Friday, January 28, 2005


I took today off as Brendon and I were heading to Okinawa!

Okinawa is a small island south of Japan. It use to be it's own country with it's own royal family and had a lot of Chinese influence. After a great battle, it became part of Japan and it was badly hit during the war.

The island is quite beautiful with more of a tropical climate. There is also an US military base on the island so we saw many Americans and there was even english TV. The hotel we stayed at was part of our package and conveniently located on the main city drag.

We went shopping, sightseeing and lots of eating! I think the food is very influenced by chinese cooking and Goya (bitter gourd) is very popular on the island. You can get goya in everything! Stir fry, soups and juice - you name it! We also had really good tacos at Tacos-ya.

We stumbled across a club one night. It was quite small and well hidden but the music was really good. Hadn't been out dancing for ages so it was good, especially now with Brendon. Unfortunately there wasn't many people there but nevertheless we had a great time.

We also heard of a Sakura-matsuri (Cherry Blossom Festival) being held up in Nago. We were staying south of the Island in the capital Naha. We got up early and took a bus to Nago. It took us 2 and half hours but we slept most of the way. The festival was pretty interesting. There was a street parade, long stretch of food stalls, arcade alley games, petting zoo and heaps more. Lots of families and kids running around. We watched a drum performance and b-boys on the main stage. Those Japanese boys really know how to dance! Very impressive. The event had a very community, family feel to it. We even got to see some sakura which was lucky for Brendon because he won't be here to see them in Spring.

We did heaps of souvenir shopping, buying Okinawan biscuits, 'seesas'- Okinawan guardians which come in pairs (one has it's mouth closed to stop iniquity coming in, and one with it's mouth open to let virtue pass) and 'habu' sake. Habu snakes are found on the island and are poisonous. However when you pickle them in sake, the venom and the alcohol seem to work together to taste really good and it isn't poisonous anymore. Not sure how that works but we tried some and it was ok. I'm not much of a sake fan. They look pretty cool though. Just think of tequila bottles with the worm in them. But these bottles have big black snakes coiled in them with their fangs showing, but you can't eat the snake.

We also went to this massive aquarium in Nago which is in the Guiness Book of Records for having the biggest aquarium window. It was massive! So cool! They have huge rays and even whale sharks in it! They also had a touch pool where you could play with the starfish. If only we more time to have check out the Ocean Expo Park.

It was so nice to have a bit of a holiday and just relax. Though I think Okinawa would be a lot better in Summer so you could actually go swimming at the beaches. The food is good, the locals friendly (except the crazy old lady we came across) and there's plenty to do and see.

Two thumbs up!

Our holiday begins! Posted by Hello

The Yakitori bar Posted by Hello

Super Goya Brendon! Posted by Hello

Super Goya Christine! Posted by Hello

Markets Posted by Hello

Frog & bear beanies Posted by Hello

Tasty udon Posted by Hello

In the club 'Nekke2Syakoujou' Posted by Hello

Blue Seal Ice Cream shop Posted by Hello

I sucked at the Fish game Posted by Hello

Brendon trying to catch fish Posted by Hello

Drum performance - they look like Monkey Magic Posted by Hello

Brendon under the sakura Posted by Hello

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Ocean Expo Park Posted by Hello

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Thursday, January 27, 2005

Getting cultured

Brendon joined me for Tea Ceremony class today.

Just like me on my first day, he tried to sit in the 'seiza' position for as long as he could. Even though Tea-sensei asked if he was okay and said he could just sit normally...the little gaijin that though he could, persisted. And he paid for it too.

So there we were, two gaijins paining it out and paying for it later when we had to stand up. I was making tea and when the blood rushes to your legs all of a sudden, I nearly stacked it I could hardly walk! The other students were giggling as they said to me;
"Please make..delicious tea...for boyfriend." hahaha

After school we headed into Sanners for Kobe beef. I've been to that place 4 times now but still love the tender, tasty beef. I think a visit to that place is on the itinerary everytime I take someone out around Kobe. I mean, coming to Kobe and not trying Kobe beef...that's crazy talk!

Me doing Tea Ceremony Posted by Hello

Kobe beef Posted by Hello

Brendon & his Gap spoils Posted by Hello

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Happy Australia Day!

Happy Oz day folks!

Hope your day was fun-filled with BBQ's, friends, beer, fireworks, cricket and soaking up the sun.

After school Brendon and I were invited out to dinner with one of my teachers and her husband. The same ones I went to Nagano with. We went to Akashi to the Takoyaki/Okonomiyak Dojo! School of Takoyaki/Okonomiyaki making, basically you make it yourself.

Takoyaki are flour eggs balls with pieces of octopus inside served with a thick, sweet, brown sauce. The special Akashi takoyaki is served with soup. Apparently different areas have their own versions of takoyaki and okonomiyaki. Okonomiyaki is often known as Japanese pizza. It means "as you like it", meaning you put whatever you like in it. It's kind of like a savoury pancake.

After dinner we went to this little bar. It's actually a liquor store but underneath they have this little stand-up bar where you can drink and snack around a little counter. My teacher is a regular there and we tried local beer, sake, red wine (from WA Capel Valley!!) and snacked on deep friend oysters and raw sea slugs (slimey yet crunchy) and after a Kampai! (Cheers!) toast to Australia day, we headed home.

Takoyaki Okonomiyaki Dojo Posted by Hello

Hmmm numm numm...Sea slulgs Posted by Hello

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

My guest speaker from Oz

I was able to organise for Brendon to come to school for some days.

He was my guest speaker from Australia. He did a self introduction and the kids got to ask him questions and stuff. He was really good at it too. Especially dodging the expected questions;

Q: Do you like Chris-sensei?' / 'Do you love Chris-sensei?
A: Yes, I like/love everyone here.

Q: Are you Chris' boyfriend?
A: Yes, I am Chris' friend and yes I am a boy.

Q: What do you think about Chris?
A: She is very short. She is a good teacher.

The kids would jeer and shout when they realised they were jipped. But they had fun. We gave out lollies to those who participated or gave it a go. When some students asked Brendon how old he was or what his favourite colour was, the other boys shouted back in Japanese, something along the lines of this;
"What a stupid lame question! Out of all the questions, why did you ask that? Ask something about Chris-sensei!!" hahaha they were hillarious!

We played pictionary in ESS club then headed home.

Time for some home cooked food, so I cooked breaded, sesame soy chicken and garlic, oyster sauce bak choy.

Brendon's first day at school Posted by Hello

Hmmm home-cooked meals

Left over soup, pan fried salmon steaks, butter potatoes, soy eggplant and asparagus Posted by Hello