I took down my blog while I was in North Korea and never got around to putting it back up. Soon I will have blog entries for the past year that I’ve been too busy to post.
Posted by cruzanjosie on September 8, 2012
September 9, 2012
I’ve been sick. Actually, it started last year around spring. My doctor found something. He wanted to operate. It wasn’t life threatening so I choose not to do anything about it other than to get check-ups and wait and see. I didn’t want to have an operation. Honestly, I was scared. So if I didn’t have to have an operation, I wouldn’t.
But then in the spring of this year, it started to bother me. I was in a lot of pain. It’s funny how pain just drove away any fears of an operation. I read many books about my illness and was well aware of the pros and cons and worst case scenarios. Without pain, I was ok with not having an operations, but with pain, I felt that an operation was my best choice.
I was very lucky. In April, when I decided to have surgery, my doctor looked through his schedule. It was full all the way up to December. My heart sank thinking about being in pain for many more months. But then my doctor saw a patient scheduled for a July operation, who had actually cancelled. The appointment was just never erased. He made a quick a phone call and I got that appointment.
July was a great time for me, work-wise. Summer vacation for high school starts in late July and ends in late August so this meant that I would not miss too many days of teaching. Even with several weeks of convalescing at home, I think I only missed about one week’s worth of class time.
In May, I started to take medication as preparation for surgery. This was the most expensive drug I had ever been on. Even with Japanese Nation Health Insurance paying 70% of the cost, the treatment still cost me 15,000YEN (almost 200USD) a month for three months.
But then one of my neighbors told me that as an employee of the JET Programme, I was covered under additional health insurance. She showed where to go online for the information. I printed out the forms I needed and asked my supervisor at work for help. We poured over those forms and she made numerous phone calls to make sure that everything would be done right and I would get my money.
In the mean time my medical bills kept adding up. I had an MRI, blood tests, x-rays, and many doctor visits. They actually made me check into the hospital about 5 days before my surgery to do some more tests and monitoring.
There are some differences between staying in a hospital in Japan and staying in a hospital in the US. The obvious one has to do with health insurance. Every working person in Japan has good health insurance, so you stay in the hospital until you no longer need to stay in the hospital. In the states, you stay in hospital until your insurance is not longer willing to pay for your hospital stay. My stay in the hospital was 15 days, though it felt like longer.
I was given a list of things to bring. It included, soap, shampoo, conditioner, towel, hand towel, tooth-brush, tooth paste, knife, spoon, fork or chopsticks, a cup, pen, slippers, and anything else I needed to keep me comfortable and entertained. I was given the option of wearing my own clothes or wearing the hospital’s clothes. I chose to wear my own clothes, though I woke up from surgery in a hospital yukata.
The day of my surgery I was very nervous. I was not afraid of dying, though I knew that dying is a possibly with any surgery. But death was not a issue with my illness. If I never had surgery, I would still live. I would just be in a lot of pain. No, I was not afraid of death; I was afraid of the pain.
I hoped that I would get lots of drugs; just tons of drugs. I did. But when I walked into the operation theater, (Yes, I said walked in.) I was scared and I would have thrown up on the floor had I not been purged. (Don’t ask.)
I hopped up on the operation table and a team of doctors and nurse scurried to hook me up to machines. I had a needle put into my spine and another into my right hand. I knew that I had met most of the people in the room a few days before, but now they were all wearing masks and caps and could only be distinguished as, “blue people” or “pink people”.
I was told when I was to be put under. I knew that I should have a nice relaxing thought in my head at that time. I pictured Mark and me watching the sunset on a junk in Ha Long Bay, Vietnam. Then everything went fuzzy.
When I woke up, the first thing I saw was a clock. The time was 2:00pm. My surgery was scheduled to end at 10:00am. My first thought was that something went wrong, but I was too drugged to really be worried. A doctor was trying to talk to me, but I couldn’t really focus. He might have been telling me that the operation was successful and everything was fine. But I don’t remember.
I woke up in another room. Mark was there and he told me that the operation took twice as long as they thought it would have, but everything worked out perfectly. Doctors and nurses came in and out of the room and I vaguely noticed them. They would ask if I needed pain medication and Mark would tell them, “yes”.
I was given shots for my pain. I could not drink or eat anything until I passed gas. I tried to talk, but found that I could not. My throat felt raw. I begged for water, but I could not have any. The nurse did compromise a little. I was allowed to hold a piece of ice in my mouth for 3 seconds, but I could not suck on it.
The rest of my time in the hospital was spent “learning” to walk, reaching various goals, and getting rewards. My goals and rewards were things like, if I could eat 30% of my food I could have my IV taken out. If I would could pass gas, I could get the needle in my spine removed.
I had tubes in me that I was unaware of until they were taken out. “Wait, I had something going into my back!?”
The last Monday in the hospital I thought I would be able to leave. I was walking by myself, eating at least 40% of my food, and feeling great. But I was told that I could not leave until the following Friday. I was heart-broken, but at least I could look forward to Mark visiting me. He came by everyday.
When I left the hospital I was told to not do anything. I was to rest. The problem was that I felt great. When you’re sick and feel sick, staying in bed and taking things easy is no problem. But when you’ re sick, but don’t feel sick, you get cabin fever. I would take a walk to the corner store because I was feeling fine, then spend the next day curled in a ball of pain, because I was not actually fine.
Eventually the doctor gave he permission for me to go back to work. My supervisor helped me to send my paperwork to the JET insurance company. A week afterwards, I got my refund. The whole thing, treatments, drugs, 15-day hospital stay, and surgery ended up costing me about 100USD. Plus, my supervisor got me to take hospital leave, instead of sick days, or vacations days. So I got my full paycheck for the month I was out sick without it all coming out of my vacation days. So now, I still have vacations days to roll over to my new contract year.
Now, I’m still not 100% back to my old self, but I’m feeling great and pain-free and very much glad that all of this didn’t leave me flat broke!
Posted by cruzanjosie on April 7, 2012
Updates, Apologies, and Excuses
I will start with the Update. Mark hosted a Batsu game last week. A Batsu game, or punishment game as it is also know, is fun, funny, scary, and gross all at the same time.
For this game, Mark made all the challenges. We were all at his and luck’s mercy. Mark would show us a folded paper that gave us a vague clue as to what the punishment would be. Then he would put down one playing card, faced down for each person playing. We would then pick the playing card we wanted. The poor saps who picked up the jokers had to do the punishment. The paper would be opened and then… I’ll let the video show you the rest.
I will apologize because there was a fire festival this week that we went to. But, I will not talk about it right now. I will later, but not now.
I’m busy, feverishly fixing all my photos. I normally use Facebook to store all my photos and then link them to this site. But, I’ve noticed that many of my photos on Facebook have been disappearing and then reappearing weeks later. This would be alright, I guess, as long as they come back, but when they do come back they have different url addresses.
What this means, is that the links to photos I have, no longer link to anything. You can see it for yourself if you look though this blog, since it has happen through the whole blog. So I have found a new place to store my photos from where they can be linked, google+.
So now I’m in the processes of changing everything and when I’m done I will write about the fire festival. …and by the way, that was my excuse for not updating my blog in such a long time. Well, that and the fact that Mark and I haven’t done much.
This is a travel a blog. I do encourage people to email me, or leave comments. I like when people ask me questions about traveling, ask for my opinion or advice, or tell me that they enjoy my blog.
But, every now and then, I get emails or comment from people who don’t quite understand what this blog is all about. About a year ago, I was getting about an email a day from a guy asking me what he should do on his trip to Taipei. I have never been to Taipei, but I sent him some links that I would look at if I were planning a trip to Taipei.
He kept emailing me, asking for prices of hotels, car rentals, flights, and what exactly he should do everyday he was in Taipei. I emailed him and told him that I was just a blogger doing this on my free time and that he need to call a travel agent. He still emailed me a couple more times after that, but I just ignored him.
I also get people who seem to be confused about what this site is. One guy thought this site was somehow connected to the Manila airport and asked about a wallet he lost there. Unfortunately, I couldn’t help him.
But, most of the time, I get messages and emails from people telling my that they enjoy the blog. I like getting questions about travel logistics, like one person who asked about buses to and around Jindo or the guy who asked about the very old train in Thailand.
I might not have all the answers, but I will try to answer as best as I can. Just don’t expect me to plan your holiday for you. (Though that might be fun to do as a job…)
Hope to fix the photo in the next few weeks. See you then!
Posted by cruzanjosie on January 19, 2012
December 22, 2011 – January 2, 2012
Beppu Hell Onsen
How to get there:
From Oita City -
- Head north on route 10.
- Turn left on route 500. (The turn is just before the Las Vagas pachinko parlor.)
- Keep on 500,
- then turn right at the light after the intersection with route 218. You should see lot of steam rising from the ground.
- Park anywhere that’s reasonable.
- Six of the Hell osens are within walking distance of each other.
- There are two others that are about a 5 minute drive from the directions given above.
By Bus -
- Take bus #2, #5, #9, #41, or #43 from JR Beppu Station to the Umijigoku-mae stop
There are 8 Hell Onsens. Seven of which, are within a walking distance from each other. The other two are a bus or car ride away. Please ask at the ticket counter for bus information.
1. Umi Jigoku
2. Oniishibozu Jigoku
3. Yama Jigoku
4. Kamado Jigoku (Cooking Pot Hell)
5. Oniyama Jigoku
6. Shiraike Jigoku
7. Chinoike Jigoku (Blood Onsen)
野田778 Beppu, Oita Prefecture 874-0016, Japan
8. Tatsumaki Jigoku
Website (Blood Onsen)
- Previous Blog entry: A Cold Day in Hell
- 400YEN each or
- 2,000YEN for all 8
- 8:00 – 17:00
- Go to Tatsumaki-Jigoku (the onsen with the geyser last if you’re running out of time because this one stays open later so that visitor can see the geyser blow at the end of the day.)
- It might not be worth a trip all the way to Beppu just to see this. But if you are in Oita prefecture, why not?
- You cannot get into any of the hell onsen. There are a couple that you can put your feet into, but no full body soaking.
How to get there:
From Oita City by car -
- Take route 10 south. Follow 10 to Inukai.
- Then get on Route 57 (Inukai-Chitose).
- There are 2 Route 57′s. If you get on the wrong one it doesn’t matter. They both basically* go the same place. One is just more windy than the other.
- *Route 57 (Inukai-Chitose) will end somewhere in Onomachi Tanaka. When this happens just head north on route 26 to route 57 (Higo Highway).
- Once you’ve left Oita Prefecture and you’ve passed the windy mountain area look out for route 111. Take a left onto route 111.
- For Aso Mountain take route 111 all the way to the toll road, where 111 ends. You can then take the cable car up for 1,000YEN round trip/ person or drive up the toll road for 560YEN/ car.
- For Komezuka turn right onto route 298. You should see Komezuka in 1 kilometer.
- Japan Travel Guide
- Mount Aso Infomation
- Previous Blog Entry 1: All I hear is Closed
- Previous Blog Entry 2: Bigger Than Godzilla
- Cable Car Ride – 600Yen one way, 1,000Yen round trip
- To drive up to the top – 560YEN per car
- The toll road and cable car to Mount Aso are open 9:30 to 16:30 when the weather permits.
- Don’t go in the winter to avoid the chances of you going all the way out there only to find that it’s closed due to snow.
- It is recommended that people with asthma, bronchitis, or heart disease should not go to the top of Mount Aso.
How to get there:
The bus stop for this bus is across the street from the Tokiwa near Oita Station, in front of the Forus.
- Oita to Hiroshima – 5,700YEN or
- 4,750YEN with a group discount
- Bus leaves Oita at 10:09 and gets to Hiroshima at 16:12
- There is a bathroom on the bus.
- The ticket for this bus ride includes a boat ride from Kyushu to Honshu. But you can buy tickets for the boat alone.
How to get there:
The nearest Station is Hiroshima Station.
Minami-ku, Hiroshima city,
- Depends on the room, but Dorm rooms are 2,500YEN/ night.
- the doors are lock after a certain hour. I don’t remember what time.
- Bring you own towel.
- No free parking, but there is paid parking nearby.
- The cheapest weekend night parking is the small lot very close to the hostel at 300YEN per weekend night. And the lot a few blocks way for all non-weekend parking for a flat rate of 1500YEN per 24hrs. But parking there on the weekend, day or night, is a lot more expensive.
Hiroshima Peace Park
How to get there:
- Take the tram #2, 3, 6 or 7 to Atomic Bomb Dome (Genbaku Dome-Mae)
- This will put you right in front of the dome.
- From there you can cross the bridge and head south to see the park, the museums, and other monuments.
- Memorial Hall
Naka-ku, Hiroshima City
(in the Peace Memorial Park)
- Peace Museum
Peace Memorial Museum
Naka-ku, Hiroshima City
Peace Memorial Museum
- Most are free.
- The Peace Museum cost 50Yen to enter.
- The park is always open.
- The museum and hall’s times are 8:30 – 17:00.
How to get there:
There are 2 main non-driving methods to get to the shrine.
- This is the cheapest option, but not the quickest.
- For crowed days, like New Year’s day, this is not a very good option. The crowd is huge and everyone is pushing their way on to the boat.
- Link for Schedule
- The more expensive option, but it’s really easy.
- No crowd. The boat can only fit a few people.
- But, because the boat is small, tickets do get sold out.
- 350Yen to enter the temple
- It’s a temple, so I don’t think there is an official closing time, but monks do need to sleep…
- There are tons of temples on the island. Most of them up hills. Some up the mountain. There is even one, Sankido, that warships ogres.
- You can take a cable car to the top of the mountain for some great views (1,800Yen round trip).
- There are lots of deer just freely roaming the island. There are signs that say that they love to eat souvenirs and passports. That’s sounds implausible, but you never know.
Our agenda for today: 1. Go to an ATM, 2. Get a Burger, 3. Take a shower.
Tom made plans to come to Japan for Festivus/ Christmas since February 2011. Last year, Mark stayed at Tom’s place a couple of times, while getting his visa for Japan at the Japanese embassy in Seoul. They also spent last Christmas together because Mark was having some huge visa issues. I think they even had a huge Festivus party where Mark aired all his grievances against the Japanese immigration policies.
So Mark and I, who are on a tight budget have been saving our
pennies,.. one yen coins, for the occasion. But, when we asked Tom what sites he wanted to see while in Japan, he said he just wanted to chill out and hang with us.
We said, “Really, there’s nothing at all you want to see?”
Tom – “Well, Ok, just Hiroshima and something in your town.”
So Mark and I thought that since Tom just wanted to hang out, what we would do is to take Tom all the restaurants in town Mark and I always wanted to go, but didn’t because we are saving money. I had about four restaurants in mind, plus some we had already been to.
For the “something in our town” we took him to see Mount Aso. There is really nothing to see in Oita except for Park Place, the biggest mall this side of Kyushu. And yes, we did take him to see Park Place. There we ran into some of my students. I introduced them as, “my husband and a friend from Korea.” My student looked quite confused.
Students – Pointing to Tom “husband” pointing to Mark “韓国人”
Me – “No.” Pointing to Mark “husband” pointing to Tom “friend from Korea”.
They gave me funny looks, but smiled and walked away after the standard “nice-to-meet-chu’s.”
So rather than writing more about places I’ve already been to and blogged about before, some more than once, I will just write about the two unique events from this vacation.
Event #1: Tom Plays Pachinko.
Tom wanted to celebrate finally having money in Japan. Before he left Korea, Mark and I told him that getting non-Japanese bank cards and credit cards to work in Japan is very hard. But, he was running late when going to the airport in Korea and thought that he would just get some money at an ATM at Fukuoka airport.
That did not work. He called his card company and they tried to help him, but the ATM he needed was not at the airport. He didn’t have any yen and could not even pay for a subway ride to the train station. He was stuck at the airport.
Frustrated, he called me to tell me that he would just take another flight back to Seoul. That was when some lady, who overheard him talking to his card company earlier, handed him a 10,000 yen note (equivalent to a hundred dollars). When Tom asked the lady for her address so that he could repay her later, she told him to, “just go to Oita, and later, do something nice for someone else.”
For he next few days Tom had been calling his card company trying to figure this whole thing out. In the mean while, Mark and I paid for all his stuff. We weren’t sure if Tom would ever get any money in Japan. But, we didn’t care if he did. Tom had been so hospitable to Mark when they were in Korea earlier in the year.
Then one day someone from the card company asked if Tom had tried the 7-11 ATM. We went out to try it, and it worked. Well, first Tom tried it and it didn’t work. Then he called the card company again and they thought about it and figured that Tom might have asked for more cash than the daily limit. After that it work.
The moral of this story is, if you go to Japan call your bank and ask what ATM’s you can use, then bring a bunch of cash.
So, the day that Tom finally had his own cash, he wanted to go to a pachinko parlor. So we went.
Everyone put 1,000 yen (~10 bucks) into their machine. Once it spat out a bunch of shiny ball into our baskets we started to play. Mark was the first one to lose all his
money balls. He was out within 10 minutes of playing. I hovered the drain for about 30 minutes, then I was out.
Then I looked at Tom. He had 2 basket filled with shiny gold balls.
Me – “Oh my god Tom, are you winning?”
Tom – “I guess.”
Me – “How are you doing this?”
Tom – “I don’t know. That lady told me to hold this nob like so and tap this button like this. Balls just keep fallin’ out.”
Me – “Wow. I lost all my ball.”
Tom – “Feel free to play with my balls. They’re very shiny!”
Mark and I continues to play, grabbing hand-fulls of Tom balls. We tried to copy what Tom was doing, but it didn’t work for us.
When Tom finally got tired of playing, or actually, when Tom started to lose, we stopped. We looked around for someone to help us turn in the ball. An employee ran over to us and poured his balls into a machine. It printed out a receipt.
The lady pointed to another woman behind a counter. He gave the receipt to her. She handed Tom a red bean cake and a small case with some weird coins. Tom was delighted with his prizes. We were happy for him.
We headed towards to exit with thoughts of dinner. Our friend just won some strange coins from a pachinko parlor. Who would believe that?
Then a guy in uniform ran after us. We turned to look at him, wonder what was going on. I mentioned wanting to us the bathroom as we were walking out and thought that he was showing us where the facilities were.
He took us through the casino and out a different door. There was no bathroom out that door, but he pointed to a little window. It looked like a teller’s window for a very shy clerk.
All you could see was a pair of women’s hands. The uniform guy gestures for Tom to put his coin case through the window. The coins were taken and cold hard cash replaced it. Tom got 3,000 yen. He won actual money!
We all agreed that money was better than strange coins.
Event #2: Itsukushima Shrine – OMG are we in a line?
We went to the Itsukushima Shrine on New Year’s day. The shrine is on an island called Miyajima near the city of Hiroshima. It has an iconic gate where tourist gather to take photos. It is also a place where many religious Japanese go on New Year’s day to pray and ask god, or whoever for favors.
It was beautiful and crowded; so very crowded. We were just walking along one of the street as the crowd of people gradually got thicker. We stood there for about 15 minutes slowly making our way forward when we realized that we were in a line for something. We had no idea what it was, but if this many people wanted to see it, it must be good.
It ended up being the Itsukushima shrine itself. After this Mark and I and Tom split up. Tom wanted to take photos of things and Mark and I wanted to get some omiyage, or souvenirs, for our co-workers.
It was nice, but because of the crowd we felt a bit intimidated. The Japanese are generally known for their politeness, but crowds are always the exception. We spend a lot of time hiding out in a nice, but highly overpriced well heated coffee shop. It was nice, almost empty, but the prices were steep.
I recommend going on a non-religious holiday.
Posted by cruzanjosie on December 11, 2011
December 10, 2011 Lunar Eclipse from Japan
How to get there:
We went to the cemetery near our apartment. It’s about a 20 minute walk, up hill all the way, from Minami-Oita train station.
Cost: Free to just walk around.
Hours: The cemetery is always open and many people walk there for exercise.
- History Channel’s
- The Universe S01E05 – The Moon
- The Universe S02E03 – The Mysteries of the Moon
- The Universe S04Eo2 – The Day the Moon was Gone
- The Universe S05E07 - Total Eclipse
- The Universe S06E01 – The Moon
- The Eclipse from June 2011
Did we miss it?
I knew there was going to be a total lunar eclipse. I read somewhere, Friday morning, that it would take place on Saturday morning. Mark and I planned to wake up early on Saturday to go out and see the eclipse. But we completely forgot about it and slept in.
Then as I we were having lunch on Saturday, we remembered. I felt so disappointed. I began to wonder when the eclipse had taken place. I went back to the article I had read earlier. It just said that it would take place on Saturday morning, but the article did not say where or give an exact time.
Mark and I searched the internet. It was very frustrating because no one seems to have a time and a place. One article would say evening another, early morning. One even went so far as to tell us the time in UT, but even after looking up “UT” on Wikipedia, I still had no idea what that meant for us living in Japan.
Mark finally found an amateur astronomy website from Australia where everything was written clearly. We didn’t even have to do the time conversions or any thing. It even told us when the moon would be fully eclipsed, when the “un-eclipsing” would start, and how long the whole thing would last. And it turned out, as you can guess, we hadn’t missed a thing.
I was a little kid the first time I saw a lunar eclipse. I was jumping all over the place with excitement, not so much for the moon’s impending trick, but because I could stay up passed 9:00pm. We had a huge patio in front our house and we all sat there with pillows looking up at the nights’ sky.
I was amazed when the earth’s shadow started to move across the moon like my mom said it would. I never thought that something a big as the earth could have a shadow. I wanted to watch every second of the eclipse, but my amazing was not enough to counter balance the fact that I was a little kid and it was way past 9:00pm.
I fell asleep. I woke up the next day feeling like I had miss most of the show.
This Time It Will Be Better
This lunar eclipse I wanted see and take pictures of the eclipse and 3 key stages. First Mark and I walked around our neighborhood to find the ideal spot. We picked a cemetery atop a hill nearby for its complete lack of lighting. Around 9:15pm we brewed several mugs of coffee, got a flash light, blankets, and pillows then headed to the grave yard. (Well, there are no graves in Japan, …shrine yard?)
We played around with the camera, taking long exposure pictures of ourselves as the moon disappeared. Well, turned darker then red. Even though I was suffering from a really bad cold, I had enough padding, hot coffee, and blankets that I felt quite warm.
We were content to stay there the whole night, but it started to rain. We had to pack up and get indoors. I didn’t want to take the chance of getting sicker.
Every half hour or so, we looked out the window to see if the moon had come out. Around 11:00pm we just went out anyway. The full eclipse was supposed to be half way through around 11:30pm and I didn’t want to miss it. We went back to the cemetery, but this time we took the car and one of our neighbors but forgot the coffee.
The sky was very cloudy but we held to the hope of just a small break in the clouds big enough to snap a few pictures. We remembered where the moon was from last time and were checking around that area. Mark even joked about how funny it would be if the moon were behind us and cloud free the whole time. We all span around to look, just in case, but there was no moon. “How silly of Mark to say such a thing.”
We waited and wait… and got tired. So we laid down, and looked straight up into the sky and right into the face of a blood red, unimpeded moon. “How long has the clouds over our heads been gone?”
We watched the sky until we saw earth’s shadow slowing start to creep away. Without hot coffee, we began to get cold and sleepy. The rain started again, so we went home. Mark and I stayed up a little long after that to run out our front door, check on the moon, and take more photos. We fell asleep after the moon was back to shining at its maximum.
Posted by cruzanjosie on November 21, 2011
October 1-2, 2011
1st Annual All-Kyushu Mixed
Ultimate Beach Tournament
(Ichi Kyu Bee)
- Price includes 2 days of games,
- field rental,
- and a FREE T-shirt
- 2 full days of exhausting fun
If you plan to do this next year you will need:
- to be in good shape
- thick socks
- a hat
- lots of water
How to get there:
御立岬公園 Otachimisaki Park, Ashikita
- 0966-87-2390 for a Cabin
- Swimming – Free
- Beach Shower facilities – 100YEN/ minute
- Cabins – 18900YEN per Cabin
- Onsen – 500Yen / person
- There are many things to do in this park, like go-cart driving, golf, fishing, …
- There are restaurants open during the summer, but not other seasons.
- Bring your own food and water if you do this next year (if it is at this park).
Frisbee at the beach sounds like fun.
First, let me tell you how I got into this mess, because at the start of this particular weekend, I felt tricked. I got an invitation of Facebook. I didn’t read all the details, but what I got from it were the words “beach”, “frisbee”, and “barbecue”. That sounded like fun! The actual event was months away and the exact details hadn’t been completely worked out, but I RSVPed “attenting” anyway. Then I didn’t give it a second thought.
About a month before the event I got an email from someone asking my shirt size, date of birth, and other questions that may or not have included how heart-attack prone I was at the moment. I didn’t think much about it. I don’t even think I responded. Someone actually called me to ask those questions a few times before I got around to responding.
It sounds like you think it’s a real sport
Then I got an invite to practice frisbee one weekend. I didn’t have time, but I though it was cute that people would get together to practice throwing around a frisbee, like it was a real sport… They had 3 or 4 practices, but I was always too busy to go.
Then the weekend of the frisbee thing, Mark told be that we would be leaving at 4:30am.
Me – “What!? 4:30 in the morning!? …on a Saturday?! Why?”
Mark – “Well the tournament is at a beach in Komamoto Prefecture.”
Me – “Wait, what!? Tournament? I thought we were just going to toss around a frisbee on a beach and then have a barbecue.”
Mark – “Yea. That ‘tossing around a frisbee’ is called Ultimate Frisbee”
Me – “It sounds like you think it’s a real sport.”
Mark – “It is a real sport. It’s Ultimate Frisbee.”
Me – “???”
I learned quickly that ultimate is a real sport. Oh my god, the horrible things they made me do! … like running, jumping, catching, and throwing. …for 2 days! I was exhausted by the end of the first day. One girl on my team disappeared after lunch refusing to play any more.
The first day it was just the amateurs. They split up all the teams and put everyone on new teams with people we had never meet before. By coincidence I was on a team with a JET I met the week before in Amakusa. We managed to win one game and I score one point. Both happened after the girl left us one player short. I didn’t hate her for leaving, but I did wish I had the chance to disappear first.
The barbecue that night was amazing and we earned it! We stayed in a cabin by the beach. Many JET’s stayed up to talk with other JET’s from around Kyushu, but those of us from Oita city went to bed early. I for one, was tired. We had just the right amount of people. Our cabin could not hold one more person. All our floor space was taken.
Even with our cabin filled to capacity, we did not finish grilling all the meat we were given. We actually opened another pack of meat and ate that for breakfast. (And, because Mark and I brought a colder filled with ice bags, we took home the last 2 packs of meat and one of vegetables. Someone else took home the other extra pack of vegetables. They gave us a whole lot of food!)
The Disco-saurus Wrex
The next day we played with the teams we came with. These teams were a lot bigger, but now we would play with college teams. We expected to be slaughtered, so we put on crazy costumes and tried to have fun. But we had no strategy. We didn’t think we needed it; we never thought we would win any games.
Our reward is to play more games?
But we did. We, unfortunately, won all our morning games. I say unfortunately, because by winning all our first games, we placed into the highest bracket for the afternoon games. We were up against the young, talented, college aged, ultimate scholarship-receiving teams.
This is where our winning streak ended. But it was not at all shameful. When we lost, we lost by one or two points. Below is a video of one of those points.
In the end, I had tons of fun. I would do it again next year.
No, I really would.
Posted by cruzanjosie on November 20, 2011
September 23-25, 2011
Todorokimantarou village campsite
How to get there:
The directions are a little tricky.
- You must get on road 24.
- From road 24 you will turn into the campsite’s parking lot. But it is easy to miss it, so don’t drive too fast.
- 0969-42-3956 Bungalow
- 0969-42-3424 Camping
- ¥ 16,000 Tent (permanent)
- ¥ 1 2,000 per bungalow
- 7:30 – 22:00
- May – September for tents
- Bungalows available year round
- Other Campsite and Cabins in the area
- This is not a place where you can bring your own tent.
It’s not really camping, but we’ll take it.
Mark found out about a trip some of our friends from Hita were planning. “They’re going camping on that island we went to,” he told me. “I’ll just ask if we could tag along…”
The Hita people, or Hittites as I like to call them, said we could join them. We didn’t have all the information about what was going on that weekend. We knew that they were going to rent a cabin, but we didn’t know how big it was going to be. We brought our tent and camping gear just in case everyone couldn’t fit.
We got there before the Hittites and were given the key. There was more than enough space and bedding for all. The cabin had a flat rate price and with all the people that showed up, I think we paid about 2,000YEN per person per night.
When our friends arrived we went swimming, or rather they went swimming. I thought it was too cold to swim, so I along with those who didn’t want to swim just chatted in the cabin. There was a water fall at the campsite where Mark and some other jumped off of for some cheap thrills.
I prefer my good old terra firma.
That night we had a had a big barbecue complete with smores for dessert. During our dinner, someone made campfire cooked broccoli and we all went crazy for it. Many of us hadn’t eaten broccoli since coming to Japan. Mark and I don’t eat broccoli much because they are imported vegetables and tend to be quite expensive. I missed broccoli.
The next day we drove around from one beach to another looking for the ideal spot. The first beach was too rocky, didn’t have interesting underwater life, and had a big old jellyfish on patrol. The next beach didn’t have enough sand. We finally found a great beach and decided to make cheese ramen with egg and kim chee there for lunch.
We played Marco Polo in the water for a few hours. Yes. I jumped in the water too. It was hot that day and, even though I hadn’t planned to go swimming on this trip and did not bring my swim suit, I dived in.
The beach was really nice as you can tell from the pictures I stole from Jen.
We then went to see one of the most beautiful sunsets in all of Japan. By now, if you read this blog often, you may have noticed that every city by the sea in this country boast that it has “one of the most beautiful sunsets in Japan”. Well, it is the same sun…
The next day they went whale and dolphin watching. Mark and I headed back to Oita instead. I live in Florida when I’m in the US. We have whales and dolphins in our backyards there.
Posted by cruzanjosie on November 20, 2011
September 22, 2011
African Safari Wildlife Park
How to get there:
From Oita by car -
Take route 10 heading to Beppu. Turn left onto route 500.
After you pass the Hells, you will see signs to Africa Safari writen in Romaji (Roman Letters). Just follow the signs.
Phone: 0978 (48) 2331
- You can get a 200YEN discount per ticket if you buy your ticket at Lawson.
- 1,000YEN to ride the Jungle Bus and feed the animals.
- 500YEN to hold baby lions or tigers.
- Check Website
- The available time for holding baby tigers and/ or lions ends earlier than the times for the park itself.
- Parking is Free.
- You can drive your own car in to where all the wild animal are, but you would have to be crazy to do that with a k-car. (Your average rhino is bigger than a k-car.)
After we got married, Mark and I felt like we should do something… We didn’t have enough time to do a long trip because we had plans to meet up with some friends that weekend. But, we really want to go somewhere. So we thought that it would be fun to visit one of the hundreds of amusement parks in our prefecture.
Mark wanted to hold a baby tiger, but as you can see from the video below, the tiger didn’t care too much for Mark.
We got on one of the park’s caged buses. They drove us around the park and stopped to let us feed the many animals. We stayed on the bus and fed the creatures through the bars of the bus. There were many animals that are not to be fed like the buffalos and baby giraffes, but we didn’t know this at first.
They did give us lots of extra instructions and information about each animal, but it was all in Japanese. We don’t speak Japanese well enough to understand something like, “This lion has lion pox. Don’t let him sneeze on, or near you or all your hair will fall out and your skin will turn green.” It was only after we did something that the guide would say, “No. No fed baby!” or “No. No fed buufaaroo!” or “Dis giraffes food, dat rhino food.” Honestly, all pellets look alike to me.
Below is video of Mark having fun with the giraffes.
Posted by cruzanjosie on October 31, 2011
Posted by cruzanjosie on October 30, 2011
August 12 – 15, 2011
The US Embassy in Fukuoka
How to get there:
By car -
The Consulate is seven minutes from the Nishikoen exit of the Fukuoka Urban Expressway. There is no parking at the consulate, but there are parking lots nearby. The Ohori Park lot is the largest.
Directions from the Kyushu Expressway are found here.
U.S. Consulate Fukuoka
2-5-26, O-hori Chuo-ku
Fukuoka, Japan 810-0052
- 03-3224-5000 After hours emergency number for US citizens
- 9:00 – 12:00 and 13:00 – 16:00 Monday – Friday,
- excluding Japanese and American Holidays.
- There is no free parking near the embassy.
- You are not allowed to bring any electronic devices into the embassy. So bring a good old fashion paper book to read for your wait.
- They have a little library of books that you can read there. Hopefully you will not be there long enough to finish any of them.
Planet Media Cafe
How to get there:
It’s off route 34 when heading east from the historical dig site. When you near the town of Tosu, look out for route 17. Head south on route 17. You will see a big shopping area on your right. Park there.
- 0942-87-3750 Japanese only
- Once you get a membership card for 300YEN you can choose from a list of options
- For 9 hours Mark and I paid about 2000YEN each for our own rooms in the “reclining” section.
- Deals come and go.
- No Showers
- Comes with all you can drink, soft drink machines.
- You can order food at any time, you pay when you check out.
- Free toothbrush and tooth paste
- pretty quite
Yoshinogari Historical Park
How to get there:
From Fukuoka -
- Get on route 3 heading north
- Take a left (west) on route 209
- Stay straight on route 264 which will turn into road 22
- Turn left (southwest) on route 34
- At the 6th light, turn right (north) on route 385
- The park will be on your left
- Parking 300YEN flat rate
- Adult 400YEN
- For 100YEN they will teach you how to make fire, sort of…
- 9:00 – 17:00
- The dig site closes at 16:30
“Campsite in Northern Oita-Ken”
How to get there:
From Matama Beach -
- Get on Route 213 heading east.
- You will pass 4 tunnels.
- After the 4th tunnel you will be in a little town. You will need to make a left onto a little road that is opposite to a pedestrian tunnel. The first time you go, it will be a little tricky, because you can’t really see the pedestrian tunnel when making the left. But if you reach a 5th tunnel, that is kind of long, turn around and you will be able to clearly see the pedestrian tunnel.
- Take the road across the little one lane bridge and take the biggest road up the hill.
- You will pass a rape field and a sunflower field.
- 1,000YEN per tent &
- 300YEN per person (Though, sometimes they skip this charge if they like you.)
- The second night they only charged us for the tent. I don’t know if they always do this, or they just liked us.
- I don’t know, but there is a time when it’s too late or too early to check-in.
- They also have cabins, some with AC.
- There is a beach at the campsite.
- Plot 16 is the best place for camping!
- There are free electric bikes you can borrow.
- 1 person – 1 hour max
- 2 people – 2 hours max
Special Attack Monument &
How to get there:
Well, it’s kind of hard to get to mainly because Oita Prefecture has so many damn route 10′s.
Basically go to route 629 off of one of the route 10′s in Usa. Then at one of the stop lights near a river you will head south on an interesting looking road.
I know; these are really bad directions. But, it the best I can do with roads that either have no name or have the same name as other roads close by.
Free. It’s really just something in the middle of rice fields.
That’s Never Happened Before!
Mark and I had to head west to Fukuoka to get some paper work done to get married. That part of the trip was not very interesting, though there was some confusion with our transaction. They kept asking Mark and me where we were from.
Mark – “I was born in Korea, but I’m American.”
Embassy Guy – “Ok, so where is Josephine from?”
Me – “I was born in the U.S. Virgin Islands.”
Embassy Guy – “The United States Virgin Island?”
Me – “Yes.”
Embassy Guy – “Wait, you’re both Americans?”
Mark and Me – “Yes.”
Embassy Guy – “Wow. That’s never happened before. I have to go look this up. I’ve never seen two Americans coming in here to get married. I don’t even know what papers you would fill out…”
Mark did his research before hand, so we already had the correct American-American marriage forms in both English and Japanese. We got our paper work notarized and went along our way.
Since we were in the area anyway, we decided to go back to Yoshinogari Historical Park. I didn’t get to see the active dig last time since we got there at 16:00 in the afternoon. I thought that this would be my second opportunity.
We were going to spend the night at a campsite in Fukuoka and then go to the historic park the next day. When we got to the campgrounds we were told that the cost of camping with our own tent would be 4,500YEN per person per night. That would be about 100USD for the both us. A hundred bucks to use our own tent!? It would be cheaper to get a hotel! We did not stay.
Instead we opted for an internet cafe near the dig site in a town called Tosu. It cost less than half the price of the Fukuoka campsite and we didn’t have to set up our tent. It came with internet and free all you can drink soda, juice, coffee, and watery soup. There was even a 24-hour restaurant in the cafe that had inexpensive bland food. It was great!
We made sure the get the to historical park early this time, but alas, the area of the dig was closed for two weeks starting the day we got there. If I had arrived the day before I could have seen it. I have now officially given up hope of ever seeing this thing.
We did get to see much more of the park than we did last time. Mark even signed up for fire making lessons. It only took him about 45 minutes to make fire.
After spending half a disappointing day at the park we went back to our prefecture. I found a website that talked about hidden airplane hangers that were used during WWII. There were some in Usa a few towns over from Oita. So, we stopped by to see them on our way home.
But, by the time we got to Usa, it was too dark to see anything. We drove to our favorite Oita prefecture campsite, which is not too far from Usa, and set up the tent for the night.
The next day we drove around for hours looking for the hangers which were about a half an hour drive from where we spent the night. It was not on our map of the prefecture. Even though our map has detailed picture representation of mountain elevations, it doesn’t mention anything about possible tourist attractions.
We had to stop by a temple and look for the big map of interesting things in the area that usually accompanies temples, waterfalls, and the like. The map at these things are usually cartoonishly drawn with many icons and no-to-scale roads. We compared it with our map and figured that we would have to pass a broken down train station, and sorry looking river, and then turn at a stop light that may or may not exist.
We found the hangers, eventually.
* I apologize for the horrible Japanese song. I hear it in every store I go and I didn’t want to suffer alone.
Posted in Fukuoka 県, Fukuoka 市, Japan, Kanzaki 市, Kyūshū, Oita 県, Saga 県, Thailand, Tosu 市, Usa 市 | Tagged: internet cafes in Japan, Japan, Planet Media Cafe, Special Attack Monument, spending the night at an interne, The US Embassy in Fukuoka, travel, Underground Hanger, Yoshinogari Historical Park | Leave a Comment »