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This is a collection of my blog entries related to short or long trips I, or Jennifer and I went on.
I have some master pages for some specific locations/trips:

Paris over many years | Australia over many years | Canada over many years | Japan over multiple trips | Italy in 2011 | France in 2013 | Indonesia in 2013 | Japan in 2013 | Japan in 2014 | Taiwan in 2014 | Indonesia in 2014 | New Zealand in 2015 | Japan in 2015 | Costa Rica in 2015 | Singapore in 2016 | South Korea in 2016 | Japan in 2016 |

Table of Content for trips:

More pages: February 2017 January 2017 December 2016 October 2016 September 2016 August 2016 July 2016 June 2016 May 2016 April 2016 February 2016 January 2016 December 2015 October 2015 August 2015 July 2015 June 2015 May 2015 March 2015 February 2015 January 2015 December 2014 November 2014 October 2014 August 2014 July 2014 June 2014 May 2014 January 2014 December 2013 November 2013 September 2013 July 2013 June 2013 May 2013 March 2013 February 2013 January 2013 December 2012 October 2012 September 2012 June 2012 April 2012 February 2012 January 2012 December 2011 October 2011 September 2011 August 2011 June 2011 January 2011 December 2010 November 2010 September 2010 August 2010 May 2010 January 2010 September 2009 August 2009 June 2009 January 2009 December 2008 August 2008 February 2008 January 2008 October 2007 July 2007 February 2007 January 2007 December 2006 October 2006 August 2006 July 2006 April 2006 March 2006 January 2006 December 2005 September 2005 August 2005 July 2005 June 2005 April 2005 December 2004 October 2004 July 2004 June 2004 January 2004 January 2003 January 2001 August 1997



2014/05/27 Visiting Japan #2 Trip Wrapup
π 2014-05-27 00:00 in Japan, Japan2014, Trips
We loved our trip in Japan last year so much that we had to go back and fill in some of the blanks.

This year, I had a bit more advance notice, and had more time to practise Japanese with language tapes, which came in quite handy in remote places like Yonaguni. Starting with somewhere more remote like Okinawa was interesting, and except for Osaka which we didn't see last year, all other cities we had seen the previous year, but not been able to see everything in, so this second visit was great for filling in the blanks we left last year :)

Here are a few random pictures taken over those 3 weeks.

Awesome liquid testing machine in the airport, with this they test your bottle and don't steal your water or juice. TSA, WTF aren't you doing this?


Store attendants training and a pep talk before opening time:


We loved the logo for that company the cat carrying a cat. We gave them our diving luggage in Osaka so that they sent it to our last hotel and we didn't have to lug it around.


How nice for cabs to actually have 2 charging plugs for cell phones :)


All the digital money cards they have, each region had its own and they were mostly incompatible. Now they finally work mostly everywhere, although this bus was an exception and it showed the only 2 cards its old reader could deal with:


I need to revise my charging station system, too many USB devices to charge nightly, that was a bit of a mess :)



French cookies, yummy :)


That one left me speechless. This temple had loaner wheelchairs so that you didn't ride your dirty wheelchair with filthy wheels on their perfect inside floor. To be honest, I find their obsession of no outside dirt at all no matter what, a bit over the top and definitely annoying when you have shoes like mine that take a long time to take in and out.


Japan has hilarious signs, even if you can't read Japanese:



Do not feed the deer, or they'll be very sad :)
Do not feed the deer, or they'll be very sad :)


Japan still rules for vending machines, available almost everywhere (although that's a lot of trash and there were very few or no places to recycle containers :( ).




fewer of them, but you can still find cigarettes
fewer of them, but you can still find cigarettes

you can actually get decent coffee, a great selection even
you can actually get decent coffee, a great selection even

Just like last year, trains were a lifesaver for getting around, where well organized, and on time:




Trains kind of drive themselves nowadays, but they still make it look like serious business, with white gloves :)
Trains kind of drive themselves nowadays, but they still make it look like serious business, with white gloves :)

I wrote a lot of notes and thoughts last year, you can go refer to them, I think the only extra thing I'd add this year is that I loved many things about Japan, but I was dismayed by the fact that most Japanese people still work way too many hours because of peer pressure, and in the end, just stay at the office until they've hit 12H or so, and it's ok to go home.
For those who try to work that many hours, many studies show it's unsustainable and that you end up actually being less productive trying to work that much than having a normal work week. Somehow, I'd hope that Japanese people wisen up to that and switch to a normal work day and get to enjoy their personal lives a bit more with the extra time.

That said, I'll end with a link to this article Japan, and How I Failed to Figure it Out which actually does quite a good job explaining Japan and how different and fascinating it can be.

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2014/05/26 Visiting Japan Day 22: Zojo-ji and Tokyo Tower
π 2014-05-26 00:00 in Japan, Japan2014, Trips

And finally we got to our last day in Japan. Jennifer thought she would enjoy the amenities of our hotel :)


I chose to go back to Tokyo Tower since I had gone in 1997, and figured I would see Zojo-ji, a big quiet temple just next to it, wihch happened to also be featured in X-Men's The Wolverine, much of which happens in Japan. It's a great temple, both in size and appearance:










Next, I went to Tokyo tower, just because. It's not a first attraction (obviously, the Tokyo Skytree has stole the thunder), but if you're by Zojo-ji, why not? :)








Odaiba
Odaiba







At the base of Tokyo Tower, there is a small aquarium. It's nothing to write home about, but I figured I'd check it out anyway. It actually had some interesting fish I hadn't seen before, as well as weird nosed turtles :)







nice snapping turtle
nice snapping turtle

After this, I went back to our room and we walked to the Google Office for lunch with friends and a quick tour.

And after that it was time for a bus back to Narita to fly home. A few shots from that bus:



2014/05/25 Visiting Japan Day 21: Yokohama
π 2014-05-25 00:00 in Japan, Japan2014, Trips

After a good night at the Hyatt Tokyo in Roppongi (5mn from the Google office), I had a quick look at the view from our room, but unfortunately we only got the 9th floor, so that view didn't go very far. Our room in Nagoya had been much better :)


After breakfast, we took a train to Yokohama. We started with Chinatown so that Jennifer could go bond with "her people" :) There was a fantastic Tao temple with exquisite wood carvings, paintings, and gold leaf covering. Turns out it was only 25 years old after the previous temple burned in a fire caused during Chinese New Years...

















After walking by the waterfront and witnessing a boat race.





This got us to the Cup Noodle Museum which was a lot of fun. We designed our own cup noodle container, and made a custom flavour by mixing the ingredients of our choice. After that, we learned about its inventor and his life, which was actually quite interesting.
















Next was the amusement park where we took the ferris wheel for nice higher up views,




landmark tower
landmark tower






Just after, we went to the landmark tower next gave much much better high views :)










Last but not least, we went back to Tokyo to meet to Japanese people who invited us to their home for dinner and conversation, and getting to talk with them (in English) was enlightening.


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2014/05/24 Owl Cafe in Kiba, Tokyo
π 2014-05-24 00:00 in Cats, Japan2014, Trips
Ok, not quite a cat café, but while in Tokyo, we went from Odaiba to Kiba to visit an Owl Cafe, courtesy of Eric Kline for the rec:









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2014/05/24 Fancy Dinner at Hamada-Ya in Tokyo
π 2014-05-24 00:00 in Dining, Japan2014, Trips
After a full day our in Tokyo, we were left with just enough time to go eat at Hamada-Ya, a fancy Japanese style restaurant with customized service (a big Tatami room just for you, and servers in Kimono):









Very Yummy :)

2014/05/24 Visiting Japan Day 20: Tokyo Odaiba
π 2014-05-24 00:00 in Japan, Japan2014, Trips

After a night in our smallish room in Shinbashi (but well located), and watching trains go by through the window, Jennifer got to enjoy the yummy Japanese breakfast included with the room before we went to Odaiba. I had heard that Odaiba had a lot of cool things, so we took a train there, and started exploring on foot:





There is an exact copy of the French statue of liberty in Paris as part of a cultural exchange between France and Japan:


July 4th = Bastille Day
July 4th = Bastille Day

Next we went up the Fuji TV station building and its interesting sphere that doubles as an observation point:









they have cheerleaders in Japan now?
they have cheerleaders in Japan now?

Next, we walked to Miraikan -- National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation. I thought would be worth an hour or two but that was a big mistake, we ended up spending over 5 hours there, it was that good. I'm not sure how I can put this, but it was the most advanced science museum I've ever seen anywhere: particle accelerators, neutrino detection at the Super Kamiokande (proving that they have a mass), super conditivity with a levitation demo, very deep sea exploration, DNA/SNP taylored medecine, Asimo demo, and more. Seriously, this put all the other science museums in the dust so much, that it wasn't even funny.








They had a demo on superconductivity:


Their very deep sea submarine






Asimo was there of course:
Asimo was there of course:

Which other science museums teach you about quantum particles and neutrinos?



nice displays on radiation
nice displays on radiation

neutrino detectors from super Kamiokande
neutrino detectors from super Kamiokande




the big bang and the expansion of the universe
the big bang and the expansion of the universe


By then, we had little time left for the Toyota Megaweb showcase. We only spent 40mn there and it was worth more, but we had run out of time, and that time had been better spent at Miraikan.





fuel cell vehicle
fuel cell vehicle


isn't there a piece missing on this one? :)
isn't there a piece missing on this one? :)





Thanks to Erik Kline, we then went to a small Owl Cafe in Kiba (yes, like a Neko Cafe, but with Owls, only in Japan :)


This left us just enough time to go eat at Hamada-Ya, a fancy Japanese style restaurant with customized service


Another good day. We could have spent a bit more time in Odaiba, but I guess that'll be an excuse to go back another day :)

2014/05/23 Visiting Japan Day 19: Tokyo, Ueno Park and Akihabara
π 2014-05-23 00:00 in Japan, Japan2014, Trips

After Linuxcon Japan was over, we moved to Ginza and spent most of the day by Ueno Park's museums:














The Tokyo National Museum at Ueno Park is quite good, lots to see, and for a change it was a place where you were allowed to take pictures. I had planned to go to the Natural Science Museum next door again, but we ran out of time, so it'll be for another time:


















the 3 missing statues from Sanjusangendo in Kyoto
the 3 missing statues from Sanjusangendo in Kyoto















After the museum, I walked through the rest of Ueno Park, passing by Toshogu Shrine, which is quite beautiful:














I then finished the other side of the park, got to see some birdies :)









Next, I went to Akihabara on my own (not really Jennifer's cup of tea):



weird mix of things available :)
weird mix of things available :)




Cool, I needed an MSX! :)
Cool, I needed an MSX! :)


OMG, I remember those retro games :)
OMG, I remember those retro games :)





got to play the pee against the target to lift the lady's skirt game again :)
got to play the pee against the target to lift the lady's skirt game again :)


big is also beautiful
big is also beautiful

We finished in Ginza for a yummy super expensive sushi dinner at Sushi Yoshitake:

hooters ginza
hooters ginza













manta shrimp
manta shrimp





2014/05/21 Neko Cafe in Ikebukuro
π 2014-05-21 00:00 in Cats, Japan2014, Trips
While in Ikebukuro, we went to another Neko cafe, because why not? :)







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2014/05/21 Visiting Japan Day 17: Evening in Ikebukuro, Sunshine City
π 2014-05-21 00:00 in Japan, Japan2014, Trips
We were now in Tokyo where I was there for Linuxcon Japan 2014. On the second day, we had a free evening, so we went out to Ikebukuro's Sunshine City.

We took the elevator to the top, sunshine 60, for an awesome clear view after a storm. Sunshine 60 was the tallest building in 1985 and had the fastest elevator in the world .We got to see Mt Fuji for the first time (which is rare in summer):











Tokyo Skytree
Tokyo Skytree

We had some nice shots of Mt Fuji (thanks to my 30X zoom):



Mt Fuji in the background
Mt Fuji in the background

Tokyo Tower
Tokyo Tower







Then, we went to another Neko cafe, because why not? :)


More cat pictures here.



2014/05/19 Visiting Japan Day 15: Nagoya Toyota Factory
π 2014-05-19 00:00 in Cars, Japan2014, Trips
After seeing the Nagoya Toyota Automobile Museum the previous day, we went to the factory tour the next day. As a heads up, the factory is pretty far from Nagoya city center by trains, it's easily 1.5-2H one way.

Unfortunately we were not allowed to take pictures in the factory itself, but it was interesting to see how their assembly line worked, namely how all cars went through the same line, and the robots and humans adjusted to the custom build of each car (from cars to minivans) to perform the precise build specifications for each vehicle.

When I asked our tour guide why Toyoda-San would have written his name in Katakana instead of Hiragana, she had no answer :)



But at least I was able to take some pictures in the small museum in the factory:

Their personal mobility device for people needing help to get around:





Their trumpet playing robot was quite cool too:

Of course, they had cars on display:









pink, my favourite :)
pink, my favourite :)





2014/05/19 Visiting Japan Day 15: Nagoya Toyota Museum and SCMAGLEV and Railway Park
π 2014-05-19 00:00 in Japan, Japan2014, Trips

After waking up in our room with great view on top of the Nagoya train station, we enjoyed the view outside while having breakfast:






We took the longish journey to the Toyota Factory (about as long as taking a fast train to Tokyo :)), for our toyota factory tour (on its on page)

Next, due to how long it would have taken to get around with public transport, we took an expensive but much faster cab directly to SCMAGLEV and Railway Park which we had seen quickly last year (1h15), and I thought was definitely worth a longer 3H+ visit.

While the shinkansen (bullet train) is actually not that fast (a mere 280kph) due to limitations from the train tracks built for much older and slower trains (the French TGV peaks at 350kph on newer commercial lines), the technology is nonetheless impressive, adn the train history in that museum is quite good:

the 3 Japanese trains that broke world records
the 3 Japanese trains that broke world records


What the new maglev will look like
What the new maglev will look like

note that it almost looks like an airplane inside
note that it almost looks like an airplane inside

The main hall is of course where all the trains and history are located:






but waiting for 2027, that's a long time to wait...
but waiting for 2027, that's a long time to wait...

in the meantime, you can ride the short test line for fun :)
in the meantime, you can ride the short test line for fun :)

They had plenty of simulators for people to play with and demos. There is a long line for the shinkansen simulator, but to be honest I don't think it's that fun or impressive to drive a train :)





The diaroma showing the shinkansen line going through Nagoya was quite good:







The displays showing how often the shinkansens run in a single day, and then how they are maintained was quite interesting. Watch the movie if you can:









Then plenty of time to look inside all the trains:













Older trains too:







After a good long visit of the museum, we went back to Nagoya to pick up our luggage and take a train to Tokyo:






2014/05/18 Visiting Japan Day 14: Nagoya Toyota Automobile Museum
π 2014-05-18 00:00 in Cars, Japan2014, Trips
Toyota has a very nice automobile museum in Nagoya, it's definitely worth 3H. Here is a link to all the pictures on google photos










The poster collection was awesome, the French ones ruled ;)






























2014/05/18 Visiting Japan Day 14: Nagoya
π 2014-05-18 00:00 in Japan, Japan2014, Trips

For most people, Nagoya is a day stopover between Osaka/Kyoto and Tokyo. If you are very limited on time, fair enough, but otherwise there is more to see (3 days worth actually). If you go through Nagoya and do not stop to see the Maglev Train Museum, you are definitely doing it wrong :)

We got up from in Kyoto and directly went to Nagoya, where we were going to spend one night. I chose a top floor room with view at the Marriott in the main train station, which turned out to be a great call:



We then started with the Nagoya Castle. It's not the best castle to visit in Japan due to its renovation going on, but still worth a visit if you're there:














Next, we went to Tokugawa Garden and Museum:








Next, we went to the Toyota Automobile Museum, which was a bit out of the way:




Go to the separate page for the Toyota Automobile Museum. . For the rest of the day, after picking up some fish sandwiches for the train ride back :) , we climbed to the top a nearby observation tower (sky promenade) to see the city, and sunset which turned out to be blocked by the tower our room was in :)








our nozomi train
our nozomi train



San Francisco could learn a thing or two about this and rebuild 101
San Francisco could learn a thing or two about this and rebuild 101







Jennifer then found a very nice restaurant for dinner:


And we retired to our room, with the fantastic view:



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2014/05/17 Visiting Japan Day 13: Kurama to Kyoto
π 2014-05-17 00:00 in Japan, Japan2014, Trips

I had originally planned most of a day in Kyoto to do the east side more leisurely, but since we didn't get to see Kurama the previous day, we went around Kurama in the morning (cable car and hiking to a remote temple high up in the woods). Next to the temple, there was also a treasure museum/nature center worth visiting:


this is where we went hiking to see the temple high up in the mountains
this is where we went hiking to see the temple high up in the mountains




we got a little help up the hill :)
we got a little help up the hill :)






I love those trees
I love those trees




There was a small museum showing what can be found in the mountains around:







can't argue with a map like this :)
can't argue with a map like this :)











lying is bad for you :)
lying is bad for you :)

After our walk and collecting our luggage, we took a train back to Kyoto:



Kurama was nice, but we only got back to Kyoto electric bike rental shop around 13:00, which barely give us 4H to see eastern Kyoto. Anyone who knows Kyoto knows it's totally impossible in a day, never mind 4H, so we pressed on :) We started with Sanjusangendo with its 1001 statues (minus 3 that are on loan to Tokyo, which we got to see later, impressive to say the least):

many many statues :)
many many statues :)





this is where they are housed
this is where they are housed



Then we hiked to Higashiyama street to see Tainai Meguri next to Kiomizu Dera which is now a big mess of renovation. Turns out Tainai Meguri was a bit gimmicky and not worth the trip, but oh well. The shopping street on the way there was fun seeing again though:

not sure what happened there :)
not sure what happened there :)









Next, we went to Ryozen Kannon which was closed by the time we got to it last year, but for which we saw the buddha sticking out. It's a very nice peaceful temple that has also become a war memorial:






And from there we worked back up and stopped at temples on the way. Chion-in which was mostly closed for renovation too, so we went to Shoren-in instead. After that we went back to Nanzen-ji because we were not able to climb its wooden gate last year, and that was worth it:




This time we managed to get in Eikan-do Zenrin-ji just before it closed. Well, the entrance closed 1h before actual closing time, so we kind of snuck in :) It was well worth it, it's not top on any lists, but it actually has plenty of nice things to see, I'm glad we got to see it:


















Next, we went back to Honen-in which doesn't really close, and is nice and peaceful, except for 3 male ducks fighting over a single poor female :)





By then it was past 17:00 so we didn't try to go to the Silver Pavillion which we had seen last year anyway, but biked up there, so that we could bike down the Philosopher's Walk (Tetsugaku no michi) back to where I remembered the outdoors tea room with cats was, and sure enough the cats were there :)










We then went back to Maruyama Park and finished by going through Yasaka Shrine which helpfully does not close, and finished with dinner by Issian Pontocho:














This was a good day in Kurama and Kyoto thanks to the electric bikes again, not bad for a half day in Kyoto :)

2014/05/16 Visiting Japan Day 12: Kyoto to Kurama
π 2014-05-16 00:00 in Japan, Japan2014, Trips

After getting breakfast, we got our electric bikes at http://www.kyoto-option.com/ , bar none the best place to get electric bikes in Kyoto, with service in Englsh, and extended hours (very early in the morning to late at night).

We started with Toji, wihch has the highest Pagoda in Japan, but it's actually a huge complex with much to visit:




















high tech or backup fire suppression system :)
high tech or backup fire suppression system :)







beautiful!
beautiful!

Next were Higashi and Nishi Honganji, which were huge and well worth the visit despite the renovation work that's going on:












We then stoped at Shoseien, a nice garden:





which then led us to Nishiki Market, wihch was just what Jennifer was looking for :)



After returning our bikes, we took a couple of trains to Kurama, a village up in the hills north of Kyoto for our Ryokan there:







After a yummy dinner, time for a confy bed :)


2014/05/15 Visiting Japan Day 11: Nara to Kyoto
π 2014-05-15 00:00 in Japan, Japan2014, Trips

I'm not sure Jennifer needed to go anywhere that morning :)


Then again, when I mentioned breakfast, she was up :)




After a good breakfast, we went for an early visit of Nara before the crowds showed up. So nice early in the morning.
We started with Kasuga Taisha, which we had seen before, but it didn't hurt to see it again :)














do not feed the deer bad food, or they get sick and sad :)
do not feed the deer bad food, or they get sick and sad :)

Next was Shin-Yakushi-ji:






We then cut through the park to get to Kofuku-ji, which we didn't have the time to enter last year:











We then went to Yoshikien again because it's nice and it was on the way :)





And we figured, what the hell, we had of course visited Todai-ji the previous year, but since we were walking in front of it to get back to our room, we went inside for a peek again:






Next, we went to Toshodai-ji and Yakushi-ji on our way to Kyoto. My plan was to store our luggage in the lockers by the Kintetsu train station Nishinokyo, but the lockers were too small for my big luggage :( In the end I had to lug it to both temples, but since it was raining anyway, we just took cabs:















That was a good run for Nara, so we ended there, and took the kintetsu to Kyoto (just 50mn), checked in our hotel across the train station, had a quick loook at Kyoto tower but didn't go up since we were warned it was overrun with kids by the people selling tickets (also the weather was poor), so we went to Kyoto station instead for good views, dinner, a visit of the inside (including the awesome dot matrix display built into the stairs, and back to the room).:














And this concluded another nicely filled day.

2014/05/14 Visiting Japan Day 10: Osaka to Nara
π 2014-05-14 00:00 in Japan, Japan2014, Trips

Nice murals in the train station:




In the morning, I went to Shitenoji to see an old temple with a pagoda you could actually climb to the the top of (pretty much not possible for most of them):













I then went back to Osaka station to pick up our luggage and take a train to Nara:


train driving is serious business :)
train driving is serious business :)

We took the loop line to arrive in Nara by the south so that we could stop at Horyu-ji, the oldest Japanese temple located in Nara. We got super lucky and got a retired engineer who spoke well English and gave us a detailled personalized tour for free:




Overrun by kids again :)
Overrun by kids again :)








After the temple, we went to Nara proper, but got there a bit late to see anything, so after plyaing with the deer, we backtracked to our fancy Ryokan to enjoy the onsen and a yummy dinner















Except for trying to see a bit of Nara after arriving there instead of just calling it day when we arrived a bit late, we did well :) We just spent more time to finish up Nara the next day

2014/05/13 Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan
π 2014-05-13 00:00 in Aquariums, Japan2014, Trips
Osaka Aquarium is not as nice as the Okinawa one, but it's still quite nice, so we went to see it.
Like last year, it was school kid week, there were busloads of kids, and oh my god were they obniously loud in the aquarium:

argh more kids, at least they're nicely arranged by hat color :)
argh more kids, at least they're nicely arranged by hat color :)




They also have a single whale shark in their smaller tank. We were lucky to see it feed:






Of course, they had more in the aquarium:

the seals were playful and would look at you and interact through the glass
the seals were playful and would look at you and interact through the glass

this one said hello to Jennifer
this one said hello to Jennifer


which one is the most scary? :)
which one is the most scary? :)

loggerhead turtle, they can be huge
loggerhead turtle, they can be huge

so much food in them :)
so much food in them :)

Jennifer got excited by all this crab :)
Jennifer got excited by all this crab :)






The touch pool was fun :)



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2014/05/13 Visiting Japan Day 9: Osaka
π 2014-05-13 00:00 in Japan, Japan2014, Trips
After Okinawa, we flew to Osaka to start our new tour of mainland Japan. We got there late at night on Day 8, and headed out the following morning to start with the aquarium after Jennifer got to enjoy another authentic Japanese Breakfast :)



Osaka Aquarium is not as nice as the Okinawa one, but it's still quite nice, so we went to see it.
Like last year, it was school kid week, there were busloads of kids, and oh my god were they obniously loud in the aquarium:

we tried to beat them to the aquarium, but didn't manage too, and there were hundreds of them.
we tried to beat them to the aquarium, but didn't manage too, and there were hundreds of them.

argh more kids, at least they're nicely arranged by hat color :)
argh more kids, at least they're nicely arranged by hat color :)




They also have a single whale shark in their smaller tank. We were lucky to see it feed:






Of course, they had more in the aquarium:

the seals were playful and would look at you and interact through the glass
the seals were playful and would look at you and interact through the glass

this one said hello to Jennifer
this one said hello to Jennifer


which one is the most scary? :)
which one is the most scary? :)

loggerhead turtle, they can be huge
loggerhead turtle, they can be huge

so much food in them :)
so much food in them :)

Jennifer got excited by all this crab :)
Jennifer got excited by all this crab :)






The touch pool was fun :)



After the aquarium, we went through the food court nearby and the ferris wheel:







After that, we went to Osaka Castle:










Next, we went to downtown Osaka and its arcade towards Namba













We then headed towards the Uema Sky building to get up before sunset:




a freeway overpass going through a building, brilliant.
a freeway overpass going through a building, brilliant.






Then was time to go back to Namba for dinner:









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2014/05/12 Visiting Japan Day 8: Okinawa Aquarium and Ocean Park
π 2014-05-12 00:00 in Aquariums, Japan, Japan2014, Trips
During our last day in Okinawa, we got up early and drove north to Ocean Park all the way north on the island, to spend the day before driving all the way back down to the airport.

The aquarium is 3rd biggest one in the world (#2 is Dubai and #1 is Atlanta), and the only one with 3 whale sharks, and the Expo Park it's in has plenty of other things to see.


Since we had left early, we entered the aquarium right after 08:30 on a monday morning when it opened, so thankfully we avoided the crazy crowds that can be there.


The outside flower statues were fantastic:








There are many displays on fish obviously, but the main attraction is the huge whale shark tank (below):




giant lobsters, too much to eat for a single person on these :)
giant lobsters, too much to eat for a single person on these :)








The Aquarium is of course known for its 3 whale sharks (which are actually sharks, not whales). It's the only place in the world where you can see 3 of them, especially of that size. They may actually have the biggest habitat of any aquarium:







The rest of the aquarium was also good:

that's the shark you don't want to see
that's the shark you don't want to see

very deep sea
very deep sea


The rest of the Ocean Expo Park was good, although the dolphin show was maybe not Sea World level :)






flying dolphins :)
flying dolphins :)

Manatees
Manatees

Prostetic tail for an injured dolphin
Prostetic tail for an injured dolphin

After the aquarium (which is actually worth 3-4H if you include some of the movies they show), we went to see the rest of the expo park, which had an okinawa village recreation and a very nice botanical garden:















And after over 6H in the park, it was time to head back. We could have spent a bit more, but we got a good overview. Maybe we'll be back one day.

2014/05/08 Visiting Japan Day 4-8: Okinawa
π 2014-05-08 00:00 in Japan, Japan2014, Trips
After Yonaguni, we flew back to Okinawa where the goal was mostly to dive, but while we were there, we got a rental car and went to visit some things around the island.

This isn't the rental car we picked up, but that was tempting :)


We first went to the Navy Underground Headquarters where the Japanese Navy generals hid and fought to the death when the US Marines came to take the island. It was both interesting and depressing:




some committed suicide by killing themselves with grenades
some committed suicide by killing themselves with grenades


Next, we went to the Okinawa Caves and fake village to amuse tourists:






Next was the village:





Another day, we went to visit Shuri-jo, the main castle at Okinawa:








And we went to the Okinawa Museum (natural history and art):






snake skin banjo like instruments are common in Okinawa
snake skin banjo like instruments are common in Okinawa


Our hotel was actually a huge furnished apartment by the sea wall. One night, we had sushi at home, and in the morning, we could see F18s take off towards the ocean:




Obviously most of our time in Okinawa was actually for diving, and you can find those pictures on the Okinawa Diving Page to see the dive pictures from Okinawa.

See more images for Visiting Japan Day 4-8: Okinawa
2014/05/04 Visiting Japan Day 1-3: Yonaguni
π 2014-05-04 00:00 in Japan, Japan2014, Trips
This year we started by flying directly to Yonaguni, the western-most Japanese island, across the water from Taiwan. That was SFO to Narita to Nara (Okinawa) to Yonaguni.



monorail in Okinawa
monorail in Okinawa


finally arrived in Yonaguni in 'great' weather
finally arrived in Yonaguni in 'great' weather

The weather sucked in Yonaguni, we were not able to dive on the first day, we stayed in the villa from the diving shop. To be honest, Yonaguni really doesn't have much to visit, if you're not there for diving or get away from everything else, you're likely going to be bored:



that's as close to what we got to the wild horses :)
that's as close to what we got to the wild horses :)

You can go to the Yonaguni Diving Page to see the dive pictures from Yonaguni.

See more images for Visiting Japan Day 1-3: Yonaguni

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