Monday, September 29, 2008

Sakura Matsuri

Arriving in Cowra at 10 PM Friday night after 5 hours ride from Sydney by Countrylink service, check in small hotel just right in the town centre and threw my self onto the bed straight away. The next day, it was a beautiful day at the18th Annual Sakura Matsuri (Cherry Blossom Festival) at Cowra Japanesee Garden. This 5 hectares garden designed by Mr. Ken Nakajima claimed to be The Largest Japanese Garden in the southern hemisphere. Some great performances such as Tea Ceremony, Bonsai and Ikebana demonstration, Origami & Calligraphy, Samurai & Karate demonstration, Wine and Sake testing and Geisha dances entertained the folks for almost the whole day. It was my first time to enjoy the live Geisha performance, and it was really beautiful dances by 5 authentic Geisha from Japan. A quick visit to Windorie winery on my way back to the hotel in the afternoon to try the Sakura Shiraz wine.


This peaceful and beautiful country town is located 4 hour drive from Sydney and two hours from Canberra, a small town with only 9,500 residents in the town. Cowra, in aboriginal dialect the word coura meant rocks, a name appropriate for a town with rocky granite surrounds, then simplified as Cowra.

The town has a heroic history of Japanese prisoners of war during WW II.Here is the history of Cowra breakout I found in the Cowra guide book:

At 1.50 am on the clear moonlit night of August 5, 1944, the largest Prisoner of War breakout in modern military history occurred at Cowra. More than 1,000 Japanese prisoners launched a mass “suicide attack” on their guard. To the Japanese, the disgrace of capture could finally be overcome by dying in armed battle. Armed with crude weapons, four groups each of approximately 300 Japanese threw themselves on to barbed wire fences and into the firing line of Vickers machine gun. Protected only by baseball mitts, blankets and coats and using their comrades as a human bridge to cross the tangled barbed wire, more than 350 Japanese clawed their way to freedom.

The Japanese War Cemetery in Cowra is the only Japanese War Cemetery to be retained in Australia, it contains the remains of those Japanese soldiers who were killed in the breakout and all Japanese nationals who died on Australian soil during WW II.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Korea Sparkling Festival

It was another nice weekend in the city! Enjoying The Korean Sparkling Festival at Palm Grove, Darling Harbour. The audiences were entertained by a list of performances including Korean musical, Taekwondo demonstrations, hip-hop dances, Korean traditional fashion show and try on traditional Korean costumes (Hanbok) for free. There was also a quite interesting 2.5metre high ‘Korea Sparkling’ robot with video screen on his tummy surrounded by few stunned children. The food stalls selling some yummy Korean traditional foods like Kimchi (fermented pickled cabbage), Bulgogi, rice sticks in a hot spicy sauce, and Gimbap (seaweed rice roll).

My favorite show was NANTA, a non verbal performance playing traditional drumming beats with kitchen background and using kitchen appliances such knifes and chopping blocks, portraying kitchen staffs and their manager cooking for a banquet in a funny comedy routines. It was an awesome performance! I was very happy when got a chance to take picture with all of the performers who have had a successful performance in Broadway, New York.
Saturday, September 13, 2008

Cherry blossom at Golden Wheel Garden

Spring time! My favorite season of the year, a season when you can see beautiful flowers blooming..

It took about one and half hours from the city to The Golden Wheel Buddhist Garden to see The Cherry blossoms. This garden located at 405 Galston Road, Galston in hills district. The garden open for public on some occasions like Chinese New Year and some others Buddhist related event, but for cherry blossom viewing they only open for two days a year.

The cherry blossom (Sakura) is a well-known Japan symbol and unofficial national flower. Japanese people celebrate the blooming season with Hanami which means cherry blossom viewing. There are many varieties of Sakura in Japan and some of them bloom only for couple days in spring time.

The cherry blossom trees in this garden are not as big as the ones in Japan but still worth a view. They also have some other varieties of plants like tangerine trees and Buddha’s hand fruit. The one that really grabbed my attention is one small tangerine tree that has tangerine, lemon and lime fruits on the same tree! It’s quite a unique tree I’ve ever seen.
Friday, September 12, 2008


Ikebana is a Japanese art of flower arrangement, using any plant material such as branches, leaves, grasses, and flowers. Ikebana started in the 14th century and has developed many different styles of arrangement, many different Ikebana schools has developed along the way as well. Talking about Ikebana, I have a best friend living in Kobe who loves Ikebana and now she is in Ikenobo School. You can see her beautiful and outstanding creation on the Ikebana pictures above. Arigato Kumi-san for trusting me to share your lovely Ikebana pictures on my blog! Looking forward to seeing you again in the near future!

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Asimo Robot

Welcoming spring time, recalled me to find out whether Honda would have another Asimo Robot World Tour kick off this coming summer.

Last year, they had a really impressive world tour, especially in Darling Harbour, Sydney. Even we had to queue more than 1 hour to get the free ticket, it’s really worth for a shot. Long queue of people could explain the curiosity of this hi-tech gadget.

Asimo was really cool, he could interactive well with the people, brought the tray with a tea on it, nodding, running….most all the basic human response. It now could even conducts Detroit Symphony Orchestra! How awesome! Here is the link if you wanna know how it would be and especially to meet it personally in Disneyland.

Back to it's performance, it’s well designed humanoid robot, white color makes it glooming especially on the stage……while it made its first appearance showered by lights, the folk coudn't hold the applause.I thought this was the coolest innovation from Honda so far. It also has an official Australian website.

Anyway wish to have more information about Asimo World Tour 2007 could click the link here or wondering about Asimo debut on the world? Simply find out here. Lastly, if you have a technical curiosity about how it could move, etc…throw away your queries by finding out here.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Ribs Ramen

Ribs ramen

One friend recommended Ajisen Ramen restaurant couple months ago but I haven’t got time to try till today. Located in Hay Street, Haymarket-Chinatown, originated from Kumamoto Japan, Ajisen Ramen is very famous for its delicious ramen with plenty of collagen that can prevent aging, that’s what they claimed! Besides ramen they also have some side dishes like salt pepper squid, soft-shell crab and crab claw, the price starts from $9 for ramen and $7 for side dishes. I ordered Ribs Ramen and chili soft-shell crab, the ramen comes with tender and tasty ribs which made the soup tastes good, overall I like the ramen but one thing I wasn’t so keen on is they used different noodle from the one usually used for ramen I’ve tried elsewhere.

The restaurant interior is quite cosy with a plasma TV mounted on the wall playing Japanese Song’s MV. I was quite satisfied with their helpful and quick service.


Kyoto is a perfect place for people who love authentic taste of Japanese culture where you can find many world heritage landmarks such as Kiyomizu-dera Temple, Kinkaku-ji Temple, To-ji Temple and some other beautiful places.

Christmas 2007, it was my second visit to Kiyomizu-dera Temple located in Higashiyama. This popular temple is one of the oldest in Kyoto, has a marvelous wooden structures and beautiful mountain view at one side and city view at the other side. Japanese people believe this temple has pure water as what Kyomizu literally means. On my way up to the temple I had a quick look at Kimura Oshido, a traditional gift store. There are many stores lined with shelves displaying souvenir, snack and food as well.

I skipped To-ji temple beside I have been there 3 years ago, at that time I didn’t have enough time to visit all beautiful places in this ancient capital of Japan. Another temple you shouldn’t missed when visiting Kyoto is Kinkaku-ji temple, known as Golden Pavilion Temple with beautiful Japanese garden where you can experience a unique Japanese Tea Ceremony.

In Kyoto, especially in Pontocho district you can find many authentic Japanese restaurants, bars and tea houses where you can see Geisha or Maiko and even having experience being entertained by them if you are happy to pay the price! Geisha is a traditional entertainer dressed in beautiful kimono, having heavy make-up and has skills such as tea-serving, dancing, playing music and conversational skills, while Maiko is an apprenticeship before become a professional Geisha.

Brown McDonald's is only in Kyoto! if you are trying to find this famous fast food in Kyoto, you wouldn't find a bright red and yellow logo of McDonald's, instead you would see a brown McDonald's sign due to the city regulation to maintains it's reputation as Japan's preserved cultural and traditional city.