Hawaii Part 1

Aloha friends, Gracie here!

We just arrived to Honolulu, Hawaii on Friday! My Dad is in the military and his job required him to attend a conference in Hawaii so we thought we may as well visit him there. We have been to Oahu, Hawaii once before but just stayed there. This time around we are staying on the island of Maui. Here’s a bit about our days so far…

Day 1:
Our trip started on a seven hour flight from Tokyo to Honolulu. All three of us got sick from all the turbulence, which was surprising because I have been on TONS of planes and have never gotten motion sickness (maybe it was because we were in the last row). We met our Dad when we landed and mainly shopped.

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Day 2:
The next day we took off on another plane and headed to Maui, this one being a quick 45 minutes. We drove to our condo and immediately got ready to go to the beach. The beach was lovely, with clear water, soft sand, and no stingrays! We didn’t bring the boogey boards so most of the time we were just body surfing and jumping the waves. The one terrible thing that happened was that when my dad threw my brother from his shoulders into the water, HIS WEDDING RING SLIPPED OFF!!! 0.0 We searched for it for about 15 minutes but the current was strong and we couldn’t find it.21-may-16-1021-may-16-29821-may-16-784

Day 3:
We left the house at around noon to go explore the north part of the island. We drove for about two hours, but it started pouring rain and we didn’t have windows on the Jeep, so  we had to turn around. The weather was clear in the south and on the way back we stopped at a shave ice (aka snow cone) place. The reviews say it’s the best shave ice place in Hawaii. The snow cones were HUGE and we got a small (I can’t imagine how big the large would be). It was absolutely delicious too. Before we went back to the condo, we drove through a lava field which is a field of hardened lava, from a volcano that erupted sometime between 1500-1600. We went back to our room, ate lunch, grabbed our boogey boards, and headed back to the same beach from the day before. We stayed at the beach for a couple of hours, until we had to take my Dad to the airport so he could get back to work in Honolulu. He’s going to be there for a couple days and then flying back to Maui to join us for the rest of the time.22-may-16-21022-may-16-335

23-may-16-946Day 4:
We left at around 1:00 pm to walk and go look at a beach that was famous for snorkeling but it turned out that the water was freezing (okay not really freezing, but it was cold-ish) and it was super windy so we decided to walk back and go somewhere else. We decided to go to the lava fields, also known as Ahihi-Kina’u. The lava field is where the last volcano eruption on Maui occurred. The lava hardened and kind of looks like dirt, but it’s all rocks. There is an area that you can walk around along the shore, but the rest of the preserve was closed off in 2008 because people were trampling in the area and destroying it.  24-may-2016-208924-may-2016-2024

Thanks for reading! Stay tuned for part two of my Maui trip!

Love, Gracie & Lulu

DIY hair dye

Hello my friends, it’s Gracie here!

imageToday I will be teaching you how to dye the tips of your hair yourself! To make the color you see in the picture above, I mixed a couple packs of cherry (red) Kool-Aid and a one pack of grape (purple) Kool-Aid. I added the purple, to make it a darker shade of red. Last time I did this, I used two reds and one blue, but we couldn’t find any blue Kool-Aid packets in Japan. There’s also this clever little table that shows what the mixing of various Kool-Aid colors looks like, when dying silk fabric.

A few important notes: Kool-Aid dying is harder to see in darker hair and some hair absorbs the Kool-Aid dye better than others. The Kool-Aid hair dye can last a really long time. Last time I did my hair, it lasted months, until my next hair cut and my ends (and the color) were trimmed. I have read that if you mix baking soda with boiling water and then dip your hair in baking soda/water mixture, it will remove the Kool-Aid color from your hair. Be sure to ask your parent(s) before dying your hair with Kool-Aid.

MATERIALS

-Two to three Kool-aid packets, any color
-Four plastic sandwich- or quart-sized bags
-A cooking pot
-About 3 cups of water
-Four ponytail holders

  1. First you need two to three packets of Kool-aid, there is: blue, red, purple, orange, and green.
  2. Next you need a small pot and fill it about 1/4 of the way with water. Heat the water for until it’s quite hot, but not boiling.
  3. Pour the Kool-Aid packets into the pot and mix until the powder has dissolved.
  4. Put your hair into pigtails.
  5. Pour some of the Kool-aid mixture  into one of the bags. You don’t want it too full, but you want enough liquid in the bag to coat your desired amount of hair. BE VERY CAREFUL WITH THE HOT LIQUID.
  6. Dip your pigtail into the liquid in the bag and secure with a ponytail holder. This is a bit tricky but just do your best to secure the bag to your ponytail. You may also need to hold the bags up, so be prepared. For safe keeping, I put a second plastic bag under the first, in case the one bag leaked.
  7. Repeat for the second pigtail.
  8. Leave your hair in the Kool-Aid for 20-30 minutes.
  9. Once the time is up, take your hair out of the Kool-Aid over a sink or bath tub. You want to be careful because the Kool-Aid can easily stain.
  10. Take a shower to wash out the excess Kool-Aid. If the color is not as you like, you can always do it a second time.

 

Walk Around the Neighborhood

Hey ladies and gents, Gracie here!

Today I’ll be writing about my walk through our neighborhood with my adorable little pup, Charley! We saw lots of plants (which I absolutely love) and all the houses with Christmas decor (sorry, I’m a a bit late on sharing Christmas stuff :/ )! Our neighborhood is a lovely little place with good friends, nice people, and great hiking trails to explore. We live right in front of a park that we nicknamed “The Ninja Park” because it reminds us of the American Ninja Warrior T.V. show. Our house is very efficient and…very compact.neighborhood-18-dec-18
Now onto the walk…

One thing about Japan is that almost everyone air dries their clothes by hanging them outside of their home or apartment. We see clothes hanging outside everywhere we go,neighborhood-18-dec-21
Here is the view walking down our ‘big’ hill, which is VERY hard to bike up. Trust me, I know XD .

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Along one of the main streets right outside our neighborhood is a ton of shops, which all have to fit in their own tiny space. Quite often, the family lives above their shop. Japan doesn’t have much room so everything has to fit together, however and wherever it can.neighborhood-18-dec-25
 These, are a vegetable called daikon. Before I moved to Japan I had never seen a daikon before in my life. They are like giant white carrots and are very popular in Japan.

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While we were on our walk, we came across a temple and decided to go in and have a look. All temples in Japan begin with a tori gate. The photo below shows one of the pillars of the tori gate.

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One of Japan’s top modes of transportation is their train system. There is a train station in almost every city. Our closest train station is the Hagashi Zushi Station.
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Right outside of our train station, in a small fenced-off grassy area, we discovered a bunch of large, wooden boards with trick art images on them, so of coarse we decided to take a picture. 🙂
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Something I find very funny (and awesome) about Japan is that there are vending machines EVERYWHERE. One time we were walking on a hiking trail and we saw a vending machine just to the side of the trail, where there was nothing else around.neighborhood-18-dec-1
If you didn’t already know, I LOVE PLANTS!!! And the Japanese seem to love their plants and decorations too, as you can see! neighborhood-18-dec-3neighborhood-18-dec-20untitled-44untitled-43
Everyone in Japan is very polite and respectful, so all around the neighborhood are signs reminding you to not leave your dog poop there.untitled-51
Thank you everybody for reading. I hope you enjoyed the tour around my Zushi neighborhood!!!
Love, Gracie and Lulu ❤

Zip-lining And Climbing

 

Hiya readers! Gracie here!29-Nov-47How has your week been? Two days ago we went to a place called forest adventure! Forest adventure is a place in Japan where you can zip-line, climb,    and balance you’re way through the obstacle coarse, and the best part… all of it is in the trees!

We first got to Forest Adventure at 12:50 am because we were told that our training (for how to hook yourself in and what not to do) was at 11:00 am, but after we registered and payed they told us our training session was at 11:30. The good was they at least had hammocks to wait in. 🙂
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Once it was 11:30 we headed over to start training. Once we got there we were told that training would be said in Japanese -_- , so we watched what he was showing on the mini coarse and asked questions after he was finished. Once we were ready to begin we headed over to the trees, and started climbing to the first platform! Up first was “the Tarzan swing”. On the Tarzan swing you hook onto the rope and swing  over to a net where you crawl to the next platform.29-Nov-14
After a couple of other obstacles up came our first zip-line! YAY! My dad went first. Then it was my turn, I latched my self in, then, I was off! The zip-line headed for the ground, so when I saw the ending coming closer i started running mid-air (which is what they told us to do so that we are prepared for the landing) but as soon as my feet hit the ground I fell over and slid in the pile of mulch (it luckily didn’t hurt) XD !29-Nov-30
One of the worst incidents that I had was walking on these small silver rings hanging from a rope which I happened to step a little to far into and got my foot stuck in! I ended up sitting down (hanging by the harness) to try to unhook my foot,  it turns out sitting down is not the best idea, because I ended up getting the ring stuck all the way up my leg, haha OOPS XD ! I eventually unhooked my leg, thank goodness!29-Nov-37My favorite obstacle there was near the end, it was actually another Tarzan swing, but about twice the size! It was really scary because when I jumped off it just felt like I was falling, three stories in the air, but after a second of falling the rope tightened and I started swinging. At the end of the Tarzan swings there is a net that you grab onto and climb up to the platform.29-Nov-4129-Nov-44
 Once we completed all the obstacles and my hands were bright red from all the climbing we headed home for another two hour car ride.
Thanks for reading everyone, I hope you enjoyed! If you are ever in Japan I recommend going here! If you want to learn more about our trip to Hakone Forest Adventure watch the video below!

❤ Love ❤ Gracie and Lulu

Snorkeling in Thailand

Hey guys and gals, it’s Gracie here!

We just returned home from our trip to Thailand and I’ll tell you what — it was amazing! My favorite thing though was definitely the day we went snorkeling and had lunch on a the beach of a private island. Snorkeling is one of my favorite things to do. I love looking at all the fish, and out of all the snorkeling I’ve done, this has been my favorite spot. We had to first go on a 1-1/2 hour long-tail boat ride, which was fun. As we boarded, there were really big waves, so the boat captain wasn’t able to pull the boat into shore. We he’d to walk on the floating, plastic jetty, which was moving up and down like crazy. , As the big waves came, it would raise us up and one time we actually got knocked down because the platform went so high.  XD Thank goodness — we all made it to the boat safe and sound.
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When we arrived to Ko Rok Island, I saw that the water was crystal clear — the most beautiful, turquoise blue. Once we stopped and the anchor dropped, I quickly popped on my mask and snorkel and jumped in. I’m not sure photos could ever show how beautiful the location, fish and coral were.17-nov-15-971
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At one point, our guide threw the rind of a watermelon into the water and almost immediately 20 or so fish swam straight to it, nibbling away. So I swam over, grabbed the watermelon rind and began feeding the fish. It was wild to hear the fish munching on the watermelon underwater.
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Once we were done snorkeling, we went to a private island to eat lunch on the beach. We had rice, a fantastic chicken dish, watermelon, pineapple and a tiny banana muffin. After lunch, we walked along the beach a bit and then got back in the boat, to snorkel in a second location.
16-nov-15-587 Here, one of the two little boys we were with, my brother, and I all kept jumping into the water, from the edge of the boat. And of course, we continued to snorkel.17-nov-15-105016-nov-15-534
We also stopped by another beach that had huge monitor lizards. We saw one monitor lizard, which was about five feet long, but we didn’t get a picture of it 😦 . You could even camp on the island with the monitor lizards (a bunch of tents were already set up). Could you imagine that? YIKES!  We also came across a a huge swing made out of a branch that connected to ropes. It was super fun to swing on.
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Then we just decided to play in the water for a while, which was fun because my dad threw us into the air. At one point, he put my brother on his shoulders and then put me on my brother’s shoulders!16-nov-15-538
But of course, my brother said “Oh I want to get off”, so I ended up unexpectedly being dropped into the water :\ . After playing around for a while, the Captain called us in; it was time to head home. On the way back we ended up spotting some dolphins, which it turns out is very rare. Our guide said that they only spot dolphins about 2-3 times a year and when they do, they consider it GOOD LUCK!16-nov-15-585
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Thanks for reading everyone. I hope you enjoyed reading a bit about our trip to Ko Rok, Thailand!

Ciao and Happy Thanksgiving!
❤ Love, Gracie and Lulu

A Week in Vietnam

Hey friends, Gracie here!

How have you been? I’m sorry that I have been a little delayed on posting recently, but we have been very busy with traveling and school. But, I have an exciting post for today. 🙂 Guess where I have been for the past week?…

We have been traveling around VIETNAM!!!!!!

We started our journey in Hanoi, one of the major cities in Vietnam. It is a very… how can I put it…crowded (and noisy) city. Everybody is squished together, zipping by and honking over and over. Other than the traffic, Hanoi was a pretty great place to visit. We only stayed there two days but we did quite a bit. The first day, we walked around and went to the Hanoi Water Puppet Show. It was really funny. The wooden puppets are manipulated with long poles under water, while the people controlling the puppets hide behind a curtain.

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The next day we had a two University student tour guides showing us to some of their favorite spots around town.
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We walked to the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, the Tran Quoc Pagoda, the Hanoi Hilton Prison, the Temple of Literature (which I thought was BEAUTIFUL), and the Vietnam Museum of Ethnology. We also ate at a little street food restaurant, which was quite interesting and yummy!

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After Hanoi, we took the night train (a train that has a cart with beds to sleep on) that took us to Sapa. I loved it in Sapa, it was probably my favorite thing we did in Vietnam. We stayed in Sapa for two days, and went trekking with a local Hmong (a tribe in Vietnam) guide while we were there.04-nov-15-265 While trekking, our guide told us about things, such as the Vietnamese culture, religion, medicine, food, etc. Our first trek, to two waterfalls and through a village, was six kilometers (four miles) and our second trek was 16 kilometers (10 miles), which took us up and down a mountain and to our guide’s village. In her village we got to see our guide’s simple yet wonderful home and got to meet her two children.05-nov-15-176 We also got to try her homemade tea and rice wine (don’t worry, there was no alcohol in it XD ).
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Along the way, we loved seeing all the children.
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After Sapa, we went on a two-day cruise on Halong Bay.  The cruise trip was absolutely gorgeous with huge rocks jutting out of the Bay. While on the Bay, we were able to go kayaking and walk through a huge limestone cave called “Surprise Cave”. We also had a cooking class on making fried spring rolls, which was really fun.
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Thank you for reading! I so loved Vietnam and hope you got a small glimpse into how magnificent the country is. I sure hope I’m able to go back again soon. I’m sitting in the Bangkok airport right now, headed to Cambodia for a few days! Looking forward to talking to you again soon.

Love, Gracie and Lulu

 

Tour of my room in Zushi, Japan

Hey peeps, Gracie here!

Today I’ll be giving you a tour through my room. As you may already know, I live in Japan. The houses in Japan are quite small because of how small the country is and how high the population is. Actually, everything is rather small here in Japan —  cars,  trucks,  restaurants, houses, even the trash bags are small.

All-righty-then, welcome to my room! 🙂

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This is my bed. The big rainbow animal is a rabbit; however, the ears are tucked behind the rabbit’s head so it’s hard to tell. And the pillow in the rabbit’s lap is a happy cloud. Also, the green and white blanket on my bed was a gift from one of my best friends, when I left Tampa.

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Here is my desk and my bulletin board, where I keep a lot of my photos and cards. I use my desk when I’m drawing but most of the time, when I do school, I work with my brother, in the living room.

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By the way, the big S hanging above my desk is an art piece that my friend made me for my 10th birthday. Isn’t it awesome; she’s so talented. And in case you were wondering…the S is for my first name, Skyler (Grace is my middle name). image

On my dresser I have a ton of knick-knacks, like the little Japanese sticky notes and clay animals I made.

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One of my favorite knick-knacks is a little glass sea monster, I also have a glass orange gecko and a metal turtle. Yep, I like cute knick-knacks.

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My bookshelf is a bit crowded with all of my art projects, a cardboard camera that my siblings and I made for my Mom when we were little, and my succulent, which I named George.

Well now you know what my bedroom looks like here in Zushi, Japan. Lulu and I are planning to do tours of our whole house soon, so stay tuned. Thanks for reading.

Love,
Gracie & Lulu

Raspberry Scone Recipe

Hey friends, Gracie here!

Today I’m going to be sharing one of THE MOST DELICIOUS treats ever — raspberry almond scones. Mmmmmmm!!! This recipe was first introduced to me by my next door neighbor. They’re a military family too and we just so happen to live next to one another. She made some for scones for us the other day and shared the recipe with me. She’s such a great cook and is going to be teaching me how to make Edward Scissorhands food art later this month. YAY!

This recipe could easily be modified using any other fruits, different nuts, etc. My Mom and I are going to make these scones this weekend and we thought that it would be awesome to try a lemon glaze on top.
The good thing about scones is that they can be eaten for breakfast, as a snack, or as desert. Now let’s get baking!

INGREDIENTS

For the scones:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons cold, unsalted Land O Lakes® Butter, cut into 1/4-inch cubes
1 cup heavy cream, plus 1 tablespoon, divided
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
1/3 cup sliced almonds
1 cup raspberries

For the almond glaze:
1 cup powdered sugar
4-5 tablespoons heavy cream or milk
1/2 teaspoon almond extract

Or for lemon glaze, if you choose:
2 cups powdered sugar
2-3 teaspoons milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon butter

For garnish:
1/4 cup sliced almonds
fresh raspberries, for garnish

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DIRECTIONS

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper or a Silpat and set aside.

2. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt. Quickly cut in the butter, using your hands, two knives, or a pastry blender. Mix until mixture resembles coarse meal, with a feel larger butter lumps. Pour 1 cup of heavy cream and almond extract over the ingredients and stir with a spatula until dough begins to form. Don’t over mix. Gently fold in sliced almonds and raspberries. The raspberries will get a little smashed, but that is ok. The scones will still be pretty:)

3. Transfer dough to a floured countertop and knead dough by hand just until it forms a ball. Form scones by patting the dough into a 3/4-inch thick circle. Cut the scones into even triangles. We got 8 scones.

4. Place scones on prepared baking sheet. Using a pastry brush, brush scones lightly with the additional heavy cream. Bake scones for 15-18 minutes, or until scones are light brown. Cool scones on a wire cooling rack.

5. While the scones are cooling, make the almond glaze. In a small bowl, whisk together powdered sugar, heavy cream or milk, and almond extract. Whisk until you reach desired consistency. Drizzle glaze over the scones. Top with additional sliced almonds. Serve!

Scones will keep in an air-tight container for up to 2-3 days, but they really are best eaten the day they are made

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Original recipe source here at Two Peas and Their Pod. You should check out her other 2014 favorite recipes. So good. I hope you enjoy these scones as much as I did! See you later!

Love, Gracie and Lulu

Rope Swinging & Cliff Jumping

Hey everybody, Gracie here!

My Mom, brother, and I have spent the past week exploring Okinawa. My Dad was working but he was still able to come visit us in Okinawa for a couple days over the weekend. It was super fun exploring Okinawa, but my absolute favorite part was going to a place called Aha Falls. We learned about the waterfall  because we have friends who live in Okinawa and have been there many times before, so we went with them. It was a two-hour drive to get to the location and once we arrived, it was about a 10-15 minute walk down to the waterfall and swimming hole. I almost forget — at Aha Falls, there is a giant rope swing that you can swing into the water and you can also jump off of the waterfall cliffs.

Once we got there, all of us immediately went straight to the rope swing. At first, I couldn’t get my feet up so as I went over the water my feet touched and I fell face first into the water. I later got the hang of it and was swinging super high!
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After swinging into the water a few times, we all decided to swim towards the falls.
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Then our friends showed us how to climb up to the best jumping point on the waterfall cliffs. It was INSANE!!! First, you had to get yourself out of the water and onto the a cliff rock. Then you had to grab a large bush growing out of the rock and squeeze your foot into a tiny little foothold poking out along the face of the massive boulder. Finally, you and to pull yourself around the branches and push yourself up to where you could jump from.
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The first time that I jumped from the cliff, I was so nervous but as soon as I heard
THREE…
TWO…
ONE…
I jumped!!!
And then I jumped about 10 more times in a row.

Then it was back to the rope swing. That was when our friends showed us that you could actually climb up the tree and swing from a higher point! Once I saw that you could do that, of course, I had to try!
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There were holes in the trunk of the tree with small notches big enough to fit my foot into.  Once I was up the tree, I pushed off, swung super high — and SPLASH!!!
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It may look like it isn’t all that high but we actually swung about 30 feet in the air! A little later my brother tried it and after he said “OH MY GOSH, you swing SO high up!”
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I hope you enjoyed reading about my trip to Aha Falls. Until next time — adios!

Love, Gracie & Lulu

 

Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium

Hi everyone, it’s Gracie here!

Today I went to one of the most incredible aquariums located in Okinawa, a Japanese island. As we walked toward the entrance, we saw a huge group of girls, all with crazy hair styles, half shirts, short shorts and very high heels. It was quite hilarious! I don’t know how they walked all through the aquarium in those high heel shoes.

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Also, in one spot, right outside of the aquarium, there was mist blowing out of little gates on the ground. At some times, you couldn’t even see three feet in front of your face.16-sep-15-2

The tanks were so beautiful with tons of wonderful sea life, to include neon colored fish, deep sea fish, jellyfish and a poisonous sea life section.
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The tank that the aquarium is most famous for is a HUMONGOUS tank holding three fully grown whale sharks (about 30 feet long) and massive manta rays swimming amongst them. There were large fish and nurse sharks swimming in the tank also.16-sep-15-6
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Another one of my favorite tanks was a small tank with not much in it but it had an incredibly beautiful neon colored fish. Oh and I can’t forget the box jellyfish. It looked so beautiful but a box jellyfish is the deadliest animal on the planet. Can you believe that the deadliest animal on the planet doesn’t have a brain!16-sep-15-10

After we walked through the aquarium and saw all of the tanks and shark research center, we went outside to see the sea turtle and manatee pools.
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We were surprised to see that the aquarium was so crowded on a weekday, but overall, it was an exciting and interesting first day in Okinawa! Thanks for reading and see you next time!

Love, Gracie and Lulu