The Jon

Hawaiian Wedding Day 9

[Click here to see the slideshow of all of our Day 9 pictures]

Wow, I meant to write this sooner, but I just never got around to it. The 9th day of our wedding trip to Hawaii was actually one of the most exciting. As I said in the previous entry, Hawaiian Wedding Day 8, we just arrived in Maui for the first time. The first day was spent mainly around the hotel resort area. Of course it was fun, but on this day, we were going to go on the Road to Hana.

The previous night we went to bed a little early because we were planning on getting up a little before 6am. We wanted to leave as early as possible so we could see as much as we could. The Road to Hana is famous for having such wonderful sights, including tons of waterfalls. Unfortunately, there were some issues getting my new wife up. But we were able to leave for breakfast fairly early and were one of the first people there. Speaking of breakfast… it was sooo nice! They had almost anything that you would want to eat for breakfast. Plus a chef was there to make your eggs any way you want! They also had some really good tea, some kinda spices mixed with cinnamon.

IMG_8887

That is me and some of our breakfast! It was a buffet style, so I had a little more than this. After breakfast was over, we went back to our room to get ready for the start of our trip. We got a decent start, and our first stop was to see the Nakalele Blowhole.

IMG_8905

It is hard to come at the right time, but it was shooting up a fair bit, as you can see in that picture. I wanted to walk down further in that area, it is known as the Acid War Zone and supposed to have some fairly bizarre rock formations due to the flying salt water eroding the rocks. It looked a bit wet, and the big waves this day were a little threatening,  so I passed on it… for this time. But will definitely check it out the next time I’m in Maui ;) After this, we did make one stop nearby. You could see the blowhole from there as well, plus it started to rain and there was a rainbow.

That was one thing I found interesting about Maui. The weather could change so easily. Within a span of 5 minutes, it can go from clear and sunny, to a downpour, and then back to clear and sunny! It made driving with a convertible a bit difficult, but we managed :)

Next stop was a place that had some natural pools. The tour guide book I bought said that on calm days, you can actually enter the water here and relax while you see the ocean. This day was far from calm, and the waves were crashing and making the pool overflow. So I didn’t feel like going in it :P But got fairly close and it was just nice to watch.

IMG_8917

Now to continue further down this road, the map showed an area that had a dotted line. Apparently it gets narrow and dangerous in this area, so if something happens, the rental car insurance does not come in effect. Basically, drive at your own risk. Naturally, I couldn’t turn this down! And let me tell you, the road was VERY narrow, in addition to it being a mountain. As if that wasn’t enough, there was also oncoming traffic to deal with. I was too busy navigating this road, but Yukari took a video of what it was like:

How was that? There was a small town along the way, and a place was selling some food stuff there. We stopped and we bought some freshly made banana bread. We also got some coconut candy from there. It is kinda hard to describe, but it was very good. The name of the place was Julie’s Banana Bread. I would highly recommend it to anyone that happens to be there! And you can always order it online as well (if you live in the US). After that we continued driving, and made a short stop in the town of Paia. The Road to Hana starts from here, so we were finally getting close. This is also the area where all of the waterfalls start! I did make a wrong turn at one point, and we ended up driving through a pineapple farm. But after getting our bearings back, we stopped at our first waterfall. It was a small one, and we had to hike through some mud to find it. I guess a lot of the water was being siphoned off for the sugar plants… hard to see but here it is:

IMG_8942

Guess you just had to be there, huh? Driving on the road was so nice, but the thing to keep in mind is that although this is called the road to hana, the actual destination is not Hana. There really is no destination, you should just drive and stop at all the places to see what Maui has to offer. Once you get to Hana, there isn’t much there (other than the red sand beach), so don’t be in a hurry to just drive the road to get to the destination. You will be disappointed. Of course,  I already knew that so we stopped at many places along the way. I think if I continue talking about it, I would just show every picture we took! So, some of the highlights were:

- Seeing the youngest parts of Maui, the newish lava of the coast is still being shaped by the power of the ocean

- Lots of waterfalls in nooks and crannies of the island

- LARGE waterfalls!

- Lots of old bridges that are the lifeline for people living in this area

- Blacksand beach (there was a black cat there too!)

- Just the beautiful green color of Maui everywhere.

- Driving the road in a convertible when it is starting to get dark is fun. No slow cars in front of you!

The book said not to drive in this area when it gets close to dark, but as long as you are a good driver, you should be fine. Even when it was getting dark, there were no major issues… just don’t drive off the cliff I guess ;) So here is a good picture I took of Yukari:

IMG_8977

I know I’m good! Oh, and if you do decide to go… make sure to bring some junky clothes, as you will get muddy hiking around going to see the hidden waterfalls. Unfortunately, I wasn’t prepared well enough so I missed on some good ones, because I didn’t want to get too dirty. There were some people that literally got covered in mud (they slipped and fell face first in a mud puddle). I can’t wait to go back and do this again! Who wants to go with me? :D

We got back to our resort in time for a somewhat late dinner. We were going to go to a restaurant, but it had an hour long wait! We just decided to go back to our room and get some more room service. This time I got a pizza, and Yukari got a shrimp cocktail and some Maui Onion Rings. Once again very good, and gotta love being able to eat on the sofa in your suite room! Here is a pic of our dinner:

IMG_8994

This was going to be our last night in Hawaii, so it was a bit sad, but it was such a memorable day. Check out our pictures to see what else we saw, cuz there was just too much to write about here. This is already pretty long… so I will close for now. I still have our last day to write about, so check back!

Fukuroda Waterfall in Ibaraki

Some time has passed, but I will finally get around to this now! On the day before my birthday, Yukari, her family, and I took a bus tour up to Ibaraki. Even though it isn’t that far from Tokyo, it was the first time for me to vist there. We got up nice and early to catch the bus around 6:30am. After that, I don’t remember so much.. I guess I slept for a few hours :)

I woke up before we were at our first destination, so I had wait for another few hours before we stopped to see the Fukuroda Waterfall. The day was quite rainy, so the tour guide said that it might have a little more water than usual. Well, she was wrong, it had a lot more water!

P1000914

This picture was taken from the very top viewing platform.  The sound of it was quite loud from up here, but we ventured down, near the bottom of the waterfall.  We took a video of what it was like down there, it was a bit hard to see because there was so much water, but try and imagine while you watch this:

How was that? Needless to say, I was pretty wet after getting a little close to it. After that we made a few more stops. One of the stops was a Japanese sweets museum, and they had an interesting cherry tree there.

This was made out of candy

It was made out of candy! They didn’t let us taste it, so I can’t vouch for how it tasted, but it sure looked nice. After that,  we had a nice long bus ride back home! We were all tired, so we went to bed at a reasonable time and woke up all refreshed on my birthday!

[Click here to see a slideshow of all of the pictures]

Valentines Day

[Click here for a slideshow of all the pictures]

Today was Valentine’s Day! It was such a warm day actually, it went up to 24 degrees C (75 F)! We went out to Ueno for lunch and the afternoon, and didn’t even need a coat. Lots of people were walking around in T-Shirts today actually. While we were in Ueno Park, we got to see some of the early blooming cherry blossoms, like this one:

Couldn't believe it was still Feburary

When we got home later in the day, Yukari started getting dinner ready. I was working on the computer while she was laboring in the kitchen. She shut the door so I couldn’t see what was going on. When I was finally allowed to go into the kitchen, here is what I saw:

Ice wine was sooooo good! We always get white one, but this time we got rose.

Looks really good huh? You can take a look at the set of pictures on Flickr to see the details Yukari wrote about each thing she made. She really is a great cook, everything tasted terrific!

And of course, what would VDay be without some chocolate? Yukari handmade some truffles, they were soooo good as always. I even saved some for tomorrow :) She also made some strawberry ice cream dessert, very nice as well.

Strawberry ice cream dessert

I’m lucky to have such a great wife that makes all this just for me! She always spoils me too much :D

Strawberry Birthday

The weekend before my birthday, Yukari took me out for dinner in Ginza. That was for just the two of us. Since Yukari’s mom’s birthday is the same day as mine, we went back to her parents house to celebrate all together. On Saturday, the day before our birthday, we went to Ibaraki, but I will post about that later.

On Sunday, we all went to Izu to go strawberry picking! Me and Yukari have been talking about doing this for a few years, but never got around to doing it. What we do, is go into a greenhouse where they grow the strawberries, and they let us eat them as we pick them. There was a 30 minute time limit, which actually went by faster than you would think.

The drive to Izu is about 1.5 hours or so from Yukari’s house, so we stopped at Lake Ashi in Hakone. Maybe Lark remembers visiting there. We stopped and took a few pictures after going to the restroom.

Lake Ashi, 芦ノ湖

We then piled back into the car and drove the rest of the way to the place to get strawberries. When we enter the place they gave us a plastic container with some milky cream to dip the strawberries in. Then we entered, and I started eating the strawberries! I was a little too busy to pose for any pictures, but made a few exceptions while I was catching my breath.

Jon LOVES strawberries heaps!

I never had such fresh strawberries, and they tasted so sweet! Just take a look at this suckers:

You can see the tiny strawberry as a flower

Yukari also enjoyed it a lot too. After she was busy taking pictures of everyone, it was time for her to chow down!

I finally recognized! Now I'm making a funny face:P LOL

This was the first time I ever felt so full just from eating strawberries. I didn’t count how many I had, but I would estimate over 50. At the end I was so full, but the last one I ate wasn’t so sweet… so I picked two nice and red ones. They were very sweet, so it was the perfect way to end it. Yukari and I walked back to the place, to try and work off some of the food! We also got some pictures of the area, including this one with Mt. Fuji in the background. Hard to believe that Yukari and I climbed up Mt. Fuji a few years ago.

It was such a perfect weather

Well, that’s all for now. I’ll try and get the Ibaraki pictures up soon. And I’ll be going snowboarding on Saturday… hopefully I won’t wipe out too much.

Superbowl

Living in Japan causes you to miss out on some things that I used to always take for granted in the states. One of those things is the Superbowl. Well football in general. I purchased an NFL Gamepass via Yahoo!, and watched many regular season games (mostly while at work!). But they make you pay extra to watch the playoffs, and even then the superbowl is not broadcast live.

This year, the Superbowl started at 8:30am on a Monday morning. Needless to say, I didn’t get to watch it. Tonight at 2am, they have the repeat of it… in Japanese, with commercials cut. So the entire game is 2 hours, including the Japanese commercials. So I am downloading it on Bittorrent.

I just have to be careful to not see any news. I made a purpose to limit my internet activities today. And I still haven’t looked at facebook yet, afraid of seeing who won. Well, the download should be done by the morning, so I can watch the game by tomorrow night.

So if you don’t wonder why I am corresponding with anyone, now you know why!

Hawaiian Wedding Day 8

Click here to see a slideshow of all the photos from Day 8.

It has been a little while since I wrote about our wedding in Hawaii, but I figured I better finish the last few days up! Especially since it was just  Yukari and me, and no know else was there to experience it with us.

Yukari and I woke up on our last day in Honolulu and met her family at IHOP for our last breakfast. I decided to get a new breakfast, and tried the strawberry banana pancakes. They were even bigger than the normal pancakes I got, but tasted great. Actually, I made some banana pancakes when I was back in Japan because I was craving for some more. Well, after we finished eating we went back to our rooms to complete packing up. Then we checked out and went off to the airport in our limo.

At the airport, Yukari and I went to the domestic flights, since we were headed to Maui, while her family went to the international terminal to head back home.  After a short wait at the airport, we boarded our twin propeller airplane, which was quite small and started off on our trip to Kapalua, Maui! The plane ride was rather uneventful, just had a very bumpy landing due to the strong winds. The captain said that was quite common at this specific airport. When we arrived, we went to get our luggage, but mine was gone! Apparently, this is a very common occurence… so I had to wait for the next plane to bring it. Yukari and I waited there and talked with the tour guide that would be driving us to our hotel. We eventually told them to have it delivered to our hotel, since the plane would have to go back to Honolulu, and come back to Maui before I could get my suitecase.

So, our guide drive us to our hotel, The Ritz-Carlton Kapalua Resort! This is just the sign for the Kapalua area, which has a golf course, restaurants and the Ritz-Carlton resort.

IMG_8779

When we arrived, they let us check into our room, which was an ocean view suite! The hotel was so big, it took about 5 minutes to walk from the front desk to our room! So we got into our room, and the hotel staff showed us around the room. After he left, Yukari and I made a video (actually had to split it into 2) of what our room looks like. Take a look at it on Flickr: Ritz-Carlton Kapalua Suite Room #1, and then #2. After that, it was time to visit the island! First we had to get a rental car…

IMG_8858

This was taken later on, but the only picture of the car from this day. Having a convertable in Hawaii is always great! And since this was for our (first) honeymoon, there was no other choice about what type of car to get ;) We left the hotel to go to the town called Lahaina, which is about a 15-20 minute drive.  When we got to Lahaina, I used a book about Maui that I bought to help me find a free parking spot. It was off of a small road, so quite hard to find. So parking for free made up for the price of the book! Anyways, Lahaina is a small town, but has a very busy main street. The difference between the big highway and the small main street is so much! The main street is the place to be, lots of shops and restaurants. Plus it was right next to the ocean, so it had a nice breeze and great view.

IMG_8830

After we looked around a little bit, we figured it was time to get some food! We found a nice looking restaurant and were able to get a seat fairly quickly. We ordered a few appetizers, the artichoke is pictured below. We also had some smoked marlin with Maui Onions, which are actually really sweet. We had some kind of mixed fruit juice that was great. For the main course Yukari had a cobb salad… and I forget what I had, if I had anything else :P  If I did have something, I’m sure it was good, just like everything else ;) The only problem was that we were seated right next to the ocean, so when a big wave came, it would splash. Fortunately, we didn’t get wet, but some other people got ocean water in their food and all over their clothes. I was content with watching from a little bit of a distance. Here is a picture of the artichoke we had.

IMG_8833

After lunch, we walked around the vibrant main strip. There were lots of people, and lots of stores with all different kinds of things. I ended up buying a dried coconut with some fish painted on it, for my cousin. I should have taken a picture of it, it looked really nice! Yukari looked at some jewelery, but didn’t find anything she really wanted. We also got to see the HUGE tree that is in this area. I couldn’t believe that it was just one tree. We were getting a bit tired from all the walking, so we decided to get back in our convertible and drive up north past the hotel a little bit to see what it was like.  The first stop was at a bay, and some people were snorkeling, but we didn’t have time to. So we just took some pictures from the parking area above the bay. Here is a picture with Yukari.

IMG_8852

After that, we just drove up a little bit more to see what the road and stuff was like. The map had a dotted line in ahead, and the rental company said we would have to pay for any damages that occurred in that area… so of course I was intrigued! Unfortunately, we didn’t get that far before we decided to turn back. We would be going in this area tomorrow, and it was starting to get a little dark. We wanted to go back to the hotel and look around a bit more before getting dinner. So, we left the adventure for the next day… which turned out to be so great! But I’m getting ahead of myself here.

When we got back to the room, we opted to get room service for dinner. It was really good food, and actually at a reasonable price. Plus it was very nice to eat in our room, didn’t have to worry about anything really! I got a cheeseburger with the special Maui onions, and Yukari had a nice salad. It was the first time for me to have room service… and I wish I knew how good it was before! Plus this was like half the price of room service in Japan.

IMG_8882

Well, that was it for our first day in Maui. Just was in the area around our hotel, but had a fun time checking lots of sites out. The weather was great, and the weather report for the next day was supposed to be just as good. So we decided to go to bed early (11pm?) since we would be getting up around 5:45am the next day! We wanted to eat breakfast as soon as it opened, so we would get an early start on the Road to Hana.

28th Birthday Dinner

It isn’t quite my birthday yet, but next weekend we will be going out with Yukari’s family, so Yukari celebrated my birthday a week early by taking me out on Sunday night. So, we got ready and left around 2:30pm to go to Ginza and take a look around at some stores first. Yukari found a few nice things to buy, so we got those… I didn’t find anything this time though. It has been awhile since we went to Ginza together, so it was nice to walk around and see all the stores and walk together.

When it got close to dinner time, we left the store and started walking towards the place that was on the map. Yukari kept the name of the restaurant a secret from me, so she could surprise me. We walked past many nice places, but apparently she had an even better place picked out! When she said, “This is it!” we walked up some stairs that had a lot of tropical fish in an aquarium at the entrance of the restaurant. She then told the staff she had a reservation, and they took us to our table.

As soon as we walked into the restaurant, you could see a huge aquarium that was inside the place. Maybe it was actually 2 big ones, and then one HUGE one that ran almost the length of the room. Our seat was by where all the yellow tropical fish were, and I saw some fish that I was able to see when we went snorkeling in Hawaii. Yukari must have remembered how much fun I had while I was snorkeling! :D

IMG_9480

Oh yeah, and the food was really good too. Just take a look at all the pictures we have. All of the food was so good, it is hard to say what my favorite was. Plus it was all you can drink, so I had around 4 glasses of wine. Yukari had lots of different drinks as well, so it was all good.

For desert, they brought out a cake that had my name written on a cookie in chocolate, and had a sparkler in it as well. In addition to the cake, they had a bottle of wine they gave me to take home that said “Happy Birthday to Jon” on the label. The cake was very good, not too sweet, and I’m saving the wine for later. My wife sure knows what I like!

IMG_9493

After dinner we went to a nearby place and played 5 games of pool. Yukari won 4, and I only won one. :( I’ll have to get my revenge on her later!!

Here is a slideshow of the pictures, enjoy!

Wedding Video

When we had our wedding, we also got a video made of the wedding. Flickr only allows 90 second clips, so Yukari edited it and uploaded a total of 12 short videos. Here is one of them:

Check out the rest of our wedding vidoes on Flickr!

Happy New Year

I know it is already the 11th of the month, but never got around to posting anything recently. In case you haven’t noticed, I gave the site a bit of a makeover. I’ll be doing some slight adjustments here and there, but overall I like this new theme better. Plus I can make some photographs to put at the top of the page. For now, just one… later I’ll add some and it will randomly show one of them.

I also finished migrating all the pictures from my site to Flickr. Thanks to the Flickr API I was able to make some python scripts to ease the migration process. So, all of our old pictures are now at my set page on Flickr.  I’ll also try to finish the Hawaiian Wedding series and post some of the newest pictures we have.

Hawaiian Wedding Day 7

Click here to see a slideshow of all the photos from Day 7.

The 7th day marked the day that my mom, Lark, and Jim would be leaving to go back home. We wanted to make sure that we made the most of what was left of their trip. So we decided on going to see the sunrise at Hanauma Bay. This would be the first sunrise for us to see on the whole trip actually. We left the hotel at a dark 5:30am, and drive straight out to Hanauma Bay. When we went to park the car, we noticed that the attendant that you pay $1 to for parking was not there… so we got free parking! Only $2, but it was a nice treat. The early bird really does get the worm! ;) So after parking, we walked up to the top of the hill (or maybe it was a small mountain?) and shortly after we got to the top, the sun started to crawl over the horizon

IMG_8719

After enjoying the sunrise, it was off to go snorkeling! Normally the entrance fee for Hanauma Bay is $5, but we found out that if you enter before 7am, it is free! So Lark, Jim, Yukari, her mom, sister and dad and I all got in for free. So in all we saved $37! :D And after we got in, I was off to run down to the beach and start snorkeling. My goal was to be in the water as much as possible! Here is a picture of me and Lark as we rush off ahead of everyone.

IMG_8729

Once I got in the water, I was so busy taking a look at all the fish. It was amazing at the number of fish that surrounded me and would just swim straight up to me! I found that right over the reef was the hardest part to snorkel, but provided the best views. Inside the reef, I could see all kinds of urchins, and the occasional moray eel. That was a bit scary… like a big worm with teeth slithering through the holes of the reef. And it had a bright red body with white stripes. But there were plenty of nice looking fish as well. I remember seeing a cornetfish, which was very thin and long. I had taken too many pictures by then, so I couldn’t get one of it. But here is a picture of the state fish of Hawaii, maybe Yukari took this one.

img039

Unfortunately, we had to leave around 10am. I really could have stayed there the entire day! We went back to the hotel and everyone met by mom in the lobby to see her off. Her bus was leaving a little before noon, but it was nice that everyone could say bye to her. I guess she cried and stuff when her bus came, you know, her being a girl and all. :P

After that Lark, Jim, and I went to return one of our rental cars, and then take the other one to Chinatown for lunch. Jim didn’t feel like walking around and eating Chinese food, so he said he was going to stay in the car while we went out. So Lark was looking for a parking spot, and decided on a free one by a park. I noticed an unusual amount of homeless people, but Lark didn’t seem to mind parking there. As we were walking away I mentioned to here about the amount of homeless people and was joking if it was safe to park there. We then just walked around trying to find  a place that had some good looking food and after making a circle around Chinatown, we decided on one place. The food was good, but I think the Chinatown in Yokohama is much better. After lunch, I was starting to get really tired, but we walked around looking at some stores. I didn’t buy anything, but I think Lark bought something. When we were walking back to the car I was joking to Lark about how I hope Jim was still in the car. Maybe he joined the homeless people in the park or something. It turned out that there were some shady people there, and at one point one of them sat on the hood of the car while Jim was there. So, I guess it was a bit more dangerous than I even thought it was. That would explain why Chinatown isn’t mentioned in any of the Japanese guide books about Honolulu.

Well, Jim did survive the car wait, and they were off to drive me back to the hotel. They dropped me off, and we said our goodbyes… then I went to my room and slept. I was so tired from running around all week, it felt good to just relax for a little bit. I wanted to go to Waikiki Beach and relax there, but was too tired to walk down there even. In the evening, I met up with Yukari and her family and we went to Ala Moana Shopping Center to get some final shopping done and grab some dinner. After we went back to the hotel room, we watched the wedding DVD that just arrived with her family. And then I was out.

This was our last full day on Oahu island, but in the morning we would be departing for Maui!