Friday, December 26, 2014

Transport your luggage with ease with Kuroneko - Yamato Transport. .

Transport your luggage with ease with Kuroneko - Yamato Transport. 

By Carole Goldsmith - Copyright © 2014 / 2015 - All rights reserved 

Having your luggage transported from hotel to hotel or  from the airport to your hotel or home, makes traveling in Japan, so easy.  No more luggage to carry on transport, it is transported for you at a very economical cost by one of Japan's leading transport providers - Kuroneko or Black cat - Yamato transport.

You can see the Kuroneko or Black Cat symbol on yellow background at hotels and convenience stores throughout Japan in your travels. This excellent economical luggage transport service will assist you greatly in your travel.

Ask your hotel or local convenience store to make the booking with Kuroneko or book it yourself if your Japanese is good enough. Arrange the booking and have your luggage ready the morning or the day before you are traveling to ensure its delivery in time to your next destination.

I have used this service many times in Japan to transport my luggage from one hotel to the other or to the airport. This has been arranged by the hotel staff.  Also I have booked the service through my local convenience store when I lived in the Tokyo suburbs and booked it through to Narita airport in Tokyo. At airports ask airport staff for directions to Kuroneko / Yamato Transport or TA-Q-BIN. See more below on TA-Q-BIN.

Kuroneko is economical, fast and oh so  convenient. My friends have used it to transport their ski equipment and luggage from the Japanese ski fields to Narita airport.

TA-Q-BIN or door to door next day delivery service.
TA-Q-BIN is a next day delivery service (excluding certain areas) which sends your parcel or luggage to anywhere in the country, 365 days a year.

The delivery rates are here, but you will probably find it a lot easier to call and book or get your local hotel or convenience store to arrange the booking. The price will depend on the size of the item,

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Kiko the Japanese Frog and Rogi Rogito Japanese Doggie and worm friends go to the moon

Copyright by Carole Goldsmith © 2014 - All Rights Reserved

Kiko the Japanese Frog, Rogi Rogito Japanese Terrier Doggy and the two worms are headed for the moon. They are zooming northwards in a rocket made of recycled vegetables and fired with high energy dog faecal and worm droppings bio fuel. 

Out of the sky comes a large flash of lightning with a purple light radiating out of the middle."The lightening bolts  are getting closer and they seem to have hands reaching out for us, trying to grab our spaceship," screams Rogi. All of a sudden there was a strong wind blowing us away from the enemy lightning bolt. The wind is blowing us upwards towards the moon swirling forward in a tornado like action. We are now speeding towards the moon at 1,800 km per hour.  

Rogi is feeling very giddy from all the swirling, but he is the captain of the spaceship so he takes control and calls out " Kiko and worms, Cilli and Milli, try to hold on to your seats and put your seat belts on." 

"We are all stuck to the roof so we can't get down," says Kiko and he tried to salute to Rogi while hopping around upside down. All around us we could see the stars shining brightly, so bright that they were almost blinding us. Kiko added excitedly. The moon is happy to see us, that is great news guys”!

We all looked towards the moon with great anticipation of reaching our destiny very soon.

'Let us look at our sky map and see whether we can see where we are, I suggested to the group.
Look the moon is there on the map, it does not look very far away.
The moon is ahead of us and we can see the light. I wonder what it is like on the moon".

As we were getting nearer to the moon, we saw two new comets speeding through the sky. They had sparks blowing out of their tails - multi colored bright sparks.

"Oh look Kiko, Cilli and Milli, at the pretty colours". I called out to the group excitedly.

There seemed to be new colours emerging all the time and it looked like a firework display of huge dimensions. The stars from the comets danced across the sky making pictures of flowers as they exploded into the sky’s surface.

“What a view we have” we all agreed together.
Now it looks like a rainbow in the sky, all different colours.
“Look those red sparks are turning into big red blobs all joining together, I wonder what they are going to do to us. The red blobs kept flashing and it appeared to get bigger and bigger as they spoke.
That blob has a hole in the middle and it looks like we are going to pass through the middle as it is moving in our direction. All of a sudden, creeping around the corner, we noticed something strange. There was a smoky haze starting to appear – a bright blue smoky haze coming out of the sky. Silver stars were beaming through the haze.

Out of the smoke came a little silver frog with a gold crown on its head.
"Look Kiko and worms, a silver frog and a gold crown. Have you ever seen anything like that guys?" I enquired.
The little frog seemed to be very happy through the haze, without a care in the world.

“Let us get our spaceship closer, Roggi and we can see it better. Maybe it is one of my long lost relatives from Tokyo” Kiko announced.
We moved our spaceship nearer to the silver frog and he seemed to be getting bigger and bigger the more we approached him. It had red eyes with a green light inside of them. As it grew larger, its red eyes were shining with a green light piercing out of them in our direction.

It was still hopping around but its hop seemed to be much more aggressive than before. It suddenly diverted its attention from hopping to looking directly at our spaceship. It was looking very scary by now with an angry look on its face.

“Maybe we should approach it and ask directions to the moon” Kiko said. I replied that we should be more careful and wait and see what happens in the next few minutes. As we moved closer to the silver frog, it seemed to have grown five times larger than when we first saw him.  His eyes seemed to be glowing a bright emerald green.

The silver frog that we had named Zongo was now staring in our direction. It was growing and then shrinking at the same time. Suddenly bright orange and silver threaded wings started emerging from its shoulders as if they were growing before our eyes. The eyes were also growing bigger and were now as large as saucers.

We were getting mighty scared by now, after all we were just a little dog, a frog and two worms in a spaceship made of recycled fruit and vegetable material.

The silver frog’s eyes were glaring at us with such intensity, that it felt like the eyes were piercing through our spaceship.
“What will we do now” Kiko screamed out. “How are we going to escape”?

"Let’s be brave guys, time to get all of our strength together. Maybe we can calm him down so that he becomes a friendly little frog again", I tried to assure them all

“Hello Silver Frog” we called out of the spaceship’s loud speaker.
The now giant frog looked in our direction and flapped its huge wings and let out an enormous croak that shook our moving spaceship. Its green pupils seemed to have increased to the size of a dinner plate.

Pointed ears emitted from its head and it appeared to be trying to listen to what we were saying.
“We want to be friends” Kiko called out. “ I am a frog too, maybe we are relatives. I am a frog from Japan." Kiko added.
The giant frog seemed to be listening but not really understanding.
“I had better talk to him in frog language, he may understand me better”.
“Croak, croak, cro….ak, croak, cro….ak (I may be your long lost relative). The giant frog seemed to be understanding and its big red tongue licked our spaceship.

“Croak, cro…….ak, croooooak, croewwck” the giant frog responded to Kiko.
What did he say, I asked Kiko,
He said that he has been lost here for a long time and an outer space alien put a spell on him and made him stay suspended in outer space. So when danger approaches, he becomes a monster.

How did he know that we were not dangerous when we spoke to him, I inquired.
The giant frog said suddenly in our language. “ I can tell by the tone of your voice. Some how I can sense danger when I am faced with it. By the way, where are you guys going to”?

“We are going to the moon, we all called out together. Do you want to come with us, you could protect us along the way if we face any danger. But you cannot get into the spaceship looking like you do, you will have to shrink again to your normal size”.
“Maybe I just will not get into the spaceship after all. I can guide you to the moon. After all I was living there for a while so I sort of know the way there. Also I can help protect you from danger along the way".

"Would you agree Rogi, Kiko and worms.”
"Yes we do, we all said in unison".
To be continued......Join us again on our journey to the moon.
Carole Goldsmith Copyright ã

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Answers to traveler's questions on Japan on a budget

These are some answers to a traveler's questions on 

                           Japan on a budget 

By Carole Goldsmith 

Copyright Carole Ann Goldsmith © 2014 All Rights Reserved

Japan Rail Pass is useful when travelling long distance and can only be used on JR trains, buses and ferries. 

Flying with Jetstar/ Peach  is generally much cheaper from major city to city than going by Shinkansen or Bullet Train. 

Suica Pass is suitable in major cities across Japan.

Kansai Pass suitable for Kansai travel

Driving is waste of time and can be difficult traveling long distance in Japan. 

Use the Willer overnight buses if you want to go by road instead of air or Shinkansen 

Kyoto - stay in Osaka at Osaka Chuo Oasis and use either Kansai Pass or Suica Pass to travel to Kyoto and surrounds.  

Remember to go to Shiraishi Island - catch Kazaoka bus from OCAT Namba station in Osaka. 

Enjoy for travels in Japan

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Shiraishi Island – Japan’s Island Paradise

By Carole Goldsmith Copyright © 2017, All Rights Reserved. 

Need an escape from your hectic life in the big cities in Japan? Shiraishi Island is the answer for complete relaxation and fresh sea air.  Located a short ferry ride from Kazaoka in Okayama Prefecture, Shiraishi Island is Japan’s hidden paradise.

Every year when I travel to Japan for a few weeks, I usually spend a week at Shiraishi. As I board the ferry at Kazaoka, I exchange greetings with the ferry captain, who knows me by now – this April was my fifth visit. 

Traveling on the ferry, you can slowly feel the accumulated city and work stress leave your body. Within 35 minutes we arrive at the island and I collect the key from the ferry office, for a pre booked room at the Island’s international villas. The ferry office manager’s son calls out  ‘konnichi wa and gives me some fresh fish to cook at the villa. I like room number 2, a western style room. There are two Japanese style rooms there as well.
I wander up the 15 minute walk to the villa, well signposted along the way, A couple riding bicycles along the island’s narrow paths, stop to say bonjour or good day. Fred and Sophie are from France and are staying at the Villa for a couple of nights. 

The villa is a great place to stay with western and Japanese style rooms overlooking the sea and the neighbour's vegetable gardens. Also the villa has a full kitchen and after weeks of eating at restaurants while traveling, cooking a meal adds to the island’s stay delight .  

There is a supermarket about five minutes walk from the villa to buy all of your supplies. 

Amy and Paul , the managers of the villa and locals who lives on the island, comes to collect money for the villa stay, in the evening. The price per room, all with a view of the sea, is around Yen 4000 for the first night and Yen 3500 for subsequent nights for a single supplement. For couples staying there, the price is Yen 500 less per person.

After a cup of tea and a chat with Sophie and Fred who traveled in Nepal and India, I go for a cycle down to the ferry and along the waterfront. Bicycles are available free of charge while staying at the villa.                                              

There are many walks or bicycle rides to take around the island, a stroll down to the beach will take about 5 minutes by foot. A cold beer, freshly made miso soup and yakitori while chatting with Chieko and her family at San-chan, the restaurant and accommodation on the beach, is a good way to pass the afternoon.  In May, the beach is a swimmer’s delight. As I plunge in the water and do my 30 laps of the ocean, the locals keep asking me “samui desu ka” – is it cold? They don’t tend to swim until June when summer if official, but this Australian swims whenever she sees water. 

My videos on Shiraishi Island - check them out...

Shiraishi Island - Walking to the Beach

Shiraishi Island - Inside the international villa

Shiraishi island - How to relax and enjoy the beauty

Great walks on the island 
Close to the villa, there is a walk up to the lookout, a steep climb to a 360 degrees view of this magnificent island. This is fantastic to do as the sun sets on the horizon.  There is also a walk along the waterfront that leads to a picturesque walking path with cherry blossoms in full spendor in April.  

Another great walk is up to the temples, passing houses with multi colored flower boxes on display and many vegetable gardens, green and luxuriant in the very rich island soil.  The temple area is alive with cherry blossoms and azaleas in April and rhododendrons in May. On this visit, 
I walked around the temple area with a friend Hiro, who had come to the island for a visit for the day. 

You can also visit the neighboring islands by ferry. Mannabe is well worth a visit, with a very well preserved temple, that serves as a community centre for activities and art displays. There is also a picturesque walk along the waters edge, to the left of the ferry port. Climb the hill to the temple, turn left and climb some more steps to find exercise stations, then the pretty flower garden that overlooks the sea and the island. 

The very talented Shiraishi Island’s Mrs Shinohara 

In the morning as Sophie, Fred and I are enjoying our breakfast on the outside deck , we see the bonneted head of an elderly Japanese lady, just below the veranda. She introduces herself as Mrs Shinohara and gives us some beautiful paper umbrellas that she has made and we accept gratefully. As she wanders back down to the road that leads down to the beach, she points to her house and indicates that she would like us to visit. 

After breakfast, I go to visit Mrs Shinohara, and she tells me she is 75 years of age. She invites me for tea and cake as I sit at her entrance and she shows me how she makes the umbrellas out of newspapers and magazines. Then she points to the characters in traditional dress that she has made for a play. The very talented, Mrs Shinohara also proudly displays the ceramic bowls and vases she has produced and the birds that she made out of paper.


Sailing around the island in style 

If you feel adventurous and want to sail around the islands, Amy Chavez, an American and long time resident of Shiraishi, and her Australian partner Paul will take you on a sail. This takes place throughout the year except for July and August when they are busy with the Moo bar on the beach. Amy also takes bookings for accommodation on the Island. For details of the accommodation reservations and the sailing schedule and fee, see below. 

Getting to Shiraishi Island – 

The cheapest way to get there is to catch the Bus from Osaka directly to Okayama station, from OCAT, Osaka Central Bus Terminal, Namba, The fare is Yen 3000 one way, the bus departs from Osaka daily  and the trip takes around three hours with two rest stops along the way. At Okayama Station, catch the train to Kazaoka Station and then a ferry nearby to Shiraishi Island.

For Japan Rail Pass travellers, catch the Shinkansen to Fukuyama station and then the local train to Kazaoka. 

To find the ferry terminal, turn left at the station and on your right, walk though the underpass, then turn left and right across the pedestrian crossing and walk straight ahead for 30 seconds. Then turn left and you will see the ferry terminal ahead. There are regular ferries to Shiraishi until around 6:00 PM. The daily schedule for the Island’s ferries is provided when you book your accommodation.

Accommodation reservations for Shiraishi Island Villa contact the Okayama International Villa group 
E-mail address: