Monday, 7 June 2010

Kobe, Japan

Kobe, Japan is incredible! Most of Whim 'n Rhythm is staying with their own host family, but Lita and I are staying together at the Arima Family's house. Our host Dad runs a trail mix and nut company in Japan and exports to places like Whole Foods in the United States.

We had 3 concerts while in Kobe. One at an all girls school, which my host sister, Satoko went to. One at an outdoor shopping area called Mosaic, and one at a really nice concert hall. Our hosts have been so gracious and have driven us to all of our concerts and attended all of our concerts.

Highlights from the trip include:
*Great Chinese Food in Kobe's China Town
*Sight seeing and tropical cocktails at Kobe's Harbor
*Trip to Osaka, Japan (Japan's second largest city) for the best Sushi, Tempura, and Sake I have ever had! The sushi was so fresh and well was a really interesting restaurant (very small) with an open kitchen so you could see the chefs preparing the sushi. It was both delicious and beautifully crafted (I felt like I was eating artwork).
*Traditional Japanese Tea Ceremony and Yukatas (the summer version of Kimonos). Our host families are spoiling us and bought us all Yukatas to take home with us to the States as souvenirs.
*Home cooked Japanese dinners: Sukiyaki (a Japanese Beef dish) and Japanese Curry! YUM!
*Day Trip to the historic and beautiful city of Kyoto where we saw the Golden Temple and many shrines. Our host families treated us to a traditional Japanese lunch were we sat around low tables on cushions and drank green tea.

We have been so so so lucky in Kobe: I have not met a more hospitable people than the Japanese!

Wednesday, 2 June 2010


Tokyo is an amazing city. It almost rivals Istanbul as one of my all-time favorite urban spaces. Like all major cities, Tokyo has numerous distinct sections of town that each have their own flare.

There is the posh Shinjuku area:*Fancy department stores with multi-level gourmet eating halls in the basements (These eateries are the most gorgeous spaces, with rows and rows of impeccably plated and delicious looking foods ranging from dumplings, to sea grass, to french pastries.
*Really expensive boutiques that sell $6,000 puppies (Apparently, celebrities like Paris Hilton travel here to get their toy poodles).
*Apparently the metro station was named after a dog, who followed his master to work everyday and waited for him at the day his master died, and the dog continued to wait for him. The people of Tokyo cared for the dog, bringing him food etc, and the station was named in his honor.
*Similar to Time is the big "meeting place" and has all the giant electronic billboards

*This is a super hip part of town, where the famous Harajuku girls come from (the high fashion, beautiful Japanese girls that Gwen Stefani was obsessed with a few years back).
*The main streets are bustling, but the real jewel of this area is its winding side streets that have the charm of small town village, but are brimming with high fashion boutiques and great cafes.
*Near Harajuku there is the Meiji Shinto Shrine in a large park (kind of like central park). This shrine was built in 1920 in honor of the Emperor Meiji and his wife. Jennie and I saw a traditional Japanese wedding take place here yesterday. Beautiful!

*Hip part of town with a huge clubbing culture. We went out here last night to an American Bar called Geranimo's (famous for it's 15 shot challenge).

*This is the area that Jennie and I are staying in with our host David Wright.
*A big convention center type area


Whim spent last week enjoying the sandy beaches and azure blue waters of Honolulu, Hawaii. Highlights from our trip include singing on the Channel 2 morning news, singing for the mayor of Hawaii and the state library, and singing for a retirement home nestled in the misty mountains of the East side of the island.

Outside of singing, we had a great time exploring some of Hawaii's most beautiful beaches: Hanauma Bay, Waikiki, and the North Shore (Waimea Bay).
On the way home from Hanauma Bay, we stopped by a beach on the North Shore that is famous for its sea turtles (apparently they love the green algae that grows on the craggy rocks spattered across this beach). We hopped out of the car and saw 5 turtles sunning in the beach! They were huge!

Waimea Bay was also beautiful: we went rock jumping at this bay...plummeting off of rocks into the rolling ocean water 30 feet below. A lot of local boys were hanging out on top of the rocks, and when I asked one of them what I was supposed to do, he replied, "Just Jump." And so I did! It was really scary, but awesome! I got 2 other girls in Whim to join me on the next jump.

W also visited the Waimea park and botanic gardens which had an amazing waterfall and swimming hole that we went to. There were some famous scenes from the TV show Lost, that were filmed here.