Posted in Art, Beauty, Choco-chan, Exercise, Feelings, Food, Friends, Place, Restaurants, Tokyo

Happy Saturday

I had a bad week at work.

I’m glad that I applied for a trial lesson for boxing fitness programme at B-Monster Ginza this morning.

We boxercise in dark.

The loud EDM kept me going; otherwise, I won’t be able to finish the whole programme.

Well, technically I took a break in between so I may not able to say a WHOLE programme, but I could still stand when we finished the lesson.

It was fun!

I was seriously considering to become a member, but currently, the membership is full so I couldn’t.

I will check other studio.

After boxercise, I went to lunch at Din Tai Fung Ginza at Kirarito Ginza.

I love their dim sum.

I also enjoyed their famous Taiwanese Mango Shaved Ice!

I hope I didn’t cancelled out my exercise with these lunch. hahaha

At evening, I took Choco-chan for a walk for the first time.

He is small so he can get enough exercise at home, but it would be nice to get fresh air and fun.

We went to the Light and Mist Digital Art @ Tokyo Midtown Roppongi.

It is beautiful.

I hope Choco-chan also enjoyed the evening.

Posted in Art, Experience, Family, Feelings, Food, Friends, Hotel, Japanese Culture, Japanese Food, Nature, Place, Restaurants, Shop, Shopping, Shrine and Temple, Tokyo, Travel

Trip to Northern Japan’s Three Greatest Summer Festivals (Day 3)

Unfortunately, it is raining today, but I already watched all three festivals so rain doesn’t affect my day or mood.

I went for the morning dip; the bath was switched with men’s over night.

I had a buffet breakfast and I enjoyed their croissant waffles very much.

It’s dangerously delicious!

I didn’t have much time to use their facilities, but hotel prepares many activities for guests to enjoy during their stay.

We departed for Hiraizumi, Iwate.

We reached to Hiraizumi, Iwate where the town is recognized as UNESCO World Heritage.

We visited Chusonji (Chuson Temple) and the temple is famous for Konjikido (Golden Hall).

Today, Konjikido stands inside of a building to be protected.

Everything including the hall structure is made by gold.

We cannot take any photos inside so you need to visit to see how golden it is!

At the premise, there are many places to visit and to pray.

I had limited time so I could not visit all; nonetheless, I visited here before and I explained in details in my previous blog.

Hopefully, you would enjoy reading other days of my blog.

Shakado

Benzaiten

Amidado

Sankozo (Museum)

Dainichido

Mine Yakushido Hall

Hondo (Main Hall)

Benkeido

Tsukimizaka (Tsukimi Slope)

The rain was hard so my pants and shoes are wet.

But again, I didn’t mind because I watched and enjoyed all festivals in okay conditions.

These festivals continues for few days and many people planned to visit today.

Due to the weather (heavy rain), some festivals might get cancelled and there is no replacement day.

So I consider myself very lucky.

I had lunch at Sake Brewer: Seki no Ichi, Ichinoseki, Iwate.

Today, factory moved to a new place; original Kura (Storage) became a restaurant and shop.

Under the paper, there are many flavors of mochi (glutenous rice cakes).

Mochi is served to Gods and local people eat Mochi on important days for goods (celebration) and bads (sad).

From top left, zunda (edamame: young soy bean), goma (sesame), daikon oroshi for refreshment (ground white radish), anko (red bean) and kawaebi (river shrimp).

The pot dish is called Oshu Hatto.

This is made by flour and water; same ingredients with Udon (flour noodle).

It’s in a piece before cut.

We break it in pieces by our hands to put them in the pot.

We put them in a boiling pot together with all vegetables.

The restaurant offered a lucky draw by mochi (oh, no! More mochi! These are basically rice so very filling) ; I lost.

The winner get a sake bottle, how lucky!

This Sake Brewer also brew beer: Kura Beer.

I like their beer which has unique bitterness similar to dark beer though it’s in gold.

I bought Sake bottles for the next home party to enjoy them with friends. hahaha

We arrived Sendai Station to catch our Shinkansen (bullet train) back to Tokyo.

Sendai Station is already decorated for Sendai Tanabata which will start tomorrow.

Sendai Tanabata is also known as one of greatest festivals in Northern Japan.

These represents various wishes: health, wisdom, wealth, etc.

We took Shinkansen Yamabiko 152 back to Tokyo.

This was a fun trip!

Posted in Art, Beauty, Experience, Family, Feelings, Food, Hotel, Japanese Culture, Japanese Food, Nature, Place, Travel

Trip to Northern Japan’s Three Greatest Summer Festival (Day 2)

It’s cloudy today.

I went for morning Onsen (hot spring).

There is a Rotenburo (open-air bath) to overlook ocean.

I had Japanese breakfast.

These look old fashioned but food is very delicious.

I enjoy their food very much; very local and very fresh.

Their Onsen is nice and food is delicious.

It sands in front of ocean to enjoy ocean view from a room.

I departed Aomori for Morioka, Iwate.

Yes, the station that I arrived by Shinkansen yesterday.

I look at Iwate-yama (Mt. Iwate) again, the same mountain that I was looking yesterday.

We returned to Aomori Station, Iwate to watch Sansa Odori (Sansa Dance).

Sansa Odori is a combination of odori (dance), taiko (Japanese drum) and flute (Japanese flute).

This dance is dancing for appreciation and celebration of Kamisama (Gods) defeating Oni (evils).

There is a rock with Oni no Te (Evil’s Hand Print).

Evils promised not to return again by making a hand print.

This myth is the origin of name of Iwate Prefecture: Stone Hand Prefecture.

There are many groups and style of Sansa Odori.

The actual performance will be at night, however, to increase the awareness of Sansa Odori, many groups performance during day time at few places such as in front of Morioka Station, Malios, etc.

We went up to the observation room of Malios to overlook Morioka City, Iwate.

We departed for Akita for the last Summer Festival of the tour: Akita Kanto Matsuri (direct translation is Akita Lantern Bamboo Festival).

We reached Akita City.

This road named Akita Kanto Odori will be the street for the performance.

Again, we took early dinner, this time at Akita Castle Hotel.

Hotel banquet rooms became huge buffet dinner place for tourists.

It was like a zoo. hahaha

After dinner, I took a photo with a famous guy in Akita: Namahage.

He looks fierce, but a nice guy.

He scares away evils to being good lucks!

We went to the street to watch the performance.

This is again originated from Lantern Festival; many of us are Buddhist.

It’s an amazing festival with sound of taiko, fue and Kanto (Lanterns on Bamboos).

A person to hold Kanto extends bamboo and it bents greatly with weight of lanterns, making difficult to hold it.

Furthermore, they balance it on their palm, forehead, shoulder and hip.

They start from small.

They are small, but already a great performer!

I enjoy it very much.

About at 9 pm, we left Akita for Oshuku Onsen (Oshuku Hot Spring).

We reached Hotel Mori no Kaze Oshuku at 11 pm.

I found our supper, onigiri (rice balls) in our room; however, I’m still full from dinner.

We quickly went to take a bath because a public bath, Onsen, will close at 25 o’clock.

It was nice.

There is a Rotenburo (open-air bath) and special lemon bath to remove our tiredness.

Oyasuminasai (Good Night)

Posted in Art, Experience, Family, Feelings, Food, Hotel, Japanese Culture, Japanese Food, Mt. Fuji, Nature, Place, Sunrise and Sunset, Tokyo, Travel

Trip to Northern Japan’s Three Greatest Summer Festival (Day 1)

I took a Tohoku Shinkansen, Yamabiko 43, operated by JR Higashi Nihon (JR East Japan) for Morioka this morning.

There is a train map.

It is common that two Shinkansen runs till Sendai Station then disconnected to become two Shinkansen lines.

Shinkansen is heading north; the place for Japan’s major rice production.

I had a lunch box on the Shinkansen.

Ta-dah

More rice field.

We arrived Morioka Station and look!

There are many buses for tourists!

We headed for Aomori by bus.

We stopped at Tsugaru Service Area for a break.

We can take a good view of Iwaki-san (Mt. Iwaki) that is also called: Tsugaru (Tsugaru is old name of this area) Fuji.

Isn’t it look beautiful as Mt. Fuji!

First, we checked in at Ryokan (Japanese Inn), Asamushi Sakura Kanko Hotel because Nebuta Matsui (Nabuta Festival) starts 7 pm so that we have to have an early dinner at 4 pm.

The room is in old fashioned.

There is a Fusuma (Sliding Door), I opened then…

A view from a room is also nice.

We relaxed at the room, then had a dinner at 4 pm so that we could leave at 4:50 pm.

I also had a Wakame Men (seaweed noodle)

And dessert: coffee jelly.

Dinner was very delicious.

These food are made of fresh ingredients!

Then we left Ryokan for Aomori: Nebuta Matsuri.

There are bankers for Nebuta at ASPM (Aomori Sightseeing Products Mansion).

Then we moved to our seats for watching the Nebuta Matsuri.

The parade started.

The origin of Nebuta is the lantern festival.

The decoration became unique so craftspeople started to present.

That’s how this Summer Festival began.

They will turn it, spin it and bow it!

There is a group of Hayashi (musicians), making rhythm.

Haneto (Jumpers) – anybody can rent a formal wear to join jumping.

There are cute ones.

Chocobo…? Final Fantasy…?

Even from small, they turn Nebuta.

There are so many people to enjoy the moment together.

After enjoying it for about an hour and half to returned to Ryokan.

Futon is ready.

And I found a supper on the table…?

Onigiri (rice balls) for supper.

After satisfying my stomach, then I took Onsen (hot Spring) for my relaxation.

We are staying at Asamushi Onsen (Asamushi Hot Spring).

Water is cleared and nice.

My skin is smooth and moist!

Posted in Art, Beauty, Experience, Family, Feelings, Food, Friends, Health, Hotel, International Culture, Music, Place, Restaurants, Shop, Shopping, Travel

Trip to Bulgaria and Romania (Day 4)

Today is the main day of this trip: Rose Festival.

We are scheduled to leave hotel for Kazanlak at 6:45 am; as such, I took a quick breakfast at 5:30 am then Sayonara Plovdiv.

Bulgaria has rich soil so the country’s self efficiency is high.

Bulgaria imports food only during winter.

I can see many farms at the road side.

Kazanlak is famous for production of poppy, lavender and rose.

This is lavender farm, looks nice in purple.

The type of Rose suited for extracting rose oil is Damask Rose.

Bulgarian believes Damask Rose was brought by Thracians.

On the other hand, some claim Damask Rose was brought by Turkish/Ottoman.

This theory is also supported because production of rose oil was industrialized during Ottoman Empire.

Rose requires rich soil, enough sunshine and balanced humidity.

Due to above requirements, roses are commonly planted at winery grape yards to alert soil condition.

To produce 1kg of rose oil, it requires 3,000 roses; 1 drop requires 120 roses.

Once rose oil was traded equally as gold.

No wonder it’s precious.

Rose is national flower of Bulgaria.

This morning, we departed early for rose picking.

It is better to pick roses early morning to keep better/stronger fragrance.

Rose oil is commonly used as one of ingredients for major brands’ perfume to keep lasting fragrance.

Rose oil is also used as an ingredient for cosmetics because of its performance: anti-aging, antibacterial effects, moisturizing and even good for applying insect bites.

It is also used for supplement: kidney stone, constipation, etc.

When we consume rose jam, we need to be easy with it; it might force you to go to toilet often! hahaha

I bought rose oil, hand cream, jam and lokum for myself.

I can enjoy rose picking, shopping and even watching Bulgarian Folk Dance at Ethnographic Complex Damascena, Kazanlak.

Bulgarian Folk Dance and songs.

We moved to the Rose Festival Parade.

This parade started in 1903.

The total population of Kazanlak is about 50,000, but over 100 buses of tourists visit the town for Rose Festival.

They are Queen of Rose.

This parade is heart warming because it is obviously hand-made by local community.

At last, all of us (local people and tourists) dance together.

We had BBQ for lunch,

Drinks are included. Yeah!

After lunch, we visited Shipka Memorial Church, also known as Memorial Temple of the Birth of Christ.

On the way to Veliko Turnovo, we stopped by at one of parking areas to try pure water buffalo yogurt with local honey.

Both yogurt and honey are so rich and delicious that I would recommend to try it.

We arrived Veliko Turnovo and checked in at Hotel Meridian Bolyarski.

It has a tremendous view.

We had dinner at hotel restaurant.

We also enjoyed live music while eating and chatting.

We had a good time at our table.

After dinner, we went for a short walk; this town is very peaceful.

It’s been a long day.

I soaked my body to rose bath to unwind my tired body.

Good night.

Posted in Action, Art, Experience, Feelings, Food, Friends, Hotel, Japanese Culture, Japanese Food, Music, Place, Restaurants, Tokyo, Travel

Crazy Action

On Monday, I had a full day back-to-back business meetings because all meetings became 2 hours meeting.

I even missed my lunch.

When we finished at 5 pm, we rushed to Tokyo Station to catch a Shinkansen (bullet train) to go to Kyoto.

I was invited to Ohana (private time with Geisha) to have fun with Geisha!

I had an important meeting next day at 9:30 am at Kawasaki, Kanazawa.

It’s a crazy plan but it was manageable if I take the first Shinkansen back to Tokyo…hopped on the next available Shinkansen for Kyoto.

Quickly checked in at Kyoto Century Hotel which is conveniently located next to Kyoto Station.

The room is modern, clean and cozy.

Then rushed to Ochaya-san (Geisha Tea House).

Others waited for us to arrive to start the evening.

We had nice tori-nabe (chicken pot) for dinner; chicken are so fresh that it requires a few tens of seconds of cooking in boiling soup.

Followed by dance.

We also played Ozashiki Asobi (games).

It was magically fun!!!

The next day, I managed to wake up 5 am to catch 6:17 am Shinkansen back to Tokyo to attend meetings.

After meetings, I attended a business dinner.

Since I had to arrange the dinner, I decided to organize it at my favorite Tempura restaurant Mikaku, Roppongi.

This restaurant is my favorite because tempura are so crispy; chef cooks in front of us!

I had nice Haze Hire Zake (grilled goby fish fin sake) to enjoy these tempura.

Grilled fish fin adds nice roasty smell and flavor to sake.

I had Ten-don (tempura rice bowl) for my rice.

We had nice home made strawberry sorbet to refresh our mouth.

Chef grows vegetables and even these strawberries.

The following morning, my friend left Tokyo for Hong Kong to continue her business trip.

Nothing was planned in advance, but these three days became memorable.

Yes, this time I took many crazy actions; but I think crazy actions add spice to our life. hahaha