Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Tokyo Disneyland and Disney Sea

Day number two we woke up early and headed to Tokyo Disneyland! It was so fun! Being Christmas Day, it was packed!

It was beautifully decorated for Christmas.

This year Tokyo Disney was celebrating its 25th anniversary, so it was more special and there were 25's on everything!

We have been to Disneyland in California, so it was quite an experience getting on the same rides, but in Japanese! Luckily, John had been to Disney several times growing up, so he had most of the rides memorized and could let me know what was going on! Ha ha!

As you probably know, the Japanese have a very different style than we do in the States. I couldn't help but get a quick picture of this couple dressed in their, uh, family friendly attire.

I had to take a picture of this guy too, for obvious reasons! I still don't quite get why he was wearing it. Hmm...

John hates the Teacups, and I had never been on them, so with a little begging, he agreed to go and took a video. Beware, you may get a little nauseous watching it, but its funny!
I had the chance to meet Mary Poppins and got to see many other characters.

Many of the "A-list" characters were mobbed and had huge lines to take pictures, so I just took a few pictures of my favorites with random children!
Later in the evening, we had some time to kill, so we decided to walk over to the brand new Tokyo Disneyland Hotel. It was opened this summer and was quite stunning.

We had Christmas dinner inside at their buffet restaurant. It was pretty expensive, but it was so much better than standing 30 minutes in line for a funky hot dog and the food was pretty darn good.

At the end of the evening, they had an electrical lights parade. I only got a few pictures, but it was pretty cool!
The next day we hopped on our bus and went to Disney Sea. Disney Sea is not like Sea World, but more of an amusement park. The rides were geared towards a little older crowd with more roller coasters and fast rides.

Here is a short video looking towards the entrance of Disney Sea. Don't mind my dorkiness...

Our favorite ride was the Tower of Terror! We rode this once at Disney California Adventure and loved it.

At the very front of the park, there is a huge globe and at night it is lit up beautifully.

This park was probably our favorite of the two. The architecture was amazing and it was like nothing we had ever seen before!

Stay tuned for the last installment of our 3 part Tokyo series!

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Tokyo part 1

Christmas Eve we hopped a plane and flew 2 hours north to Tokyo! I haven't been off of this little island since we arrived 5 months ago, so I was certainly ready for a vacation! There is a travel agency on base and they put together all sorts of tours to wonderful places around here, so since we couldn't be home for Christmas, we decided to take a little trip. We did ALOT of things while there, so I think I will make this a 3 part series!
First of all I have to make a comment about the toilets in the airport! For one, they are heated, not too hot, but the perfect temperature, then if you wish, there are quite a few options for you in your short stay in the stall, to include a button for music-y flushing if you need a little extra privacy! Ha ha! John will probably kill me for writing about this, but I am still fascinated!
OK, moving on...we had an early flight, so we wound up arriving at our hotel around noon, giving us the rest of the day as a free day. So off we went to the Imperial Palace (the home of the Emperor).
The subway system there is great. It looks overwhelming when you see a map, but everything is clearly marked (and also in English) so we mastered it in no time! In front of the Palace, there are huge gardens that you can tour.
After we went through the gardens, we stumbled upon the National Museum of Modern Art Tokyo and had a quick look!
We hustled back to the hotel to meet the tour leader and one other couple who wanted to go eat sushi. The sushi restaurant that we went to was in Shibuya, a very touristy area that looked a lot like Times Square in New York City! I have never seen so many people in my life!
We had an opportunity to cross arguably the world's largest intersection. Here in Japan, at a large intersection, all of the cars get a red light and the people cross at the same time. At this particular one, it wasn't just crossing four corners, or even diagonal, this was madness. When you walked across the street, there were people coming from you from every way! There is really no way to explain, I can only show you. I took this video from youtube and it best exemplifies the insanity! Check it out: http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=OGgfT4TG_k0
Now on to the sushi. This place is apparently one of the best so we had to wait a while in line to get in at 5 o'clock! This is what we got. We had no idea these rolls would be so huge! I seriously have never seen anything like it! They were really good!
So after stuffing ourselves silly we still had a little room to get a drink at the world's largest Starbucks! We had to just to say we did! We walked to the second floor of the Starbucks and watched the craziness of the city below. Afterwards, we headed back to the hotel to get a good nights sleep for Tokyo Disneyland in the morning...

Monday, December 22, 2008

Garlic Breath

Ok, I am very sorry it has taken so long to post a blog, but I have simply been lazy about writing them. There have been blog-worthy events, so I guess I better get on the ball!
Last weekend we headed out to a local favorite restaurant with some friends. Now actually, I mean a favorite of the Americans here, you probably won't see many Japanese because we have made it such a touristy spot! It is called Arin Krin, but it is better known as "The Garlic Restaurant". Pretty much everything on the menu has garlic in it. Luckily, I am a fan of garlic, so off we went with our friends Matt and Laura.

I have never seen so many garlic dishes in my life! I didn't even know they existed! From garlic pizza to fried garlic, they had it all (and we were sure to bring some mints for afterwards!) Matt and Laura are long time veterans of this place so they were able to give some good suggestions.
The plates are pretty small, so we each ordered 2 or 3 things and passed them around. Here is just a little bit of the aftermath. I couldn't even get all of the plates in the picture and I didn't feel like embarrassing everyone by standing on the table, so just add a few things to this picture! The garlic bread was amazing, as well as the pizza. We had spicy garlic fries, garlic beef, shrimp, and well, you get the picture.
Here we are in front of the worlds largest painting of a bulb of garlic!
Right down the street is our favorite ice cream place "Big Dip". So we walked off a little of our full bellies and headed down the road to stuff them some more. As you can see, we had a bit of fun with the ice cream cut outs! I have a feeling these pictures might wind up at John's office one day!
On the way back to the parking lot, we saw a sign letting us know we probably shouldn't have parked there. Oh well, it is nearly impossible to find parking anywhere on this teeny tiny island. Now, I have no idea who gets chosen to translate signs over here, but this guy needs to take a few spelling lessons. This is by far the worst one I have seen since we have been here!

So that was our fun little night. Once again, sorry for not posting more, I PROMISE I will try harder! We leave for Tokyo in one day, so I will certainly be posting lots of pictures from our trip!

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Out and about

I am a member of the Marine Officers Spouses Club here on Okinawa and each month there is an event generally involving lunch and going somewhere fun. All of the profits made from each event goes to a local charity. These people are serious about their charities. Last year they gave over one million dollars to local women and childrens charities.
This month we went to the Botanical Gardens and had a few Japanese ladies teach us how to make a traditional Japanese flower arrangement.

Here is a picture of my friend Rebecca and I with the finished product. Not too bad, huh?! I wasn't a huge fan of the pink basket, but what can you do?

I didn't have a chance to walk through the entire garden, but it was pretty big. They had a really nice restaurant there where they have a buffet lunch every weekday. We had a long table set up on the back porch of the restaurant. It looked out over a beautiful green area.

Lunch was, uh, interesting. It was buffet and so you could try everything. Unfortunately I did just that. I had some sort of tofu flavored, jello like, soupy thing; some questionable chicken (well I think it was chicken); the salad was strange, but the rice was good! You can't really go wrong with fried rice, right? Haha, it was certainly a different eating experience!

On the way out I noticed some painted bulls/cows in the bushes and of course a surfing cow. Why not? This is Japan, the land of randomness! All in all it was a nice little outing, especially getting the chance to see something new. They have a huge light display set up for Christmas that is supposed to be spectacular. Hopefully we will have a chance to get out and see it!

Friday, November 28, 2008

The day after Thanksgiving

I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving! We went to a friend's house and has the whole she-bang with a few of John's co-workers and their families. Its always hard to be away from family during these times, but at least we are not here forever!
The day after we stuffed ourselves silly was a bit of a lazy day. We slept in and then I got a little shopping in. Of course the shopping here is nothing compared to the "Black Friday" extravaganza in the States. Later that evening, we decided to go on our weekly date and try out a new restaurant. We went to an authentic Okinawan restaurant and it was fabulous! The Japanese eat late here, so it is great going to places a little earlier because you get prime spots! We had our own little room with sliding doors that were shut while we were eating, it was so fun! We had a little sushi, some amazing noodle stir fry, shrimp tempura, tuna and avocado salad and of course some hot tea!

I tried to get a picture of the inside, but it was difficult since the room was so small. Check out my good looking (and quite skinny) husband!

We decided to take a little stroll after dinner. We were in "American Village", a touristy area, so the Christmas lights were up and there was plenty to see! Hopefully you remember seeing this ferris wheel from an earlier blog.

We heard a band playing down the street and decided to check them out. It was a local Japanese brass band performing on the street. They were pretty darn good, so I had to take a video. I couldn't get my camera out in time to record them singing "When the Saints Go Marching In", but I got a little bit of them playing it. I added another video on you tube because it was too big to add on here. The videos are both a little dark, but these guys are great!
So now that Thanksgiving is over, its time to start thinking about Christmas! My favorite part of getting into the Christmas spirit is putting up the tree! This year the theme was gold, green and ivory, I think it turned out to be one good looking tree!

I would like to take a moment to recognize those mighty Texas teams who tore it up in football today...the Dallas Cowboys and of course the Texas Longhorns, who destroyed A&M! Hook 'em horns! Ok, now back to the rest...

We really miss all of you and are so sad we cannot celebrate the holidays with you this year, but certainly in years to come! This Christmas we decided to fly up to Tokyo and spend a few days there. We will get to stay in downtown Tokyo and go to Tokyo Disney! We are sooooo excited! I am sure many blogs will some from that trip, so stay tuned!