Monday, August 31, 2009

Tuesday

Today we again hit the road pretty early and just as well as the heat was already stifling. Our first point of call was The World heritage Site -Sefa-utaki. This site was many hundreds of years old and again you had to make a steep climb. There are only remnants left of buildings long gone, but it is amazing how the Japanese look after their history. Next we drove to Okinawa world where we watched a snake show and then we moved to an outside theatre where we were again given an outstanding performance by singers muscians and various sizes of Taiko drums including a large one which was on a stand, the sound was absolutely magnificent and the acrobatic performance of the taiko players was unbelievable. From there we drove to the Okinawa Peace Hall. The buildings on this site were incredible. Inside the main hall were many paintings where the artist bought peace through his art work. The Okinawa Peace Hall stands on the opposite side of the 'Cornerstone of peace which was erected to commemorate the war dead of the 50th anniversary of the end of the battle of Okinawa. The names of all the war dead, regardless of nationality, soldiers or civilians are there. From there we travelled on to the Himeguri Peace Museum. This museum consists of 6 chambers. The first chamber shows the youth of Himegui. The second chamber depicts the Himeyuri students at the front.
The third chamber depicts when the deactivation order was given and people roaming towards certain death. The fourth chamber is the Requeam - this room is dedicated to the teachers and students who died in the war. The 200 portraits on the wall memorialize their lives and existence. Visitors are able to read the survivors accounts and to take a look at the full scale, reconstructed model of a makeship clinic inside a cave. In this cave concentrated tea gas took a heavy toll of lives. The 5th chamber is the memorial and the 6th chamber is the Passage to Peace. this place left a lasting and very emotional impression of sadness in my heart, as did Hiroshima when I visited there last year.
From there we moved onto a glass blowing factory. Ayaka organised for us to able to make our own glass as well as purchase some beautiful items. I really felt sorry for the people working there in the furnaces as the heat was immense.
Then it was time for some more retail shopping therapy. We visited a very large outlet shopping centre with shops such as Gucci, Reebok, Adidas, Swatch, Dunedin and Almani as well as many others. We went into a little Italian Cafe & had an Italian Hot Dog. Unfortunately Ayaka realized she had not passed in our tickets at the glass factory. She decided to return to the glass factory and said I could stay and shop, but before she went I bought myself a genuine pair of cros. Ayaka had just left when down came the rain in bucket loads. Next thing Ayaka rings me to say she cannot find the tickets and that she thinks she may have left them in the restaurant. I go to the cafe in the pouring rain and got absolutely soaked, but unfortunately the people did not understand what I was asking. Before I visit Japan again I am definately going to learn more of the language. Luckily there was a lovely Japanese lady who came to my rescue but not tickets were found. I was absolutly drenched but within 5 mins my clothes were dry, it was that hot.
Ayaka ended up ringing the glass factory and they told her not to worry everything was ok. We then left to return our vehicle and head for Nara airport for our return journey home. To Ayaka a very special thank you from the bottom of my heart for this very special trip, memories of which will stay with me for a lifetime. Ayaka you looked after me so wll and I do not know how I will ever repay you, but I hope that one day I can return the many favours you did for me. I consider myself very fortunate to have been given the opportunity to have such a wonderful homestay student come and stay with us 2 years ago.
And so ended our trip to Okinawa.
Tommorow was going to be a very special day.
Tommorow I will let you know why and what happended to make it so special.
Bye for now!

Monday - another journey

Today was another journey before headinghome to Tokyo on Tuesday evening. This morning Ayaka woke me yp at 6.30am - no time for sleeping in on this holiday. We had a european breakfast which I thought would last us all day. We were seated at a window which looked out over the sparkling pool and manicured gardens. After breakfast we went & got our bags and headed to our rental car. This was the best idea ever as we could go wherever we chose and at whatever time we wanted to. We visited a famous cape where there is a coral formation that resembles an elephants nose and trunk. There were many market stalls nearby and both Ayaka and I did a little shopping. We then travelled on further and visited Ryukyu Mura. This was the original name given to Okinawa. This place is set up as a village that depicts a house in Okinawa some 200 years ago. Okinawa is a very Hawiann type place and here we drank delicious coconut milk. We also watched a live show of Japanese singing and dancing. We then headed on the road again until we stopped at the South East Botanical Gardens. The scenery took your breath away. As it was very hot we decided to take a train ride around the gardents. The area is absolutely beautiful and I took many photos. Again there was a large shop where I bought a Okinawa t-shirt. We then decided to make our way to the hotel where we would be staying for the night. The hotel was in the main street of Okinawa and what a main street it was, no time to rest at hotel we just had to hit the shops. The city is name Nara and is the capital of Okinawa.
Ayaka and I decided to split to give us time to shop on our own, this was a great idea as it have us both the opportunity to seek out our own individual interests. Finally I found Dale some cool gifts, I then went to a beautiful garment shop where I bought a lovely blouse. I met up with Ayaka about 2hrs later and she had also done some shopping. We went back to the motel and showed each other waht we had bought, then Ayaka said she had seen some earrings and a matching necklance that she liked, so guess what we went out shopping again. the earrings and necklance were just beautiful, so I bought them for her to thank her for all she had done for me.
We then decided to have a special dinner on our final evening in Okinawa. We chose a lovely Japanese Restaurant. Sitting was Japanese style as was the food of course. I had deep fried vegetables and finished off with a parfait of icecream, cream and fruit. During dinner there was Japanese dancing and singing and it was a lovely way to end our trip. We then left the restaurant, and the street was still buzzing, we thought we would go for another quick walk as all the shops were still open. At the place where Ayaka got her jewellery, the guy asked me if I could be his adopted mother, he was a lovely guy and I even had my photo taken with me. He said I was a special mother and he liked being my adopted son. We then went back to the motel to sort our shopping and get our clothes ready for tomorrow. We had a really fantastic day and I must congratulate Ayaka on her navigation skills, she had certainly done her homework.
Well tomorrow I will report on Tuesday's adventure. There is still so much to tell but I do not want to bore you all at once.
Bye for now
Judy

Suday and it is Time to leave Ishigaka - Solitary island.

Today we left the island of Ishigaka and went by plane to the main island of Okinawa. We again hired a small car to get around this rather large island. I left the driving to Ayaka as I was very tired. It took us almost two hours to get to our first destination. This was a very large park and the entrance had some beautiful plants which had been made into whales, turtles and frogs etc it was just so clever the way it had been done. This park held a very large aquarium inside. It was huge with various aquariums housing unique kinds of sea life. If you have never seen one of these floor to ceiling aquariums in Japan it is a must see as they have done it magnificently. We spent several hours there and also watched a short dolphin show. The heat and humidity had increased and cold drinks were the order of the day. We then left this wonderland and travelled to a tropical fruit wonderland as this was the only way to describe it. It could tell you the proper name but I would have to go through all my collection to find its name. First of all we went into the butterfly house and saw how they change from caterpiller, making their coccoon and then hatching as a butterfly. We then went into the bird enclosure where the most beautiful parrots were flying about, their colours were just stunning. We then moved on to where the tropical plants were growing. We could see bananas growing on trees, pineapples growing and many other tropical fruits. It was a real experience to see this type of fruit growing. Adjacent was a very large shopping area which I could not resist. First I tried a yummy mango smoothie and then yes I went shopping. I bought a dress, necklance and some earrings. We then left this magnificent place and drove to our hotel. We stayed a Okinawa Beach Resort Ocean Spa Kariyushi. Again Ayaka had picked out a magnificent hotel for us to stay in. The entrance was awe inspiring. We were shown to our room which was on the 5th floor overlooking the unreal outdoor pool. It was very hot so we decided to go for a swim in the beautiful indoor pool. After a 30min swim we went into the public bath. After that we thought we should eat something after all it was already 9pm, but then Ayaka decided that she wanted to walk to the convenience store down the road, a quite steep road and I did wonder if I would make it back up. We were certainly getting our share of exercise. When we returned to the hotel I did a little shopping - yes I think I am a shopping nut. We then retired to our room after another wonderful day.

Saturday at Club Med.

As I had previously stated on Saturday early evening Ayaka asked me to drive to Club Med. This drive took approx. 50 mins. By the time we arrived Ayaka looked stunning she had spent the 50 mins putting on her makeup, regardless to say that I looked a complete wreck.
When we arrived at Club Med, Ayaka gave me a short tour of the whole complex. Here you can swim, play tennis, play soccer, learn crafts you name it you can do it. We then went for an amazing dinner in the very large dining room. This room was incredible, we were seated at a table where there were already a number of people sitting. At first I thought this was a bit strange but it turned out to be the best thing. We were introduced to two young girls Aya and Kayo who were both working in the child minding centre at Club Med. It turned out that Kayo had also been a homestay student and had visited Australia several times. She spoke perfect English so it was lovely to converse with someone who was a stranger. The whole table of people was very friendly and we had a wonderful time. The food was simply amazing and we could eat and drink as much as we liked. Nothing seemed to much trouble to the waiting staff. After dinner we made out way to another large come theatre room and here we were treated to some beautiful Japanese dancing. I just love live shows and this was no exception. After the live show we made our way to what would probably be called the piano bar. We sat outside as it was very warm. The place was abuzz with people everywhere. We were allowed to drink any beveridge we desired as this was included in the entrance fee and we certainly had our monies worth.
As the evening progressed on of the chefs joined out table, he was Indonesian but spoke English, he remembered Ayaka from when she visited there with her family in April. A little later we were joined by a maintenance worker who was Burmanese. Both men were great company and made sure we always had a drink in our hand. A little later we were joined by the man who was singing at the piano. He was another nationality but I could converse with him too. They all remembered Ayaka, and they kept on telling her how beautiful she was. No wonder she looked amazing with her makeup on. A little later we were joined by another person from the club and he and Ayaka talked quite a bit. At 11pm I was ready for home but Ayaka really wanted to stay she was having such a good time, I agreed because I also was having a great time. Next thing I know Ayaka has gone missing, where had she gone, she had left me with the chef and the maintenance worker, but it was not long before I spotted her talking with some people she knew.
At 12pm the show came to an end and we had no choice but to return to our hotel. It had been an amazing night and I know Ayaka had really enjoyed herself. We arrived back at our hotel at about 1am having had a fantastic day but also very tired but I think Ayaka was still partying in her sleep, I said to her I think you enjoy clubbing but she did not understand what I meant and I explained that this was she had been doing minus the alchohol.
Next post will be our adventures on Sunday.
Bye for now
Judy

Sunday, August 30, 2009

I am now back home and all is well.

To all my dear friends, I have been home for a week now and settling down to mundane chores has been very difficult. There seemed to be a mountain of washing and ironing to do, not to mention housework and re acquainting myself with my new puppy Keiko. People have asked me when am I going to finish my blog, so starting from tomorrow I will try and fill you on the last few days that I spent in Okinawa, what took place when I returned to Tokyo and the events leading up to my returning to Adelaide.
So please watch this space as I will post several blogs for you to read.
Judy

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Especially for Lynne

Lynne I hope you read this blog tomorrow. I just want to say thank you for following me on my amazing trip, there is so much to tell still but it just got too much to type in but I hope to fill in the gaps when I get home. I have really enjoyed your comments and have appreciated the time you have taken to write them. You are right it was a funny site me trying to put my leg in the sleeve but isn't this how we learn by our mistakes, that is my excuse anyway. Hope to catch up with you when I get back maybe if you have time one Friday we could go out for lunch, Jeff says he is taking my car keys away so that I stay home for a while but he has got two chances none and bucklies. I am really looking forward to seeing Keiko as apparently she has grown heaps but it seems she is totally out of control because Jeff has let her do what she wants and has spoiled her rotten, so much for taking her to puppy school.
Well I am all packed, have much excess luggage as I have received some wonderful gifts and I do not have to wait for them to be posted home, so I am leaving my clothes behind and taking my gifts.
Hope you and Stuart are well
Sayannara Judy

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

My trip nears its end.

Well my final day is almost here and my adventure nears its end.
From Tokyo to Nikko back to Tokyo to Roppingi Hills, to Nagano to Nagaizumi, back to Tokyo and then to Okinawara to Ishigaki and back to Okinawa and many places in between. I have experienced the amazing life at Gunma, the sites and sounds of Nikko and a spectacular fireworks dispay, a beautiful facial and spending time with Naomi's wonderful family and being able to witness the families musical talents, a night I will never forget to Iwashime and experiencing living over the ocean anf visiting fish markets, eating amazing food and the very respectful staff and then witnessing beautiful waterfalls & scenery at Nagaizumi and also the safari land, then the extrodinary islands of Okinawa where I experienced snorkelling, riding vessels on the ocean to taking a cart ride with a water buffalo to experiencing ink dying on fabris to glass blowing to visiting many places of interest, to two wonderful fireworks displays to watching a live concert, to listening to the sounds of the Taiko drums to visiting Peace Hall to experiencing the devastation of the war in Okinawa to seeing snake shows to visiting the beautiful Botanical gardens, to Fruitland and the amazing tropical fruits that are grown in this area. Can you believe I have not mentioned doing shopping but retail therapy was very special part of the whole experience. I have done so much, seen so much enjoyed everything and had the most wonderful time. All of this would not have been possible if it were not for some truly amazing people and especially my Japanee families and to my host daughter Ayaka. I have been very priveledged to experience such things and I am truly grateful to Naomi, Mr & Mrs Yoshikawa - their extended family, to Kumiko and Mr & Mrs Fujii and to my special family Yukiko, Hideaki and Yukari and especially to Ayaka who without her and Naomi this trip would just have been a dream I cannot wait to catch up with all my family and fill you all in on the wonderful things I have done. I have many wonderful memories that will last a lifetime.
To my Japanese friends GOSHINSETU ARIGATOU and eve more important IROIRO ARIGATOU GOZAIMASU and I look forward to you all visiting me and my family and friends in Australia in the very near future. I will miss you all but you will be forever more be in my thoughts.
Sayonnara to you all and thank you for everything.