Wednesday, December 5, 2012

The Return!!

Gee, it's been a while, but it feels good to step foot into Japan once more. I got in from my 17 hour flight, but then I needed to drive another 5 hours to get to my residence! The food here is delicious, and I'm not even one for seafood. This is probably the last time I'll visit, so I'm going to need to make it a memorable one. I may revisit the places I've visited before, or I may visit completely new places. Japan is a place where you could wander aimlessly for days and still be entertained by its vast culture. I'm staying in a small fishing village on Shikoku for now. The fishermen are all so gracious and kind. It's a big change from Canada. Everyone in Canada is so suburban, and wrapped up in their own work and lives, meanwhile everyone in this small village in Shikoku knows each other.We eat sushi and sashimi daily. It's cool to think that there are hundreds of villages like this in all of Japan. It all makes me extremely excited to revisit the rest of Japan. I remember fondly my stomach dropping at the steep start of the Jet Coaster at the Uminonakamichi. Tears are sprouting in my eyes as I'm writing this, yes I know it was only two years ago, and yes I know I'm just about to revisit it, I just love this place so much, and I've missed it. Veraj might be hopping along with us midway through the trip as well, after we travel through Shikoku and Kyushu. Stay tuned!

Friday, July 9, 2010


So in nine days we visited Japan. We visited all four islands, visited Tokyo, went to two temples, went on the bullet train, went to a museum, and went on one of the world's biggest ferris wheel! This will be a trip I will never forget, and will have the rights to be able to brag to my friends.
P.S Can the viewers please comment on our blog. Thanx

Thank you for letting us share our trip with you and for reading our blog.

Last Day :(

Today is the last day of our trip to Japan. Last night we had barely anything to eat, so we were both very hungry. We went to a Japanese restaurant. At the restaurant we discovered that crab, scallops, and salmon are local specialities. Michael ate Genghis Khan, a lamb barbecue named after the great Mongolian warrior. This dish has many original sauces in which the lamb is either marinated or dipped after grilling. At the restaurant I ate Ramen. Ramen is popular noodles in Japan, among different kinds of soups for Ramen, “miso” soup is originally from Sapporo, making “Sapporo Miso Ramen” famous all over Japan. Then I had Jingisukan. Jingisukan is one of the local specialties in Hokkaido; it is barbecued mutton or lamb. At home or outdoors, this barbecue is so popular among Hokkaido people. Michael and I a bit more but we didn't eat dessert. We went back to the hotel and ate the Mizar lobby lounge. There is a small fireplace, and at the Mizar they serve coffee, fresh juice, cake, and chocolate are readily available morning to night. We both ate our dessert there. It was so delicious... I wish they had something like this back in Ottawa. There on the streets the clothing was a bit less modern and was almost completely free of any formality whatsoever.

This was the cake we ate.

(By MikeyA-S) After we left the Mizar lobby lounge it was about 1:00. Our flight to Vancouver was at 7:00 so we still had about 5 hours left before we headed to the airport, and we wanted to make the most of our day, so we visited the Sapporo Beer Museum. The Sapporo beer museum was originally a brewery. The brewery opened in 1890, 120 years ago by the Sapporo Sugar Company. The beer museum kept on brewing beer up until 1965. After 22 years it finally changed into a museum in 1987. The museum has three floors, and all tours are open and free to the public. Take it from someone who has done it, the tour is great! The guide was really nice. He seemed like he really enjoyed his job as a tour guide in a beer museum.
By the time we had come out of the beer museum it was 5:00! Only one hour left before we needed to leave for the airport :(. There wasn't anything that Veraj or I could think of that was both fun, and could be done in an hour, so we decided to just pack up and go to the airport. This is part of a trip is always sad, no matter how good the rest of trip is.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Landing in Sapporo

After we climbed down Mt. Fuji we drank a lot of green tea. The green tasted great and got us warm from the bitter coldness. Then we got a taxi to the train station. We went on the bullet train back to Tokyo. There we got our stuff and went to the airport. There we boarded our flight to Sapporo. It was a 1 and a half long flight. When we arrived we put on hoodies because the temperature outside was a bit colder than Tokyo. It was about 20 degrees Celsius. Something I noticed that it was getting colder the higher we went in Japan. In Sapporo the hotel we stayed in was the Sapporo Grand Hotel. We checked in the hotel and went to our rooms. I watched TV and a program I watched is a show called All Star.
(This video is way better with sound.)

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Going to Mount Fuji on the Bullet Train

The next day we woke up we decided to go on the bullet train and then go to Mt. Fuji. But before that we would go to eat something and see some homes. For a fact did you know that the staple diet of the local inhabitants of Tokyo is rice, sushi, fresh fish, tofu and tempura? At the restaurant we ate some popular traditionall dishes, like Sushi, Unagi, Kenchin Vegetable Soup, and Seaweed and Potato Patties. My favourite dish was the Sushi, and Seaweed and Potato Patties. After we were both full we went to see the difference of houses from the south of Japan compared to mid-Japan. The houses that we saw were called shinden-zukuri. This type of house, stood in the midst of a large garden, and its rooms were connected with long hallways. This feature allowed people to enjoy seasonal events and the beauty of nature. Michael and I agreed that if we ever stayed in Japan we would get a home like this.

A few hours later...
We looked on the Internet and bought tickets for both of us. A ride for the two of us was 27,210 yen ($399). We both did a bit of research on the bullet train. Did you know that there are about 151,320,000 annual passengers on the bullet train? The bullet train also is known as the Shinkansen. Japan train travel offers the fastest point to point service of any rail line in the world. The history of the bullet train is cool. First in the 1930's there was a talk of building a new train line specifically for rapid transport between major cities. But, because of World War 2 the Japanese government delayed plans. It wasn't until after World War 2 that Japan began to think about restarting work on the Shinkansen. The approval was given in the late 1950's. In 2011 a new series of bullet train able to reach speeds of 320 km/h (200 mph). Beyond new conventional trains, Japan Railways is interested in moving to Maglev trains. Maglevs are quieter than conventional track lines and can move at extremely high speeds safely. Knowing all of this amazing, and cool information I couldn't wait till we went on the bullet train.

We printed our tickets and checked out of the hotel and waited for a taxi. When the taxi came we put all of our stuff in and went to the train station. At first when Michael and I entered the train station we were surprised by the amount of people inside. There
was barely enough space to walk. Luckily the signs were translated into English and didn't lose our way through the crowd. When we got to the platform we were 5 minutes early.
But the train was a bit ahead of time (because it is the bullet train, no wonder). When we boarded the train, it looked a lot like an aircraft. But the windows were bigger and there was way more leg room. Inside the seats were a dark blue and the wall was a beige colour. About 5 minutes after we boarded the train started to move. It felt slow, but when we checked the speedometer at the front of car it said 250 km/h. If you look outside it looked so amazing because of all the building zooming past us. Then the conductor asked for our tickets. Michael took the tickets and gave it to him. He scanned the ticket and gave it back. About halfway through the ride a host came and gave us drinks. It was a long ride to Mt. Fuji.

We decided to climb Mt. Fuji, not all of it, but at least 1000 meters. Enough to tell people climbed that we climbed Mt. Fuji, the tallest mountain in Japan. What we didn't know, was that there were 4 routes. So we needed to randomly choose a route. We went up the Kawaguchiko route. At the Kawaguchiko 5th station (the starting point) we bought some hiking sticks. It was tough, but there were some stops along the way where we could go to the washroom. Also there was someone outside each station with a branding iron who would burn an insignia on your hiking stick for small price as proof that you reached that station. In total, it took us a total of 2 hours to reach about 1000 meters, and 1 hour to get back down. Climbing part of Mt. Fuji was one of the best experiences of my life.
(The video is better with sound).

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Landing in Tokyo

Today Veraj and I flew to Tokyo, the capital city of Japan, Tokyo. Veraj and I played our PSPs on the flight. We landed at around 11:30pm. The Hotel we're staying at is called the Grand Palace. When we got in both Veraj and I were hungry from racing in Gran Turismo, so we decided to go to the restaurant inside the hotel to get lunch. There were 5 different restaurants within the hotel. Both Veraj and I wanted to try sushi, it was great! I had California rolls, deep-fried dumplings, lemon chicken, teriyaki beef, and red bean ice cream for dessert. Veraj had Yummy rolls, lemon chicken, teriyaki beef, deep-fried dumplings, and mango ice cream for dessert.

When we went outside to go buy some souvenirs for our family, we started sweating, it was 26 degrees Celsius. I decided to buy wood print blocks for myself, Japanese candy for my brother, a kimono for my mom, a men's kimono for my dad, and a squeaky toy for my dog. Veraj decide to buy a men's kimono for his dad, a kimono for his mom and a how-to book on origami for himself. The man in the kimono shop was really nice; he helped us pick out the kimonos for our parents. He seemed to be curious about why Canadian kids were in a kimono shop in Tokyo. He also seemed to be happy that we had studied about Japan over in Canada. It was fun looking around for souvenirs for our families.

It had taken us almost the entire day to go shopping for souvenirs, so we decided to pack in for the night and go back to the hotel and race some more on our PSPs, it is now 10:00 and we're about to go to sleep.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Visiting a temple in Shikoku

Today we visited a temple in Shikoku. Veraj and I wanted to see how these temples are different from the ones we visited in Fukuoka. There are 88 different major temples on the island of Shikoku, we visited Zentsu-ji.

While visiting Zentsuji, the tour guide told us of a pilgrimage. People set out on a pilgrimage of all 88 temples in Shikoku. This pilgrimage has been around for about 1200 years! About 100,000 people make this pilgrimage yearly! Modern people usually set out by bus, however there are still few people that set out by feet. It must be hard for those who set out on feet, because the journey would take at least 6 weeks!

We also learned that traveling throughout the island of Shikoku can be extremely safe. There are people who help out pilgrims on their journey by giving small gifts, it is necessary for pilgrims to accept these gifts. These people recognize the pilgrims by their traditional henro robes. There are also small roadside inns that are meant to give shelter to pilgrims.

The pilgrimage should actually be called - the 88 temple pilgrimage plus one temple you visit again after you finish the actual pilgrimage - because when pilgrims finish the pilgrimage they actually return to the first temple. After you go back to the first temple you go to Mount Koya and give your thanks to Kobo Daishi.

During the visit Veraj and I learned a little bit about the temple. First of all, Zentsuji is the biggest temple in Shikoku, it has a total of 1,386 steps to the top. This temple was actually said to be the home of Kobo Daishi as he was growing up.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Going to Tokushima

At the airport we did a security check and then went to our gate. We sat there and played our PSPs for about two hours because the flight was delayed. When boarded the flight we sat in business class. When we landed we got a taxi and went to a hotel called Hotel Sun Route. While we were in the taxi I saw people outside wearing was a little more formal than Fukuoka. I even saw some people wearing a kimono. When we got out of the taxi at the hotel I bumped in to a stranger. He was an old man, and he was about 75 years old. I say sorry he said it was okay. He said that he was going to his house. I thought that the Japanese man was very respectful and nice.

Then after that Michael and I went inside the hotel and went to the check in counter. After we got our room numbers and went in separate rooms. Since I was in a separate room I didn't know what Michael was doing. I checked the time and it was 4:36 PM. We decided that we would go shopping for video games. We bought tons of new video games like Gran Turismo, and Black Ops. We played the video games for a long time. So then we ate dinner and now we are going to sleep.

This is the hotel we stayed in.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

The Sky Dream and the Uminonakamichi

Today in Fukuoka Veraj and I decided to visit the Sky Dream and the Uminonakamichi. When we were entering the ride, a security guard stopped us and told us that we needed to pay. The price was 500 ¥ per person. As we were inside the Sky Dream Veraj pointed out that most of the older people in other carts were wearing clothes unlike the ones we wore in North America. They were wearing more traditional clothes than most of the younger people, who wore clothes that were alike North American clothes. I also saw a lot of people eating squid, some people eating shrimp, and raw fish. Some people had sushi rolls in their mouths. I personally, am scared of heights, but I loved being at the top of the ferris wheel. All in all, the Sky Wheel was a great experience.

After we left the Sky Dream we went to the Uminonakamichi. When we got there we barely saw anyone, so the lines on the rides were pretty much empty. We started with a roller coaster called the "Jet Coaster" it is a pretty good roller coaster with a very steep drop at the start. The drop took both Veraj and I by surprise. There was an obstacle course that looked fairly easy, but when you actually tried to do the course, let's just say that it wasn't easy. I almost fell in the water on the tire swings, and there was some freaky stuff growing in the bottom of the water.

(By vparuthi)It was a long ride back from Uminonakamichi. While riding back to the hosts' house they told things about themselves. First, Tokoshima told us that she was 47 years old and that when she was young she went to a private school. The private school that she went is now demolished. She told me that her son was in Tokyo working as a sarariman and he was 21 years old. He went to a boarding school in Sapporo.

This is the Sky Dream.

Friday, July 2, 2010

A Japanese temple and more

In the morning I woke up at 9:00 am. Then I went to the kitchen where one of our hosts named Tokoshima told us that today Michael and I would go visit the Fukuoka, Japan temple. We got their by car. While driving, our hosts told us some facts about the temple. The temple was not very old, it was made on May 7, 1998. At its time it was the second temple built in Fukuoka.

Today the temple was open for public tours for free. From the outside I could see a golden statue on the top of the tallest tower. When you stared at it, it gave a bright yellow gleam of the sun. The hosts told me that that statue was made out of real gold! There we were able to see the celestial room, two ordinance rooms, two sealing rooms and baptistery, and were able to learn more about Mormon beliefs. Inside they have regular services of, teachings, meditation, and chanting. First we had teaching and then we went and sat outside to do some meditation. Michael and I did it for about 20 minutes. After the peaceful and silent meditation we went inside, but we did not know how to speak Japanese so we just stood there silently. After that we went outside to the car and left the temple in silence.
This is the Fukuoka Japan temple.

 After the visit to the Fukuoka Japan temple we went to see some old houses. First we went to a large house, once owned by an emperor in 1710.When we first entered we had to take our shoes off in the genkan. The genkan includes a small area, at the same level as the outside, where people arriving remove their shoes. As they take off their shoes, people step up onto a raised floor. After the tour guide telling us what a genkan was we moved on to the next room. We went inside the actual home and the walls were painted in a soft beige color. You could still smell the wood. Then we went through a long hallway with beautiful Japanese paintings.

Then we arrived at the dining room. There was a long table with about 16 tatami mats on the floor. The wooden table had been buffed and polished. In the right hand corner I saw the tokonoma. It was a big space in the wall and was in a shape of a rectangle. Inside of it were an impressive flower arrangement and a scroll. The tour guide said that if you opened the whole scroll it would be 1.5 m long. After that the tour guide took us to the tatami room. It was not a very big room. There was probably enough space for 8 people. Then we saw the kitchen, which was huge. The kitchen had all these big stir fry pans, different types of knives, wooden containers to keep the fish in, and some rice cookers. That was all we saw there, then we went to a modern house.

When we entered the house, we were amazed. Everything was really big. The modern Japanese kitchen features appliances such as stove, a narrow fish grill, and an electric fridge. The stove top may be built-in or may be a self-contained unit on a counter-top, and it is usually gas-burning. Common units of all types of stoves include two or three burners. Broilers designed for cooking fish are usually part of the stove and are located below. Then we saw the rest of the house.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Landing in Japan

This is the Sky Dream in Fukuoka.
Ah... it feels great to finally rest after a total of 17 hours of flight time in one day. It is summer break and Veraj and I are on trip to Japan for two weeks. We started in Ottawa, Ontario and flew to Prince Rupert, BC. From Prince Rupert we flew to Fukuoka, the capital city of Kyushu. We were welcomed by the pleasant smiles of our hosts. As soon as I walked outside I stared at Fukuoka, it was bustling with people. But what surprised Veraj and I the most, was how many plants there were. No wonder it was voted 14th in the world's most liveable cities. Outside the temperature was about 25 degrees Celsius and it was very humid.
As our hosts drove us back we stared out the window of their car looking at landmarks and buildings. Some of the ones we saw were Sky Dream Fukuoka, one of the world's largest ferris wheels it was at least 100 meters high! In Canada Veraj had heard about it and wanted to go on it because you could also eat inside of it! Veraj and I made a note to go on it later. We saw Uminonakamichi, a seaside park that has an amusement park, an obstacle course, gardens, beaches, an aquarium and even a hotel!
Veraj and I just got to our hosts house. So far, our hosts have been very nice, they have asked us if we would like a snack or if we would like some tea. They have made us feel very welcome. We are very tired and are about to go to sleep. It is 10:30.