pretty impressive, and waiting in the line was so cool - waiting in the line is almost as much fun as the actual ride! It was a really cool, in the dark ride where there is CGI, and strobe lights, and things failling and shaking tracks. It was pretty awesome, and I'm very glad we rode it! After the rides, we wandered around the area, looking for different presents in the shops for Ella, who Daddy would be seeing in Australia, and we saw these bird characters outside one of the food stalls. I think they are the Mexican birds from one of the Donald Duck films, and I remember Mummy just loving them, so I took a photo of one with Daddy. I love how in character the person was, strutting around and being so funny!

Disney Sea with Daddy - at the front

When we first arrived at Disney Sea, at an unbearably early time in the morning, everyone was rushing to get their fast pass tickets. And although I wanted to stop and take pictures with Donald and Daisy Duck, I am glad that we went and got our Tower of Terror fast pass tickets. So we had to come back and take a photo with the giant earth in the front of the park that rotates kind of like the one at Universal Studios! Lots of people have commented that Daddy got to have a nice time at Disney while he was on his business trip in Asia!

Disney Sea with Daddy - The center

Coincidentally, the only ride that I had ridden last time, Journey to the Centre of the Earth, wasnt working the day that Daddy and I went, but we did go to that area, (where the giant volcano is) in order to buy me some Minnie Mouse ears. I feel so left out without them. So I picked out these cute, very girly, over the top blue ones to match my jumper!