Saturday, January 31, 2009

Cherry Blossoms!

Okinawa is the first place in all of Japan to see the cherry blossoms start to bloom. Since the weather is so warm here, we are able to see them at the end of January. Every year, there is a cherry blossom festival on the northern part of the island, so we decided to check it out.
Of course as many of you have seen through pictures, there are always the weirdest, most random signs everywhere. I have passed this one a few times and finally was able to get a picture of it! I just want to make sure all of you know to make sure your vegetables are safely buckled in when you go anywhere! Ha ha! I really don't get the obsession with making everything a silly cartoon.
Anyway, back to the festival...Of course there is NO PARKING anywhere on this island, so after driving a few blocks we would up having to park at the convention center and walk 20 minutes. Oh well. The Japanese are really into festivals, and they are basically all the same. A bounce house, food, singers/musicians, and useless toys for children!
Here we tried our first chicken yakatori. It pretty much tasted like teriyaki, but it was on a stick, so it made it better and more fun to eat!
I LOVE cotton candy, so I had to get some. Believe it or not, this was the small bag!
Some of the other food, was a little, uh, questionable...
This festival is held near the ruins of an ancient castle. In order to get to the actual ruins, you must walk up over 700 steps! Whew! It took quite a while. I have a feeling my legs will be sore in the morning!
This picture was taken about halfway up. Its a fairly descent view of Okinawa.
Still walking...
Here's John posing!
Up at the top was something important, but all of the signs were in Japanese, so I'm sorry I can't tell you what it was! It made for a cute picture though!
We are really lucky many of the trees had already blossomed. It has been a really mild winter, so I think they started to come out a little early.
These are a few musicians that sang a bit for us. We are not exactly into this style, so we headed back home!
On the way back we encountered yet another strange sign. Scary. I don't think I would want to run into this animal!
All in all it was a nice day. The weather was a beautiful 75 degrees. Can't really beat that for January! We have some fun stuff planned for the weekend of Valentines Day, so stay tuned for some exciting pictures of us zip-lining over Okinawa!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Pineapple and Pizza

I hope you guys enjoyed the Tokyo blogs, we had a great time and I hope we have a chance to go back before our time is up here. Now, I haven't had many comments lately, so you guys should get after it! I have no idea if anyone is even reading these things anymore! Ha ha!
Anyway, a few weeks ago we went on a little date and ventured up towards the northern part of the island, something we rarely do.
We decided to take a little tour of the oh-so-popular touristy destination of Nago Pineapple Park. Now, around here, they are BIG on tours and things are done a little differently. Rarely will you find a place that you can just wander by yourself and look around. Everything is on a "course" and I have a feeling you might get reprimanded for not staying on that course! Now while I am a push the envelope type of person, I steer clear of my rebellious ways over here because there is no telling what they will do!
After a few minutes of trying to figure out where to take our tickets, we hopped on a little golf cart with a pineapple on top, a lady pushed some buttons near the speakers in the cart and off we (slowly) went around the park. Of course it was on a track and we really weren't driving it. I believe the locals are well aware of their, uh, "driving abilities" or the lack thereof, so most of the time you're on a closed course!
Our tour guide in our personal speaker system told us how pineapples are grown and about the many different types they had here. I don't think I ever thought about how they grew, but it was really cool to see itty bitty pineapples as they were growing.
After the short tour, we got off the cart, staying on the route of course, and headed into the tasting room. Here they bottle their own special pineapple wines and you can have a taste of the 3 types. They were surprisingly really good!!!
After that, you go into a large room with a windy path and people and food samples everywhere! I tried many varieties of pineapple cakes, chocolates and cookies. Needless to say, the $5 per person was well spent for so many snacks!
Since we had our dessert, it was time to leave and head to Pizza in the Sky for dinner. I have heard rave reviews about this place.
It took a while to get there and the directions and windy roads were ridiculous, but we finally made it, and this was the view we saw when we arrived!
We put our names on the list and had another couple take a picture of us.
This is the view of the restaurant. I love how you can also sit outside and enjoy the scenery.
After a short wait, we sat down inside. Check out the menus! What a great idea!
Here, there is only one choice of pizza, one type of salad and all sorts of funky juice drinks.
We were pretty impressed by the food and as always, the service was impeccable. It took John a few minutes to get up, but we finally headed home. **Side note**If you plan on visiting us, start your stretching exercises now because when we go out to eat, you have a 50% chance of having to sit on the floor for your dinner!

Monday, January 5, 2009

Tokyo Part 3

The last two days of our trip were a bit of a whirlwind. Saturday, we met up with a few friends who were also stationed at Topgun and now live on the mainland of Japan. They took a train into Tokyo to hang with us for the day.
We met Adam and Becky in the shopping area called "Ginza" This is where all of the super high end stores are. You know, the kind you don't really even feel comfortable going into because you know you can't afford a keychain!

However, we had to go into the 5 story Apple store. Yep, an insane amount of iPods, computers and well, that's about it. They even had a floor with a conference room dedicated to hearing Apple-related seminars! Ha ha!

We grabbed lunch a Hawaiian place then went to another area called Odaiba. Here is a picture of the Fuji electronics building.

We walked along the boardwalk for a bit, and what do you know, we saw the Statue of Liberty! Random, I know, but by now, I am not at all surprised by the random things I see in this country!

We walked up 110 steps (John counted) and found a showroom for all kinds of cars. The reason why we went to this particular area, was because I was told by a tour guide that since we have Japanese drivers licences, we can go to this area and test drive all of these futuristic cars! Well, technically that was true, if by futuristic, they meant the 2009 model of the Toyota Corolla.

Oh well. In the showroom there were plenty of funky vehicles to look at and one particularly beautiful Lexus that I am saving my pennies for!

So after a long day of sightseeing and cars, we bid farewell to our friends and spent one more night at our awesome hotel.

The last day, we had until 1pm until our bus left the hotel for the airport, so we decided to sneak a few more things in. I am a travel channel junkie and watched an episode on the best donut places in America! One of the best places only had locations in New york city and Tokyo, so of course I convinced John to go on the 30 minute trek to "Donut Plant". I was a good donut, made from only all natural ingredients (and they were square...ooh ahhh) but I probably wouldn't go out of my way again for these! Haha!

We hustled over to Harajuku for the slight possibility of taking a picture with the famous Harajuku girls.
Basically there are a bunch of crazy dressed girls that hang out in this area. they are supposed to be the epitome of Tokyo fashion. I actually saw some at Disney, but didn't get to my camera in time. We only saw a few and they weren't very close by, so I took a picture off of Google just to give you an idea.

As you can see, the style ranges from Little Bo Peep-ish to goth.

The main street was lined with shops and quite interesting clothing inside. Don't worry Dad, I didn't buy any of these outfits!

And one of my favorite parts of the trip...a GAP!!! Oh it has been so long since I have seen a real American store! I was so thrilled to see a store that wasn't weird and the clothes actually fit me! So that was a good ending of a trip for me!

Well I hope you enjoyed reading about our latest adventure and we hope that you are all saving up to come visit us and experience this country for yourselves!