Japan Adventures: Kyoto Part 2

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Arashiyama Bamboo forest
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Amazing sound with the wind whipping through them
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Temple entrance

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Forest keepers
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Beautiful Fall day
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Hozugawa River
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Peace!
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600 kimono art
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Last night in Kyoto- we found this great yakisoba restaurant
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Olivia enjoying dinner

Our last day trip was to Arashiyama as it was a short train ride on the Randen Katabiranotsuji train line to Arashiyama. The Tenryu-ji Temple, Kimono forest (art installation of kimono designs), Togetsukyo bridge, Sagano train ride, Hozugawa river boat ride, and lots of shopping! Carre, Olivia and I spent the afternoon in Arashiyama. It was extremely crowded, and for good reason, its a wonderful place to visit. I had my heart set on the Hozugawa River boat cruise but we arrived so late in the afternoon so for sure we will do it next time!
Kyoto is so charming. It was my favorite place we visited this time and I CANNOT wait to go back. I would love to visit in the wintertime. Because we practice the art of aikido, we are fortunate to have the ability to travel to Japan every couple of years. I feel so lucky to have aikido in my life. The Japanese culture has enriched my life in so many ways and it really is a culture to admire and respect. I think Japan is one of the loveliest places I’ve visited. Our next adventure is back to the Tokyo area of Tama (aka the land of HELLO KITTY!)…

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Japan Adventures: Toyama

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Traveling to Toyama
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Bento box lunch I chose for train ride. It had 50 different things to try!
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Our room at the Kadokyu ryokan
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Giant persimmon tree outside the window of our room
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Innkeeper dressing Natalie in kimono
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Natalie and Olivia in kimono
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Dressed in kimono outside Buddha of Takaoka
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25 foot bronze Buddha of Takaoka
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Flowers on alter inside Buddha of Takaoka
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Wonderful lunch with good friends
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Aikido group when Doshu visited Budokan and taught. I’m sitting to the left of the man in the suit in front
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Greenwood Aikido students who traveled with us to Japan
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Beautiful chrysanthemums at Kureha Heights hotel
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Traditional dance and music performance
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Gorgeous dinner
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Carre and I at celebration dinner
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Chikako, Roger and Yoshida Sensei making toasts
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Everyone having a fun time!

 

The next stop in our Japanese adventure was to Takaoka in Toyama Prefecture. Here we joined our Aikido Sensei, Koji Yoshida to participate in a three-day aikido seminar taught by Nishio style aikidoka from all over the world. People traveled from Ukraine, France, Mexico, Sweden, Czech Republic, Russia, Malaysia and more. It was organized to commemorate Yufukan Dojo’s 40 years in Aikido.

A special class was taught by the current Doshu of Aikikai. Guest instructors, including my husband, Philip each taught a class.

Our first accommodations were at the Kadokyu ryokan (traditional inn) for two nights. We very much enjoyed our stay here! Our family had our own room and it was spacious and had a beautiful view of the gardens. We slept on futons and had buckwheat pillows for the perfect nights sleep.

The ryokan had a great soaking tub and breakfast was delicious too. One of the highlights from our stay at the ryokan was the sweet innkeeper. She made sure that our every need was met. Upon arrival I told her that I noticed outside our window a giant persimmon tree. She excused herself and came back with persimmon slices for us to eat. This small act made my heart swell, but there was something else that she did for Olivia and Natalie on our first night stay. She asked them to come into a room where she asked if they would like to be dressed in kimono. They agreed and she proceeded to dress them both. I had never watched the careful and detailed order of this art. Each of the girls had three under garments and each of those under garments were accessorized with thick belts and topped off with a haori (jacket). So many layers. So much attention to detail. Just being witness to her care and consideration really touched my heart. I thanked her many times and the girls went to dinner with our group feeling like princesses.

Across the street from the ryokan sits the Buddha of Takaoka, or Takaoka Daibutsu. This 25 foot bronze statue is the third largest Buddha in Japan. The Buddha of Takaoka was originally built in 1221, and there have been many reincarnations of it as it was originally made of wood and burned down several times before being re-built in bronze.

Our second accommodations in Toyama were at Kureha Heights. A beautiful hotel with an amazing view and onsen. After our aikido seminar we quickly rushed to get back, bathed and got ready for the beautiful night Yoshida Sensei had prepared with traditional dance, music and a feast to celebrate that was incredible. I have to say that dinner was the most beautiful Japanese dinner I’ve ever had.

We said many toasts, celebrated our good friends Chikako and Roger on their recent wedding. Yoshida Sensei arranged for them both to be dressed in traditional Japanese wedding attire and surprised the 100+ guests. They looked so happy! We had a great night and sake was brought in that our late teacher, Nishio Sensei loved. We had good food, good drink and great company to share it all with. All in all it felt like a celebration of love and happiness. Sounds corny, but everything just felt like it came from love. I am grateful to all who planned and made this an experience to remember!

 

 

 

Japan Adventures: Tokyo and Kanazawa

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Olivia very excited to be back in Japan!
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Carre’s first time in Japan!
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Our aikido students: Mike, Simeon and Mike
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Chibi Harry Potter merchandise
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Manhole cover in Ueno Park
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Family picture in Ueno Park
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In Kanazawa we arranged to have a class in wagashi confection
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Top left is beginner, bottom left is intermediate and yellow on left most difficult. It was very challenging!
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Lovely lunch in Kanazawa with our friends
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We toured Kanazawa Castle built in 1590’s
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Kanazawa Castle grounds
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Inside its all wood!
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They had an ikebana exhibit inside the castle
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Part of our group that visited Kanazawa! What a great day!
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Kenroku-en Gardens: These ropes are used when snow is falling as to protect the trees from the weight upon their limbs
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Golden Japanese maple leaf
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The colors were so spectacular! The last time we visited was in the Summer so seeing all the Fall colors was a treat!

We arrived in Tokyo late afternoon and were ready to get started on our 12 day trip through Japan. We were in Tokyo for one night so we didn’t have much planned other than getting to our hotel and getting some food and do some local sight seeing. The flight over takes 12 hours so we were pretty tired from the traveling by plane and then by bus to get to our hotel in Shinjuku at the APA Hotel. We found a yakiniko restaurant (each table has a built in BBQ) where you can grill up your meat and vegetables just how you like them. We were happy to eat and have some beers.

The next morning we woke around 5 to get up and packed for the first morning aikido training session at Hombu dojo that started at 6:30am. We invited our aikido students to come to Japan and happily three came with! It was all of their first time in Japan. After training we headed back to the hotel, had a hearty breakfast and then took the train to Kanazawa for the day. First we had an hour long class on the traditional confection called wagashi. Wagashi is usually served with tea (most common confection in traditional Japanese tea ceremony). We made three different wagashi, each different scales of complexity and difficulty. Our teacher had been making wagashi his entire life! Next we headed to Kanazawa Castle. We toured the grounds, took lots of pictures and had a great day. The castle was beautiful inside! So much history and so much beauty. After touring the castle we made our way to lunch where we had a nice time with several different small meals. After this we headed to the Kenroku-en gardens. Some of our group had some seasonal corn soup and tea. We decided on coffee to warm up as the day was cold and gloomy. This area was pretty touristy. This time of year people travel all over to see the seasonal changes in landscape. It was a beautiful garden and I hope to visit there again someday.

This was our last stop before heading back to hotel to pack up and travel to Takaoka where we stay in a traditional ryokan for three days.

Keep posted for the next part of our trip to beautiful Takaoka and then Kyoto!

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Art Cosplay Expo 2015

ace cosplay temecula

3rd Annual Japanese Traditional and Pop Culture Event here in beautiful Temecula, California

Together, Art Cosplay Expo and The Temecula Sister City Association  present a two day event celebrating Japanese traditional and pop-culture September 11 – 12, 2015 at the Old Town Temecula Civic Center, Town Square Park and Civic Quad. This is Art Cosplay Expo’s (ACE) third year and event organizers are excited about the fusion of partnering with the Temecula Sister City Association to add the traditional Japanese cultural component to this years event. Temecula City Council Member Maryann Edwards states “We are pleased  that the Temecula Sister City Association and ACE have partnered to bring an exciting event for our youth and young at heart that will promote cultural and artistic exchanges in Temecula”.

On day one of the event, organizers will conduct an Obon Ceremony in remembrance of 9/11 on Friday September 11, 2015 at 7:00 pm. The brief remembrance ceremony is open to the public and will be held at the City Hall fountain. New this year, a Masquerade Cosplay Ball will be held at the Temecula Civic Center. This is an exciting evening of dancing and entertainment provided by featured guest cosplayers and other VIP activities. There are limited tickets available to the VIP Masquerade ball. The VIP Two-Day tickets include admittance to the Saturday All-Day event on September 12 from 1:00 pm to 9:00 pm.

On day two, event activities will fill the Civic Center, Chambers, Halls,  Town Square and Main Stage in the Civic Quad.  The majority of the Pop-Culture activities will take place indoors. This years Pop-Culture entertainment and panel line up feature world’s best-selling author of How-To-Draw books Christopher Hart, award winning writer, producer and director Kirk Kushin, graphic novel author Xinophin, vocaloid performer Yukie Dong, Temecula’s resident Improv Troup Pseudo Random Noise (PRN), Block Party Gaming, and more! This years event has many returning vendors including Tokyo Lifestyles, Anime Coast, Manga Mania and So-Cal Games and Comics to name a few.

The Japanese traditional entertainment and demonstrations throughout the festival will include Bun Raku Puppet Show, Japanese Taiko Drummers, Kendama Tournament (Kenama 951), a martial arts and Iaido swordsmanship demonstrations and Japanese food, crafts and activities (Greenwood Aikido). Cultural displays will showcase the cultural exchanges that have taken place between the City of Temecula and sister city Daisen in Japan.

A highlight of the ACE Japanese Festival and new this year is the inaugural crowning of Miss Cherry Blossom Temecula. The title holders will represent the Temecula Sister City Association as cultural ambassadors.

VIP Two-day admission tickets are $35.00 (Limited availability). The One-day admission tickets for SATURDAY ONLY is $20.00 there is a discounted ticket of $12.00 for attendees 12 and under.   For more information on the event and TICKETS, visit http://www.ArtCosplayExpo.com or http://www.ACETemecula.org.

San Diego Japanese Food Festival 2014

join us for a taste of japan
Held in Balboa Park
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Yakitori being grilled
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Ladies selling taiyaki
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Visitors
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Taiyaki- red bean filled sweet dessert
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Yakisoba
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Liv loves sushi (and Attack on Titan) 🙂
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Rillakuma had to come too
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Gates to gardens
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Local artisan
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Aren’t these beautiful?
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Karesansui (dry landscape) garden
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New pavilion during expansion

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This past weekend we visited San Diego’s Japanese Friendship Garden in Balboa Park for their annual Taste of Japan- a place to sample many of Japans “street foods”, common throughout Japan. We purchased many delicious food items. We enjoyed yakitori (grilled meats, organs-grilled over special coals from Japan), yakisoba (grilled noodles with veggies), sushi, taiyaki (red bean waffle cake shaped like a fish), and ended our eating adventures with shaved ice.

The Taste of Japan also featured local artisans like Tsuyosa Creations who recycles old kimono’s into beautiful bags, purses and pillows. Kyocera- known for their knife and kitchen tools were there for people to try out. Totally bamboo was here selling bamboo kitchenware and accessories and Sylvia Hwa was here selling Asian-inspired, hand-made cards, notebooks, and bags.

Singers performed traditional Japanese folk songs and they even had a Halloween costume contest for the little kids along with fun Halloween crafts.

The Friendship Garden is a great place to visit if you love Japanese culture, art and a quiet, serene place to visit. The strolling gardens offer beautiful specimens of pine tree, bonsai and more. I hear it’s the place to go to see the cherry trees blossom in the Spring.

They offer changing exhibits throughout the year that focus on Japanese culture and are currently expanding the gardens which will include a traditional tea house, a pavilion for three hundred patrons, and outdoor amphitheater. It’s my understanding that they will also offer classes in the traditional arts once they expansion is completed.