Sunday, January 26, 2014


Seeing as we would be spending nearly a week on Ishigaki we thought it would be fun to take a day trip by ferry to one of the neighboring islands. We chose Iriomote as Alex astutely pointed out, "I want to ride the yak (cart)." Unfortunately it was still a very rainy day so going to the island and walk around it was a pretty wind swept and cool exercise. The yak cart was in fact kind of neat, but on the island there wasn't too much to see. A few animals in a small zoo, mangrove forests, some beaches, and a small museum. There seem to be about 30 yaks, maybe a dozen working each day. The cart drivers also had traditional sansen and would serenade us as we crossed from the mainland to the island. We also took a boat tour to get a closer look at the mangroves, but it was raining so wasn't too fun. Unfortunately we didn't see what I would have liked to, the Iriomote wild cat (modeled by Aya).  

Monday, January 20, 2014


Our friend Alex has been in and out of Okinawa over the past few years and we decided it would be good to take a trip together. He suggested first going to Ishigaki and the pictures we saw were beautiful. The New York Times seems to think so as well and ranked it among its 54 places to go in 2014. Indeed, it is a beautiful place with great beaches and clear water. The island isn't too small, but not so big either. I would say you could drive the circumference in less than half a day. The downtown area felt like there were about 5,000 people there, probably the same scattered around the island. We arrived via Peach air from Osaka and stepped into a shiny new airport. Since it was rainy and cool we didn't get too much beach time then or any other day. We did go to a few view points and walk around town, but more or less we didn't do much with our time here. Alex did go scuba diving and said it was a good experience, but overall I think we all wish we had come in a different season.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Osaka Peace Museum

On the way into Japan we had to stop in Osaka for a few days so that Aya could take a test. As I had the day away from the wife I thought I would do something fun. After researching a bit in the morning I decided to go to a museum! I read that the Osaka Peace Museum was interesting because in some ways this museum put a large degree of blame for the war on Japan and also a large degree of admission of wrong doing in Nanjing. As I entered the museum I was greeted by two women at the counter and a security guard. Admission was cheap, 400yen I think but I can't remember. The museum has three floors, the third largely devoted to a peace memorial type room and a library. Most of the displays on WWII were on the first and second floor. It was indeed interesting and there were many different displays openly showing the atrocities the Japanese committed not only in Nanjing but also a section on SE Asia. I found particularly interesting a book written in English for Malaysians warning about the Japanese. It had accompanying pictures of Japanese soldiers bayoneting babies. Always a page turner.
More or less I was glad I went to the museum. Though small and mostly deserted I enjoyed the different displays of memorabilia and I think the reviews were right in saying that it did have admissions of Japanese guilt. Perhaps this is especially poignant in a Japan that is becoming more and nationalistic under prime minister Abe. 

Need I Say More?

Unfortunately we didn't have time to figure out what this store sells, but if had to guess it would be anything ranging from hummus to pea-coats to new balance shoes.

Sunday, January 05, 2014

The New Year

Although it might seem like I fell off the face of the earth, I haven't. The real reason I haven't posted the last few months is because I lost my camera's charger. In the interim Aya and I went to Vietnam and Singapore for her birthday in October and then our anniversary in November. Both were great trips. 
In Vietnam we visited the chu chi tunnels and the War Remnants museum. Both were very interesting places. We tried going through the tunnels, Aya made it but I had to exit early. I guess she was the right size for it. At the museum we saw a lot of poignant photography of the history of the war of Vietnamese independence. It reminded me a lot of the museum I went to in Hiroshima as it left me with a feeling of disgust and frustration. War, what is it good for? Most of our time remaining we spent getting massages and chilling. Peace, love, and massage.
In November I tried to surprise Aya a with a trip to Singapore, which more or less worked as she didn't know where we were going until we got to the airport. The first night we went on the Flyer, a huge Ferris wheel near the downtown area. I'm not sure if it's because I've been on better, like the London Eye, but I wasn't too thrilled. The city did look nice though. The next day we shopped and then went on the Night Safari. It was cool as with the lights low it was hard to see the enclosures and so it seemed like we had free access to the animals (and them to us!). Many people tell me that Singapore is a big boring city, but I don't feel that way. Despite the shopping overkill I felt like there was plenty to do and the city had a nice feel to it.
So here we are in the new year and I have a new charger so the posts will resume. Though I haven't fallen off the face of the earth I am taking a leap this year. Hopefully someone will be willing to catch me.