August 2015 - Vikingess Voyages

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

How To: Make Your Own Magnetic Cork Planters

10:13:00 PM
Recently there has been a lot of online sites with interesting craft projects for wine corks. If you, like me, tend to end up with a larger number of wine corks that you somehow never end up throwing away, this might be a good chance to use the corks for something useful. Here is some pictures from my recent craft project making magnetic cork planters:

Cork project prt 1
All you need is glue, a couple of corks, a tool (small knife etc) to hollow out the corks, the equivalent number of succulent plants, and magnets to stick to the back of the corks.

A cork with the magnet glued to the back
Hollowing out the corks was a bit harder than I had thought. The cork material is very soft and rubbery, and doesn't give in that easily. Because of that it took a bit longer to get the job done than I would have thought, and it also made it harder to make an even hole for the plant.
Still, with a little bit of help from Yuma it didn't take more than 15-20 minutes to finish the craft project. You can check out the finished result below:

Finished hollowing out the cork

The magnetic corks on the refridgerator

There are many cute things you can make from abundant wine corks. For more wine cork projects, please check out this buzzfeed page

Monday, August 24, 2015

Experiencing Miyake Island (三宅島): Swimming with Wild Dolphins

10:17:00 PM
Experiencing Miyake Island Part 1

With its 6,852 islands Japan sure has enough islands to choose from for those who like to explore the wild nature on the outskirts of Japan's bustling cities. Just a couple of hours south of Tokyo and the Izu Peninsula you can find the Izu Islands, a group of volcanic islands that administratively are a part of Tokyo. These islands are relatively easy to get to, as you can reach some of the islands by plane in about an hour or so from Haneda airport. If you're on a budget it is also possible to take a night ferry from Tokyo's Hamamatsu-cho getting you to some of the islands in as little as 6 1/2 hours.

Although we had a great time exploring Miyake Island the main reason we decided to travel there was actually to be found right outside the neighboring Mikura (御蔵島) Island: Wild dolphins! Before we came to Miyake Island I had heard that one could swim with wild dolphins here, and as dolphins are among my favorite animas we simply had to go on one of these tours. I personally dislike seeing dolphins and other whales in captivity (please check out the documentary Blackfish if you haven't yet seen it), so getting the chance to swim with the dolphins in their natural environment was a great opportunity to get close to them without intervening too much in their daily life.

On our way to Mikura Island
Mikura Island seen from our boat
Of course the downside of swimming with dolphins in the wild is that it all happens so quickly - the guide will drop you off the boat so that you are in the dolphin's path, and you'll get a glimpse of it as it swims by you. This is repeated a number of times, and if you're lucky the dolphins will show interest in you and come closer once or twice- sometimes so close that you can even reach out and touch them if you want. Which you of course should not do, as it will frighten them and make them swim away from you. Either way the dolphins are eager swimmers, and before you know it they will be out of sight again. It is kinda like playing hide and seek, as you know they are out there somewhere even when you can't see them. Instead you'll hear them sing to each other and watch them from afar as they play around on the bottom of the sea.

Curious dolphins
As we kept on jumping on and off the boat in our attempt to get close to the dolphins the whole process got quite tiring to be honest (yes, I got seasick and ended up feeding the fishes if you know what I mean). Still, the few moments where we had a dolphin swimming up close to us or passing by only a meter or so from us really made the experience worth it. Seeing the dolphins in their natural environment was simply amazing!

Dolphins in the sunlight
Yuma's best attempt at taking a selfie with the dolphins
Sometimes you can get really close to the dolphins, but they're often gone again before you even realize it

There are a number of tour operators taking the trip to the coast of Mikura Island. We went there on a trip arranged by the owner of the guesthouse we stayed at, but for those who don't speak Japanese there are other tour operators who might be more suitable for the trip. For more information, please check out the links below.

Other Pages:
三宅島スナッパー Snapper (Japanese Only) - Our guesthouse and tour operator
Dolphin Club Miyake - A tour operator offering tours in English






Agoda Partner Links:
Hotels in Japan
Hotels in the Izu Islands

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Sightseeing Trips from Tokyo: Experiencing the Volcanic Miyake Island (三宅島)

7:30:00 PM
With its 6,852 islands Japan sure has enough islands to choose from for those who like to explore the wild nature on the outskirts of Japan's bustling cities. Just a couple of hours south of Tokyo and the Izu Peninsula you can find the Izu Islands, a group of volcanic islands that administratively are a part of Tokyo. These islands are relatively easy to get to, as you can reach some of the islands by plane in about an hour or so from Haneda airport. If you're on a budget it is also possible to take a night ferry from Tokyo's Hamamatsu-cho getting you to some of the islands in as little as 6 1/2 hours.
Departing from Tokyo by ferry
I visited the volcanic island Miyakejima (三宅島) by ferry with Yuma for three days as a part of our summer vacation. The price of the ferry depends on the class you travel on, and in our case we had chosen one of the cheaper options where you sleep on the floor (you can check the prices here but it's all in Japanese).
Our "bed" for the night
I didn't sleep that well to be honest, there had been a typhoon sweeping by the day before and the sea was anything but calm. Despite the rather turbulent sea on the way there we arrived safely at Miyakejima's harbor at 5 am in the morning where we were picked up by the owner of the guest house we were staying at.

On a side note, the ferry of Tokai Kisen's logo looks suspiciously similar to the Norwegian flag..
The main activities you can do as a tourist at Miyake Island are diving, snorkeling, swimming with dolphins and bird watching. If you're interested in volcanos you might be particularly interested in learning more about the island and its history, as its volcano remains active to date.

The Shiitori Shrine getting covered in mudflow
The main volcano on the island, Mount Oyama, has an eruption every 20 year or so. The most recent one in 2000 resulted in the whole population of Miyake Island having to evacuate the island, and the residents were only able to settle down on the island again four years later. There are still a number of buildings on the island that were destroyed by the eruption and remain in the same state until today which you can pay a visit. One example can be seen in the pictures below where the eruption in 2000 led to the torii of the Shiitori Shrineto to be covered in volcanic mudflows.

The torii of the Shiitori Shrine
The rebuilt Shiitori Shrine
The Shiitori Shrine can be reached on foot as the island is not that big, but you can also get there by taking a bus to the Shiitori Jinja Mae bus stop.

Diving
For those who like to take a closer look at the life underneath the ocean there are loads of opportunities for both snorkeling and diving. In our case the guesthouse we stayed at also offered diving tours at a cheap price, and we ended up taking a couple of dives of Miyake Island's coast. The water was very clear, and there were many types of fishes to be seen as well. I have included some of the pictures Yuma took during our dives:








Although seeing the remains of the volcanic activity on Miyake Island and diving of the islands coast was a lot of fun our main reason for coming here was actually the opportunity to swim with wild dolphins. I will write more about the experience in my next blog post so stay in tuned.!

There are a number of tour operators providing diving trips and other activities at Miyake Island. We only went on trips arranged by the owner of the guesthouse we stayed at, but for those who don't speak Japanese there are other tour operators who might be more suitable for the trip. For more information, please check out the links below.

Other Pages:
三宅島スナッパー Snapper (Japanese Only) - Our guesthouse and tour operator
Dolphin Club Miyake - A tour operator offering tours in English






Agoda Partner Links:
Hotels in Japan


Sunday, August 9, 2015

Working at Rakuten: The New Crimson House Office in Futako-Tamagawa

5:34:00 PM
Crimson House
The Crimson House 
Rakuten's plans of moving their headquarters to a whole new office in the upscale residential area called Futako-Tamagawa has been in the making for quite some years now, and in July 2015 Mikitani-san's "Crimson House" (what internally also has been referred to as the 'nest of the Rakutenians') finally reached its completion.
View from the 22-floor cafeteria of the Crimson House 
Futako-tama is situated in Setagaya-ku, only a short trainride from Shibuya. It is an area popular among young families with kids, and in addition to the fancy boutiques people are also attracted to Futako-Tamagawa for its riverbank where one can enjoy recreational activities such as for instance barbecue with friends. It is in other words an ideal location for people who want to balance work and private life (if you're in a department where you're lucky enough to be allowed to leave at 定時)

The entrance to the Crimson House present various events in Rakuten's history
Rakuten's presence around the globe

In terms of space the Crimson House feels a lot more comfortable than the previous building. The elevator is spacious and the work floor has a more laid-back atmosphere with comfortable furniture and opportunities to have meetings in a corner with sofas. The hight of the desks can be adjusted in accordance to one’s preference, so people with long legs won't have to suffer from lack of space and it’s even possible to work standing for those who might prefer that.


The cafeteria also looks pretty stylish, and the free lunch that Rakuten has become known for is just as good, if not even better, than the lunch we had at Shinagawa Seaside. Since Rakuten started up its own cafe in Shibuya last year they've also expanded that business to include a cafe outside the Crimson House, and there's also a Rakuten Cafe inside the 22-floor cafeteria.
The Rakuten Cafe inside the cafeteria
A small selection of some of the food at sale in the company cafe
From the Rakuten Cafe/Cafeteria
You can write your own message at the blackboard in the cafeteria

While we had two offices in Shinagawa Seaside all employees are going to work at the same building in Futako-Tamagawa. As of the beginning of August Rakuten Travel moved into the Crimson House and the office felt very spacious during the weeks I was there, but as all Ichiba employees in Tokyo are scheduled to move to the Crimson House in September it might get pretty crowded.

Visiting the Crimson House? Read my review for the Futakotamagawa Excel Hotel Tokyo here

Final note: I actually only had only 2 working weeks left at Rakuten when Travel moved to the new office in Futako-Tamagawa, and I was thus very lucky to have the chance to try and work at the new office for a couple of weeks before I'm changing jobs. The new office is a big improvement from the previous one and I would have liked to have the chance to stay there longer than I did, but I already have other plans for my next step. After one and a half year in Rakuten I’m feeling wistful to leave the company, but I'm already looking forward to the new challenges ahead.


Related blogposts


About Me

Adventures ofAnette


A modern day shield-maiden who loves to explore the unbeaten paths of the world. From her base in Tokyo, Anette takes on both rural and urban challenges, and goes by the motto "No challenge too big, no adventure too small"!
・Read more →




Recent Posts

recentposts

Random Posts

randomposts