Thursday, March 30, 2006

lavender


Do you like lavender? I was never really into it until I moved to Japan. There is a lavender farm called Farm Tomita in a little town called Furano in Hokkaido. Hokkaido is the most northern island in Japan. To see this lavender farm during the summer is really breathtaking. Just hillsides and fields of purple! After Satoshi and I experienced this, we decided that our next goal was to see the "real deal" in Provence, France (hopefully soon!!).

About 5 years ago, I had heard about a lavender farm on the island of Maui. My aunty recently went for a tour and lunch there. The farm is called Alii Kula Lavender. Kula is an area on the island of Maui that is known for their Maui onions. These onions are really sweet (I think they are like the Vidalias).

Anyway, ever since I tasted the Cranberry-Lavender Campagne (farmhouse) bread from Abientot in Minoo, I have been wanting to get my hands on some edible lavender. I checked out the markets and gadget shops in Hawaii then surfed the internet and could only find it on the Dean & Deluca website...but, I was not about to pay an arm and a leg for the shipping & handling (mainly because the continental U.S.'s S&H is WAY cheaper than Hawaii or Alaska's...aren't we the same "country"?)

After hearing about my aunty's recent journey and how they had all kinds of lavender products, I went to see if they had a website and they did! I was surprised at how many things they have! I really wanted to order more things but held myself back (a bit...) I got the lavender scone mix, the culinary lavender and a lavender-verbena goat milk soap. The postage was reasonable and it came within 2 days!

When the postal delivery person came and handed me the box you should have smelled the fragrance wafting from the box...it was just heavenly!

Can't wait to make some lavender food things!

Alii Kula Lavender
1100 Waipoli Road
Kula, Maui
Phone: 808-878-3004

Monday, March 27, 2006

foodie two days

Yesterday, we had dinner at my Aunty Merle's house. My family gets together for dinner almost every Sunday and my mom and her sisters take turns cooking. This has been going on since way back when.

My Aunty loves her kitchen and also loves to try new recipes. She fried up some soft-shelled crabs. This is a local favorite and you can usually find them inside of temaki (handrolled sushi). Although these guys weren't too crispy (because she didn't deep fry them) they were still delicious. She also made an "Italian" type of dish using eggplant, green peppers, ground beef, onions, cheese and a tomato sauce. And also cooked some miso butterfish, just in case my Grandma didn't want to eat the first two dishes.

Miso butterfish is also a local favorite. You can find it in most Japanese restaurants. And the supermarkets also sell them already marinated. Butterfish is actually sablefish(which is also called black cod) marinated in miso, sugar, ginger and sake overnight then either grilled or cooked on a pan. The fish is quite oily so it is very flavorful and moist.

Dessert was from the bakery at Daiei. Daiei is actually a supermarket in Japan, but came to Hawaii about 20 years ago or so. The bakery had some pretty interesting stuff. Mochi (rice cakes) filled with sweet bean paste which were baked into a sweet bread type dough, they were called mochi an pan. Coconut bread filled with a vanilla custard. This bread was so light and airy.

We also had Sam Sato's manju. Sam Sato's is a diner in Maui. They are known for their saimin (a local kind of noodles in broth) and manju. Manju has a pie crust like outside and is filled with sweet bean paste. This manju comes from the island of Maui and is a popular omiyage (souvenier). In Hawaii, when we travel to the other islands (on business or for pleasure), we usually bring back a popular food item from that island for our families, friends and/or for the office. Sam Sato's uses the white sweet bean paste instead of the black one.

My Aunty also made her own manju but put peanut butter and jelly inside since she ran out of the sweet bean paste.

I think I ate more dessert than dinner...

Today, I went to lunch with my friends, Wen & Steph. We went to a new restaurant in Ala Moana Shopping Center called Romano's Macaroni Grill.


This restaurant is part of the Brinker International company, they also own Chili's. The restaurant is decorated to look and feel like you're entering a ski lodge. I ordered the Chicken Fontina Salad. This salad was great! A light lemon-garlic dressing over chopped spinach, orzo, olives, sun-dried and fresh tomatoes, and capers. Can I just say, the portions are huge! I couldn't finish my meal and took half of it home.

It's nice to be back in the U.S. where you can order a salad as an entree and have so many choices on the menu that you have to ooh and awe over it, then bite your lip because you can't decide what the heck to order because there are just too many choices! Despite the rain, we had a nice lunch and a great time shopping.

Last but not least, my friend Wen, made these moist brownies, a belated birthday gift. They were really good and chocolatey! (Thank you!!)

Hopefully the rain will have let up for awhile, although the forecast says it will continue to rain for the rest of the week. Most islanders are getting a bit down about this weather (since it has been going on for the past 4 weeks or so), but hey! at least there's leaves on most of the trees and it isn't butt freezing cold, right??

Have a great week!

Sam Sato
1750 Wili Pa Loop
Kahului, Maui
Phone: 808-244-7124

Daiei USA-Kaheka
801 Kaheka Street
Honolulu, Hawaii
Phone: 808-973-4800

Romano's Macaroni Grill
Ala Moana Shopping Center, Ho'okipa Terrace, 4th floor
Honolulu, Hawaii
Phone: 808-356-8300

taste of hongwanji

Do you have church bazaars in your neighborhood? We had a pretty big one today. It was called "The Taste of Hongwanji". The Honpa Hongwanji is one of the largest buddhist organizations in Hawaii. Every year they have a bazaar and the food items are supposed to be based on the recipes from their collection of 6 cookbooks. My mom's church, the Pearl City Hongwanji participated in this bazaar.

Every year from January to March when I am home, I go to help the Fujinkai. The Fujinkai is a group of ladies (like a club) within the church. Fujin is wives, kai is group. These ladies get together to make tsukemono (pickled vegetables), sushi & baked goods to sell at this bazaar. And the amount of tsukemono that they make is nothing to be scoffed at either, we're talking hundreds of pounds of daikon (radish) that need to be peeled then sliced! They also use hakusai (chinese cabbage or called makina in hawaii), nasubi (eggplant), kyuri (cucumber) and carrots which are then marinated in different sauces and different types of tsukemono are made.

Sushi was rolled the day before the bazaar and boy, did they roll...over 600 of them~! (yipes!)

And baked goods baked a couple of days in advance.

There was LOTS of great homemade food including jams and jellies. Plus, there are plate lunches! Plate lunches are basically your whole meal on a sectioned plate, usually styrofoam box type with a cover. A basic plate lunch in Hawaii consists of the main dish, macaroni salad and 2 scoops of rice (at some places, you can get more that one main dish!). There was teriyaki barbequed short ribs, chili and rice, stew and rice and curry and rice plates. I had the chili and rice! It was spicy and delicious!

Another thing that they had was rotisserie chicken by Koala Moa. Whole chickens are cooked rotisserie style while moving down a ramp (as it cooks, it moves down the line!). This is a newer version of cooking chicken in Hawaii, when we were growing up we used to have "huli-huli" chicken. Huli-huli chicken are half chickens sandwiched between two large grills then flipped. The flipping action is called "huli-huli" in Hawaiian (a lot of school organizations used to sell these chickens as a type of fundraising). I prefer the rotisserie chicken because is doesn't get as burnt.

The only thing that hampered things was the weather. It apparently has been raining in Hawaii for the past 3 or 4 weeks! That is a LOT of water...

Still we were able to sell most of our goodies and eat some good food!

Hope you are dry where you are.

Take care and have a great week!

Friday, March 24, 2006

made it!

It's Friday....AGAIN!

Well, after a 7 hour "roller coaster" ride, I made it to Hawaii. The plane was packed as it is Spring Break in Japan. My request for an aisle seat was "overlooked" and I was placed smack dab in the middle of a row. :( At least we were in the Economy Plus row and there wasn't another row in front of us.

Thanks for the nice wishes everyone. Will definitely try to post from here although, Mom's dial-up may pose a couple of problems.

Looking forward to shopping of all sorts (cookbooks, books, clothes...gosh, my credit card is shaking already!), seeing friends, family and just relaxing!

Hope to post something foodie-licious!

Take care.

aloha

Are there things you do before you go on a trip? I go through a little "process of events" before going on a trip or back to Hawaii.

One, is that I clean the house. Everyday clutter is cleared, the kitchen and bathroom is cleaned and all the fresh foods used to leave the refrigerator empty. The first time I did this on a trip back to Hawaii freaked Satoshi when he came home that night from work. He said it made him a bit sad to realize that I wasn't coming home for awhile.

The other thing is that I send my bags to the airport in advance. Whenever I go back to Hawaii, there is a bag pick-up service that I like to use. Before finding this service, I struggled many a time with my 30-inch suitcase, rolled it down the street, balanced it on the escalators, lugged it off and on the trains, just to get to the airport. Not to mention, I would have to try to get it down the 3 flights of stairs of our apartment building (with no hand railings...)--all without breaking my neck.

Nowadays, Satoshi usually calls for me about a week in advance and books a day for them to pick up the bags, this is decided depending on your flights. You can choose whether you want them to come in the morning between 10 and 1 or in the afternoon between 2 and 6 or later in the evening between 7 and 9. I usually choose the morning pick-up time because I usually have things to do in the afternoons. (Sometimes they come early, at about 10 or 11, and sometimes they come AT 1.) Usually if you book a round-trip--for them to bring the bags back to your home after you return, the rate is a bit cheaper. I can now go to the airport with just my carry-on and not have to stress about my suitcase. This service is definitely worth every "penny"!

Changing the subject, yesterday was the last session for my beads crochet class. We made a cute little crocheted purse with little fresh water pearls that hangs from a long chain necklace. It wasn't too hard to make and we all finished early, and prepped for our next project which will be done at the next class. After class, a group of us went to have tea.

The next session starts in 2 weeks, but I'll miss the first two lessons, so I'll have to play catch-up when I get back.

Hopefully I'll be able to post some foodie experiences from Hawaii, if not, see you all in about 6 weeks!!

Aloha!*

*"Aloha" is a greeting that we say in Hawaii which is very versatile. It can mean "Hi", "Bye", "Welcome!", "See ya". You can hear this phrase a lot in the touristy areas such as Waikiki. In Japanese, it is the equivalent to that of "Doomo".

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

shunbun no hi

Yesterday was a National holiday, Shunbun no hi (Vernal Equinox Day) or the First day of Spring. It was also higan, the day when people visit their family graves to pray for their ancestors and departed loved ones.

Satoshi had the day off, so we went to have breakfast at our favorite cafe. Then for the next 4 hours he was in front of the television watching the World Baseball Classic championship game between Japan & Cuba. Japan won the game 10-6, but Cuba gave it their all to keep the game close.

While Satoshi watched the game, I went to have my hair done. On a previous post I wrote about the troubles of getting my hair cut. Well, getting it colored is much easier! Mainly because all you have to say is, "same like the last time!" :) After getting it done, I went back home and the game was still in progress.

Finally, after a total of 4 hours, the game was over. Usually during the week I am cooped up at home, so I wanted to go out somewhere. We went to Takarazuka. It is about 20 minutes from our station. Our first stop was a cafe called Afternoon Tea. I had some scones with Earl Grey tea and Satoshi had a huge salad! This is one of the only places I know that you can order a entree sized salad. Near the Takarazuka station, they also have a housing park. A housing park is a park which has model homes built so that you can walk inside and choose what type of house you want/fixtures, etc. We didn't go into any of these houses (for fear of temptation of REALLY wanting to buy one), but we did ooh and aah from the outside.

After walking around a bit, we decided to have dinner at the Takarazuka Washington Hotel. I had the "Australian" beef with Kyoto veggies and tofu (soy bead curd). With the on going problem of BSE (mad cow disease), Japan is always emphasizing where their meats come from. (Although there was an incident about 2 years ago, where the Japan markets were switching labels in order to get reimbursements from the governments...sigh...) The food was really tasty and I really liked all the vegetables on top of the steak!

The weather is definitely warming up. Hopefully I'll be able to see some cherry blossoms.

Have a great week!

Monday, March 20, 2006

foodie weekend

Saturday was rainy and COLD! Satoshi had to work and I had a lesson. I met Satoshi for dinner at the New Otani Hotel. There is a restaurant called Trader Vic's in the hotel. We like their food because it reminds of Hawaii and also Satoshi's friend works there. This restaurant will close in June, so if you want to go, you'd better go soon!

Sunday was cold and WINDY! It felt as though a typhoon was on its way and we even had flurries. After doing some errands, we were (Satoshi was) strapped to the television watching the World Baseball Classic game between Korea & Japan. The other day, Mexico won their game against USA which gave Japan a chance to play in the semi-finals. Japan won their game yesterday and now face Cuba in the finals.

After the game we decided to walk around Suigetsu Park to see how the ume (plum) blossoms had progressed. The whole park was pink, white and red! It was really nice (but VERY windy) There is a fitness area in the park which has this rocky path. Take off your shoes and walk on the rocks. It is supposed to press the different pressure points on your feet. Satoshi cringed as he walked on these.

From the park, we made our way to dinner at the kaitensushi restaurant, Sushiro. Kaitensushi is sushi that comes to you on a conveyer belt. Some people also call it kurukuru sushi because kurukuru means to go round and round. We like this place because it is a nice walk to the restaurant and each plate is only $1. "Real" kaitensushi usually charge you different prices depending on what kind of fish tops the sushi.

There are a few rules that you should know about eating at one of these places. 1)If you take a plate off of the conveyer belt, you need to eat what you took...don't put it back onto the conveyer belt! 2)Wait for the sushi to pass in front of you, don't reach over to the other side of the conveyer belt to get the sushi you want.
There are some families who apparently don't know this and do these obnoxious things.

I am trying to clean out our refrigerator since I'll be going to Hawaii at the end of the week.

Today for Satoshi's breakfast I made chanchanyaki. Chanchanyaki is a dish from Hokkaido, the most Northern island of the Japan. It is a very easy dish to make. They call it chanchanyaki because chanchan supposedly means easy to make in Hokkaido dialect. If you have this dish in Hokkaido, you'll be surprised at the volume of food that is cooked. They "throw" a whole salmon, a whole cabbage and other veggies onto a hot plate grill and this is supposed to feed 2 people!

Chanchanyaki : serves 2
200g salmon (cut into fourths)
1/2 cabbage (cut roughly)
1/2 onion (sliced)

Sauce:
120 g miso (soy bean paste)
10 g sugar
60 cc sake (rice wine)
*Mix these together and leave on the side

Put the salmon and veggies into a pan and cook until salmon is heated through and veggies a bit wilted. Add sauce and simmer for 2 to 3 minutes. Serve with rice.

Enjoy!

Friday, March 17, 2006

sakura

For some reason, Blogger’s system was down and I couldn’t get onto my blog...I was finally able to get on.

The weather the past week went from rainy to sunny, back to rainy...on top of that, cherry blossom season is almost here. Unfortunately, I will be going to Hawaii next week. The weatherforecasters predict the cherry blossoms to start blooming the day after I leave. “You can’t have it all”, my Grandmother would say. This is true, but at least I can enjoy the food before I go, right?

During cherry blossom season, many people save spaces under the cherry trees to have big picnic parties sometimes running late into the evenings. To sit under the cherry tree and view the blossoms is called hanami. Viewing them at night is called yozakura.

Companies, college groups and families usually send a person to save a space for their picnic. (The companies and college groups usually send the person lowest on the totem pole.) These people have to go REALLY early in the morning to save a space. If you walk through a park that has cherry trees early in the morning, you’ll notice plastic blue tarp lying under every cherry tree and the person who had to save the space sleeping on it. (Although, if it looks like a tent, then that's a homeless persons "home".)

Anyway, if you are ever in Japan during this season it is very beautiful. Sitting under the pink-ness of the cherry blossoms, eating your hanami bento (cherry blossom viewing boxed lunch), eating hanami dango (rice cakes on a skewer colored in the pink, white and green), drinking some sake, wine or tea all the while enjoying the conversation and company of good friends/family. There are even some who set up their karaoke machine to sing a little. Don't worry, even if you go alone, you'll still have a great time, just to see everyone having a nice time is kind of relaxing. (Be warned though: some people ruin this atmosphere by not being able to handle their alcohol(or knowing when to stop drinking), getting really sick and well, you get the picture.)

Still, for the most part, this is a very cheery time. After a drab, colorless winter, the soft pink flowers paired with a nice sunny day, is a nice way to welcome spring. And towards the end of the season, as the petals start to flutter off the trees, this is yet another wonderful experience.

Today, I bought a bento from Yonehachi. They are known for their okowa (steamed mochi rice (glutinous rice) with different toppings). Okowa is also known as sekihan. Sekihan is glutinous rice (mochi rice) with red adzuki beans which is made usually for celebratory occasions. When you buy Yonehachi's boxed lunches you are allowed to choose your okowa. (At their counter they have the boxed lunches all lined up next to about 5 different okowa.) I chose okowa with octopus, one with chestnuts & red beans and one with sakura flowers (cherry blossom steamed rice) and veggies. The cherry blossoms used in decorating food items are salted and preserved. This boxed lunch was very filling and delicious!

I also got hanami dango (rice cakes on a skewer colored in pink, white and green) by Fukujudo-hidenobu, a local Japanese confectioner in Tezukayama. They have a sales counter in the Daimaru Umeda store. Inside the pink rice cake is a sweet red bean paste the outside is coated with a rough sugar-like topping, the white rice cake has a sweet white bean paste and the green rice cake’s outside is made from yomogi(mugwort) and the inside has a sweet red bean paste. The rice cake was so soft and yummy!

I saw these Sakura macarons on their website and wanted to try them. I had never had macarons before, since they are rather expensive. These were made by a Kyoto confectioner, Malebranche. This was really tasty and not too sweet (are they supposed to be this big?). The macaron is coated with a little cherry liquer, the flavor isn't very strong, very light, inside, there is a light cherry flavored whipped cream at the bottom, raspberries and a pannecotta fills the middle. On the top there is a preserved cherry blossom and powdered sugar.

It was quite a foodie day.

Well, hopefully the weather will improve over the next week and warms up enough for me to see the tulips that I planted, bloom before I go...

Have a nice weekend!

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

new bag

After two (brrr) freezing days of rain and flurries, the sun is back! (yeah!!) I spent most of the morning between several loads of laundry and making a new bag.

I ran into a few problems and the bag didn't come out as the book pictured. (Guess I'll have to try it again!) But, I think it will serve its purpose. When we moved to Japan 5 years ago, I hadn't sewed since home economics class in intermediate school, still, I had Satoshi buy me a sewing machine.

Besides food, another thing I love is BAGS, so I figured instead of buying them, I would try to make them. Since then, I have made my own tote bags which I use when grocery shopping. At the grocery stores, they give you extra points on your point card for using your own bag not using their plastic bags.

And we often take these totes with us on our trips or when galavanting around Osaka, they fold up nicely and come in handy especially when we need another bag to bring home our souvenirs or purchases.

In a couple of days, it will be St. Patrick's Day. At home, my mom usually cooks fresh corned beef with cabbage, carrots and potatoes. Since I couldn't find fresh corned beef in our markets, I decided to use canned corned beef and made another dish which we have in Hawaii....Corned beef and cabbage.

There are two ways that my family has this dish. One is with salt and pepper. The other is with shoyu (soy sauce) and sugar (we say shoyu-sugar or satojyoyu). I decided to make it the shoyu-sugar way.

Ingredients
1 can corned beef
1 onion
1 cabbage

1T sugar
1T shoyu

Cut cabbage into bite sized pieces, slice onions
Cook in a non-stick pan
After cabbage and onions slightly wilt, add corned beef
When everything is mixed and heated, add the shoyu and sugar.

An easy dish for busy people!
Enjoy! and Happy St. Patty's Day!

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

white day

It's nearly the middle of March and we have gone back in time. The weatherforecasters are saying that the temperatures are that of mid-winter...um, well, the snow flurries that we had for most of yesterday would do it, don't you think?

One thing I forgot to mention about Okinawa is that they are known to have the longest life expectancy. This is due to their diet which consists of lots of veggies, fish, pork and their lifestyle.

About 3 years ago, when Satoshi was helping me search for my roots, I read "the Okinawan Program". Although this book is very thick, it was filled with lots of interesting facts and information about the Okinawan culture. Being able to connect with relatives in Okinawa was a dream come true! There were cousins as old as my father and many stories were told. Although there were some areas that are still mysteries, it was nice to be able to find family.

While living in Japan, Satoshi has not only helped me connect with my Okinawan relatives on my father's side, but with relatives on my mother's side. Her side of the family includes stories about immigrating to Hawaii, picture bride marriage, life during the war and a family tree that goes back to the Edo period. I've been able to write up our family trees from the info that family members have given me. And to be able to have a written record of things has been a good learning experience. If you have the chance to find out about your roots, especially from the elders in your family, I truly recommend either using a tape recorder or taking notes, because once these elders pass, there is no way to recover what they know or have experienced.

Changing the subject, today is White Day in Japan. This is the day when the GUYS give the girls something in return for Valentine's Day. Satoshi gave me my ticket to Hawaii and some Australian soaps. I usually go back to Hawaii once a year, usually for two or three months, usually during most of winter. This year is a bit different, I'll only be going home for a month. Although it won't be as long as the times I've gone home in the past, I'm still thankful to be able to go. (Thanks Satoshi!)

During the winter in Japan, the main local citrus fruit that you see is called mikan. I think it is a type of tangerine. The skin is very thin, there are no seeds and it is easy to peel. Recently, I've seen more citrus fruits being brought into the markets. One is the kiyomi orange which we had with breakfast. This orange grows in the Wakayama prefecture. The skin is very soft and there is hardly any membrane sacs, mostly all "orange" and really juicy! If you get a chance to try this one, it is really good!

Monday, March 13, 2006

okinawa (day 3)

Day 3 started off really early. We left our hotel at 8 am...our first stop was Himeyuri no to. This is a memorial in the Itoman area where 200 school girls committed suicide rather than be captured by the Americans during the war. Here we said a prayer.

We then went to Okinawa World. This is a park with a very l-o-n-g cave called gyokusendo. Inside the cave are stalactite and stalagmite over 300,000 years old.

And then we were off to Kokusai-dori for lunch. I had So-ki soba (this is Okinawa's soba (like udon (wheat noodles) with spareribs with soup). Satoshi had Okinawa soba (slices of su-chika-(pork shoulder cooked in salt and stock until soft) on Okinawa's soba with soup).

Some interesting sites: Ishiganto, these are good luck rocks placed in front of homes.

Akagawara (red tile roofing), found on most traditional homes in Okinawa.

Face of a shisa (lion) at the Churaumi Aquarium.

One place to visit is the farmer's market, just off Kokusai-dori. A lively area with lots of vegetables, fruits, pork and fish. A lot of vendors weren't open on Sunday, but I was able to get a photo of a pork vendor. Okinawan don't eat much beef except for Ishigaki beef, they mainly eat pork, chicken and fish.

A basket of Okinawan vegetables near the buffet at Mahaina: from the top clockwise, pumpkin, ginger root, green papaya, beni-imo (purple sweet potato), beni-jagaimo (red potato), onions.

Dessert with dinner at the Okinawa Miyako hotel. Beni-imo kintoki (mashed and sweetened purple sweet potato) and kuri-kinton with black bean (mashed and sweetened chestnuts with black bean in the middle)

We made it safely back to Osaka and Satoshi's parents had a nice time. We're back to the cold weather, in fact, we had some flurries this morning! (isn't it March??)

Hope you enjoyed this journey as much as we did!

okinawa (day 2-pm)

The next stop was Fruitland. This park had all kinds of fruit trees found in Okinawa. Most were similar to those seen in Hawaii. I also saw the vanilla plant and was surprised at they way it is grown. It looked like green beans on a vine. There was also an area with exotic birds and butterflies. The oogomadara butterflies cocoon (sanagi) is golden.


We made a short stop at Manzamo. Manzamo is a cliff area looking out over Manza Bay. During the war, many Okinawans jumped from this cliff to their deaths for fear of being captured by the Americans.

The next stop was Mori no glass kan, it is a work area where glass craftsmen blow glass and make different glass items such as cups, bowls, dishes and other interesting items. First the craftsman heats the glass in a large flame, then shapes the glass while it is still hot. After the desired shape is reached, he gently taps it off from the pole, then puts the piece into another kiln like oven to set.

Ryukyumura (Ryukyu is another name for Okinawa) this park has a little village of traditional Okinawan homes where you can try different crafts such as weaving.

Dress up in the traditional costume (the big hat is called hanagasa). My in-laws.

Enjoy tea with po-po (Okinawan crepe made with kokuto (black sugar) and flour).

When you visit an Okinawan home, you'll see their family altar. It is this huge thing (on the right with the bottle of awamori (Okinawan sake (rice wine)) in front) that looks like a cupboard.

And see a traditional performance of eisa. Eisa, is a powerful and dynamic Okinawan dance performed with taiko (drum). This dance is usually performed for ancestors during the Lunar Bon Holiday. Eisa means to chant from a Buddhist prayer.

After a long day of sights, we then checked into our hotel, the Okinawa Miyako Hotel. This hotel is just down the hill from Shuri-jo (Shuri Castle). And 10 minutes from Kokusai-dori (International street). Kokusai-dori is a street filled with tiny shops and restaurants a great place to shop.

Okinawa Miyako Hotel
40 Aza Matsugawa
Naha, Okinawa
Phone: 098-887-1111

okinawa (day 2-am)

Day 2 started with a buffet breakfast. Taro imo (like sato-imo, sometimes called dasheen) a thick potato soup with corn, cubed aloe with shi-quasa (sometimes called hirami lemon, is like a mix between a lime, lemon and orange), salad with goya (bittermelon), okinawan carrots, spam, egg, weiners made with ukon (tumeric), fried taro imo and beni-jagaimo, papayairichi(green papaya stirfried with chives and carrots).

We then went to the Churaumi Aquarium. Chura means beautiful in Okinawan and umi means ocean in Japanese. This aquarium is big! and has 3 jinbeizame (whale sharks). There were a lot of tropical fish and also some fish that we see in Hawaii fish markets. There were also some species that I've never seen before, like these chinanago (garden eels)--(eew sea worms!!)

Our next stop was the Yanbaru Anettaien, this garden area has a rainforest atmosphere with hego (fern) that are over 10 ft tall!

Lunch was Okinawan style bibimba (rice with Okinawan vegetables cooked in a stone bowl). Bibimba is actually a Korean dish. And aloe sashimi (sliced aloe). Aloe is quite bitter, but tasted good with a splash of lemon and soy sauce.

There was an area where you could try your hand at making chinsuko (Okinawan shortbread) and andagi (Okinawan donuts), I didn't get to try this but the man who was frying them gave me a free one to eat!

Blue Seal ice cream is also very popular in Okinawa. The American name is Foremost. I had Mint chocolate chip (since I can't find this flavor in Japan, not even at Haagen Datz) and Satoshi had beni-imo (red sweet potato).