Thursday, April 30, 2009

JAPAN SAKURA TRIP April 2009: 6/9

Day 6 11th/April Saturday: Miyajima Tori, Tokuyama, Sunouda ferry ride to Kyushu, Suginoi Hotel, Beppu

Early in the morning, we took this ferry to Miyajima

It wasn't too crowded

On the way, we saw many oyster farms

After a while, the famous"Miyajima Tori "was in sight.

This place is supposed to be one of the 3 scenic spots in Japan

and it's a world heritage site

This tori is the most photographed tori in the whole world.
Since young, when we watched Japanese movies or documentary films, the giant red tori standing proudly in the sea had always been this one!

Looking left, a red pagoda shyly crouches behind those blooming sakura.

The ladies with huge hand begs felt safe with this body guard.

Japan is the only place where sake ( Japanese rice wine ) are proudly displayed in their temples.

From here, we were supposed to rush for our 12:00 noon ferry to Takedazu, Kyushu by 11:30am, and take our bento lunch on board. This is the most important timing we MUST keep in our whole journey, ie. to be at the ferry terminal by 11:30am, as the next ferry leaves by 3:30pm. However, Murphy's law struck! There was a car accident on the highway, and we could only arrive by 12:30PM. So we missed! Well, we ended up taking our bento in the terminal.

This was how the 'bento'( Japanese packed lunch or dinner) looked like.

It's quite an experience for many. Uncle for one enjoyed :)

This was how it looked like when unwrapped, rather filling.

Looking at the bright side, we had a gala time shopping for 2 hours, and #6 bought a lot of medicine for his aging ankle .
Those vain pots grabbed facial masks, sunblocks etc,
while photographers packed high speed 4G SD cards.
Some specialised in tit bits, food, and more food.......

In the ferry's cabin, was #6 looking at the 'ankle guard' or last night's bill? He looked sad!

After boarding the new bus, en route to Beppu, Tsih Ern was fast enough to catch this beautiful sunset, with 5 suns

Suginoi is the biggest hotel in Beppu. There are lot's of activities available. However, we arrived late, and the first thing we did was a competition"
See who looked more like Nihon-jin (Japanese)?
Did they?

How about this family?

or this couple?

He surely looked too prosperous...

These two?

And the unanimous decision went to this one!

Today is actually a big day! 27th anniversary of someone!

When the cake was brought out, the couples' smile spoke everything....

They were in a romantic mood,
as his mouth was full of food...

Champagne poured, buddies cheered,
"happy anniversary #9 and Kok Yean!"

The inevitable act, and uncle was sooooooo amused!

Then Tsih Ern dedicated a song, 甜蜜蜜 :), while every one clapped along.....

Then I spoke on behalf of #9, to 'Honey'......
...." I was deeply in love with your mole at first sight.....

In the year 2039, 30 years from now, our photo might have faded like below, but my love towards you , 'honey', will never change........;)
Let's come to Suginoi Hotel again. They serve good porridge"

#9 felt so romantic that he wanted to go back to his room immediately.
However, we pulled him to the open air Tanayu onsen

The ladies separately had a gala time, soaking and gossiping the whole night, while we panicked as none of them seemed to return, despite in the wee hours of the next morning.

Finally, they appeared, so energetic and rejuvenated.
Poor #9, what an anniversary!
Good morning....

JAPAN SAKURA TRIP April 2009 5/9

Day 5 10th/April Friday: Himeji Castle, Hiroshima, Peace museum, Kanawa oyster meal

Today is a day of traveling.
After leaving Osaka Dai-ichi hotel, we headed west towards Hiroshima.
Needless to say, we stopped for this very scenic Himeji Castle, reputed to be one of the three most beautiful original castles in Japan
, especially taken with Sakura.
It is called "The White Crane" due to the white coloured walls.
The film by Tom Cruise, " The last Samurai" and the James Bond movie, "You only live twice" were shot here .

The moment we walked in, the ladies quickly demanded a photo.

The way in was covered with Sakura trees,

and our timing couldn't be better ;)

This was the courtyard where many samurais conducted "harakiri" , the Japanese act of committing suicide by cutting through their stomach.

We climbed up to the top of the castle, and the surrounding view was majestic.

Lunch was something new, "Okonomiyaki", or Japanese pizza.
Osaka and Hiroshima are famous for this dish.

However, #6 claimed that there were no meat inside, as he believes eating only vegetables will result in horns emerging from his forehead.
So he did not finish this dish! What a waste!

Then, we took a little walk along this very old typical Japanese village, where boats were important means of transport those days. Swans and big fish roam the river freely.

There were many traditional shops around, and #8 had special liking for this one.

We then headed towards Hiroshima, and were just in time to enter the Hiroshima Peace Museum.
August 6th, 1945, the first Atomic bomb exploded here at 8:16am.
Hugh cloud mushroomed to a height of 10,000 meters. We felt so sorry for the dead.

The little fire at the back of uncle Looi will only be extinguished after the world is rid of nuclear weapons, on the day of NEVER!

This is the peace statue of Miss Sadako, who died a slow death of Leukemia after the blast.
The tradition of Japanese making a thousand paper cranes, called " Sen-tsuru" to fulfill their wish comes from this sad event.

That night, we patronised a boat restaurant, called "Kanawa", a shop specialised in oysters. Hiroshima is one of the biggest producers of succulent oysters in Japan.

This room commanded a peaceful night view of the river.
However, inside the room, there were a lot of actions going on....

While most took the 'oyster meal', some opted for "Fish & oysters". However, every one started with the same Japanese vegetable dish:

& appetizer....

& soups.....

while some had this appetizer,

Then the main course for those taking "oyster meal" came.

"This month is April, so according to Japanese believe, it is safe to eat oysters", I assured #8.
Only months which end with a "r", like September, October, December etc, have high potential of 'oyster poisoning'.
Don't know how true it is? I was once told that oysters become pregnant these months, so there tend to be some toxic components in their body. Good luck if you are that adventurous!
This was semi-baked oyster.

Fried oysters, every one's favourite.

This is cooked oysters in a cast iron pot.

When opened, it looked like this.
However, this photo was taken after it was more than half consumed :)

The grand finale was oyster rice, but most could not take anymore.
What a waste! I am feeling hungry right now, at 2:10am :(

Some opted for "Fish and Oyster meal", so they had some dishes like this:

and baked fish,

plus boiled fish,

and more raw fish.

However, we all ended up happily in the same charmingly decorated dessert.
This was the most expensive meal of our journey, that's why I posted so many photos from this meal:) Thank you #6 :)