Archive for November, 2009

First rugby game for the kids – Japan vs Canada

Sunday, November 22nd, 2009

I stumbled across the information that Japan would be playing Canada in the footy this weekend, so we went to the game in Chichibunomiya in Tokyo.

The weather was absolutely brilliant – with perfect sun and not too much wind. It was actually so warm I was in a t-shirt for some of the game.

We had a brilliant spot – 5 rows from the front, right down the middle, in the sun.

Evan was really quite interested in the game, but Lauren wasn’t so interested. We bought lots of food from the stadium, and Nicole came just before half-time, but we all had a good time I think.

The Japanese team played well, beating the Canadians 27-6. Both teams are coached by New Zealanders, both sides having some Kiwis in the team playing!
At the end of the game, they a few kicked rugby balls into the stands, and Evan was keen to catch one, but they were all too far away. Then we met some of the players and got to shake their hands. We didn’t bring any pens for an autograph, but we took some photos with the Japanese team mates.

First we met Ryan Nicholas, an Australian-born Kiwi, who had a fairly good game.

Then we met Alisi Tupuailei, a Tongan-born Kiwi, who had a ripper of a game.

The kids were really chuffed meeting the rugby players and I think Evan will remember this game for a while.

Yunessun in Hakone

Sunday, November 22nd, 2009

Since the kids had a day off on Friday, I also took the day off and we decided to drive out to Yunessun in Hakone, the big onsen we’d been to once before.

The day was a beautiful day, sunny and clear and cool. The trip out was really lovely and driving along the ocean was terrific. Even the kids were well behaved. We left the house just before 10am and got to Yunessun just before 1pm – a bit longer than we anticipated.

The autumn colours were out in full force and we had some terrific momiji views!

The kids had a great time going to all the different baths. The kids didn’t like the fish tank so much, Evan said the fish were biting him, but I thought it was pretty interesting!

The favourite baths seemed to be the coffee baths and the wine bath – the wine bath was my favourite. I remember another flower bath from last time, but they didn’t seem to have it this time.

Evan quite liked the dead sea bath, which was easy for us to float in.

The outdoor slide was great for Evan and Lauren managed enough courage to go down once, but I don’t think she enjoyed it too much! Evan and I had races to see who could get down the slide the quickest!

On the way home we stopped at Denny’s and had a nice dinner. The trip home was against traffic and I think we made it home in around 1.5 hours! Pretty good!

The family had a great time at the onsen – probably the last time we’ll be going there.

Okinawa trip

Wednesday, November 11th, 2009

The kids had a mid-term school break this year from the 26th of October until the 30th, so we decided to take a trip somewhere. We thought about Bali or something, but we’d always wanted to go to Okinawa and see what that was like. I ran the idea past Hideo and he was very keen, since his kids also had the same holidays.

Hideo knew a travel agent who put together a package for us. It was flights, 4 nights (5 days) accommodation and a rental car. Actually, the price was quite good and the hotel we planned to stay at looked like a 5 star hotel! We we jumped at the opportunity and took the big flight out.

The flight was rather early in the morning, so we left the house at around 6am (let the kids sleep as long as possible) and drove to Hideo’s house to pick them up as well. We got to the airport before 7am which meant we had a cheaper rate to park the car.

The kids were all in good spirits and keen on the trip! Evan and Julia were cuddly as usual and Lauren was just happy to be there!

The flight was a reasonable 2.5 hours and we were all very excited when we saw the islands from the sky. It had been raining in Yokohama until then, so it was nice to escape the rain! In fact, a typhoon had recently passed through the area, so we knew of some people who had to cancel their flights because they were leaving earlier and got caught in the path of the typhoon, with canceled flights and all. So we were all very relieved to arrive safely and to warm, sunny weather in Okinawa.

We got our luggage quickly and easily made our way to the car rental place. The kids were being goofy as usual and unfortunately were making goofy faces for pictures, but we convinced them only that day could they do that.

We got a nice Honda rental car – it was small, but perfect for us, since we only had the 1 suitcase and I had plenty of headroom.

The drive out to the resort was lovely, around a 2 hour drive or so, where we got to see lovely coastal areas and a feel for Okinawa island. We saw some American military vehicles around, some in convoy and wondered what they really had to do there.

We got to the hotel around 3-4pm or so. The resort was beautiful! It was a bit remote, but it was very expansive and the place was spotless. The landscaping was wonderful and we had an amazing view over the resort and to the open ocean!

The hotel room was very nicely laid out, with both tatami with futon and two double beds. So we could choose where we wanted to sleep. Evan and Lauren slept on the futon the first night, but seemed to get stuffy from the mats, so they slept in the beds after that.

The room also had a great balcony, with a lounging chair, patio table and chairs, and a jaccuzzi outside! On the first day, the kids all got naked and jumped into the jacuzzi! It was great fun!

We wandered around a bit, went to the pool and the decided we should go out for dinner. We went to a lovely Okinawa-style restaurant in the resort area. The resort is so big, people use golf carts to get around. There’s also a free trolley that comes around and picks people up and drops them off at various places.

That night we were all pretty tired from the trip and the early rise, so we all went to bed pretty early.

The next day we decided to drive out to the aquarium area. I’d heard about the aquarium as one of the largest in Japan, so I was quite eager to see it! When we made it there we weren’t disappointed. There were lots of things to do there, not just the acquarium, but a dolphin pool, a garden centre, an historic old Okinawa town, a sea-turtle area and a bunch of others. It was quite a big area and one could take a trolley around for 100 yen for a trip, or 200 yen for the day!

We went to the aquarium first and it was really great inside. They have the Guiness book of world records for the largest glass/plastic viewing area. The glass is something like 30 cm thick! Amazing! We saw some cool fish, including the whale shark like we saw in Osaka. The kids liked the shark area and there was a petting area where we could play with the sea cucumbers and starfish! Very neat.

After the aquarium, we went to the beach and the kids, Hideo and I went swimming, which was great fun. The sand at the beach is made up almost entirely of pieces of coral and shells, so it was a very interesting feel. It turns out there’s a lot of coral around Okinawa and most of the beaches are made up of that. The boys had a great time jumping off the pontoon and Lauren got cold pretty quickly.

After the beach, we took the trolly one-way to the restaurant area, had some food and then went quickly to see the dolphin show, which had just started.

The next day we had breakfast in the terrific western breakfast restaurant and then went down to the beach area to play a bit of mini-golf (the kids were asking for golf continuously). The kids were ultra competitive, but I think they had a good time. We also spent the rest of the day down by the beach collecting shells and looking for crabs. There was also a pool down by the beach which was rather cold, but nice and clear and fun for the kids!


We decided to have a late lunch in the golf club, which had an amazing view over the whole resort and the golfing holes nearby. The food was terrific and the kids had a good time playing with the things in the area.

In the afternoon, we drove to the nearest town (30 minutes away) and went to Pineapple land and a couple of other places. It turns out we had coupons from the travel agent which essentially got us in free to all the things we went to! So that saved us at least 600 yen per person per place! Nice!

Pineapple land was quite interesting, with lots of things to see and do.

The next day, the kids were keen to do some pottery and the creating of a local figure called シーサ (shi-sa) which is found on most rooftops and in front of houses, and is intended to ward off bad things and protect the house. It looks like a Chinese lion figure, but was specific to Okinawa. We found a place where we could make the shisa and also paint them. Evan and Eric made their own shisa and Lauren and Julia painted shisa that had already been made. The kids loved it! Then there was a 3d movie which the kids could watch, which was an underwater scene and the kids tried their best to jump up onto the stage to “catch” the fish!


After the pottery, we went to a few places around, like Fruit-land and a local zoo. The fruit-land was quite interesting with a description of various fruits and how they are grown. There was also a butterfly exhibit, that Lauren particularly loved. The chrysalis was a golden colour, which the kids thought was interesting:

The next day we checked out of the hotel and made our way down to Naha, where we would catch the plane out. On the way, we stopped off at some caves which the kids thought were interesting, as well as watching a traditional Okinawa dance.

All in all, a terrific trip to Okinawa!