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 Diving, Exercise, Feelings, Food, Friends, Nature, Place, Restaurants, Travel

Hammerhead Sharks at Mikomoto

It’s a season and I had a free Saturday.

I caught an early Shinkansen (bullet train) to go down Mikomoto, Izu Shimoda, Shizuoka.

It’s such a nice day!

I overheard conversation of others and learned that we can view Izu Islands from train window.

At the window, there are shapes of islands that we expect to see from the window.

Could this be Ooshima?

Miyakejima?

8:50 am sharp, I arrived Izu Shimoda Station.

Today, I could see Hammerheads!!!

Big Yeah!!!

At the first dive of today, I saw one but very close by.

At second dive, I saw 6-7 Hammerheads in a group, picture is not clear to identify hammerheads.

For lunch, we went to a beach house.

It was nice and peaceful between two dives as if I were at vacation.

We celebrated at Izakata (Japanese pub) at Izu Shimoda Station to celebrate watching Hammerhead Sharks today.

This time, no stay over; going back to Tokyo.

Though I managed to see Hammerhead sharks not for singular for singular but plural, but now I become more greedy…I want more clear and more more more Hammerhead sharks!!!

Posted in Experience, Feelings, Nature, Surprise, Tokyo

Snake in Roppongi???

Today I safely returned from Bulgaria and Romania.

I had to catch up on my sleep during the trip so I took a break; I will upload ASAP.

Well, I had to report a shocking event happened today day.

When I arrived my apartment, there were a couple standing at the entrance, looking concerned.

According to them, there is a SNAKE!

SNAKE IN ROPPONGI…?

Soon police arrived and… wow…THERE IS A GIANT SNAKE!!!

How could it be in Roppongi???

There aren’t any jungle, but concrete jungles only.!!!

We think it’s a pet, escaped from the cage.

Hummmm

Posted in Experience, Family, Feelings, Food, Nature, Place, River, Shop, Shopping, Travel, World Culture

Trip to Bulgaria and Romania (Day 2)

I started my day with a nice simple buffet breakfast.

Ingredients are indeed fresh to enhance a breakfast.

We departed hotel for Rila Monastery.

It is about two hours away from Sofia; therefore, we stopped few places before we reached there.

Rila Mountains

The area is famous for production of cherries.

We stopped at SMALL cherry shop to buy local delicacy.

We also stopped at small town to look for nests of storks.

In Japan, we believe a stork brings a baby to a family and I was told that in Bulgaria, a stork is also a symbol of good luck.

I could see a head of storks at chimneys; how cute!

Then we reached Rila Monastery; it is located over 1000 m from the sea level and opened by Saint Ivan about 960 years ago.

This monastery is the largest and most significant Monastery in Balkan Peninsular.

We are welcomed by Saint Gabriel, Jessica and Saint Michael at the gate.

There was a fire in 19th century to burn all down except the stone tower.

Those days, 500 people served at Rila Monastery, today there are only eight.

Rila Monastery is equipped with 300 bed rooms, a wine cellar, bakery, cheese factory, vegetable farms, kitchen and even library.

Rila Monastery survived during Turkish Yoke by paying taxes because they earned income by selling wine, reads and cheese.

There is a cute little post office.

Wow, this place has everything within the premises.

First, we visited the museum to learn more about the history of Rila Monastery and beautiful crafts of Eastern Orthodox.

This is the tower that survived from a fire in 19th century.

We went outside from another entrance to take a look of Rila River.

Rila means lilac in Bulgarian, but for Rila Monastery, it means the source of water.

Rila River

The Virgin Mary’s Church.

The church is nicely decorated by frescoes.

With no exception, these beautiful frescoes made the monastery famous.

There are significant frescoes.

For example, the judgement day: there is a door to the heaven and a path to the hell.

I found the Virgin Mary and her son (Jeasus).

I had trout for lunch at the river side restaurant.

I had my trout with Bulgarian local beer and cherry juice.

A bottle of Rila Water was provided to each of us so I happily took it back for my own consumption!

Again, food is simple, but I enjoy its simple ness.

After lunch, we visited another UNESCO World Heritage: Boyana Church (1979).

The first section was built in 11th century; the second extension was built in 13th century; the last (third) section was built in 19th century.

We can see the period clearly from the side of church.

The door to enter into church is made by wood (surface) and steel (inner) in 14th century though the building was built in 19th century.

The entrance is small to make us naturally humble to bow before entering.

Boyana Church became famous because of frescoes – so emotional.

It is very unfortunate that I won’t be able to share how beautiful these frescos are.

This was the last sightseeing spot of the day.

We returned hotel for dinner.

We enjoyed buffet dinner at the terrace.

After good laughs, time to hit bed!

Posted in Family, Feelings, Food, Hotel, Nature, Place, Restaurants, Tokyo, Travel

Long Weekend @ Kamogawa, Chiba (Day 3)

It’s time to return to Tokyo.

I took a morning bath; then the last breakfast at Kanpo no Yado Kamogawa,

After breakfast, I played with niece at hotel’s children play area till I get tired.

I’ve been playing with her for three days.

She never stops playing!!! hahaha

I drove through woods, then Aqualine to reach Umihotaru (Sea Firefly) Parking Area for sightseeing and lunch.

This parking area is located on the highway Aqualine which is crossing Tokyo Bay between Kisarazu, Chiba and Kawasaki, Kanagawa.

I can see Tokyo skyline on the horizon.

I had Chiiiba Don (Chiba Local Food Rice Bowl) for lunch.

I had after lunch coffee at Starbucks.

This is Chiba’s mascot charactor: Chiiiba-kun.

I couldn’t take many photos today because I was driving.

I safely arrived home and ready to go to bed early tonight.

It was a nice family gathering.