Monday, March 30, 2009

Sendai Shopping Tour

Sendai- is the capital city of Miyagi Prefecture, and it's the largest city in Tohoku (Northeast) Region, Japan.

Sendai JR Station

Our tour bus

Our rest stop after 2 hours

Louis Vuitton and Gap Stores at Sun mall Ichibancho

Sendai Downtown, look at those cute cars

Walking along Higashi-Nibancho Dori

Gucci and Bottega Veneta Stores

Harajuku girls...they're here!!!

Japanese people really love louis vuitton bags :-)

Along Covered Clis Road Mall

Shrine inside the mall

Disney Store


Sendai Shopping Tour

Last Saturday, March 28 I went to Sendai with my daughter and friends. It's a 4 1/2 hour drive from Misawa Air Base by bus. We took the tour package from Misawa ITT (Information Tickets and Travel) on base, I paid $100, $50 per person. The nicest thing about the tour there was even a seating arrangement, you can pick your seat number if you're early to reserve your tickets. Unfortunately, I was the last person to buy the tickets for that tour and got the last seats available (my seat was way apart from my daughter). Fortunately 2 people did not show up that day and got their 2 seats, behind my friends' seats. We're still lucky!

Misawa to Sendai: (one rest stop)
Meeting Place: Behind the Library's parking lot
Boarding Time: 6:30am
Departure time: 7:00am
Actual Arrival Time: 11:20am
Actual Travel Time: 4 hours and 20 minutes

Shopping Time including lunch: from 11:20am to 4:20pm ( 5 hours)

Sendai to Misawa: (one rest stop)
Meeting Place: In front of Sendai Station
Boarding Time: 4:30pm
Departure Time: 4:45pm
Actual Arrival Time: 8:25pm
Actual travel time: 3 hours and 40 minutes

Was it worth to shop for 5 hours or less with total travel time of 8 hours or more???
Well it depends....on your budget :-) and if you really enjoy shopping.
For me it's not worth it to shop, I rather shop online but at least I got to see Sendai for the first time and share my photos here in my blog. But it's probably the first and last one :-)

  1. It's better to rent a van from outdoor rec on base for ~$75/day with your friends and share the expenses and has a friend who loves to drive that far. Toll fee tickets are free.
  2. If driving your own van- you need to pay the toll road fee of around ~$100+ (round trip) plus your gas.
  3. Better stay overnight (get the overnight tour package) to have plenty of time to stroll around Sendai downtown and not to feel exhausted driving back home with another 4 hours, but you need to consider your budget :-)

Overall, I guess it's up to you!! :-)

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Friday Shoot Out- Graveyard in Misawa

Taken yesterday after the snowfall

Graveyard has no fences nor signs just in the middle of houses

One of the yellow houses in the background is my house, right across the ricefield is this graveyard

Across this graveyard are houses rent by US military families, I can recognize American houses because of the type of satellite dish installed to every house aside from their cars park in front of their houses (American car's plate numbers have "Y" on it), anyways I can not live or rent a house in front of a feels weird and creepy, no way! and besides I heard a lot of ghost stories here in it's a NO NO :-)

Along side of the road

This looks like the person buried here was a Christian or Catholic because of the "cross"

This is creepy......Can you see the reflection of the white lady on the tombstone??? Take a closer look between the 2 bouquet of flowers, can you see the lady who's wearing white and standing?? That's me, taking this photo! Gotcha! hahaha


I was a bit in a hurry yesterday to take some photos to join Patty for today's graveyard shootout, it's been a week and I haven't taken any photos yet, so I ended up going to just one place, just a stone's throw away from our house. It was freezing cold and so windy outside when I walked down across the rice field where this graveyard is. We thought that snow was over but not here in Misawa, it did snow last Tuesday and until yesterday; even this morning we even had some flurries, I hope this would be the last snowfall.

I remember the first time we got here, we went to a free tour around Misawa and there was one graveyard we went to, the tour guide said that 1 tombstone costs around $20,000+ ......whooah (??????), it is not only expensive to live here in Japan it's expensive to die too! And she even reminded us, in her Japanese accent, "Please, do not die here in Japan," she's so funny hahaha.

I noticed that their tombstones are mostly granite and marble stones that make them so expensive.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Misawa Aviation and Science Museum

The four little rascals during the 2nd grade field trip from Sollars Elementary School

Hands-on Helicopter simulator


Model Planes

My son and his classmate were strapped to a "device" that creates the sensation of inertia

Miss Veedol replica

Japan Air Commuter Plane

Outside the museum- aircrafts display


Last Thursday, March 19, 2009 the 2nd grade students from *Sollars Elementary School on base had their field trip in Misawa Aviation and Science Museum. It is probably a 15-minute drive from Misawa Air Base.

I volunteered for this field trip to see the museum and also this was my son's request, I was assigned to watch over the 4 kids including my son. It was fun but tiring to chase the kids who were very excited to see and experience the hands-on exhibits. Volunteering really needs patience :-)

Displayed inside the museum is a Miss Veedol replica, a single-engine Bellanca aircraft that made the first trans-Pacific by Hugh Herdon and Clyde Pangborn from Misawa's Sabishiro's beach in 1931 which ended 41 hours later in Wenatchee, Washington.

The museum is very educational. Children and adults can take controls of airplane and helicopter simulators, ride a chair demonstrating the moon's weightlessness or float on a 26-foot free-fall ride. They even have a display that uses smoke to demonstrate how torandoes are formed. There was also a 30 minute-science experiment about Liquid Nitrogen which students enjoyed most.

Admission fee:

500 yen for adults
300 yen for children ages 15-18
free for children 15 and under

* Sollars Elementary School is under DoDDS- Department of Defense Dependent Schools

The Department of Defense Dependents Schools (DoDDS) are a network of schools, both primary and secondary, that serve dependents of United States military - and other non-US - personnel outside the United States. The schools themselves are operated by the Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA).

Friday, March 20, 2009

Friday Shootout- Houses Around Misawa, Aomori Japan

Misawa is a small city in Aomori Prefecture, northern Japan. The surrounding area is mostly rural but there is some limited nightlife, around the American air base nearby. Tokyo is an hour away by plane, about 3 and a half hours by shinkansen (bullet train), and about 10-12 hours by car and maybe 8-10 hours if you drive above the maximum limit (around 80kph is the max limit in the expressway).

Misawa hosts a United States Air Force base, which is Misawa Air Base. The base is currently home to the 35th Fighter Wing, The conjoined home of the American and Japanese militaries.

We arrived here last summer of 2008 from Hawaii , (my husband's based station prior to Misawa) due to military relocation, he is a US military member. Being a military spouse, I'm excited to experience more of Japanese cultures, their life, food and discover different places around northern Japan (or farther) for a 3- year tour and I will be sharing them with you here in my travelog.

I'm joining Patty's "My town photo shootout" (a photographer from Maryland), for this week, although I'm late for the Friday's post :-) thanks Patty for inviting me.

Just bear with my photos as most of them are "point and shoot shots" while driving around Misawa.

These apartments are in front of the house that we are renting right now. Our front view actually is the rice field you see in the above picture, we call this as our front yard :-)

These are the American type houses off base, my neighbors' houses

This is the house we are renting, it's a 4 bedroom, 3 bathroom type with one car carage and one car port. We are in Japan but our house is still American style :-) A lot of Japanese home owners here in Misawa are renting out their houses (and some are still building new houses) to military members based on the Military housing requirements. We are the first renter in this house, they were still building this along with my next door neighbor when we arrived here and waited for about 2 weeks to move in.

The photo was taken during our first snow fall here in Misawa.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Zojo-ji Temple, Tokyo

-->Zojo-ji is a Buddhist temple located in Shiba near Tokyo Tower.
We happened to see this temple as we were walking to Roppongi Hills.
When we were still in Pokemon center's building we saw the Tokyo Tower and thought it would be a short walk to Roppongi Hills (we planned to go back there to check their sky deck) but it ended up a 40-minute walk (or more), whoaahh so tiring!! But it paid off when we passed the main gate of this temple, so magnificent and humongous gate and as we entered that place we found the spot, the Tokyo Tower behind the Zojo-ji Temple, what a nice view and so I grabbed my camera. I just took some photos and headed right away towards Tokyo Tower. We did not spend a lot of time in there....we were so hungry and tired, my husband and my son were craving for "Pepper Lunch Steak" which is in Roppongi. My daughter was complaining...her feet hurt :-) and wanted to take the subway train but my husband insisted that we were almost there....."yah right" :-)

Main Gate of Zojo-ji Temple known as Sangedatsumon

This is the gate before you enter the Zojo-ji Temple, it is in front of the busy street. I took this photo across the street just to take the whole view. If you have clear sight you may see my husband and my son sitting on the step waiting for me :-)

The gate has been designated by the State as important cultural property. Its name - Sangedatsumon - means a gate (mon) for getting delivered (gedatsu) from three (san) earthly states of mand - greed, anger and stupidity.

Small Jizo statues along side of Zojo-ji temple cemetery

It's a bit creepy when I saw these stone statues, they're wearing a red cap and a bib and some have a small windmill or a pin wheel. I didn't take close-up photos coz I was a bit scared :-)...I got goosebumps hahaha

According to wikipedia:

"Jizō statues are sometimes accompanied by a little pile of stones and pebbles, put there by people in the hope that it would shorten the time children have to suffer in the underworld (the act is derived from the tradition of building stupas as an act of merit-making). The statues can sometimes be seen wearing tiny children's clothing or bibs, or with toys, put there by grieving parents to help their lost ones and hoping that Jizō would specially protect them. Sometimes the offerings are put there by parents to thank Jizō for saving their children from a serious illness. Jizō's features are also commonly made more babylike in order to resemble the children he protects."

Stone tombs(?), along side of the Zojo-ji Temple

We passed these stone tombs right after the jizo statues

Finally we saw the base of Tokyo Tower....we're so tired, we reached Roppongi after 20 minute walk from here.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Pokemon Center Tokyo

Pokemon Center Tokyo, this is the entrance on the side of the building

Pokemon Center main entrance door

Main Entrance of the Pokemon Center Store

Pokemon toys

Pokemon video game (??)

Pikachu toys

Pikachu or Pichu stuffed toys

Pikachu's mouse

Another pokemon stuffed toys

Pokemon's Wii and Nintendo DS games

Pokemon cards

Pokemon Union Room across the Pokemon Center where you could play video games on that big monitor

Pokeball Video Game, my son's favorite game

My son, playing the pokeball game

View of Pokemon Center entrance on the left side of the building, second floor

Shinkansen (bullet train) passed by, in front of the Pokemon Center

Daimon Station, where we got off from the train

Our 5 day trip in Tokyo, morning of Feb. 19, 2009- Pokemon Center, Tokyo

My son wanted to see the Pokemon Center in Tokyo , one of his requests for his 8th birthday gift. He is really a fan of pokemon even my daughter likes it. And so our first trip of that day was the Pokemon Center. We arrived there early, around 11am and we're lucky the store was not that crowded yet.

Across Pokemon Center on its other entrance (left side) is the Pokemon Union Room where you can play the video game on the big screen. No one was playing that time we didn't have any idea on how to play the game since the attendants can not speak English. So my son ended up playing the pokeball or the pokechip game which is now his favorite video game. He collects pokechips (aside from collecting pokemon cards) just to play that game, it's ¥ 100 for each pokechip. I wonder how he plays the game in Japanese ??? hahaha. Oh well kids are kids they have ways to understand the games.

Please leave a comment if you want to get the directions there, thanks.