Do not throw an opportunity because it doesn’t look pretty from the first sight
A couple of days ago I went to the nearest National Park for a half of a day: walking around, exploring the area and giving myself some time alone to think about new starts, upcoming future and opportunities I don’t want to loose.
I noticed this little piece of plant (unsure how to call it). “It would look pretty without that ugly yellow leaf”: someone would say and throw this leaf away from the ‘real beauty’.
Same way majority of us are throwing opportunities away out of their lives just because they don’t look pretty enough. They might look scaring, ugly, unattractive from the first sight. But generally the best opportunities are those that are not visible at the beginning – otherwise, they would be too obvious and already taken before you step up.
As Mark Cuban, famous American entrepreneur and investor, said: “Creating opportunities means looking where others are not”.
I believe in creating opportunities out of existing situations, resources and tools around. You can also wait for opportunities to arise around you but I would apply it to more investment opportunities rather than purely business ones (even though business is also an investment).
Waiting for opportunities is tricky – even if you finally see one, there is no guarantee that it hasn’t been taken yet by someone who is more proactive.
So, there are two choices with business opportunities:
1. You either see an opportunity on your horizon and jump into it – you have to be brave and a bit mindless about it. The longer you think, analyse and evaluate your jumping steps, the lesser chance to catch this opportunity because someone crazy like me would already jump there to get it;
2. You can create your own – this is where you need to be observant and creative. Check what’s going on around on the market of your interest – I would say look for something this market is missing. Now you are off to go to be as creative as you can to fill these gaps. Find the demand generated by the gaps and introduce a unique way of filling these gaps.
I like more the second option as by creating your own opportunity, you also enable a way of seeking for more opportunities around your creation.
I kept walking in the park – it looked more like a forest – and I looked up at these trees above me. New thoughts waved up my mind:
“How can I – being so tiny – achieve anything? what can I achieve ?”
The scaring truth of having limitations appeared in my mind. Not to the degree where I would decide to shut all my goals, ideas and aspirations in my mind; close down all my started projects and start living ordinary wage by wage life.
Yes, it will be difficult. If you want a better life, you must be brave…and “a bit mindless” 🙂
Confidence. If you are lack of it, you have to fake it until you make it. Every time when I forget about it, I scroll my theatre acting lessons back in my mind. I managed to perform a leading role one day without a proper set of acting and stage skills – I just had two things: belief in myself being hungry taking on board every single acting lesson I could. I also had a huge amount of passion to do what I was doing.
So, whether you take an opportunity or create one, push it till the end. The more you push it, the bigger achievement will arise on your journey.
The more you are trying to respond on what the Present is asking you for, the faster you will become the Past. The more proactive you are with uncertain Future, the more awesome is your Present.
To add on to my recent post on Instagram @angela_alina about #MindsetMatters.
I love setting up goals and mark their deadlines. There is always something that can be achieved every week, every month, every year and so on. In reality, there is always something to achieve every day – I like to learn something new every day.
A day without new piece of knowledge, self-development or discovery is a wasted day.
It might be hard for someone to start setting up certain goals. Age is not relevant, maturity level is. I have met young 17-18 year old students with so clear vision in life and mature mindset that made me think “what did I do in my late teens?”. I also met people in their early to mid-thirties that had no glue what they were doing and wanted to with their life.
You start with self-realisation first. Who you are – create your own self profile.
What are you doing for living? What inspires you? What hobbies do you have? What are you good at..
Probably write it down – be generous with words. Be kind to yourself – you are much better and capable than you think.
Do not be afraid to make your writing paper looking like a complete mess – as long as you understand what’s written and can extract relevant and key words out of there.
If you don’t like writing it, do digital notes. If you don’t record it somehow, it is just dreaming, not self-realisation.
Take your time. It is not one-off process. You might need to come back to it several times.
I like to suggest this idea in my blog exactly right now as people are meant to have more time for themselves, their families, self-development and anything that was pretty hard to fit in with our dynamic world.
When your self-realisation sheet is completed, try to picture it on your perspective future – where do you see it fit in your life moving forward?
Make the picture really colourful – use the colours that #inspire you , use your colour scheme.
Let’s bring to this blog an imaginary person. Renee is an aspiring young artist. She loves art, she is naturally born talented person. Being a creative person, she sometimes has chaotic decisions that are lack of strategy. It is still ok, however, Renee dreams to become a well-known artist and make creations for living. Being a very adaptable and flexible, she is ready to learn something that would take her to the new level, however, she is very distracted from her dream working in a retail shop. The job that she is doing is not super exciting, however, keeps her being on the top of paying her rent and bills.
Let’s return back to the colourful picture you draw. You see yourself, you have a bit of a blurry idea who you want to be and what inspires you. Next step – draw like a tree looking picture – what you need to bring you to your dream.
New resource of motivation or hobby to adapt
I can keep this list going but you know these items better for yourself. Once you find out them – you can be more specific. Let’s return to Renee.
Renee wants to be an artist. She needs to be recognised. Hmmm maybe use of social media, some digital platforms. Maybe she should get an agent. Where does she get an extra motivation that keeps you going after your retail shift?
After a number of thoughts and self-realisation, Renee realised – she needs more connections, she needs to bring more motivation and learn how to get exposure on digital media.
Draw a tree – what can be done?
Renee analysed that her physical art is valuable but only when she becomes a well-known and well-established artist. What to do and how to sustain yourself before that? How about to draw her creations on digital world. More and more people are asking for graphic designers – Renee started a course in digital marketing and graphic design and opened her own business that also inspires her to create more and keep up with her artistic motivation. Evaluate for yourself what steps you need to do to reach out your goals. Make your dreams to be your goals.
I am hungry for learning something new. Tell me a story, show me something, share thoughts and argue your ideas against mine.
Mindset flow is what I am after.
It does sound weird but I feel I do have a constant crash on brain.
Last week I had a conversation that inspired me. It was a meeting with a person who has been successful to build his business well and helped others to grow their businesses. When I walked in and sat down the person said something like:
“I have been in this business for over 40 years. I know how successful people think and look. You have just ordered healthy meal, you are mindful of what you order to drink, I should not say that as I don’t want to be inappropriate but you got great body shape that proves your gym discipline, you wear quality brand clothing and polished brand new red shoes, you probably got too many shoes though, anyway…if you apply this attitude into money mindset, you will make millions..”
The recipe is found. Now it is a fun part: organisation and strategy.
People say I love to use the work ‘strategy’ into any conversation I have.
Strategy is different to plan. Say, I love strategies and strategic approach and but I dislike a plan. They are different even though they are similar.
Strategy is a pathway to achieve what you want with the tools you have to apply. Having a strategy and a plan will deliver what I want.
Having just a plan is a waste of time. I haven’t seen and event/situation where everything worked out perfectly well as planned. This is where people trying to stick to a plan that doesn’t work out and fail. Strategy, on the other hand, offers you a flexibility. It enables you to change direction and make tough decisions when it is a necessity to change a plan.
Why are learning and strategy in one topic? These are new series of blogs I want to start writing and surely these two will be given a separate article but for the time being they are united here in this post.
I would like to start weekly/bi-weekly learning sharing space here. At the end of the day self-development is an essential part of my journey and this box has been created to share my life journeys collecting them in one space.
This year is meaningful. This year I experienced a strange feeling caused by my own 25th birthday…
It is the year of the new decisions, journeys and ideas ahead. I have a strong strategy around it but don’t have a certain plan as I know it will change and I want to be adaptable, flexible and enjoy of the new era of my journey.
When I started this blog, I couldn’t make my mind if I want to write about fitness or fashion or mindset or travel or events…therefore, I called it FashFitBox. I collected my passion and journeys in one box. I understand now that all these elements have led me where I am.
Just a brief snapshot:
Fashion made me tough – it is a fancy, glamorous space. However, once you uncover this shine and glam, you will see a lot of empty faces and dark hearts as well as a lot of inspiring stories and amazing people. Fashion and modelling made my mindset stronger and my appearance more feminine which is the right combination
Fitness – never get over it. I have always struggled with self-control. I think I wouldn’t be able to achieve what I’ve achieve (and will achieve!) so far without my fitness journey.
Mindset – I can talk about self-development for hours. I like to share thoughts, I like to learn and progress. Mindset is the King of this blog.
Travel – travel is just a little part of this blog. I love travelling, I made my move to another continent that I still keep exploring. Travel opens horizons. The only thing people forget sometimes is to travel into themselves – a human being is one of the least explored things on the Earth…
Events – well, I am just a social chick and like to share experiences…and journeys.
Structure is probably the main thing I am lacking in this blog. In my defence, this blog has started as a pure sharing of my personal thoughts. One year ago when I started blogging, I haven’t thought about making it as a part of my career…now blogging…or I’d say storytelling is an essential part of my career, business and work. Therefore, it requires a certain structure – time to work on it.
The biggest ‘fitness lie’ I told myself was “I am going to do that really high intensity session after work”.
When work is over and you get back home or wherever you are supposed to be, the last thing you want to think is HIIT. It happens sometimes though, mostly on my days off when I am rested and fresh. However, considering I end up working on my projects 7 days a week sometimes, it is a wrong assumption I would go exercise in the evening.
This is where the power of habits comes in place.
“Win the morning, Win the day” – something that can describe my morning habit. An energising morning session is something that gives me that fuel and productivity to perform well for the rest of the day.
I have to admit I was not always a morning person. It was a big big effort to get me out of bed. It sounds like a miracle for me now. It doesn’t matter if I had a big day/night before, my body clock and earned habit of ‘getting up for energy’ gets me out to start my day early.
Although, it’s important to make sure you’re getting enough sleep and staying hydrated. Experts suggest adults get between seven and nine hours of solid sleep in order for our brains to function at their full capacity. And no, that’s not lay in bed for two hours scrolling on Instagram before having a few hours of interrupted sleep. You can still go out for a party or events (due to a nature of my lifestyle, I do attend a lot of events) and still perform well next day but you need to balance it well. For example, I would not go for a really hard/high intensity session after long day followed by long night out, however, something like 6 kms outdoor jogging is something that helps my body to get back on track and detox itself.
The other part of my morning habit is consuming at least 500ml of water during or after a morning training session as long as it is before breakfast and coffee.
The appreciation of life, I guess, comes from a simple practical comparison of lifestyles.
Say, loving a social lifestyle full of events and meetings with people makes you appreciate quiet weekend day dedicated to just yourself: no people, no worries.
On the other hand, having too much down time drives you crazy: where’s buzz, people, energy?!
Regardless of the chosen style, it should make you happy and should have some value behind. Bringing the quality to your life is your personal choice:
People you allow in your life – are they negative, judgmental with limited self-development or positive who love to identify beauty in people and things around?
Food you eat – eating healthy and fresh is your own preference or you can simply chuck a couple of fried tasteless chips – whatever makes you happy. The only condition is the outcome you receive is based on your choice so don’t be surprised…
Lifestyle you choose – you may do some sport, kinda fun and active. You may prefer have “sofa life” with biggest effort you do is changing your Netflix channels.
Look after yourself or “well, I got good genes” – good genes are a gift that is great to nourish. At the end of the day, for example, ageing quicker walking in the Australian sun every day or event worse – getting cancer from direct unprotected sun lights, genes are not responsible here. You are.
Travel and explore – travelling around is cool and expands your inner horizons. Sometimes you don’t have to physically travel – Australia is blessed to ‘collect the whole world’ in it; one of the best Australian experiences I had is meeting people from all over the world I am grateful to call my friends. What stops you to say hi to that smiley Chinese coming to the same coffee shop you come every morning?
Knowledge you get – we learn something new everyday when we want to learn and grow, just think about it…not sure though about “sofa life” people.
Challenges you go through…or don’t go through. When something stops you from going and doing something, just remember one day long long time ago, you couldn’t walk…
Since I have gotten involved in it, I understood why this statement could be the best description for the pageant event.
I am not a huge fan of pageants. I did some and thought it was enough. Why would I? :
Charity cause? Oh come on! – you want to help a non-profit organisation, you go and do it from your own heart, you don’t need to be “crowned” to do good things in life.
Being cool? If I want to feel cool, I will do something that brings happiness in my life without all this pageant shine.
However, there is something bigger, more meaningful and powerful about Miss Auto D’Elegance – this is not just an event, a pageant, a competition. This is a celebration of style, fashion and beauty in the most unique and attractive way you can run in Australia.
“This Event will showcase a Beauty Pageant inside a Private Jet Hanger lined up with 20 Million dollars worth of Exotic Super Cars. A great networking event where Fashion, Beauty and Community comes together to celebrate the Launch of our Inaugural Worlds First Beauty Contest and Fashion Runway show inside a Private Jet Hanger.”
This is all about the right combination of elements relevant to me:
Cars – I was born in the family surrounded by the cars industry the whole my life until I moved to Australia. Cars were always standing at parents’ home backyard like big shiny toys – this is what you can expect being raised by two biggest cars entrepreneurs in the Russian Far East or just simply my mum and dad;
Charity – every year I am aiming to do something for a good cause. I am currently working on fundraising and digital marketing for one charity but it’s not the limit of what I can do;
Stage – this is not something I can explain easily. There is a certain, rare sort of butterflies cruising inside my stomach when I am coming on stage; and nothing else can trigger that rare sort of butterflies;
Meeting new people – what a stupid assumption to join a pageant for winning. You join a pageant to meet new interesting people, have fun, discover new mindsets, open horizons, network and meet soulmates in the areas of your interest;
Journey – life is a journey and a series of events. Miss Auto D’Elegance is a journey, experience you go through with other involved stakeholders. Welcome party, photoshoots, guest speakers, event invitations to enrich your own mindset, learn something new and share your experiences with others.
“The vision for this contest is to open the opportunities for Young Women to extend their talents and dreams to work alongside the various Automotive Charity Programs and challenge themselves to be the best they can be.The winner of Miss Auto D’Elegance will serve as the Charity Ambassador to the various Community Events and promoting awareness across different Charity Programs.” – Organisers’ view..”
The event is on next Saturday 9th November. The grand finale that will be captured by numerous media, witnessed by thousands of people, delivered in the most memorable and luxury style you can imagine.
Hamamatsu hosted the next rugby game Australia vs Georgia that was under thread of cancellation due to the typhoon. However, before that..
Before the announcement
We have arrived in a very nice hotel – located in the biggest building in the city – ACT Tower. We stayed on 40F and had the best city view that we could have. Moreover, the hotel had pretty good gym facilities, pool and amazing Japanese style sauna and spa. Cherry on the top was having Rugby Scottish team staying the same hotel! I managed to take a few selfies and chat about rugby with some of the best rugby players in the world!
As to Rugby, Hamamatsu has prepared itself well for the upcoming RWC. Local bakeries made some treats looking like rugby balls (on one shelf with Halloween sweets..:/), RWC village in the busiest part of the city, special deals in locals pubs and restaurants.
The plan was to stay two days/nights in the city. We visited Hamamatsu Castle.. Didn’t impress me. I don’t want to be biased – I believe we have seen too way many shrines and castles so Hamamatsu one was not interesting at all.
RWC stadium was easily accessible using the JR station. At some point I felt like back home coming closer to the venue and see Wallabies jerseys and yellow-green scarfs everywhere. Event logistics after the game was poor planned again – big crowds were slowly getting to the station in the rain and the empty roads (that could be used by these crowds) were locked away without any reasonable idea why.
Hamamatsu Wedding Central Park is another attraction to see. Again, we have seen too way many parks already so was not impressive. However, the venue itself was well-built. It reminded me a building of European gothic style that definitely stood out from tiny old Japanese shrines.
I have to say that Hamamatsu is event hub un Japan. There is a number of Congress venues, wedding and ceremonies halls. People are coming to Hamamatsu to book their events as it is close enough to Tokyo and centre of Japan, however, it is away from all this big city mess.
We left just before the Hamamatsu Jazz Festival started. The “Hamamatsu Jazz Week” will be celebrated this year for the 28th time. This event, which aims for “music to be everywhere in the city, creating the city itself” has livened up Hamamatsu since 1992. It is famous across Japan and its main “Yamaha Jazz Festival” offers performances from internationally famous musicians.
During this event, jazz will take over the city in the form of “concerts for families (parents and children,)” a “street jazz festival,” a “student jazz festival” and many other activities. This week offers an opportunity for not only jazz lovers, but for everybody to experience the charm of jazz. While we were there, the preparation for the Jazz week reminded me Many Jazz festival i.e. posters around, small performances taking place in CBD, etc.
After the announcement
The storm has started on the day of the game – 11th October. Fortunately, the game did go ahead.
However, some weird stuff happened next day. Tokyo and nearby prefectures (including Hamamatsu, Shizuoka) was isolated from the rest of the country and, I would say, from the rest of the world. Our flights had been cancelled and all Tokyo international airports stopped their operation for the next 48 hours without giving us any clarity of what’s on.
The day of the typhoon – 12th October – people didn’t come out outdoor. I tried to find what to do and went for a walk – it was scaring quiet and depressive, like after end of the world movies. All supermarkets were close; convenience stores such as Family marts, Lawsons and 7/11s were half empty as people bought as much food as they can to survive in case of typhoon would hit the area hard.
We couldn’t find much to do so I spend over 4 hours at the gym (proud!). We ended up at the hotel bar sipping James Bond’s martinis, making friends with one Japanese bloke and playing Uno.
13th October – morning – no sign of any typhoon or storm. Beautiful sunny day and fresh air. I used it as an opportunity to go for a long distance run along the Hamamatsu river. Discovered another amazing thing that you will never experience in Australia – a bar where you can been any gun and do some shooting. I cannot event imagine this being approved in Australia – bar and guns in one.. That was a lot of fun and I managed to practice my showreel scenes for the upcoming projects – all details to be revealed next year…anyways.
14th October – another quiet day. We explored local shops and watched Japan vs Scotland at the hotel. We have watched the news and found out that over 40 people had died in Tokyo and around 10 Shinkansens had been permanently damaged. The country had gone through huge financial loss and RWC was seriously effected with 2 games cancelled.
It is sad that such a lovely country with so kind people experience this type of natural disasters every year. There is a curious fact that Japanese natural disasters have been country’s cures and blessings at the same time. Throwing back to the history I learned in Tokyo Samurai museum. Japan experienced two Mongolian innovations in 13th century. Both times Japan was not ready to fight against one of the strongest armies in the world back that time. Both times Japan won because a typhoon destroyed Mongolian fleet. Japanese called this typhoon Kamikaze which means “divine wind”. This term was used later in World War II for aerial suicide attacks.
Anyways, we got some clarity on the 15th October – the earliest flight back home (could forget about the trip to Mexico already – too late) was 19th October..right back to Tokyo for Volume 2 adventures!
Oita is the true Japanese capital for rugby. As soon as we got off the station, we were met by friendly statue of man captured playing rugby. A lot of sculptures and monuments inviting visitors to join overall cheering for rugby games. As a true fan of rugby (lol!), I wore rugby jersey and I believe this is what attracted the local SBS to ask me for an interview just on the street. They asked me who I was, what I thought of rugby in Japan, who I supported and what was my dream. It was amazing chatting to them.
Oita is the South of the country. I picked straight up palm trees on the streets – that little reminder of Australia and my first association with Australia when I arrive there over 5 years ago.
The area is very touristic due to its hot springs. Beppy contains world biggest amount of hot springs/onsens in the world. Based on them, the government has built heaps of special tours for visitors that are quite costly.
On the way to Beppy we took a short half a day trip to Fukuoka, Hakata. Nice and lovely area with small temples around. This is the destination I shall start my blog with:
Hakata is one of the oldest cities in Japan. It is also famous for its seaside wharfs and ship industry. The government of Hakata started to invest in development of ship tourism in the area and it has been going well for decent 5 years. Regular port calls are coming from world famous cruise companies like Royal Caribbean – this industry makes the area one of the richest in Japan.
We have literally had 4.5 hours to spend there so we managed to visit local shrines and a couple of shopping malls. Hakata is a great example of what visitors and fresh tourists need to know about visiting Japan. Moreover, I have collected some interesting facts below throughout the whole trip so far.
CASH CASH CASH – if you get used to operate with credit cards, change your habits in Japan. You might get away with your card in busy Tokyo, however, smaller cities have a lot of cash only places. Save your time and effort and get cash within first couple of hours upon arrival if not beforehand; Japan understands that it needs to move away from cash operations and trying to encourage its citizen to use more their credit cards – it hasn’t been accepted by the majority of the population yet; However, you may get 5-10% discount off if you are paying with credit card but many places are still cash only;
GUILT-FREE SWEETS – when you dedicate yourself to a healthy eating plan, you still want to get out of the plan and try some tasty treats. When you are overseas, it is almost impossible to avoid it as you want to try new things (Curious Me!). I have been reading labels of some of the Japanese treats and sweets, fortunately, found out that their treats/sweets contains lesser sugar and calories than Australia and Russian ones. Maybe they are made from rice flour and/or replaced some sugary and artificial add-ons – I don’t know (my Japanese is not strong to read it), however, the fact is the fact. You can be guilt-free when you try some awesome sweets in Japan;
CAPSULE HOTELS – so cooooool (never tried though lol). If you are not after fancy hotels and just need to drop your head for some rest, you can literally be checked-in in a capsule that looks like the time keeping capsule from Futurama cartoon. These “hotels” are located next to bus/train stations and night life areas;
7/11 is good for SNACKS only. If you want/need to get food from 7/11 – best rule is try to avoid 7/11 labelled food. Say, 7/11 Japanese wine would taste only slightly better than Australian goon, express meals are not the freshest than in a supermarket. 7/11 made product is also not cheaper than other brands, sometimes even more expensive. If you have an opportunity to buy products in a supermarket, go there instead;
SUPERMARKETS HOURS – important to know. None of the Japanese supermarket will be open until 10:00-11:00am – this is normal opening time for many businesses in Japan and don’t get surprised – THE COUNTRY OF THE RISING SUN sleeps longer than we do. If you plan healthy version of your breakfast, go to the supermarket late night – you will get your yogurts, fruits or proteins (sashimi, meats, beans) with a huge discount. They try to get rid of all today’s fresh meals by making huge discounts at night (around 60-70%). It is my option for breakfast as before 11:00am the only food you can find for breakfast is donuts, breads and burnt coffee;
Back to WINE topic – Japan loves import wine from South America. Argentina, Spain and Chilli – countries for good red wine to try in Japan pretty much everywhere; New discovery for me that has become my favourite – California Pinot Noir;
CIGARETTES can be purchased from vending machines on public streets (no one cares to check IDs);
If you are a MORNING PERSON and love going to parks, you may see heaps of Japanese people gathering in public parks to do gymnastics together at around 6:30am – cuuuuuute;
Every Japanese city has its unique SHRINES and TEMPLES.
Hakata is the home of Sumo Sport. Sumo is a Japanese style wrestling in an elevated ring. Originally performed in Japanese ancient rituals and festivals, it is now Japan’s national sports. At the same time, it is also considered as form martial arts. If you are after watching martial arts or boxing, you will enjoy this – Hakata is the home for this type of sport. If you end up in Fukuoka – book a ticket to watch the wrestling. Sumo Official Tournament (honbasho) is held regularly as follows: every year, during the first or second week of January, March, July, September, and November for 15 days.
BACK TO BEPPY
We have stayed in the Beppywan Hotels & Resorts. It is a bit away from the station, however, the shuttle bus operation was outstanding so we didn’t feel “left out” from the main area of the RWC. As I expected the Hotel has its own hot spring bath so I could experience traditional Oita Onsen without visiting jigoku or “hells” – geothermally heated water bubbles up to the surface as steamy ponds or sulphurous gloop.
We have visited Rugby fan village next day after arrival and watched one of the games there. Oita was put on the international map by the 2002 World Cup. The purpose built “Big Eye” stadium, somewhat reminiscent of a giant titanium turtle, was designed by the celebrated Japanese architect Kisho Kurokawa (who also designed Toyota Stadium, the Wakayama Museum of Modern Art, Kuala Lumpur Airport and the New Wing of the Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam).
Oita Stadium can be reached via shuttle bus from Oita Station. Oita Stadium (aka Oita Bank Dome; 大分銀行ドーム) is the home ground of J-League soccer team Oita Trinita. I believe this stadium was used for the Rugby game we watched – Fiji vs. Wales.
I have to say that I haven’t expected this game to be so interesting. Wales did win, however, I have to give a huge credit to Fiji for their amazing performance. Never regretted attending this game!
Being a qualified event manager, I have to also note that the events operations and logistics at the end of the event was nit great at all. Crowed control (considering we had over 33,000 people at the stadium) was not planned – a lot of annoyed and frustrated people were leaving stadium nearly breaking fences. Japanese police couldn’t do much. Instead of opening a few stream lines for people heading to the buses taking them down to the main JR station, they closed the main road for taxis and made people walk long walk to the bus station. Not quite logical. Why not to let all these busses to come closer to the stadium and consequently collect crowds one by one?
Anyways, apart from disappointing post event operation, that day was the highlight of the whole Oita stay.
We had just a bit of a time to visit Funai Castle before we had to the game. The castle did belong to Otomo Sorin. Hid clan was a powerful one in Kyushu who during the first half of the 16th century gradually expanded their control over neighboring warlords. When Otomo Sorin became the 21st Otomo Daimyo in 1550 he continued to expand Otomo territory and eventually the family were known as the Lords of Seven Provinces.
A castle was built at Funai in 1562, but many sources credit Fukuhara Naotaka with its construction in the last few years of the 16th century, but the main keep was built by Takenaka Shigetoshi in 1602.
In 1656 a branch of the Matsudaira took control of the castle and remained there until the Meiji Period.
Most of Funai Castle burned down in 1743 and the castle was decommissioned in 1872.
All that remains today is the moat and outer walls, two towers that were reconstructed in the early 1860’s, and the stone base of the keep. In 1965 the main gate and turrets were restored, and in 1996 the covered bridge was reconstructed.
From now on I can act like a proper tourist as all the destinations moving forward are new to me. This does include Hiroshima.
Hiroshima is a different city compared to the previous ones due to its sad historical past and unique island Majiyama. We have divided the trip into to parts to take most out of our stay in Hiroshima.
In general, Hiroshima attracts many tourists from all over the world. We stayed in APA Hotel and every time I walked to an elevator, I could meet some foreigners. We started our trip by trying Okonomiyaki – traditional Hiroshima grilled pancake. It does contain a lot of various ingredients such as egg, seaweed, bacon, wheat noodles, cabbage, bean sprouts. You can choose some add-ons with fish and meats – this dish keeps you full for the rest of the day. When you are in Hiroshima, you MUST try this dish.
Highlight of DAY 1 – Okonomiyaki
Okonomiyaki used to be considered a special desert served at Buddhist ceremonies. Interesting to say but the dish was invented in beloved Osaka, however, was well adopted by Hiroshima after A-Atomic tragedy.I personally find Hiroshima style is a snacky way of making the dish – you grill all the ingredients and then lay one on another. Osaka’s way is to actually blend the ingredients and grill together – Okonomiyaki History .
The story behind Hiroshima’s “lazy” way of making Okonomiyaki can be the fact that after the Atomic bomb tragedy, survived people were starving and tried to filled themselves with whatever they could find around. People used the few ingredients they had—vegetables like cabbage and onions mixed with flour that came from the U.S. post-war rations—and whatever extra ingredients they could get their hands on to fill up their stomachs.
Okonomiyaki is best described by its translation. It literally means “whatever you want”(okonomi), “grilled (yaki). – お好み焼き .
Highlight of DAY 2 – Majiyama Island
We got up early morning to catch one of the earliest ferries to the Island and catch nice morning sunlight. Unfortunately, traditional Itsukushima Shrine gates were closed for renovation (upcoming Olympics Games 2020), however, we managed to get inside the Shrine that isn considered to be UNESCO World Heritage.
We started our Majiyama journey and got attacked by deer straight away. Deer are everywhere on the island – they are just a part of the nature there. They are wild but managed to merge well into human society. They do love stealing your food…or anything looking like food. You can pet them but be mindful that some of them can be aggressive (wild animals..).
Back to the Shrine – It was originally built 1423 years ago in 593CE by Saeki no Kuramoto. The place is unique for one more reason – the Itsukushima Shrine was built specifically at a location where the tides rise and fall. Back that time, the whole island wasn considered to be a god. it is said a location where the tides rise and fall was chosen specifically so the god or kami would not be damaged when they constructed the shrine. Take your time to explore the Shrine:
Start with at the Marodo Shrine – It has been designated as a national treasure;
Then The Main Shrine dedicated to the the three female deities have long been dutifully worshipped as they are the gods of the sea, transport, fortune, and the arts;
The O-Torii gate is best seen from inside the Shrine but was closed this time 😦 – you can also reach the gate on your feet.
We managed to watch the traditional Japanese wedding at the East corridor of Marono Shrine.
In Russia we say when you see a happy wedding, make a wish. I made a wish looking at that beautiful procession. There was something special and magical looking at that thousand years ceremonial tradition.
And to wishes, there was also a wish/lucky box that we all gave a try. There was no translation though so my task for the next few days to find a decent Japanese/English translator to find out my prophesy.
Then we went on a ropeway. After some elaboration the decision was made to take one-way ticket and explore the inner island beauty, nature and temples on out feet. Never regretted about this decision. Hence, supporting my FITNESS.
I will never stop saying to go out and explore the area on your two feet. We have discovered little temples and unique natural places that you will never see sitting in a ropeway or train. We have reached the tope of the Misen Point and walked all way down to the incredible Daisho-in Temple. The temple is not as popular as the Shrine, however, you shall walk pass countless statues on the left side of the temple garden – they are meant to give you some blessings and luck for future.
The Majiyama Island reminded me of Bruna Island in Tasmania. They both have mountains that gives you 360 view of the area and it was breathtaking. We had to walk all way up and then down the mountain but it definitely worth it. I have to admit that my calfs and legs were extremely sore next couple of days – warm spa, roller and morning jogging helped me to relief the soreness.
The first part of the trip was very traditional, spiritual and exploratory. We can back to grab a bowl of ramen each and head to the hotel super tired.
Highlight of DAY 3 – Atomic Bomb Dome and Hiroshima Peace Memorial
The second part of our trip was more thoughtful – that made you think of one human disaster happened last century.
I have met a fair few Japanese kids happily jumping to me asking a few English phrases and given little origami cranes in dedication to peace in the Hiroshima park. Then I have seen same kids in tears walking out of that museum. Some of them had hysteria from what they had seen inside. That place contained historical facts that couldn’t leave your eyes dry..
Hiroshima is the first city in the world that has been attacked by atomic bomb. This happened on 6th August 1945. The decision was made by the US to drop one atomic bomb in Hiroshima followed by another one in three days in Nagasaki. In the US army’s opinion, that was the best solution to stop the war in the Asia Pacific region and stop deaths..oh well, great decision to kill 140,000 innocent people in one go and destroy lives of next generations for many years ahead living in miserable conditions, developing leukaemia and cancer from radiation, suiciding themselves..
I couldn’t take photos inside the museum – there is no photo can describe what was seen inside. I took one and I deleted it right away – you cannot capture this. You need to see it with your own eyes, feel it and empathise. The place keeps stories of killed souls still screaming and begging stop the war around the world. You can feel moaning of those souls walking across the museum park begging to stop the pain. Believe me or not but the pictures of the past are duplicated in your mind when you walk pass the Atomic bomb Dome- you can see those burnt bodies, horrified faces of schoolboys and girls (the bomb was dropped 350 metres from a public school), and ruins of the beautiful city.
There are only two emotions you can see walking out of the museum – people are being quiet or crying.
Things like that make you clearly understand why one of the Global Goals of the United Nations is to make the world atomic bomb and weapons free.
If you are running low in time, forget about anything – The Dome is that one place you are in Hiroshima for.
Overall, if you have decent 2-3 days in the area, see the list of things worth to visit:
Atomic Bomb Dome
The Peace Memorial Museum
Hiroshima National Peace Memorial Hall for the atomic bomb victims
Children’s Peace Monument (dedicated in memory of Sadako Sasaki)
Hiroshima Castle and park nearby (I did exploring while running in the morning – nice, quiet and lack of tourist time of the day – 6:30am)
Okonomiyaki Food Court (Hiroshima Station area) – If you have time (I didn’t), visit the Wood Egg Okonomiyaki Museum
Time to get out of big cities and experience old fashioned Japanese culture merged into unique nature of the continent.
Kyoto is only 15 minutes away from Osaka (via Shinkansen) that makes easy to commute a day trip to the destination. Interesting fact that Kyoto used to be the capital of Japanese island Honsu. Therefore, it contains so many historical places, imperial palaces, temples. Due to invasion of Buddhist clergy into the Imperial government trying to influence on decisions of the Palace, the decision was made to move the capital to Edo in 19th century.
Edo was later called 東京, meaning “Eastern Capital” which pronounces Tokyo. We all know Tokyo.
Kyoto tried to be re-named as 西京, meaning “Western Capital”, however, came back to Kyoto giving the city that legacy of thousand-year capital (千年の都).
If you love hiking and exploring thousand year history, you should definitely go to Kyoto. There is one great FITNESS solution here that I have done in the past. As a part of that international crew that I joined fair few years ago, we went on a bike ride from Osaka to Kyoto. The distance between these two are 55,6km which makes your legs burned at the end of the day (this distance doesn’t include another 20-25 kms cruising around the city).
Kyoto is fairly big city but mostly famous for its cultural events and nature. Heading there on a bike, you will get obsessed with its nature in its fullest. Moreover, it will make your trip more accessible to reach different temples where you can sometimes enjoy kabuki theatre or some dancing festivals.
One of the most famous festivals in Kyoto in October is Jidai Matsur (“Festival of Ages”). Day when Japanese citizens come out of their houses and dress up as people of the past to acknowledge oldest people of the land and “touch” the thousand year old history of the area.
Jidai Matsuri is held every October 22nd (*Will be held on October 26th in 2019), as it was on this day in 794 AD that Emperor Kanmu made Kyoto Japan’s imperial capital, a status that would last for over 1,000 years, right through to 1869 when the capital was then moved to Tokyo. ＊Note: The 2019 procession is exceptionally scheduled on October 26 as October 22 falls on the day of the Enthronement Ceremony of the Emperor in Tokyo. If you know a lovely Japanese person, do not hesitate to say some nice words on the day to them in regards to their celebration. They will appreciate the fact that you know and respect their culture and heritage.
The Forest is located just 15-minute from the central station of Kyoto. You will meet a lot of locals there – this is their place to go hiking, enjoy and appreciate the nature around them. Do not forget to pack some bento boxes to share picnic with your friends.
Appreciation of beauty is another thing that I would like to highlight in this article. I have already mentioned it in my previous blog posts dedicated to Japan – great lesson to learn from Japanese:
They do see the beauty around them, in other people, in items around them. They are very united with the universe if it makes sense. How many times we walk pass a beautiful park and do not even stop next to a bunch of beautiful flowers or natural arrangements around? We are always in a rush – the modern life demands us to be like that and it is understandable.
Check out my previous post about mindfulness through appreciation of things around here .
This is why I love to visit Japan and “slow down” here. This is where you can re-unite with yourself, disappear in that Bamboo Forest to stay with your thoughts, discover new pathways and just let many things go that stuck in your soul like stones dragging you down. This is what Kyoto is about.
Forget about FASHION here – this place is not about parade show. It is the place to discover yourself and be as you are without all these current trends, instagram stories and showcasing fancy lifestyle – leave it all for the next destinations…