Friday, September 18, 2015

5 More Things to do on Oahu...

My mom came out to visit for about a month and I decided I needed to blog about a few of the places we visited. She has done all of the touristy stuff (I have written about those on my Things to Do on Oahu tab) which include snorkeling at Hanauma Bay, visiting Waikiki, the Pearl Harbor Memorial, several beaches, and a lot of great hiking trails. If I forgot to write about a couple of have the idea now to go google them.

In addition to all of those great things, here is a list of a few other fun things we enjoyed!

1. Visiting Haleiwa

Okay so this is still touristy, but its a great little town. There is a bunch of art galleries and tons of food- Matsumoto's Shave Ice is a landmark. We ate at the Seafood Grill and it was fantastic (Bob's Pizza is also really good.) But the most important part of Haleiwa is the food truck congretation. My mom is obsessed with Giovanni's shrimp truck- I personally love the crepe truck. Something for everyone!

Yay food trucks!

2. Lania Kea Beach/ Turtle Beach

While we are on the topic of North Shore, there's a lot of great places to go to the beach. (Waimea Bay is popular, so is the Pipeline or surfing) But we really enjoyed Lania Kea. It is just a small strip of beach that is just past Turtle Beach. At the time there was plenty of parking across the street because a lot of people continue up further.

Lania Kea. There were a lot of people surfing and it was fun to watch!

Turtle Beach! Unfortunately we didn't see any turtles this time, but it made for a beautiful sunset.

3. The Coffee Farm

This has become one of my favorite places- I would visit every morning if it were closer. This little place is on the way towards the Dole Plantation. Inside the shop is coffee galore- flavored coffees, samples, jams, honey, etc. But even better is the little cafe that is always full of fresh coffee and pastries. You can enjoy it inside or out under a tree in a colorful Adirondack chair!

I look a little like a goober haha but enjoying a delicious coffee and pastry!

4. Visit Kailua for Crepes!

If you can't tell, I really like crepes. Kailua is a fun little place to visit on its own, but this crepe place is the bomb. It's called Crepes No Ka Oi- they have a crepe of every type and so many delicious teas! My favorite is the eiffel tower crepe (it's brie with apples, honey, and cinnamon. yum!) They have both sweet and savory options. Behind the crepe place is a cute little dog boutique and there's several shops close by. (Including a consignment shop where I tried a pair of $700 Valentino shoes. They were so pretty and the most expensive things I've ever worn!)
After our crepes we hit up the Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf and went on up the rode to Lani Kai beach. Makes for pretty much an awesome day!

5. Rainy Day Shopping

Since a grand portion of the time my mom visited it was pouring rain- it is hurricane season after all- we had to self entertain indoors. Which was no problem because the Ala Moana mall is amazing. You can spend a whole day in there easily- its huge. But if you don't want to battle traffic down town, the Pearlridge mall in Aiea is also pretty great (and has a few more stores in the affordable, normal people price range.) There's still a bunch of great shopping. I introduced my mom to the book off- most books are 1-5 bucks and we went a little crazy. Plus they have a Jeans Wearhouse and Aloha Salads.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Japan Part 3.... Kamakura Shrines

So I had to share my favorite part of the trip to Japan. We did venture over to Disney Sea but I decided to not post pictures on that because it basically just looked like Epcot. Lots of fun though!

Kamakura is an amazing area. It is brimming with shrines and temples- we only made it to two and I wish we would have had time to go back and see more. Pictured below is Kotoku-in, or the giant bronze statue of the Great Buddha (the guessed age of this statue is that it was built around 1252. Now THAT is some amazing history. The temple around the Buddha was washed away by a Tsunami in the 15th century)

 You can pay 200 yen to go inside the statue, but really there isn't much to see and its close quarters and BAKING hot.

We had lunch at a great little local place that felt very authentic (tiny little place, tiny little bathrooms, no english or forks. Lots of pointing at pictures!) But the food was delicious- I of course got gyoza and rice because that's my safety net.

Afterwards we visited the Hasedera Temple. I had to do some googling afterwards to see what some of these statues were about- I would love to see when the hydrangeas are in bloom (its what it is known for) but this is one of the most beautiful places I have seen. 

and then there's the boys....

These statues, I later learned, are called Jizo. They are placed by parents that are mourning the death of child, a miscarriage, or an abortion. In each temple there were prayer candles and offerings- many of them involved something pregnancy related.

This is the main temple. We weren't allowed to take pictures of the shrine inside, but wow, they were so beautiful. Inside is a statute of the god Kannon. It was actually refreshing to not be allowed to take pictures, because it felt like it really would have taken away from the beauty and the sanctity of the shrine. I lit a prayer candle for happiness for my family =)

The temple is built on two levels. Above are the shrines and gardens, and below is a cave called Benzaiten Grotto. It is a shrine with very low ceilings and is filled with prayer statues to Benzaiten, who is the goddess of the sea. 

We sat on a bench drinking cokes, looking at the temple and out over the water, and I tried to picture it like it must have once been. Now it's a tourist attraction with power lines coming over the temple, but it has seen so much history. (Again in the Kamakura period, around 1192.) I tried to picture this peaceful temple up on the hillside of Japan, completely remote and without people and crowded by houses. Even so, the energy of this place was surreal and definitely the highlight of my trip.