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Archive for January, 2009

Arisia Con ’09

Hide and I briefly stopped by Arisia ’09 and I cosplayed my Pris outfit. For those of you who don’t know, yes, I’ve been known to cosplay from time-to-time. It feeds into my love of dressing up in strange clothing. It’s been a long time since I’ve been to a con/cosplayed, and I’m really happy that it is just as fun as I remember it!

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Finally, another post about rock climbing! Screw all that rice cooker shit. Despite the fact that the Hawaiian island chain was formed by volcanic magma, there isn’t a lot of rock climbing in the area and I feel that the area’s full potential hasn’t really been discovered because everyone is too busy surfing. However, there is one spot called Mokuleia Wall in northern O’ahu that definitely deserves a visit. It’s off the Framingham highway (or Highway 2) past the Dillingham airfield. It’s right after the YMCA camp, at a slightly ambiguous left should pull off. The trail is shrouded in tall grass, so it can be a little hard to spot, but it’s there and improves drastically after your get above the grassy lowlands (Hide was EXTREMELY nervous going into the grass…I don’t think he fully believed I was right when I said it was the trail). Rock Climbing Hawaii is a great online resource of information on rock climbing in Hawaii. Coming down the trail is definitely steep, so I recommend following this website’s advice about coming down while you still have daylight.

Rock climbing photos always make me look much cooler than I actually am

The crag is a mix between bolted sport climbing and trad climbing. A cool feature is bungy cords that run from the bottom of the routes up to the anchor. You can tie your rope to the cord (with a clove hitch) and pull it up and through the anchor instead of having to lead climb. It took Hide and I a while to figure out this system and I found it a bit frustrating (you have to be a little bit creative at getting the rope through the anchor) but it is certainly good to have. The rock was pretty smooth and I thought the routes were sandbagged, but all in all we had a great day rock climbing. Fortunately, the wall was in the shade all day, so the temperature was really nice up there.

Mokuleia is also right by a state park and the beach there is beautiful. I saw a sea turtle swimming in the water, which totally made my day.

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Byodo-in, Oahu, January 2009

In keeping with my intention of visiting EVERY Japan-related thing on O’ahu, Hide and I drove a bit out of our way and visited the scale replica of the Byodo-in, located in the Valley of Temples on the windward side of the island. The temple is on the Kahekili highway in the center of a cemetery. As I said before, the temple is a replica of the original Byodoin (the Pheonix Hall to be specific) located in Kyoto prefecture of Japan. The orignal was built in 1053, though large parts have been reconstructed…Japanese building have a pesky habit of being burned down, destroyed by earthquakes or a combination of the two. The orignal was built of wood, the replica of concrete. The replica also have a 900 year old wood Buddha and a 3-ton brass bell cast in Osaka, Japan which you can ring for peace, luck, or just for the joy of making loud noises. The temple is devoted to Pure Land Buddhism…which is the wussy version where you only have to say ‘Namu Amida Butsu’ (I belong to Amida Butsu) once in pure faith to be saved. I really liked visiting here and loved how many huge, overfed koi they had. It was a brief trip though, the Valley of the Temples didn’t have many other hugely interesting things. Below is a picture of the original Byodoin (left) and the replica in Hawaii.

Some other cool Japanese places we visited were:The Izumo Taishakyo Mission in Chinatown (on S. Kukui St.) which is a Shinto shrine. Hide and I recieved our New Year ‘evil-demon-banishment’ from a Shinto preist wielding a wooden stick with sacred Shinto paper (silly description I KNOW) and some sake from miko (the girls who help out a Shinto temples whereing red hakama pants…they are traditionally supposed to be virgins).

We also stopped by the Shirokiya Department Store (in the Ala Moana Mall) numerous times for Japanese manga (Hide was soothing his addiction for MDP Psycho and North Star Ken) and bobba smoothies. This is a great place to get lots of fun Japanese things, from cheap used Japanese books to baked goods. The upper floor has a Japanese food court with pretty authentic tako-yaki (octopus balls…Hide, the whiny Osakan gives it his seal of approval), mochi balls, mochi ice cream, gyoza, bento, etc etc. It is a little expensive though. If you want to get some inexpensive Japanese dishes and other household goods (even geta), then I recommend you go down to the Ward shopping center (it’s very close by) and check out the Wa-Raku import store located within the dollar store. It’s full of fun stuff.

If you need to itch your nerdy side, go to Toys N Joys (3632 Waialae Ave.), a cool local anime and collectible shop. This place has everything for premade cosplay outfits, to plushies, to moe girl figures. I had fun looking at all their cool stuff.

Finally, if you find yourself by the North Shore, Frommer’s and Lonely Planet will tell you to stop by Matsumoto’s in Haleiwa for some shave ice. This little store is very popular among Japanese tourists for shave ice (which is a slightly less crappy version of a snow cone). Those silly Japanese will stand in lines 20 people deep for the stuff. I’d recommend walking ten steps to the left and getting shave ice (exactly the same I SWEAR) from Aoki’s Shave Ice Stand. It also has a Japanese name, so it’s ok to substitute.

Hide and I went a little crazy for lychee bobba smoothies while we were in O’ahu. We had it in Chinatown, in Shirokiya, at a Korean BBQ place, and in Zagu’s (a local bobba stand in the Ala Moana shopping mall). There is a slight chance we had a little too much sugar. I am also eating Japanese mochi balls (a Japanese sweet made of pounded rice).

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One of the more popular places to visit on O’ahu is the Dole Plantation located in the middle of the island. The former pineapple plantation has been transformed into a tourist trap and is a good place to take kids (any little boy would freak over the train they have) but it seems to be a popular place for Japanese, Korean, and Tawainese tourists as well. Pinnapples be damned, I wanted to there for the giant hedge maze they have, which was listed as the 2001 World’s Largest Maze by Guiness. In truth, I just wanted to run around a maze saying ‘Redrum’ and pretending to be a freaky child-ghost…but the maze wasn’t SO big that you’d could get lost in it (or escape from your murderous and possibly demonically possessed father). Instead of fleeing for our lives, Hide and I had to content ourselves with traveling to various checkpoints and stamping a piece of paper. This was made easier and less frustrating by a little map they give you of the maze when you enter. It was definitely hot and we celebrated our completion of the maze by having some pineapple treats – pineapple soft serve ice cream and a pineapple float. All-in-all, I think the Dole Plantation is a fun place to stop by and is right on the way to the North Shore. The maze costs $6.00 per adult and $4.00 per child, but you can find a ‘buy one ticket, get one free’ in some of the many attraction magazines found all over the island…so look for one! The plantation is right on the Kamehameha highway and impossible to miss. There are also some educational tours about the plantation, if you’re the sort of person who likes to have the imperialist history of the United States and Dole’s exertion of power over the Hawaiian royal family sugar-coated and shoved down your throat. If not, just check out the maze and HUGE giftshop.

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A Vlog from Hawaii

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I’m a pretty big WWII history buff, so Hide and I definitely needed to stop by the USS Arizona Memorial and Pearl Harbor on our trip. Well, Hide had already been there, so I was the one that needed to go.

Hide felt a little uncomfortable there…under the ‘angry’ stares of American tourists. This is definitely one of the few places in Hawaii where there are more white Americans than Asians. The memorial itself was extremely crowded and we were shuttled around from a theater to a ferry and then to the memorial. Ultimately, the memorial was a little disappointing and boring. I find reading about Pearl Harbor and WWII more interesting than visiting the submerged remnants, but I also understand the need to commemorate the significance of the event. Interestingly enough, the USS Arizona still leaks about a quart (or was it 9 quarts…) or oil per day.

Another stop we made was to the Punchbowl Cemetery.

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