• November 2018
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Bella celebrated her 2nd birthday in Hawaii, so we decided to make it a tradition. Thanks to frequent flier miles and my sister (Aiyi), the travel agent, we were able to visit the islands again for her 3rd birthday. The title of Bella’s blog is “It’s All About Me, Me, Me!” which seems to be a constant mantra and it is no different when we are on vacation.


Since my sister is a travel agent, she likes to photograph our hotel rooms. The Hilton Prince Kuhio in Honolulu was recently renovated. It is a very nice hotel with breakfast, afternoon pupus (hors d’oeuvres) and 24/7 business center.


We got an oceanview room! It was quite lovely. The weather was a little rainy.

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This was Kitty-Chan’s first journey ever and where did she get to go? To beautiful Maui, Hawaii!!

Wailea, Hawaii

Excited on the plane ride to Hawaii...

This was Kitty’s first plane ride ever!! Look how excited she is…

Thristy after the long flight...

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Hirosaki Sakura Festival

Ok, so I haven’t posted here in a while >< Haven’t really gotten out to do much for the last month or so since I’ve been on 12 hour Mid shifts, everything is always closed when I’m awake. But I’m back on Day shift, and last weekend K and I went to visit Hirosaki castle during the Sakura viewing festival. Oh, it was soooo beautiful, almost all the trees were in bloom. Pretty white blooms, and the traditional pink ones, and these delicate looking weeping willow like trees with pink blooms. I was really fun too, it was the first day of Golden week, which is a national holiday in Japanese for the whole week. It’s not really the whole week is just one holiday, there are 3 holidays during the week, so instead of having off, then on, then off again, the Japanese government make it a week long holiday.

The Sakura viewing festival is when people go out to a park or place with sakura trees, spread a blanket on the ground, and have a picnic lunch and usually some sake or beer and chill with family and friends. All the grassy areas on Hirosaki’s grounds were covered with blankets and people chilling. And there were traditional bands set up around the area that would play for everyone. There was also a parade of a hundred or so people playing drums, flutes, and cymbals.
There were tons of vendors too, with all sorts of foods like takoyaki (fried octopus dough balls), yakisoba (noodles), ramen, and tons of desert foods. There were also tons of booths that sold toys, and yes, they had little kids toys like plastic katanas and noisemakers, and whatnot, but they also sold PSPs, Gameboys, PS2s, Wiis, etc… plus games for all of them. They even had goldfish scooping, and I got to watch a couple of kids trying that. They also sold little baby turtles at some booths, with little aquarium sets.

They had a haunted house that I went through, it was just like our cheesy carnival haunted houses, but they had Japanese monsters as well as some of our monsters. They even had one guy dressed up as the lantern monster with the tongue hanging out. It’s called a “surprise lantern” but I can’t remember how you’d say that in Japanese. I ran out of film before I could take a picture of the front of it.

There was a Shinto ceremony going on at one of the shrines there, but K and I didn’t want to go in and do something rude unknowingly.

K and I are going to see a Kabuki show on the second, and I can’t wait D We won’t be able to understand any of it, but it looks like it’ll still be a lot of fun to watch.

Hirosaki castle through the trees.

A music tornament.

A Torii gate.

A Parade.

Vendor booths.

Goldfish scooping.

Baby Turtles.

I’ve entered this in the Sanrio Town’s Travel the World Event: http://blog.hellokitty.com/traveltheworld





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Yay, the ice festival. It was really nice. We got their about an hour before it started getting dark out, because it’s prettiest to see the ice sculptures all lit up, and they had paths lined with candles in little snow igloos. They had a path lit up all the way down to the lake, where they had these bronze statues of these neked maidens. We don’t know what they represented, because the plaque was only written in Japanese, but K and I agree that we’ll come back when we can read it and figure out what it was about.

Then we walked back to the main festival area, and they had booths set up with all kinds of food. They also had this deal, where you buy a 2007 Towada Ice and Snow Festival commemorative shot glass of mulled wine for 500 yen, and you get free refills for the rest of the day. Quite a good deal I’d say, only 5 bucks to get trashed, lol. They also had these huts made out of snow with benches and tables made out of snow that you could go in and sit down and have a drink. They also had these 10’ tall walls of snow with nooks cut out of them and lights in all the nooks. They had a big ice slide that you could ride down with a sled or on your bum.

They had a really fun show with these guys playing Japanese drums, and they had a guy on later that was playing a Japanese guitar like instrument (I don’t know what it was called). Then for the finally, they had a really nice fireworks display. It was a real nice trip, and I’d recommend it to anyone who was in the area during February. The drive up was a bit nerve racking though, because you have to drive through this gorge that gets tons of snow. They plow it, so it makes 10’ high walls of snow on the side of these very narrow 2 lane road that you have to share with busses and big trucks. I almost got hit coming around a sharp corner by a bus that was a bit over the line. It was really pretty in the gorge though, with a creek in the middle, and the trees all covered with snow.

Traditional festival singers

I’ve entered this in the Sanrio Town’s Travel the World Event: http://blog.hellokitty.com/traveltheworld





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Kakunodate Samurai houses

12 September 2007

We went to Kakunodate in Akita Prefecture on Saturday, it was about 3 hours away from Misawa. It looked like it was gonna rain all day, but when we got there it cleared up nicely, and in fact got pretty warm. We got lucky too, cause they were having a festival when we got there. The festival was very similar to the Nabuta, except that it was during the day and not lit up. It seemed like the whole town was in it too, cause there were tons of people dressed in costume. Well, the first place we stopped in town was the Ishiguro Samurai manor. It was really well preserved, and tastefully decorated. The first room we saw was a room where high ranking guests would be given tea and refreshments. The second room is one that they used during the spring and summer because it opened up onto the garden. Then the rest of the house was turned into a museum that displayed implements used during that time period, including some pretty kimonos.

The next place we visited was called the Aoyagi Samurai Manor, and was quite a bit bigger then the Ishiguro manor. Here’s the link to their site: http://www.samuraiworld.com/english/index.html The main gate was pretty big and architecturally impressive, apparently that is a sign of prestige in feudal Japan, and it “symbolized the social prestige of their owners. It was built after the family was given special permission by the lord of Kakunodate as a reward for their contribution to the domain.” The grounds are really beautiful, I’ve attached a map of the grounds that was on the back of the pamphlet they gave us. The main house itself has a thatched roof which I found interesting, cause it had plants growing outta it XD It’s cool though, cause they re-thatch it every year or so.

The armory was pretty cool, they had all sorts of weapons like spears, armor and swords on display. The folk museum was interesting too, it had lots of different folk art on display and a ton for sale. I got little usagi (bunny) and neko (cat) dolls made outta hand woven fabric, they’re really cute D A lot of the “items on display have been designated as important cultural properties from the national, prefectural or municipal governments.”

OMG, the pond was crazy, it had a dozen giant koi (carp) in it. I mean these things were at least 2 feet long, and they kinda freaked me out XD

We didn’t eat at the restaurant there, cause we figured it’d be way overpriced, it did look pretty though. So instead we opted for some soba at a restaurant down the street. We had some cold soba that was really good especially since it was getting pretty darn warm outside by then. We walked around a bit more then, and stopped at a tea house, and had some very good tea made the traditional way with the whisk and powder. It came with a cute little sweet made from mochi and filled with azuki bean paste, which is a very common filling for Japanese sweets. From anime you’ll probably recognize taiyaki (see the pic below) which is filled with the bean paste. We didn’t have any taiyaki there though, but it’s a very common festival food. I’ve even found some sold at malls from vendors.
Well, I think that’s it for today. We’re not going on another trip till the end of October, but I keep trying to remind myself to bring the camera with me to the mall. I’ll see what I can do.

A pretty garden.

A comfy room.

Hand woven items.

Sword hilts.

A family shrine, it has white fox statues in it, but I’m not sure what the significance is.

Giant carp!

A well.

I’ve entered this in the Sanrio Town’s Travel the World Event: http://blog.hellokitty.com/traveltheworld

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