We have been to Vegas and LA area for Bachelor´s Party!
It was really aaaawwweeesome, but: what happened in Vegas, stays in Vegas.
We have been to Vegas and LA area for Bachelor´s Party!
It was really aaaawwweeesome, but: what happened in Vegas, stays in Vegas.
August is absolutely not the best time to travel to Japan. It is too hot to relax and too hot to jump into the role as a sightseeing-tourist. Nevertheless, we are here now and we should do what good tourists do!
We arrived on Friday afternoon after leaving beautiful Okinawa in the morning. The flight with JetStar back to Kansai Airport was good and without any turbulences. After arriving in-time at “KIX” domestic terminal, we took the JR Haruka Express train to Kyoto, what costs around 25 Euros each and took 75 minutes. After check-in at the hotel and a quick shop stop in a “Kombini” (that´s what the japanese call their deli´s) and a little odissey in the Kyoto subway system (very little “english” signs and maps), we arrived in Karasuma-Oike at Iyemon Salon. That´s a famous green tea lounge & restaurant, located in the popular restaurant district in Kyoto.
They serve many green tea – inspired drinks and food, so we tried out a lot and everything was pretty good! Especially the dessert, vanilla ice cream with fresh made green tea sauce. Very delicious – try it when you´ve the opportunity to go there one day. Thanks a lot also to our friends for the invitation! It was already night when we finished dinner and due to the subway end-of-service, a taxi took us back to the hotel.
Saturday was our 2nd day in Kyoto and weather forecast was up to 37 degrees celsius and thunderstorms in the afternoon. But that was only half of the truth, outside it felt like 45 degrees in the morning… but remember, we are tourists and have no chance to skip the sightseeing program. With a day ticket voucher for the bus system in Kyoto in our hands we started the hell ride into direction of the golden temple “Kinkaku-ji”. The temple is located outside the centre of kyoto, so the bus needed around 45 Minutes to go there.
The place was very crowded, but due to the discipline of the asian tourists it took only a few minutes to walk through the park to the foto-spot close to the golden temple. This place gave everything to my tourist-heart that I was looking for: a temple, a nice japanese garden & park, perfect light and weather conditions and a good shot for a souvenir-photo.
In the early afternoon we took the next bus back to the city centre, when temperature felt like 50 degrees now outside and there was no chance to escape from the sun, even not at the bus stops. The buses were very crowded now and a school class joined the bus we took back to the centre. And the japanese enter-at-the-back and exit-at-the-front system made it not more comfortable…
Thunderstorms were very close when we arrived at Kyoto station so we deciced to take a rest and cool down at the hotel.
Kyoto Tower and the Starbucks got a short visit before we took the Shinkansen Nozomi Train to Tokyo Shinagawa next morning. Prepare to ride with almost the fastet train on earth!
It felt like 40 degrees celsius at > 80% humidity. It was hot this saturday, when the wedding party prepared for the wedding at the buddhist temple in Ginowan, Okinawa, Japan. It was day 2 of the wedding marathon of our friends and the party was about to go on.
Before going inside the temple, bride and groom were dressed with traditional garments. They looked so nice, and their hair was styled that traditional way either. The bride, born in France and looking “european”, couldn´t be distinguished from a real japanise woman anymore, that was amazing.
Bride and groom, and the whole wedding party (me too) had to wash their hands with spring water from a source to ensure purity when entering the temple. The group was set up in two rows, in parallel following the bride and the groom in a long line. The brides family took seats on the left side in the temple, the grooms family took seats a the right side in the temple.
For me it was the first time being inside a temple. The room layout was almost the same as the layout of a church, but of course everything was wooden and not built of stones. On the altar was a mirror and offerings were placed (vegetables and other things). I am not buddhism specialist, so please bear of me if I´m not explaining the whole long story. Two priests were managing the ceremony, assisted by two female assistants.
As I did not understand at least one of the sentences they spoke, I can only tell you what happened. The main ceremony was that bride & groom and their families shared blessed sake with each other and they drunk it in a special order. In between the priests sung chants and said melodic speeches and after 45 Minutes everything was done Two families became now one family.
Wow, but it was very mystical and a very special athmosphere in the temple. That was an experience I won´t forget my whole life!
Two wedding ceremonies – one christian and one buddhist – were done, it was time the next part: the wedding dinner with family & friends. In a beach hotel in Ginowan, a large banquet hall was rent for about 200 guests. The dinner was great, it was japanese-european and the program was nearly the same as we know from european wedding dinners, with one difference: Every point on the agenda was planned sharp and after 3 hours everything was finished in-time.
On a european (or german) wedding dinner, after 3 hours just the speeches of the bride&groom´s father´s ended and everybody is waiting to start eating… okay, but this is another cultural issue.
The entertainment part was parallel to the dinner (that saved a lot of time) and a few typical Okinawan groups presented music and drums choreography. That was also very nice and entertaining!
The last part of the wedding festival was the wedding party at night in a club. This part was very european style: fingerfood, free drinks and party games of all kind and a lot of dancing and laughing. A nice closing of two days wedding marathon.
You need to have the opportunity to be invited to such a multicultural wedding. Even our japanese friend told us that a traditional buddhist wedding ceremony is something special and rare also for them, because everyone wants to have a christian-style wedding in japan. So we feel very proud and honoured to have had the opportunity to be part of it. Thank you!
Friends, one from France and one from Okinawa, are marrying this weekend on Okinawa in Japan. Family and friends are invited to celebrate a multinational mutlicultural multireligious wedding festival!
So the first day was very european-christian. In a catholic christian church in Ginowan, Okinawa, a priest from latin america and a co-priest from india hold the wedding service, half in france/spanish and half in japanese language.
Oh my “God”, that was amazing! Sure, it was too hot to wear a formal dress, but you won´t miss this once-in-a-lifetime chance.
Have a look at the wedding rings. Following the Okinawan tradition, there are two dragon-dogs which protect you and your house. You can find them at almost every house in Okinawa. One dragon-dog has an open mouth to catch the good let´s say “charma”, and the other dragon-dog keeps his mouth clouth to not let the charma never ever go away. Coming back to the rings: they are presented in a box with the two dragon-dogs, one keeps one ring and this gives luck to our friends now.
Tomorrow starts part two of the wedding weekend with traditional wedding service at a buddhism temple. I am so excited!
It was late afternoon when we arrived at the Hotel close to Tsubowaga Station. After check in we directly headed to the closest beach by taxi (800 JPY). The sun was burning and the sand at the beach was hot, but don´t matter. It was a beach and the water helped to cool down a little bit. Interesting: there were 3 baywatch-guys for a closed bath area of circa 100×50 meters. Safe bathing guaranteed, like!
Sun went down at around 7:30 pm and we went to an original japanese okinawan restaurant. From outside hard to see, away from the tourist hot spots and the menu in japanese letters – that´s real “original”! Oh, and don´t forget to put off your shoes when you enter a japanese resataurant. The menu started with tofu-fish-cream and red caviar, then followed by lots of traditional dishes with chicken, pork, fish and different kind of vegetables. Each was perfect, alltogether were very delicious and an experience!
Next day started early in the morning with continental breakfast and a shopping tour on Okinawas No. 1 shopping and restaurant district, the Kokusai Dori (Street). It was a mix of souvenir shops, tourist restaurants and “traditional” market passages left and right at the Kokusai Street. The street is almos 2-3 kilometers long and has hundreds of businesses at it.
The highlights at a glance: Baumkuchen, Poison Snake liquor, little dragon figures (the Okinawan symbol) and sweet factories. And: Sushi-style SPAM! No joke.
Due to the temperatures, our short visit before 12 noon ended with a shower at the hotel and made us feeling alive for the 2nd part of the day of the 1st wedding day!
With JetStar Airlines, a company of Australia´s Qantas, we flew from Osaka Kansai Airport to Okinawa Naha Airport within 2 hours. Check-in, sec-check and restaurants were fine at Kansai Airport. Weather was pretty good (33 degrees celsius and sunny) when the almost brand new Airbus 320 started only half full of people at Kansai Airport. Seats were very comfortable and in the exit row you got eeeextra leg room with business class feeling for just a few bucks more!
In-flight service had to be paid, but our JetSaver tickets included the extra leg room in the exit row and additionally a 500 JPY voucher per pax (thats almost 4 Euro). Therefore you get the things that make you happy on a short haul fligt: coffee and cookies.
As we are in Japan, it was also possible to choose from a few typical hot japanese dishes like soups, noodles and so on. Flight attendants were also very friendly, but just started to make english announcements short before landing – what was even not a problem because everything was fine, also with japanese-only flight information and security advisory.
Landed on Okinawa, the Airbus parked on the field and a bus brought pax to the terminal. Baggages came within a few minutes and the transfer from Naha Airport the Okinawa Wharf District was quick with the Monorail (5 mins at 200 JPY).
Second day started a little more relaxed. After continental breakfast at the Hilton, and that was the relaxing part of the day, temperature went up to 33 celsius again and a little rain shower made it even not more comfortable to go out.
First stop was the sky terrace on the top of 39th floor of the Umeda Sky Building. Meanwhile it had 35 degrees, but it was an amazing view over Osaka. The sky was clear blue so that I could take panorama pictures of the Osaka skyline. Such a big city!
For Lunch we went to a small restaurant that was located under a railway line. Thank god it had air condition and is famous for its “Okonomiyaki” or so, little massive omelettes with bacon and onions in it. The serve it an a hot plate and you can eat it with chop sticks (oh, no, you must eat with chop sticks ;-). It was delicious and a good start for the 2nd half of the day.
After a quick stop at the Disney Store, the metro took us to Namba, the shopping and restaurant district of Osaka. It was crowded, hot and loud. The stores are located in passages next to the other and every 2nd store had promotion personnel in front of the stores that shouts out loud what they offer. The whole time, the whole day, always the same. Every 2nd store. All the passage along. But it was cool in a way, real japanase way of life and impressive!
At the Hilfiger Store I couldn´t resist and a new belt is mine now. Hey, it was sale and they gave me 30% off! Resting up at the coffee shop and having a cappucino then let us go to the 3rd part of the day:
A traditional buddhist festival in Ginza. That was amazing! Although it was very crowded, it was very lovely and nice to get an insight in that japanese tradition. Girls wear beautiful Kimonos and around the temples different groups made music and show a kind of theatre.
For food and fun, they had a big fair scene around it where you could find hundreds of booths with food and things to buy. Some booths sell big Frankfurter sausages on a stick, some others sell eggs in different variations, and you could of course also have noodles and beef sticks. That´s a kind of “german Weihnachtsmarkt” in a japanese way. Nice, don´t miss that when you go here! It already was night when leaving Ginza with Nankai line back to Namba and with metro to Umeda station, back to the Hotel.
It was a hot day with temperatures above 33 degrees celsius and wet air, when we arrived in Osaka city. Taking the JR Airport Rapid Train was quick and easy and air conditioned.
On the ride you get a first view on living in japan and see houses, roads, buildings and so on. For a german, it looks like less structured urban planning. There are no strictly divided areas by living, working and industry. It is all mixed.
First day ended up jetlagged after short city tour and checking out department stores.
After the departure in time from Frankfurt, the Boeing 747-400 “Schleswig-Holstein” arrived secure in Osakai Kansai Airport without any major turbulences.
The B744 was tagged as “Hotspot”, but with respect to Murphy’s law, “internet was broken” the stewardess said. Being offline when flying half around the world sucks!
We flew over the north route passing Poland, the Baltics, Russia, China and Korea to finally arrive in Japan.
Immigration was comfortable and quick. The Japanese at first scan the body temperature of all imigrants with temperature cameras at the immigration line. Then the immigration officer takes a picture and fingerprints of you – but that we know from the US border control.
Once you’ve passed, baggage claims (very slooooow) tests your patience. Customs check was easy and then we left the building to take the Kansai Airport Rapid Train vis a vis… and got in touch with the tropical weather… baaaam!
Often wireless internet at hotels is slow and unconfortable, even also expensive. But most of the Hotels offer free wired Internet access at the rooms.
But how to connect the cable to the iPhone or Pad? It’s easy! This mini travel hot spot maked the wired internet to your personal wifi hotspot!
But make sure to configure it once at home, before you go abroad
It is handy and not larger than half a creditcard. It costs less than 20 Euros at Amazon.
TP Link now offers also a 3G or 4G version of this mini router. It comes with an USB port where you can put in your Stick with a sim card of your mobile provider in it. It costs just a few bucks more, currently around 29 Euros at Amazon. Nice gadget!