Thursday, February 18, 2010

japan highlights

I finally finished it.

Welcome to the Japan highlights reel! Last September I went on a 13 day odyssey to Japan with my family. We had a blast! After sorting through 1,000+ pictures, I have narrowed it down to the few that depict our trip the best. Hang tight. Here we go.

On Friday, September 11, 2009, we left for Narita, Tokyo. And stayed 'til Sunday.

Next went went to Hiroshima and stayed at a ryokan, kind of like a bed and breakfast.

We had food ready for us every morning and evening. Good home cooking.

We took a ferry to Miyajima, a nearby island.

Got attacked by deer.

Miyajima is famous for making these pastries called momiji (maple leaf) manju.

Then we headed back to Hiroshima to visit the Peace Memorial Park to remember the victims in the bombing of Hiroshima.

This is the Hiroshima Prefectural Commercial Exhibition Hall. One of the original buildings still remaining after the bombing.

This model shows approximately where the bomb dropped on Hiroshima.

And this is the Memorial Monument for Hiroshima, City of Peace, for the A-bomb victims. The stone chest in the center holds the registry of the names of persons who died from the bombing, regardless of nationality. In 2001, total victims were 221,893.

Children's Peace Monument.

We took a break from mourning.

Choco Cro. Probably the best chocolate croissant I've had in my life.

This was the ryokan's dog, Luna. He greeted us whenever we came back to the hotel.

NEXT we went to Kochi and met up with my grandparents. This is where my grandpa's family is from.

Harimaya Bridge, the scene of Kochi’s most famous love-affair, and is the city’s most recognizable landmark.

We were fortunate enough to meet up with distant relatives and see the Higaki grave site and learn more about the Higaki family line. They rented a tour van and even made detailed schedule of our day together!

This sign is on the plot of land that my great grandfather grew up on.

Then our van broke down. In the middle of no where. But we got a new one in an hour. MLIA.

My grandpa's cousin's gravestone.

I like how over every door or in front of peoples' homes they put up plaques with their family name.

Then it was off to Osaka, my grandma's hometown, and home of Glico man.

My grandma's friends took us out for dinner at this shabu shabu place. It was about a 6 course meal. Probably the best dinner I had on the whole trip.

The next morning we went to see my grandmother's side of the family.

Mitsyo, and me with Unknown Named Dog, Tim Tam, and Goma. I loved these dogs.

My grandma's cousin.

The street we think my grandmother might have grew up on...

The sisters got tired of J-food and ordered McDonald's.

The following day we went to a place in Osaka call Matsumushi, where my mom taught Japan for 2 years...

...and where my parents first kissed.

Okonomiyaki! A must try in Osaka.

My mom's friend took us around Osaka. We went to ShitennĊ-ji temple, the first Buddhist and oldest officially administered temple in Japan.

I had kare (curry) udon for dinner. Heaven in a bowl.

That day was also Lauren's birthday, so Megan and I put together a little surprise party for her. Dad picked out a cake for her.

Lauren and Megan departed Japan the following day, and I continued with my parents to Kiryu for a business meeting with a flower grower, the Sakamotos.

Kiryu sounds like "kill you".

The grower's kid seriously did not smile for the first hour he played with me. He finally smiled when he started chasing me around with that truck thing he's holding onto. He was freakishly fast. I was deathly afraid for my life.

Next stop, Nikkooooooo. We were just a couple months shy of seeing the trees turn vibrant orange. It was still beautiful nonetheless.

My grandpa told me to take this picture of him. So I did.

Then we went to another temple. I believe the famous hear no evil, say no evil, see no evil monkeys originate from this wood carving...that is on a horse stable.

Prayers on paper.

Sweet advertising.

And finally, back to Shinagawa in Tokyo. PHEW.

On our last full day in Tokyo, my dad's old grad school friend, Aki took us to Asakusa which used to be one of the cool touristy places to visit. It was still bustling.

Aki introduced us to dojo or Japanese loach. They look and taste like baby eels. Delicious and super expensive. Mmmm.

Later that night, we experienced the most frustrating and yet most satisfying part of the whole trip. After walking in circles around Shinagawa for about an hour we found a kaiten sushi place where they sold sushi plates for 100 yen. That's just a little over a dollar, people. We ate like kings and queens for about $60.
I ate toro to my hearts content. *Drool*

Can't leave Japan without seeing some good engrish.

And like the saying goes, all good things must come to an end. But boy, did it end well. Ever had oyster katsu and kuri gohan? Holy cow. A most excellent last meal.

Good bye, Japan. It was a true pleasure meeting you.

I'll definitely be back!