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Monthly Archives: January 2013

Games, Music and Entertainment at Carolina Renaissance Faire 2012

There is certainly no dull corner at the Carolina Renaissance Faire. I have never expected, of all places, to see a live camel in Charlotte, North Carolina and you get to ride on one if you wish to. If by chance you happen to have anger management issues, the vegetable justice is an instant therapy. This is the only game where one can throw vegetables, in most cases tomatoes, to the actor who insults you without the fear of a lawsuit. And if throwing stuff is not enough, try climbing the castle towers or bungee jump to sweat yourself out

Camel ride at Carolina Renaissance Faire 2012 in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Camel ride at Carolina Renaissance Faire 2012 in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Vegetable justice where actors throw insults at people  throwing vegetable, mostly tomatoes, at them at Carolina Renaissance Faire 2012 in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Vegetable justice where actors throw insults at people throwing vegetable, mostly tomatoes, at them at Carolina Renaissance Faire 2012 in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Castle tower climb at Carolina Renaissance Faire 2012 in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Castle tower climb at Carolina Renaissance Faire 2012 in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Stationary bungee jump at Carolina Renaissance Faire 2012 in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Stationary bungee jump at Carolina Renaissance Faire 2012 in Charlotte, North Carolina.

 

There is of course no renaissance faire without pipes and drums, harp, songs and merrymaking.

Cu Dubh at Carolina Renaissance Faire 2012 at Charlotte, North Carolina.

Cu Dubh at Carolina Renaissance Faire 2012 at Charlotte, North Carolina.

Harpist Sarah Mullen  at Carolina Renaissance Faire 2012 at Charlotte, North Carolina.

Harpist Sarah Mullen at Carolina Renaissance Faire 2012 at Charlotte, North Carolina.

Singing and merrymaking at Carolina Renaissance Faire 2012 in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Singing and merrymaking at Carolina Renaissance Faire 2012 in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Singing and merrymaking at Carolina Renaissance Faire 2012 in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Singing and merrymaking at Carolina Renaissance Faire 2012 in Charlotte, North Carolina.

 

As for me, the archery was all I needed to call it my day. I better get myself my own bow and arrow. What do you think?

Archery at Carolina Renaissance Faire 2012 in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Archery at Carolina Renaissance Faire 2012 in Charlotte, North Carolina.

 

 

 

 

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Posted by on January 30, 2013 in CarolinaRenFair

 

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Kids at Carolina Renaissance Faire 2012

The kids at Michigan Renaissance Faire 2012 shone like stars in their chainmail armors, princess gowns and fairy costumes. Now, it is time for these cuties to invade the Carolina Renaissance Faire 2012 with their charm. Brace yourselves, they make you fall in love and you simply cannot resist. Don’t say you were not warned.

An adorable baby in garb at Carolina Renaissance Faire 2012 in Charlotte, North Carolina.

An adorable baby in garb at Carolina Renaissance Faire 2012 in Charlotte, North Carolina.

An adorable toddler in garb at Carolina Renaissance Faire 2012 in Charlotte, North Carolina.

An adorable toddler in garb at Carolina Renaissance Faire 2012 in Charlotte, North Carolina.

A lovely girl dressed as a fairy at Carolina Renaissance Faire 2012 in Charlotte, North Carolina.

A lovely girl dressed as a fairy at Carolina Renaissance Faire 2012 in Charlotte, North Carolina.

 

 

 
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Posted by on January 30, 2013 in CarolinaRenFair

 

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Cherry Blossom (Sakura) 桜- Mt.Yaedake, Motobu, Okinawa

Hanami is an important part of Japanese culture which means flower viewing, and generally in this country means cherry blossoms (Sakura). It is a century old custom originally limited to the elite Japanese Imperial Court and I am most thankful this is now open to everyone. This is something one should not miss while in Japan!

Cherry Blossom viewing at Mt. Yaedake, Motobui, Okinawa, Japan.

Cherry Blossom viewing at Mt. Yaedake, Motobui, Okinawa, Japan.

 

Hubby and I were privileged to go to Mt. Yaedake in Motobu, Okinawa to enjoy the cherry blossoms up and close. Sakura in Okinawa is the earliest blossom which can be enjoyed from late January to early February  while the rest of Japan had to wait until April or May. We availed of Kadena Information Tickets and Travel (ITT) tour services where we only have to conveniently hop on a bus without the hassle of driving and spoil ourselves with a good view of the island.

Cherry Blossoms (Sakura) at Mt.Yaedake, Motobu, Okinawa, Japan.

Cherry Blossoms (Sakura) at Mt.Yaedake, Motobu, Okinawa, Japan.

 

Mt.Yaedake is the second highest mountain in Okinawa. The street that goes up to the top is 4.5 kilometers. Driving your car to the top is optional although it is most enjoyed by walking to get intimate with the cherry blossoms as you walk past 4000 Kanhi-Zakura Cherry trees that line both sides of the street by the Okinawa-US Friendship Association as a way of saying thank you to the people of Motobu when the military installation on top of the mountain closed. Once you get to the mountaintop, be prepared to be amazed with a spectacular view of the town and the Ie Island that will surely take your breath away.

Cherry Blossoms (Sakura) at Mt. Yaedake, Motobu, Okinawa, Japan.

Cherry Blossoms (Sakura) at Mt. Yaedake, Motobu, Okinawa, Japan.

Cherry Blossoms (Sakura) at Mt. Yaedake, Motobu, Okinawa, Japan.

Cherry Blossoms (Sakura) at Mt. Yaedake, Motobu, Okinawa, Japan.

The street up to the top of Mt.Yaedake in Okinawa, Japan is 4.5 kilometers lined with 4000 Kanhi-Zakura Cherry trees on both sides by the Okinawa-US .Friendship Association.

The street up to the top of Mt.Yaedake in Okinawa, Japan is 4.5 kilometers lined with 4000 Kanhi-Zakura Cherry trees on both sides by the Okinawa-US .Friendship Association.

One of the cherry trees tied with pink ribbon at Mt.Yaedake, Motobu, Okinawa, Japan.

One of the cherry trees tied with pink ribbon at Mt.Yaedake, Motobu, Okinawa, Japan.

A breathtaking view on top of Mt.Yaedake, Motobu, Okinawa, Japan.

A breathtaking view on top of Mt.Yaedake, Motobu, Okinawa, Japan.

A spectacular view of Motobu town and Ie Island from the top of Mt.Yaedake, Motobu, Okinawa, Japan.

A spectacular view of Motobu town and Ie Island from the top of Mt.Yaedake, Motobu, Okinawa, Japan.

 

The day we did our Hanami marked the start of the 35th Annual Yaedake Sakura Matsuri, so we were fortunate to watch a showcase of different cultural performances. How did I get this lucky to be here in this country rich in tradition and culture.?

Some cultural performances during the 35th Annual Yae-dake Sakura Matsuri at Mt.Yaedake, Motobu, Okinawa, Japan.

Some cultural performances during the 35th Annual Yae-dake Sakura Matsuri at Mt.Yaedake, Motobu, Okinawa, Japan.

Some karate performances during the 35th Annual Yae-dake Sakura Matsuri at Mt.Yaedake, Motobu, Okinawa, Japan.

Some karate performances during the 35th Annual Yae-dake Sakura Matsuri at Mt.Yaedake, Motobu, Okinawa, Japan.

 

Some girls dream to get their marriage proposal under a cherry blossom. I do not blame them because it truly feels magical when you see one.  But girls, you can have all the cherry blossoms you want. They are all beautiful and oh so enchanting. But I already have my adorable hubby who proposed in front of the Hadrian Wall after 3 long days of hiking and that is for me my own sweet fairy tale.

And I got kissed by hubby under a cherry blossom. Life is good.

Hubby and I after a wonderful cherry blossom viewing in Mt.Yaedake, Motobu, Okinawa, Japan.

Hubby and I after a wonderful cherry blossom viewing in Mt.Yaedake, Motobu, Okinawa, Japan.

 

 

 
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Posted by on January 29, 2013 in JAPAN, Okinawa

 

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Hatsumōde 初詣 at Futenma Shrine, Ginowan

Hatsumōde is the practice of making a first visit of the year to a Shinto shrine. This is a very important part of Japanese culture and I was privileged by our friend Yuko Hendricks to grant me the experience of this tradition.

Arriving at Futenma Shrine in Ginowan, we passed under a torii , a tall traditional arched gateway to a Shinto shrine, a practice understood as the cleansing of one’s soul. There was a long queue of people standing in line in the cold, admirably no pushing and no shouting – a humbling reflection of how disciplined and respectful Japanese people are. As we entered the shrine grounds, there is a little station to our left where we can stop at to drop off good luck charms (omamori) and twisted rope (shimenawa) for disposal.

Passing under a torii, the traditional arched gateway to a Shinto shrine, during Hatsumode in Futenma Shrine, Ginowan in Okinawa, Japan.

Passing under a torii, the traditional arched gateway to a Shinto shrine, during Hatsumode in Futenma Shrine, Ginowan in Okinawa, Japan.

 

Climbing a short flight of stairs will lead you to the haiden, or hall of worship, where people do their prayer. At the front center of the haiden lies a large rectangular wooden offertory box called osaisenbako where you toss some coins, preferably a 50 yen coin with a hole in the center, and then make a bow and wish. However, only visitors with appointment to see the priest or priestess are allowed into the main building itself.

A short flight of stairs will lead you to the haiden or the hall of worship in Futenma Shrine, Ginowan in Okinawa, Japan.

A short flight of stairs will lead you to the haiden or the hall of worship in Futenma Shrine, Ginowan in Okinawa, Japan.

Osaisenbako is a large rectangular wooden offertory box where you toss some coins, a practice believed to remove bad luck.

Osaisenbako is a large rectangular wooden offertory box where you toss some coins, a practice believed to remove bad luck.

The priest inside the haiden at Futenma Shrine, Ginowan in Okinawa, Japan during hatsumode.

The priest inside the haiden at Futenma Shrine, Ginowan in Okinawa, Japan during hatsumode.

 

Just a short distance from the worship hall were racks of ema. Ema is a wooden plaque where you can write a wish or a prayer and then hang it on the rack. You can buy this at the shrine and have one your own. Omamori amulets are also popular for protection.

Omamori stand during hatsumode at Futenma Shrine, Ginowan in Okinawa, Japan.

Omamori stand during hatsumode at Futenma Shrine, Ginowan in Okinawa, Japan.

Ema is a wooden plaque where one writes a wish or prayer on it and hangs it on the rack for it to come true.

Ema is a wooden plaque where one writes a wish or prayer on it and hangs it on the rack for it to come true.

 

There were also people who bought omikuji, a written fortune on a white strip of paper, and folded it lengthwise and tied it onto the branches of a tree in the shrine courtyard.

Omikuji, a written fortune on a white strip of paper folded lengthwise and tied onto the branches of a tree, in the Futenma shrine courtyard in Okinawa, Japan.

Omikuji, a written fortune on a white strip of paper folded lengthwise and tied onto the branches of a tree, in the Futenma shrine courtyard in Okinawa, Japan.

 

Then we headed to the temizuya, where people rinse their mouth and hands with water in ritual purification. I sheepishly scooped the cold water with a wooden dipper and poured it into my hand, then drank it. Then another scoop to wash my hands.

And after taking a last look at how beautiful the entire place was, we decided that my first hatsumode visit was done and made our way out of the shrine. Yuko laughed at how amazed I was with this entire festivity. My first hatsumode is unforgettable, thanks to Yuko and to the hospitality of the Japanese people.

Kotoshi mo yoroshiku o-negai-shimasu!

Temizuya is where people rinse their mouth and hands with water in ritual purification during hatsumode in Futenma Shrine, Ginowan, Okinawa, Japan.

Temizuya is where people rinse their mouth and hands with water in ritual purification during hatsumode in Futenma Shrine, Ginowan, Okinawa, Japan.

Temizuya is where people rinse their mouth and hands with water in ritual purification during hatsumode in Futenma Shrine, Ginowan, Okinawa, Japan.

Temizuya is where people rinse their mouth and hands with water in ritual purification during hatsumode in Futenma Shrine, Ginowan, Okinawa, Japan.

My beautiful Japanese friend Yuko Hendricks during hatsumode at Futenma Shrine, Ginowan, Okinawa, Japan.

My beautiful Japanese friend Yuko Hendricks during hatsumode at Futenma Shrine, Ginowan, Okinawa, Japan.

 

Check on Google Street View below for an additional information and perspective on Futenma Shrine:

 

 

 

 

 
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Posted by on January 16, 2013 in JAPAN, Okinawa

 

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Konnichiwa こんにちは Japan

The day after our wedding, Clark Park Nature Center in Fayetteville, North Carolina seemed to be a lovely idea for a visit. And as we were hiking one of its nature trails, hubby got an unexpected call from work. It was the kind of call that causes hubby’s forehead to wrinkle, a sign that something big in his office came up. The kind that dares you to never interfere with the conversation. Hanging up, we both knew it was a call that will set another awesome chapter of our life in motion. We are saying our hello to Japan!

Our first glimpse of this amazing country is Mt.Fuji. This was taken flying from Yakota to Iwakuni.

Mount Fuji, Japan

Mount Fuji, Japan

 

 

 
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Posted by on January 14, 2013 in JAPAN, Tokyo

 

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Stars at Carolina Renaissance Faire 2012

You will never know who you will run into at Renaissance Faires especially at Charlotte, North Carolina. The couple dressed as gargoyles tops my list of favorites. We were told it took them an entire day to prepare. Our old pirate friends especially the famous Jack Sparrow were also present to grace the festival. And you can’t miss the royalties especially Her Majesty, Her Royal Highness Queen Elizabeth I of England. Some knights were also out setting up their own little village and fairies were everywhere. Twig the fairy was a surprise for us and a delight to the kids. She was swarmed like a celebrity! And because it was nearly Christmas during the faire, why not meet the live Royal Christmas Tree?

Stars at Renaissance Faires are always out of the ordinary. They come with crowns, swords and pixie dust! Even with fangs and horns are most welcome.

Gargoyles at Carolina Renaissance Faire 2012 in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Gargoyles at Carolina Renaissance Faire 2012 in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Fancy garbs at Carolina Renaissance Faire in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Fancy garbs at Carolina Renaissance Faire in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Jack Sparrow at Carolina Renaissace Faire 2012 in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Jack Sparrow at Carolina Renaissace Faire 2012 in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Friends and acquiantances at Carolina Renaissance Faire 2012 in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Friends and acquiantances at Carolina Renaissance Faire 2012 in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Twig the Fairy at Carolina Renaissance Faire 2012 in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Twig the Fairy at Carolina Renaissance Faire 2012 in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Fairies at Carolina Renaissance Faire 2012 in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Fairies at Carolina Renaissance Faire 2012 in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Medieval knights setting up their village at Carolina Renaissance Faire 2012 in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Medieval knights setting up their village at Carolina Renaissance Faire 2012 in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Flower lady at Carolina Renaissance Faire 2012 in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Flower lady at Carolina Renaissance Faire 2012 in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Giant furry friends at Carolina Renaissance Faire 2012 in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Giant furry friends at Carolina Renaissance Faire 2012 in Charlotte, North Carolina.

The Royal Christmas Tree at Carolina Renaissance Faire 2012 in Charlotte, North Carolina.

The Royal Christmas Tree at Carolina Renaissance Faire 2012 in Charlotte, North Carolina.

 
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Posted by on January 7, 2013 in CarolinaRenFair

 

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