Whale Watching in Okinawa during Winter – Departing from Onna

If spending a day chilling on a white sandy beach, or diving into the amazing blue cave are the best things to do in Okinawa during Summer time, then hopping on a boat to go on whale watching tours is a must during the winter.

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Humpback whales migrate seasonally, traveling to cold polar waters during summer seasons and to warmer waters during winter seasons, and thanks for the warmth of the Okinawa waters during January to March each year, it makes it a great place for us to watch these gigantic mammals in action.

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The humpback whales do not feed during the winter months, but breed, and the Okinawa waters is their ideal breeding grounds. During this season, whale breaching is seen often, showing dominance and power. (Though I did not see it myself)

There are many Whale Watching tours that operate in Okinawa, majority of them leaves from Naha or Chatan. However, as my hotel is in Onna area, I didn’t want to spend so much time driving back and forth, so I decided to join this smaller company called the “Onna Whale Watching Association” (恩納ホエールウオッチング協会). They are the one and only company that leaves from the area.

Our tour starts at 8:30am in the morning, and to my surprise, it was quite a small group, there was only about 11 people in total, which made the boat very spacious. We were handed out a flyer when we board the boat, which is a little introduction of the whales, and what behaviors are we expected to see. And because they are the only operator in the area, we pretty much had the whole water by ourselves, no need to fight with other boats.

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It took us about an hour before we reached the breeding area. We waited for around 5 minutes, before we had our first encounter with the humpback whales. They were so close to us!!

We stayed and watch the whales for a bit over and hour, we were lucky enough to be able to spotted the whales many times, although we did not see them breach (I REALLY WANT TO!!), we did see two whales coming up at the same time, so that’s pretty awesome too!

If you are considering to visit Okinawa during January to March, be sure to book yourself a whale watching tour, it’s something you will not regret!

Onna Whale Watching Association  (Japanese only)

NOTE:
– You can ask the hotel front desk to help you book
– The waves tend to be very big during this time of the season, remember to take the sea sick pills before boarding (Even if you don’t usually need it)

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The Hidden Tree Top Terrace Cafe with a Breath Taking View in Okinawa

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Moving from Hokkaido (the North-est part of Japan), to Okinawa (the South-est part of Japan), I’d like to share with you my recent trip to Okinawa a few weeks back.

A lot of people think of Okinawa as a summer destination, all the beautiful white sandy beaches, blue cave diving, sun bathing and reading a book etc… but a lot of you didn’t know, there are still quite some places and things you can do in Okinawa during winter time! I’d like to show you a few of them in my next few entries.

During my recent trip, I visited this really cute tree house cafe called the Beach Rock Cafe. It’s nestled and hidden in the deep forest of the Nakajin area, indeed it was so hidden that Google, nor the car GPS can take you there. I had to ask around a couple of times for direction before I manager to find this narrow entry leading onto the bumpy mountain road, but, it’s all worth it!

 

Beach Rock Cafe is actually ran by the Beach Rock Theater Group. This place is their stage where they do performances, as well as providing camping/glamping, different activities, as well as a cafe. As my trip was short, so I did not have time to join their performances nor activities, but I did spend a chilled afternoon relaxing on their tree terrace, browsing at the amazing forest scene.

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Continue reading “The Hidden Tree Top Terrace Cafe with a Breath Taking View in Okinawa”

Seafood Heaven in Hakodate – Sea Urchin

I can almost say, it is no doubt that seafood taste better in Hokkaido than anywhere else in Japan! During my recent trip to Hakodate, it’s like a seafood fiesta, and sea urchin is one that should not be missed!

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Although Japan is not the only place that have sea urchin, other countries such as Canada, Korea also have them, but, the ones in Japan is still the top of the rank! There is a very famous sea urchin restaurant inside the Hakodate Seafood market called Murakami (むらかみ), and is popular amongst both the locals and the tourists. Although you cannot order which sea urchin, but instead, the chef will only serve you the seasonal best at that time.

We went there around 11:30am on a weekday, and there was already a line waiting. We waited for about half an hour before we were seated. The restaurant is quite small, and can only accommodate approximately 30 customers at one time. The lunch menu is also quite simple, ranging from around 1500yen to 5000yen per dish.

Continue reading “Seafood Heaven in Hakodate – Sea Urchin”

Colourful Spring Time in Hakodate Hokkaido – Goryokaku Park

It’s been over 2 months since I last updated my blog, and it’s quite a contrast that my last post was something that happened in Okinawa (the South-est part of Japan), while this post is going to talk about Hokkaido (the North-est part of Japan).

So during my month long’s business trip in Japan last month, I decided to try to take a 4 hours bullet train ride from Tokyo to Hakodate City of Hokkaido. As Hokkaido is the North-est part of Japan, it also means that it gets cold the quickest, which leads to the earliest viewing of maple leaves/red leaves in the whole of Japan. I visited in mid October, and the leaves were already 80% red!

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Just the street of Hakodate – Ginko Trees

Although you can view the beauty of red leaves nearly in all part of the city, there are a few spots which are highly recommended, one being the Goryokaku Tower and Park (五稜郭). The original site was a pentagonal shaped fortress with inspiration from the French architect Vauban, the design allows for greater numbers of gun emplacements on its walls than a traditional Japanese fortress, and reduced the number of blind spots where a cannon could not fire.

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Pay Attention to the T&C When Renting a Car in Japan – Learn from My Mistake

So I’ve just came back from a family trip in Ishigaki Island of Okinawa, and had an amazing time. Before I start writing about this wonderful island of Japan, I’d like to first share with you a little learning I’ve got from my car rental this time.

I’ve done so many car rentals thru out Japan, with both big and small companies. I usually tend to rent from bigger dealers as they seems to be more trust worthy, and their websites are usually fairly easy to navigate around.

This time, as I was travelling with my family in a group of 11 people, we wanted to rent the bigger people movers. After looking thru both English and Japanese websites, there’s only one car rental company that had the car we wanted during that period, so with no choice, we went with them. I did some google search of this company, and they seem very legit and have high ratings.

On the date of arrival, we waited for about 20 minutes, then the representative from the car rental company arrived and picked us up. It’s about a 15 minutes car ride from the airport to where the company is, and while we were shown with our cars, we were slightly disappointed, as the cars seems to be a bit dated. It’s the first time I’ve rented a car in Japan that doesn’t have reverse sensor, nor electronic key fobs…. Nevertheless, everything was functioning well, and I mean, safety comes first right? So as long as it’s a safe car, we are happy.

I’ve went thru the T&C briefly, purchased the optional CDW (collision damage waive) at 1,080yen/day, signed the contract, and here we go on our road trip!

Must Read Japan Ishigaki Rakuen Rental Car Experience

Everything was fine with the car, only minor issues were every now and then, the GPS would go wack! It would all the sudden tell me to turn when there’s not a road, or it would suddenly show that I’m driving in the middle of the water lol. Half the time I ended up following my Google map on my phone instead.

On the 3rd day of the trip, when I was reversing the car, I must have gone blind, and crashed the rear of the car into the stone barrier. The bumper ended up with some very visible scratches and dint. As there were no third party involved, and the stone barrier was not damaged, so I just took some photos of the car and drove off.

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NOW THIS IS WHERE YOU NEED TO PAY ATTENTION!!

Continue reading “Pay Attention to the T&C When Renting a Car in Japan – Learn from My Mistake”

Summer Special Pop-up – Lipton Fruits in Tea

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It’s always fun to go to Tokyo (Japan) during summer time, because you will see Summer Special everywhere you go! Whether it’s a music event, firework festivals (nearly one every week in Tokyo!), or short term pop-up stores, there’s just soooo many summer specials that’s happening around Tokyo!

I was just casually walking around the Omotesando area one day, and I saw a long queue of people lining up. Went closer to check it out, and realized it’s the Lipton Ice Tea summer pop up store. I’m sure most of you are very familiar with Lipton Ice Tea, and probably would agree with me that drinking Lipton Ice Tea on a hot summer day is a great way to quench your thirst and conquer the heat!

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This summer, Lipton Ice Tea just got better! They are offering “Fruits in Tea” in two location in Japan! One being in Osaka, and the other is in Omotesando area of Tokyo. Good things don’t last long, this pop-up store will only be there for the summer time, opening until the 27th August.

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There are two options for the tea. You can either choose the recommended blends, which are “Beauty Strawberry”, “Recovery Raspberry” and “Oasis Lychee”, or mix your own blend. For the DIY combination, it involves 5 steps. 1 – Choose a tea base (2 bases); 2 – Choose a base fruit (6 fruits); 3 – Choose a topping fruit (6 fruits); 4 – Choose a type of super food & herb (6 types); 5 – Choose a syrup (7 types). For both the option, you get to choose your own tumbler as well, and there’s a total of 4 styles. The tea and tumbler package is at 1000yen, which is at a very reasonable price.

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The 3 recommended blends

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My Half Day Hanbok Experience in Seoul

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I’ve read so many blogs and posts about wearing Hanbok (traditional Korean clothing) and people taking amazing photos in them, I just never had the chance. Most of the time I’m in Seoul for business on my own, and would be a bit weird if I’m doing the experience by myself, plus no one will be able to take photos for me… Finally, this time round I managed to squeeze in half a day of free time during my business trip, and got my pretty Korean friend to do the experience together with me!

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There are lots of places where you can rent Hanbok in Seoul, and Insadong is quite a popular destination for such activity. Not only because there are more than 10 Hanbok rental stores just along the main street, but also it is so close to all the attractions, such as the Gyeongbokgung Palace. My friend and I randomly chose one when we arrived in the afternoon. A popular store is the Oneday Hanbok store which you can make advance booking online. Oneday Hanbok is slightly more expensive than those along the main street, but they provide multilingual service, which is great if no one in your group can speak Korean to avoid any un-necessary confusion. Continue reading “My Half Day Hanbok Experience in Seoul”