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This is an entry for the Sanriotown Travel the World Event at http://blog.sanriotown.com/traveltheworld:hellokitty.com/

In the last part of August of 2008, I took a much awaited vacation to Chicago, Illinois, USA.

There was so much to see, do and shop that at first I didn’t think I would accomplish all in 12 days.

Of course my beloved Hello Kitty was with me on my trip. She’s always on my Blackberry. Here is my favorite Hello Kitty theme for my phone. Ignore the date, I just took a picture today but rest assured she was with me the whole trip. I don’t think I could live without her as she contained my whole itinerary.

I’ve always been the typical tourist type. I love museums and great architecture. I love the shopping. Luckily Chicago has everything! And no wonder since it’s the third largest city in the United States after New York City and Los Angeles.

There’s so much shopping to be done - I was in heaven. Outlet mall shopping, mall shopping - my feet were hurting at the end of each day. ^_^ I paid off my credit cards before the trip just to rack up a balance again.

There are museums galore. I only had time to do 8 of them - there were many more that I could not visit. Let me share my favorite pictures with you.

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Hirosaki Lantern Festival

9 Feb 2008

This is about my trip to Hirosaki’s Lantern Festival. It’s kinda like my trip last year to Towada’s Ice Festival, but Towada’s is a bit bigger and Hirosaki has a lantern theme about it XD

It was almost 4 till we got there, so it was starting to get dark but lanterns lights weren’t visible yet. We headed towards the main area and we found some pretty sculptures. This year is the year of the mouse so many of the sculptures were of mice. I went with my friend Ai and she brought her roommate and her roommates boy friend ^^ He has two small boys, so you might see them in some of the pictures. Let’s see, I had some tori niku (chicken) onna stick, some homemade dounuts, and some nice hot o cha (tea) to keep me warm. I <3 festival food.

Don’t forget you can click on each pic and it’ll pop up a full sized version.

A pretty chapel and manor.

I think these were a class project, and yay! Hello Kitty

Yay cotton candy! Here it doesn’t come on a paper stick, it’s in a bag and they give you a single hashi (chopstick) and you use that to pull out a bit to eat. Toy vendor are all over the place, I like the look that kid is giving me when I take the pic XD

Hirosaki Castle, I got a pic at the Sakura Festival from almost the same angle, it’s a very popular shot from there.

A lantern with a slide built into the base D and a snow mouse.

A big lantern, it had to be at least 10ft tall.

A snow slide, you get in line and they give you a tube to ride down on ^^

Totoro! It’s not a festival without Hello Kitty and Totoro and a pretty Hirosaki made outta snow.

I signed this post up for the SanrioTown Travel the World event - http://blog.hellokitty.com/traveltheworld





We went to the Lake Towada Snow and Ice Fantavista yesterday (23 Feb). We took a bus trip there, but wow that was scary XD It felt like the bus driver was flying the bus more than driving it lol while we were driving through the narrow roads in the gorge. But it was pretty with the snow covered trees and the frozen waterfalls hanging down. When we got there we saw through the windows that it was snowing and blowing out real bad. We were afraid they were gonna cancel all the celebrations, but thankfully they still let us walk around. Man it was cold, when we got there a sign said it was -2 degrees Celsius, within an hour it was down to -5 XD We wandered around and took some pics, but we mostly just ran from place to place so we didn’t get to much snow down our jackets XD Then we tried to head to the jinja (shrine) before it got dark out, but they had it roped off ; ; That made me sad, we both really enjoy the shrines tranquil atmosphere. So we headed back to the festival area and ate some yummy food D ooo, they had a snow bar, just like one up in Sapporo at their big festival, but we didn’t get anything there. What we did get though was the 500 yen refillable glass of hot mulled wine. They had 3 or 4 different kinds, one of which was Korean wine, that kind was my favorite, it had a berry sweetness to it, but not so sweet it was icky. And I could actually drink some this year cause I didn’t drive there XD

Photo Hosting - PicTiger

I signed this post up for the SanrioTown Travel the World event - http://blog.hellokitty.com/traveltheworld





Eek, I haven’t posted anything new since March >< Sorry bout that, not much new has been going on, mostly just school and work. K’s Cousin Chris http://chrisjapantrip2008.blogspot.com/ came and visited for a couple days earlier this week and we had a great time showing him around. I’d also like to add that all the photo’s I’m posting were taken by Chris (he’s got a great camera and he’s a skilled photographer, nothing I’ve taken can even match what he took) We visited this museum about this guy named Shuji Terayama http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shuji_Terayama, who was an avant garde director. His most famous film that US folks might know is called Emperor Tomato Ketchup, but I don’t recommend it for the easily offended and it’s not safe for work. His films and plays were designed to be shocking and surreal, and he was highly criticized during his time. He died in 1983 when he was not quite 50 years old of cirrhosis of the liver. The museum displays many of the props from his works and has a really interesting exhibit; several rows of desks are arranged in the middle of a room you open up all of the desk drawers, look under the desk and watch video’s projected onto the top of some desks in order to see information about him. The drawers had anything from newspaper clippings to a collection of his notebooks and journals. Then a door at the back of the building leads outside to a large wooded area with a path to follow that has posts inscribed with famous Tanka poems he wrote in his youth. He had won many national awards while in High School for his superb poems.

The front of the museum

What I think has become Terayama’s symbol, it decorates the front of the museum

One of the posts with one of his Tanka poems

Part of the trail overlooking a pond

We also visited Swan Lake, which is a 20 minute drive from our place. K and I take regular walks around the park because of how beautiful and peaceful it is.

Looking across the lake

These interesting fluffy trees that I don’t know the name to

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Saturday K and I took a tour to Matsushima bay in Miyagi Prefecture. That’s actually 2 Prefectures south of the one we’re currently living in, which is Aomori Prefecture. It was quite a long bus ride (4hrs) but well worth it, we both agree it was the best tour we’ve been on so far. The first place we visited was the Marinepia aquarium, we arrived just in time to catch the seal show for that hour. Seal shows are so much fun ^^ The seals names were Andy, Asuka, Noi and Ruthy.  I love all the cute stuff they have them do, they played volleyball 2 on 2, had a race with each other, and a bunch of other fun stuff.

Then we walked around the aquarium and got to see all sorts of awesome sea creatures. They had this giant manta ray that’s wing span was bigger then my arm span! It was freak’n huge! They also had a shark tank, an otter, penguins, electric eels, and hundreds of other things. I have trouble turning off the flash on my camera so I didn’t risk taking any pictures while we were in that area.

After there we headed over to the Zuiganji Temple. Right after the gate into the temple complex is a stand of sugi trees and these wall of caves dug into a rock face that house stone tablets and Buddhist sculptures, many of which were of Kannon. Kannon is known as the Goddess of Mercy and is a very prevalent Buddhist deity. These caves are pretty cool looking, and the statues look very old. The complex itself contains several buildings, the main one being the Temple itself, but there is a nice museum that they built next to the temple containing many Buddhist relics as well as Date Masamune’s armor and a life sized replica of him. Masamune is known as being a great military leader as well as a devout Buddhist. He had the Zuiganji temple rebuilt in 1609 and also founded the city of Sendai, which is now the capital of Miyagi Prefecture. He’s a pretty fearsome looking guy, he had an enormous crescent on his helmet, but it’s kind of funny, the mascot for Matsushima/Masamune is of a cute onigiri with the crescent on his forehead. XD I wonder what he’d think of it as the mascot representation of him?

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