Thursday, 21 February 2013
Josh got us this amazing cake for Valentines day, from my new favourite ice cream store, Baskin Robbins. In Japan, it's called 31, and it's super popular here. The cake is so amazing and heart shaped, and the bottom flavour was Love Potion #31, filled with hearts with rasberry sauce, and the top was chopped chocolate. Josh and I happen to both love these flavours, so it was perfect for our Valentine's day dessert, after I made heart shaped pasta with a spicy sauce!
One of the things on a website I found, about romantic things to do in Kobe was the Venus Bridge. Up high in the mountains surrounding Kobe, is this circular bridge with a great view. Sadly, we didn't know that we had to buy a lock to put on the bridge, but we did get to see the pretty skyline below us. I'm always suprised how dark Japanese cities are, once you are one or two streets from the main areas. It is dark, eerily dark. We had taken a taxi up there, and couldnt get one to come back, so we walked all the way down these stairs in the middle of the dark! Completely terrifying for me!
Our weekend that we had designated as Valentine's weekend was also the last day of Chinese New Year in Chinatown in Kobe. So off we went. We got Josh's favourite snack, these strange meatballs in an unidentifiable sauce, and wandered around the shops. I came across this cute little pig, and loved it immediately. The whole store inside was full of pigs! We stayed til it got dark and I could take some photos and we could see the lion dance!
We picked going to a movie as our Valentine's Day date, and luckily, the newest Die Hard 4 movie had come out in Japan on the exact same day that it did in America. So we went into Osaka to see it, and they had huge tubs of popcorn. They had buckets where you could get half salted popcorn and half caramel popcorn, so it was great, as I enjoy a mix and always have a hard time deciding!
Thursday, 14 February 2013
After we shopped, we headed home on the long train to Tamakomai, to pack and prepare for our early morning flight. I think we had to be out the door by 6am, which was hard, as it was still dark and insanely cold! Luckily, we weren't too far from the airport, and many people were headed home. I snapped a photo of the temperature in the morning while we were waiting for the train! Probably the coldest I've ever been and stayed outside! In America it maybe gets this cold, but no one ever is outside! We headed to the airport, and luckily, we were all flying out within a 20 minute period, all on different planes. When we arrived back in Osaka, I collected Josh from his plane, and we headed in town to get some Paul Bread and do some shopping!
I love Sapporo Station. It's built like Hakata station in Fukuoka, but it's bigger and better, nd has lots of great stores. In the past, I've spent lots of time there with Mummy and Mikaly, shopping and admiring things in the Cath Kidston store and such. This time, I didn't really get to shop much, but we did g to Bic Camera, which was nice. I think the best thing, was knowing my way around the place, I always know where the Starbucks are!
it was getting super cold and so we needed to go inside. Our plans for ice skating fell through, but instead, we decided to go sing for a while. I love karaoke, and will miss is so much when I go home! I love singing (badly) and so I'm glad the boys don't mind! I was only 75 yen for an hour, and the coolest thing was our amazing room, which looked normal until the lights went out, and there were UV dolphins floating around in space with planets and music notes!
Wednesday, 13 February 2013
After filling ourselves with tons of lamb, and veggies, we headed into Susukino to see the ice scultpures! They were beautiful, and very busy! I actually find the ice sculptures much more interesting, as they are so insanely detailed, and last year, I got to see them working with little ice picks and chain saws last year, in the weeks up to the festival. We enjoyed the ice festival, and it was super cold, but really interesting! I especially enjoyed getting to hold the ice heart saying Sapporo on it! It was definitely something we definitely didnt do last time!
We ate a ton of meat, especially because it was all you can eat. It was good for David because he got to try some of their beer too.I really enjoyed the atmosphere in the giant hall too. We then went outside, and took some photos in a little bit of a snow blizzard, before we discovered the Beer Museum located right next door. It had some interesting things in it, but I mostly loved the cute Sapporo Beer stools, which Josh and I posed on! I love that we both wanted to pose on them! We probably looked really silly but were having a great time!
Sunday, 10 February 2013
The boys missed out on their reservation at the Sapporo Beer Factory, where you can get Ghenkis Khan, a type of yaki-niku but with lots of veggies and lamb meet instead of beef. We had a easy trip there, after we got dropped off from the snowmobiling. We ate in this huge hall, and really enjoyed the food, even with the waitress trying to teach us how to do it correctly! I'm pretty sure we will never get the smell of meat out of us ever!
Saturday, 9 February 2013
I personally felt I really had to concentrate while snowmobiling...I'm not so adept at it, not like the boys, and after turning my snowmobile once, I was a little nervous. So I really appreciated the breaks we had in between. We didn't stop first until we reached the top of this mountain. It was an unbelievable view and you could see all of Sapporo from this mountain. There was a sign saying we were 600meters up or something like that. The snow was really deep and really soft, so we pushed each other around, and threw ourselves into the snow. Later, we got off the snowmobiles in a flat area, which the boys raced their snowmobiles around on. I instead, insisted on jumping pictures. It was hard to jump in the snow, but my adventure camera I think did really well! I was happy I could get some pictures of our adventures! It was such a great experience and I will definitely be doing it again!
I had done Yuki Matsuri, last year, and so knew what to expect. Josh and I had both done it, so we decided to do something a little different than what everyone else does. We got up really early to head into the city to be picked up to go snowmobiling. The boys got hillarious outfits, and I got a snazzy one. I was a little nervous about snowmobiling, and was a little slow at the beginning. I got much better near the end, and only turned my snowmobile once. We went really high into the hills, and it was unbelievably beautiful! We also went to a really nice area where the boys could go crazy on their snowmobiles.I loved the snowmobile, and being out in the snow. It was a great experience!
Friday, 8 February 2013
The next morning, we had to get up super early! I had packed in a bit of a rush, so hoped that I had enough warm clothes. Thankfully I did, and I was only briefly cold. I was really happy to get to wear my big white coat, and my cute hat and scarf which Mummy had brought me last year when she visited me up in Hokkaido. They were perfect for the weather! It was so cold when I was taking this photo, while waiting for the taxi in the morning!
Thursday, 7 February 2013
Last weekend, we were still having trouble deciding what to do for the long weekend. It was coming up fast and it was looking like we would have nowhere to go. Suddenly, Josh decides to book a flight to Sapporo for the Yuki, or snow festival. I couldn't book until we found somewhere to stay....that was definitely the hard part! But eventually Josh, David and I all had a flight and a room. The boys arrived the night before, and then on Saturday, after a night with Lonna on Friday, I joined them. It was so nice to be back in Sapporo. I love knowing my way around and just, feeling comfortable there. The first thing we did was go and see all the snow sculptures in Odori park. Quite a lot of them were the same as last year, but some of the larger ones were even better than last year! After, we had lunch at my favourite fondue restaurant, and then got to meet up with Mikaly and Anna for a great coffee. I had missed Mikaly so much, and since our trip was so short, I was glad that I got to see him!
Wednesday, 6 February 2013
Ever since I came to Japan, I've been wanting to go to these pretty triangular shaped old farm houses in a place called Shirakawa. It's a little tiny village in the Gifu countryside. I never had any time to go, nor anyone to go with. Plus, I wanted to see them all covered in snow. I know that it is quite remote and difficult to get to. What's worse, is these places aren't very easy to find information on how to get there. So, I resigned myself to the fact that I probably couldnt go. But Josh mentioned seeing one in Osaka, and upon further Searching n the Internet, there was a whole museum dedicated to these old fashioned Japanese farm houses. Off we went, dragging my heavy suitcase, to this open air museum in a huge, random park. There were traditional houses from all over Japan, it was great. And best of all was the one reassembled after it was moved down from Shirakawa.
the festival which they were preparing for was the one where the set Nara on fire, literally. They burn the grass leftover on the hills, so all the hills are set alight. I think they also burn the kanji for fire somewhere into the mountain side too. So we climbed up the hill so we were really close to the fire. Then, they set off a nice firework display. And of course, it was long and set to music. Then, they waited a little and set the grass on fire. It took a few minutes for it to catch, but once it did, it really spread fast. I got up right near t the barrier and you could feel the heat of it!
I was getting a little homesick in Yamaguchi, so I knew a trip to see Josh up in Nara was in order. S off I went. On Saturday, he went to a CPR class and I headed into the city to meet our friend Sophia. It was really fun. We started the day with a very hot and spicy lunch of a Vietnamese place, and then we wandered around Nara Park. She took me to a really nice temple by Todaiji, which was up a hill. It had beautiful lanterns and bells, and when you turned around from the main temple, you could see the whole city of Nara. It was really pretty there. Near to that temple, there was this adorable baby deer. I see the deer a lot, but this one was adorable! It seemed to me that there were an awful lot of super cute baby deer out and about! we walked back through the park, spotting baby deer everywhere. The park was setting up for the festival later that night, so we went through Nara Old Town, looking at the different mascots of Nara, and even discovering a vending machine disguised to look like an old building! Then, we grabbed some yummy foreign chocolate bars and met Josh after his class and his haircut.
we had lunch at the Red Lobster, which was right next t the aquarium, but sadly, they were out of biscuits that day. It was pret heartbreaking! Then we wandered over to the pier, and looked at the giant ship which was part of Japan's first ever trip to the Arctic. It's a big icebreaker ship. We didn't go on, as it was expensive, but we did hide in this little orange vehicle, used for roaming around on the ice. It's open for the public nd was great to hide from the wind.
the next morning, we got up relatively early, got breakfast and tried to find some things to do in Nagoya. I hadnt been to the aquarium, so we agreed to go there. The aquarium had much larger animals than some of the others in Japan. They had beluga whales, lots and lots of dolphins, whales and all sorts. I really enjoyed watching the dolphins. They have an area where you can sit on this nice soft carpeting, where you can just watch the dolphins swim around this gigantic tank. And often, they swam upside down.
I honestly thought, after the light tunnels that the illuminations were done. But we rounded yet another corner, and came smack up against a huge, huge led display. It looked like a giant board, but it wasn't, it was a bunch of lights placed on a hill, so that when viewed from the front, they looked flat. And it was simply amazing. They made it appeal like crashing waves, and sunrise over Mt Fuji. We didn't have much time, but from what we did watch, it was amazing. And it is also the only time Josh has ever told me to put the camera down and just watch- because it really was so amazing!
We really went to Nagashima for the illuminations which we saw on the internet. It required a little bus ride, and we arrived. At the beginning, the lights weren't so great. We were thinking maybe we weren't Going to see many lights, so we followed the path along, until suddenly there was this huge bright light. It was amazing, and so bright it was startling. Inside, it was full of people, oohing and aching, because it was so pretty. I loved all the white lights. The lights were strung so close together that you couldn't even see through them. the white light tunnel went on for a really long time, until it ended. I was sad to see it go, and we headed home towards the bus. But on our way, we discovered another tunnel. This time meant to look like cherry blossoms. It was pink and white lights, strung with little white paper like leaves. The impression was much darker inside, but it was lovely and pink, so I couldn't help loving it!
Tuesday, 5 February 2013
A few months ago, I had seen a photo of an amazing light tunnel in Japan on the Internet. The article said it was on some island, and I didn't think anything of it until much later. When we found out that some Nara JETs were organising a trip there, we knew we needed to go. The illuminations are actually right next to Nagashima Spa Land which is a giant Onsen resort and a theme park. The theme park is a nice size, and with big rides. Record holding rides. However, the rest of it looks a little like a state fair ground, so it was kind of weird. I loved all the big rides, and given that it was the middle of Januart,pay, it was completely empty, so very rarely did we have to wait in line very long!
Monday, 4 February 2013
We love illuminations, and in most Western countries, we turn off and take the lights down in January. In Japan, however, lights are up until January, or March. The Tennoji Zoo, which is a small zoo in Osaka city, had lights on, and it was the very last night. So of course, down we went. They had a beautiful multicoloured light tunnel, but the best photos we took, weren't of the giant lit giraffe, or the different glow in the dark penguins, but were instead these cool shots, in front of a wall covered in lights. We set the camera on the wall, and took lots of these funny shots!We were there right before it closed, so it was nice and empty, and perfect for silly shots!
It wasn't long before I was back in Fukuoka, in a hotel and heading home to Hagi the next morning. I was shattered, and slept lots. But once work started, I got a little homesick, and I headed north to see Josh. It would be our first time since we had been engaged to just spend time together alone. As usual, we went to Nara Park and fed the deer. They were a little scary, as they hadn't been fed, and chased us a little, as well as making odd, horror movie type calls!
I always cry like a baby when I have to leave America. Usually loudly, and in a public place like an airport. The day before I left, Mummy, Daddy and Shelby left to go home to England. Well, I think they were all on different planes, but either way, they were headed away. I was so sad, especially because I never get to see Shelby. Daddy and Mummy have both been twice to visit me in Japan, but Shelby has only been able to visit once. I miss her so badly. Papa took these really nice photos of our family in front of Grandma's amazingly beauiful Christmas tree. I love that tree so much. It takes her a lot of work, and next year, she bought a new Christmas tree to use. So now we have a memory of us all together and that tree at Christmas in 2012.