escape to Japan

Who says Florida only offers palm trees, sandy beaches and shopping malls? On our recent trip to visit my mom, we discovered a little piece of paradise, Japanese style. And we LOVE Japan!

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George S. Morikami arrived to the United States from Japan in 1906, to work as a pineapple farmer. He was one of the last surviving members of the Yamato Colony that settled west of Delray Beach at the turn of the century. It is thanks to Mr. Morikami, for his donation of 140 acres of land to the state of Florida, that the memory of him and his people lives on. Visiting the Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens gracefully transports you to another world.

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Upon these grounds you feel free.

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With rock gardens in which to ponder life’s mysteries.

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And a museum in which to transport yourself to Japan.

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Or perhaps best to sit and contemplate.

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Surrounded by bonsai trees.

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bag for cause

What is happening in Japan is unfathomable. I cannot even imagine the struggles for survival these poor people are going through, the loss of lives, homes, even entire villages. In an attempt to aid, in what little I can do, I designed a bag to raise money for a people severely in need.

Please take a moment to make a donation of $10 (7€) or any amount you can offer. My goal is to raise as much money as possible by April 1st and send 100% of the contributions to Red Cross to aid victims of Japan Earthquake and Pacific Tsunami.

You can donate directly to American Red Cross or via paypal (kasiadietz@gmail.com).

As a little incentive, one random do-gooder will be rewarded with this hand-printed bag, a tribute to Japan. In an additional effort, I am also forwarding 50% of proceeds from all bag sales to aid Japan. Stay in touch with other causes and promotions here. Winner will be announced on April 1st!

Leave a comment upon donating and share this link with anyone willing to contribute. Thank you!

Tokyo nights: part 2

My return to Tokyo proved to be another 2 days and nights of carousing, this time with John who I had last seen as we raised a glass in Rio. His journey was to begin as mine continued. Our night began in Roppongi, where the heartbeat of Tokyo is felt on every corner. Following a sushi feast we found a suitably tacky karaoke bar, and there began my attempt at singing the classics. Another whisky please!! John was a natural! Upon a restful slumber in my Ryokan I spent the day shopping in the Shinjuku district where John and I met once again after viewing this magestic city of lights from the 59th floor of the Park Hyatt. After many failed attempts to enter one of the dozens of private clubs which seemed all too enticing, we made friends with the locals over several games of darts. The morning sun beckoned us to inspect the catch of the morning at the Tsukiji fish market. In the manner that my first night in Tokyo had begun several weeks ago, so it was to end. Over a 6am plate of the most incredible fish I will ever have the pleasure to savour!




I was sad to leave this city and it’s people but it was time to fly away once again…

Hiroshima-Himeji-Shuzenji


‘When an atomic bomb falls, day becomes night. And the people become ghosts,’ words of 10 year old Hatsumi Sakamoto. What more to say.

Thoughtful refuge found on the island of Miyajima.

The following day I encountered the majestic Himeji Castle, nicknamed “White Heron” due to its white walls covered with white fireproof plaster. The castle took 8 years to build beginning in 1601, rising atop a hill called Himeyama, 45.6 meters above sea level. Himeji Castle is famous for it’s huge main tower as well as the highly effective and complicated defensive maze-like design. It stands fully intact and preserved, as it is one of the few castles in Japan never to have been attacked by warfare.


It was time for a spa adventure as I jumped aboard a highly esteemed Shinkansen train and found my way to the hot spring resort of Shuzenji on the Izu Peninsula. Named after the local temple, Shuzenji was founded 1200 years ago by Kobo Daishi (Kukai), one of Japan’s most important religious personalities. After being filled with such intense sights and sensations, the steamy waters of my onsen felt like heaven!

meditation with the monks




My life has taken a rather spiritual turn, as I find inner sanctity surrounded by monks in a temple in Koya-San. Upon arrival Sooji and I feasted on an elaborate composition of vegetarian delicacies in all shapes and sizes followed by a deep meditation led by one of the many resident monks. The rain was falling, creating a mood of tranquility and peace, as we lay our minds and bodies to rest upon the tatami mats. We were awoken at 5am and led into a world of captivating chanting followed by a fire ceremony. As the rain continued I found myself deep in thought amidst the sacred souls in the cemetery…

my life as a Geisha

The last few days have been spent bicycling around Kyoto, seeking out hidden treasures in the form of temples. I have seen many and more to come in the days ahead as tomorrow we venture to Naga followed by Koya-San…I am still in surreptitious pursuit of a Geisha as these women strangely intrigue me. Ah, and I cannot forget to mention all the sushi feasts accompanied by bottles of sake…this evening I took a bath. The Funaoka Onsen is a traditional Japanese bath house with an outdoor bath, sauna, cypress-wood tub, herbal bath…I have never felt so clean! This was indeed an experience.

The Golden Pavilion of the Rokuon-Ji Temple

The rock garden at the Ryoanji Temple

Kyoto


We arrived in Kyoto to streets filled with kimono clad women and men in robes, strolling the downtown streets with a casual grace, the clunking of wooden shoes heard in every direction. It was a holiday and celebrations were underway! Though I have yet to see one of the 100 Geishas who inhabit the city. I thought I may have spotted one sitting on the banks of the Kamo-Gawa river contemplating her fate…Kyoto is a vibrant historic city, home to nearly 2,000 temples and shrines and an intimacy that does not exist in Tokyo. It is a charming city with much to discover…

Tokyo nights: part 1



A brief stop in Hong Kong where Sooji and I met once again to continue our journey to Tokyo where our final chapter in Asia was to commence. Here we were joined by our dear friends Maria and Blair with whom we shared several memorable days on the island of Gili Trawangan back in the time of Bali. Weary from a long day of flights yet fully awake to the energy of Tokyo, they whisked us away to a trendy hotspot called Yellow, where dj Mark Farina set the mood for a long night of dancing and revelry followed by an early morning at the fish market. Sushi for breakfast? This was of course followed by a clandestine piano performance by the very musically inclined Blair, on a baby grand at the Conrad…we saved the sushi feast for a grand dinner, this delectable fish of which I can`t seem to eat enough of. It is such moments that I so often smile upon…