With Backpack

One World in One Lifetime

Choco Fries

Posted by Heliocentrism on February 21, 2016

Thursday, January 28, 2016

All Pictures

Japan
(日本)
(Nippon)

How to get there:

You can enter Japan by plane or boat. Though, the number of boats going to Japan from other countries has gone down significantly.   Americans get 90-day visas to Japan at the port of entry. Check with your nearest Japanese embassy or consulate for visa information.

Phone:

Website:

Downloads:

Videos:

Books:

Notes:

  • Be careful what over the counter drugs you bring into Japan.  Actifed, Sudafed, Vicks inhalers, and Codeine are prohibited.
  • InternationalATMs are really hard to find; more so if you aren’t in a big city. Many places in Japan do not use credit cards. Take cash and call your bank toaskwhatATMs or banks in Japan will work with your cash card.
    • ATMs have opening hours. Usually 9:00-18:00 (They have better work hours than most business men and women here.)
    • The Post Office bank seems to work with most cards.
  • You can get a Japan Railway, pass which saves you a lot of money on the trains, but you can only buy it before you get to Japan and you cannot be a resident of Japan. (I don’t have more information about it because I’ve only ever lived in Japan. I’ve never been a tourist.)

McDonald’s
(マクドナルド)

How to get there:

Address:

Everywhere!

Websites:

Cost:

  • McDonald’s is a little more pricy in Japan, but so is everything else.

Hours:

  • Most are open 24/7.

Notes:

Map:


Sweet Potatoes

McDonald’s in Japan occasionally has special promotions where they sell food oddities. Once they sold really expensive burgers with top quality ingredients. (Well, top quality for everything but the meat.)
This time, Mark and I headed to McDonald’s for their Choco Fries, French fries covered in brown and white chocolate sauce.

There’s still time to turn back!

 We were given plain fries and a packet of Double Choco Sauce. Mark poured the sauces over the fries and we tried it.
It wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t good either. I think it would have been good if I were used to French fries being a sweet dish. I’m sure that if I tried the Choco Fries a couple more time, I would start to like it. But since I have enough sugar filled things in my diet, I’ll stay away from this one in the future.
Fries with ketchup have more than enough sugar for me.
My Blog is Moving!
I’ve gotten tired of the ever-changing format of WordPress. It was nice in the beginning. And then every couple of months they would change their editing format. Sometimes the changes make blogging easier. But, overall I find myself having to do more coding in HTML to get the blog entries to look the way I want them to.
So I’ve moved to Blogger and changed the name to Heliocentrism. I am moving all the posts from this blog to the new blog. That will take some time to finish, so until then I will continue to update here. Once the Heliocentrism blog has caught up to this blog, this one will no longer be updated.
Hope you join me on the new site!

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Sand Day

Posted by Heliocentrism on February 14, 2016

Sunday January 3rd, 2016

All Pictures

Japan
(日本)
(Nippon)

How to get there:

You can enter Japan by plane or boat. Though, the number of boats going to Japan from other countries has gone down significantly.

Americans get 90-day visas to Japan at the port of entry. Check with your nearest Japanese embassy or consulate for visa information.

Phone:

Website:

Downloads:

Videos:

Books:

Notes:

  • Be careful what over the counter drugs you bring into Japan.  Actifed, Sudafed, Vicks inhalers, and Codeine are prohibited.
  • International ATMs are really hard to find; more so if you aren’t in a big city. Many places in Japan do not use credit cards. Take cash and call your bank to ask what ATMs or banks in Japan will work with your cash card.
    • ATMs have opening hours. Usually 9:00-18:00 (They have better work hours than most business men and women here.)
    • The Post Office bank seems to work with the most international cards.
  • You can get a Japan Railway, pass which saves you a lot of money on the trains, but you can only buy it before you get to Japan and you cannot be a resident of Japan. (I don’t have more information about it because I’ve only ever lived in Japan; I’ve never been a tourist here.)

The Sand Museum
(砂の美術館)

How to get there:

  • Coordinates 35°32’23.1″N 134°14’17.3″E

Address:

2083-17 Fukubecho Yuyama, Tottori, Tottori Prefecture 689-0105

Phone:

Websites:

Cost:

  • 600 Yen for one adult

Hours:

  • 9:00 to 18:00 (entry until 17:30)
  • Closed between exhibitions (early January to mid April)

Notes:

  • There is free parking in front and behind the shops near the museum.
  • Behind the museum there is a building with an observation deck.
    • From there you can get a chair lift to the Sand Dune.
    • There is also more parking here.
    • 300 Yen adult one way
    • 200 Yen Adult round trip.

Tottori Sand Dunes
(鳥取砂丘)
(Tottori Sakyu)

How to get there:

  • Coordinates 35°32’26.5″N 134°13’44.4″E

Address:

2164-661 Fukubecho Yuyama, Tottori, Tottori Prefecture 689-0105

Phone:

  • 0857-22-0581

Websites:

Downloads:

Cost:

  • Free

Hours:

  • Always available

Notes:

  • There is 500 yen parking near the dune, but there is free parking near the Sand Museum.
  • You can ride a camel for 1,300 Yen, but it is a very very very short ride.

Mizuki Shigeru Road
 (水木しげる記念館) 

How to get there:

  • Coordinates 35°32’41.2″N 133°13’23.6″E

Address:

Taishomachi, Sakaiminato City, Tottori

Phone:

  • 0859-47-0121 (Sakaiminato Infomation Office for Tourists)

Websites:

Cost:

  • It’s free to walk down the street.
  • Museum Adults 700 yen

Hours:

  • Shops along the street close shortly after sunset.
  • The museum is open 9 – 5 (closed Tuesdays)

Videos:

Books:

Notes:


Sending a Postcard from Japan

How to do it:

  • Buy some postcards from a souvenir shop.
  • Flip the card over to the non-picture side.
  • Write the receiver’s name and address on one side.
  • Write your short message on the other side. (Don’t cross the line in the middle of the card.)
  • Put a stamp on the card.
  • Drop the card in a mail box.

Websites:

Download:

Cost:

This is what the Japanese Post Office’s website says about picture post cards:

  • Domestic (Japan to Japan) – 52 Yen
  • International Surface (slow mail) – 60 Yen
  • International Airmail (fast mail) – 70 Yen

But in reality all picture post card postage is 70 yen.

Hours:

  • Post Office Hours
    • Small Post Offices: 9:30 – 16:30 (Closed Sundays, Saturdays, and holidays)
    • Big/ Main Post Offices: 9:30 – 18:00 (Closed Sundays and holidays)
  • You can buy stamps from some convenience stores like Lawson.
    • They even have a post box right in the store.
    • open 24 hours
    • Make sure you know how much the postage is beforehand. Many clerks have no idea how must is cost to mail a postcard.

Notes:

  • picture postcard (絵はがき) (e-hagaki)
    • Don’t mistake this for a New Year’s postcard, which can be quite expensive.
    • Also don’t mistake a picture post card for a regular post card with addresses and stamps on one side and a message on the other. Those cost less to mail.
    • It’s cheaper if you can get a variety pack of 10 or 12 cards with pictures of things all around the prefecture or city, rather than getting one postcard from every place you visit.
  • Stamp (郵便切手) (yūbin kitte)
  • post office (郵便局) (yūbinkyoku)
  • How much is it? (いくらですか) (Ikuradesu ka)
  • Do you have postcards? (絵はがき ありますか) (Ehagaki arimasu ka)
  • Where is the post office? (郵便局はどこですか) (Yūbinkyoku wa dokodesu ka)

Map:


Surfers taking advantage of global warming

First Trip of 2016

For our first trip in 2016, Mark and I headed for the beach. It was a lot warmer than we expected. No, we didn’t go swimming. But, many crazy surfers were in the water. It wasn’t warm enough to swim in a bikini, but you could walk around town in a t-shirt and light jacket.

The Berlin Wall doesn’t seem that hard to get through.

Our first stop was at the Sand Museum. This sounds like it would be a very boring place where one can learn about the history of sand; it’s not. The Sand Museum is a fun place where you can see sand sculptures of various themes. The last theme was The Brothers Grimm.

We got there just in time. The very next day, the sand sculptures were schedule to be torn down. The Museum will be closed for several months while they work on the next theme with a new set of sand artists. The Sand Museum will be opened again in the summer.

There is nothing keeping anyone in their chairs.

We could have simply walked from the museum to the sand dune. But, we exited the museum from the back, walked up a small hill, then paid to take a ski lift down. We’re adventurous.

I was a little worried when I saw that the ski lift had no safety bar. You could sneeze too hard and fall right off. No one had fallen off, that I know of, buy many people where holding on the chair for dear life. (Okay, it was just me and some old lady.)

No camel ride for Mark.

Mark wanted to ride a camel. That’s how he wanted to start the year off. This was going to be his year of animal riding.

We knew that the ride would cost about 1,300 yen (about $13). But we decided it wasn’t worth it when we saw that the rides lasted about 5 minutes. Plus, the camel guys shooed us away when we tried to take photos of the camels. I guess photos are for paying customers only. But, it’s a big beach and I have a zoom lens.

Walking up the Dune

It was a pleasant dune; not too hard of a climb up. It’s the smallest dune I’ve ever seen. At the top I took photos and wrote some postcards.

Mark ran down the dune, trying to slide part of the way. When we were on the bottom, we saw a group of people with flattened cardboard boxes trying to slide down. But, their technique was all off.

They tried to sit on the boards and do a scoot start. The friction was too high for that. They should have lain on their bellies on the board and pushed themselves down the dune. That would have been fun.

Sand everywhere!

After leaving the dune, but before getting into our car, we tried to do a complete de-sanding. We emptied out our pockets, took off our socks and shoes, and attempted to shake off every bit of sand from our persons. But still weeks later, we still find sand around the place.

Mark can’t walk anymore.

After the dunes I went to a Lawson to buy some stamps and mail my postcards. I wasn’t too sure how much the postcard postage should cost. This wasn’t my first time mailing a postcard and I thought it should cost about 70 to 80 yen.

I told the clerk that one was to go to Japan and the others to America. She handed me several 52 yen stamps. “Really? 52 yen for Hiroshima prefecture and 52 yen for America?” The clerk discussed this with a co-worker and they both admitted that it sounded strange, but that’s what their postage book said.

When I sent the next postcard from the next stop in our trip, I was told that domestic and international postage was 70 yen. Well, lesson learned for next time.

The postcard I sent to Japan was for one of my schools. A teacher asked me to send the students a post card written in English that would be placed in the hallway for the students to read. It did get to the school. Someone, I don’t know who, paid the additional 18 yen necessary for the card to make its journey.

Purse steeling ghost

Before heading home we went to the Mizuki Shigeru Road. This is the town where Shigeru Mizuki grew up. The road is based off of one of the comics he wrote called, “GeGeGe no Kitarō (ゲゲゲの鬼太郎).

I’ve never seen an English translation of the cartoon version of the comic. So, I’m not familiar with it more than knowing it exists. Mark and I went to see it mainly because it was there and it was a thing to be seen. But that’s why we see most stuff.

All Pictures

Posted in Honshū, Japan, Sakaiminato 市, Tottori 県, Tottori 市 | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Kōhaku Uta Gassen

Posted by Heliocentrism on February 7, 2016

Thursday December 31st, 2015

All Pictures

Japan
(日本)
(Nippon)

How to get there:

You can enter Japan by plane or boat. Though, the number of boats going to Japan from other countries has gone down significantly.

Americans get 90-day visas to Japan at the port of entry. Check with your nearest Japanese embassy or consulate for visa information.

Phone:

Website:

Downloads:

Videos:

Books:

Notes:

  • Be careful what over the counter drugs you bring into Japan.  Actifed, Sudafed, Vicks inhalers, and Codeine are prohibited.
  • International ATMs are really hard to find; more so if you aren’t in a big city. Many places in Japan do not use credit cards. Take cash and call your bank to ask what ATMs or banks in Japan will work with your cash card.
    • ATMs have opening hours. Usually 9:00-18:00 (They have better work hours than most business men and women here.)
    • The Post Office bank seems to work with the most international cards.
  • You can get a Japan Railway, pass which saves you a lot of money on the trains, but you can only buy it before you get to Japan and you cannot be a resident of Japan. (I don’t have more information about it because I’ve only ever lived in Japan; I’ve never been a tourist here.)

Kōhaku Uta Gassen
(紅白歌合戦)
(Red and White Singing Contest)

How to Watch:

Websites:

Cost:

  • The cost of your TV license or internet fee

Hours:

  • 7:20 p.m. to 11:45 p.m on New Year’s Eve.

Videos:


Hot Pot!

 

A Quiet New Year’s Celebration

This year Mark and I chose to stay warm and ring in the New Year indoors. We invited the few friends we had that stayed in Japan over the winter break. Of those, only one showed up. The rest went to Hiroshima for a big city New Year’s party.

Pork, Mushrooms, Vegetables, Mochie, and whatever is already in the pot

We started with a hot-pot dinner. Hot pot is essentially a stew that is cooked and eaten at the same time. If you feel like eating mushrooms, add mushrooms to the pot and wait a few minutes. Meats are thinly sliced so they cook quickly. At the beginning of the meal you have one type of stew, but by the end the ingredients and flavor would have changed.

To make hot-pot, you start with a base of flavored liquid or broth. You can make a broth base from scratch or buy one. (They come the land – pork or beef, sea – fish, crab, or shrimp, or air – chicken varieties.)  Then add whatever you want. In Japan, there are entire sections of the grocery store that are dedicated to hot-pot. Just pick the stuff you like.

Melissa really got into the Surprise AKB48 reunion.

Around 7:30 pm we turned on Kohaku Uta Gassen. There were many Japanese pop stars and lot of enka singers. To be honest I don’t care for J-pop. When I lived in Korea I really got into K-pop. To me, it sounds like music, but in Korean. J-pop, on the other hand, sounds like… baby music.

I’m not a music critic and I don’t have the right vocabulary to describe how I feel about types of music. Plus, I’m not a big music listener. But, when I hear J-pop, I feel like I’m too old to enjoy it; if I were a 10-year-old, maybe I would like it…

One J-pop group singing an anime theme song

Around 9:00 Melissa went home. She wanted to be at a shrine near her apartment at midnight. Later she told me that a Japanese family adopted her for a few hours and showed her what to do at the shrine.

Mark and I continued watching the show. We drank Miyoshi wine, watched the count down, then went to bed.

Happy 2016!!

All Pictures

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Illumination

Posted by Heliocentrism on January 31, 2016

Thursday, December 24 – Friday, December 25, 2015

All Pictures

Japan
(日本)
(Nippon)

How to get there:

You can enter Japan by plane or boat. Though, the number of boats going to Japan from other countries has gone down significantly.

Americans get 90-day visas to Japan at the port of entry. Check with your nearest Japanese embassy or consulate for visa information.

Phone:

Website:

Downloads:

Videos:

Books:

Notes:

  • Be careful what over the counter drugs you bring into Japan.  Actifed, Sudafed, Vicks inhalers, and Codeine are prohibited.
  • International ATMs are really hard to find; more so if you aren’t in a big city. Many places in Japan do not use credit cards. Take cash and call your bank to ask what ATMs or banks in Japan will work with your cash card.
    • ATMs have opening hours. Usually 9:00-18:00 (They have better work hours than most business men and women here.)
    • The Post Office bank seems to work with the most international cards.
  • You can get a Japan Railway, pass which saves you a lot of money on the trains, but you can only buy it before you get to Japan and you cannot be a resident of Japan. (I don’t have more information about it because I’ve only ever lived in Japan; I’ve never been a tourist here.

Bihoku Hillside Park
(Government Operated Bihoku Kyuryu Park)
(国営備北丘陵公園)
(Kokueibihokukyūryōkōen)

How to get there:

  • Coordinates 34°50’23.6″N 132°59’48.5″E

Address:

  • Park:
    • 〒727-0021
      広島県庄原市三日市町4-10
  • Autocamping:
    • 〒727-0022
      広島県庄原市上原町1300番地

Phone:

  • Park: 0824-72-7000
  • Auto camping: 0824-72-8800

Websites:

Downloads:

Cost:

  • Bring ID to prove age
  • Children under 5 enter for free
  • Parking:
    • Scooters ¥100
    • Regular cars ¥310
    • Large cars ¥1,030
    • Free with Year Passport for scooters and regular cars.

  • They have bikes of various sizes, but the electric bikes only come in 26 inch.
  • You can bring your own bike instead of renting one of theirs, but you must keep to the bike path.

Hours:

  • Admission stops 1 hour before closing.
  • Closed on Mondays (If Monday is a holiday it will be open, but closed on Tuesday).
  • Closed Dec 31 – Jan 1

Notes:

  • I think this park takes up half the area of the city of Shobara.
  • There are many classes that kids can sign up for, from making soba noodles to pottery and woodworking.
    • The cost for classes range from ¥100~500.
  • There are many restaurants and cafes in the park, but you can also bring your own food. You can also bring your grill and have a BBQ in one of theBBQ areas.
  • There is a camping area for day camping and overnight camping.
    • You must make reservations to use the campsite area.
    • There is a coin operated shower.
    • They have a coin laundromat in the auto camping area.

Map:


Forest of Lights

No Big Trips this Winter

This year we checked the bank accounts and decided to save some money. Instead of taking a big trip, like we did last year, we will take a smaller non-over night trip. But, that wouldn’t happen until after New Year’s day.

Look at this awesomeness

For Christmas eve, we spent most of the day talking about money and how much longer we wanted to stay in Japan. We agreed to stay for maybe one more year. Then we will find another country to explore. We like Japan, but it’s hard to move around here.

In Korea, everything was at most a 4 hour bus or train ride away. In Japan, a 4 hour drive is refreshingly short. We haven’t been to Hokkaido, not because we don’t want to go. We just aren’t willing to put in the effort to getting there.

Mark is a light bender.

On Christmas eve night we drove to Shobara, the next town over, to view their Winter Illumination. It was very pretty. I took pictures hoping that my camera was capturing the beauty I saw first hand.

It’s the traditional Pegasus pulling the winter pumpkin carriage!

Mark and I don’t exchange gifts for Christmas. There is no real reason for it. Around November I would ask him what he wants and he’d say he doesn’t really want anything. Then he’d ask me what I want and I would say that I don’t really want anything either. Then we would take a trip somewhere. I guess travel could be considered our Christmas gifts to each other.

The saddest Christmas tree in the whole world.

The next day we went out for Christmas dinner at a Chinese restaurant. The place had a ‘greasy-spoon tackiness about it. The waitress was a bit rude.

In Japan, when you enter a restaurant, shop, or any type of business, the people there go out of their way to show you how much they appreciate your just showing up. When I first got to Japan, I found this disturbing. I would be walking down the aisle of some grocery store looking for olive oil or the like, and an employee would say, “Welcome!” or “Thanks for coming!” At first, I didn’t know how to react to this. Was I suppose to say something in return? Should I have brought a little gift?

So we walked into the Chinese restaurant, and no one welcomed us. The waitress shrugged at us to say, “Sit wherever. I don’t care.” There was one other group of diners, but they were just about to leave. We sat in the booth behind them.

What can we order to make that waitress like us?

We ordered our food and the waitress seemed overly unimpressed by our selections. “Does she know something we don’t about these dishes?” I asked Mark. He thought the waitress was slightly rude, for this being Japan, but he was not bothered by it.

When we got our food, I noticed that it did not come with rice. So, I ordered a big plate of rice for Mark and me. The waitress looked at me and in Japanese said, “You know that’s 350 yen, right?” Did she think we couldn’t afford it? That’s like 3 bucks! “It’s okay. It’s Christmas!” I replied. She was still unimpressed.

The food, however was pretty good. During our meal two more groups of diners came in and sat in the booths near us. Across from us, there was a family of 3 adults and 2 kids. They looked through the menu and were now ready to order.

They press the button to call the waitress, but no one came. We heard loud arguing in Mandarin coming from the kitchen. “I think someone had a date for tonight, but was called in to work,” Mark whispered to me. “The most romantic night of the year…” I said as if I were the cook, “Finally, Yoshihiro asks me out to see the Winter Illuminations in Shobara, and I get called into work to cook for losers who can’t get dates!”

Meanwhile the dad at the next booth was feverishly pushing the call button with one hand, waving the other one in the air, and shouting “excuse me” as politely as he could. We saw two waitresses look in his direction and walk away. We were dying with laughter. This never happens in Japan!

When a waitress finally came over, she seemed very bothered by the existence of this, now very hungry family. Mark and I started doing what we thought was their dialogue.

Me as the waitress – Whadda ya want!?

Mark as the dad – Um, some chili shrimp, dumplings, kim chi rice, tofu stir fry, pork bone soup, and 2 cold noodle salads… if… if it’s not too much trouble…

Me as the waitress – Any of you bitches want rice with that!?

Mark as the mom – Oh, no. That would be way too much trouble. We couldn’t ask that of you. No, we’ll just eat rice when we get back home.

Me as the waitress – Good choice.

Mark as the dad – But, you can still charge us for the rice.

Me as the waitress – already did…

Entertaining!

After dinner we walked around the little strip mall. There was a store that sold toys, geriatric equipment, and two motor bikes. The other store was a video rental.

There are many video rental places in Japan. I’ve always wondered how much business they did. In the US video rental stores are a thing of the past, killed by Netflix and torrents.

We went into the video store. It was like walking into the nineties. They mostly rented VHS tapes. All the movies by the window like, Kindergarten Cop, Mrs. Doubtfire, and the old Star Wars movies were faded. There were some whose covers were almost white, bleached by the sun.

We walked around the store, which had two employees. They seemed to be both busy and not really doing anything at the same time. “How are they making any money? This must be a front for some illegal operation,” Mark said. “It must be,” I replied. “We should probably go and let them get on with their real business; it’s Christmas after all.”

The employees watched us go as they thanked us for coming and looking around their store even if we didn’t rent anything. “At least someone was glad to see us.”

All Pictures

Posted in Akitakata 市, Hiroshima 県, Honshū, Japan, Shōbara 市 | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

Mark Goes Fishing

Posted by Heliocentrism on January 24, 2016

Wednesday, August 5 – Friday, August 14, 2015 

All Pictures

Japan
(日本)
(Nippon)

How to get there:

You can enter Japan by plane or boat. Though, the number of boats going to Japan from other countries has gone down significantly.

Americans get 90-day visas to Japan at the port of entry. Check with your nearest Japanese embassy or consulate for visa information.

Phone:

Website:

Downloads:

Videos:

Books:

Notes:

  • Be careful what over the counter drugs you bring into Japan.  Actifed, Sudafed, Vicks inhalers, and Codeine are prohibited.
  • International ATMs are really hard to find; more so if you aren’t in a big city. Many places in Japan do not use credit cards. Take cash and call your bank to ask what ATMs or banks in Japan will work with your cash card.
    • ATMs have opening hours. Usually 9:00-18:00 (They have better work hours than most business men and women here.)
    • The Post Office bank seems to work with the most international cards.
  • You can get a Japan Railway, pass which saves you a lot of money on the trains, but you can only buy it before you get to Japan and you cannot be a resident of Japan. (I don’t have more information about it because I’ve only ever lived in Japan; I’ve never been a tourist here.)

Kute Beach
(久手海水浴場)

How to get there:

  • Coordinates 35°13’39.9″N 132°29’59.9″E

Address:

〒694-0053, 島根県大田市鳥井町鳥越新田

Phone:

Websites:

Cost:

  • Free
  • Free Parking

Hours:

  • Always available

Notes:

  • There is a free outdoor shower for rinsing off, a bathroom, and changing rooms.

Tagi Beach
(田儀海水浴場)

How to get there:

  • Coordinates 35°16’24.6″N 132°35’06.8″E

Address:

〒699-0904 島根県出雲市多伎町口田儀

Phone:

  • 0853-86-3111

Websites:

Cost:

  • Camping – free
  • Showers
    • July 18 – August 23
    • 9:00 – 19:00
    • 3 minutes
    • 200 yen
  • There is free, but limited parking.

Hours:

  • Always available

Notes:

  • This beach is more for fishing than for swimming. But, people still try to swim here. Personally, I think there are so many nicer beaches nearby that are great for swimming that you shouldn’t come here unless you wanted free camping or to go fishing.
  • Grilling is not allowed here, though people seem to do it all the time.
  • Kirara is a nearby rest area with restaurants and an information desk. The nice beaches are near Kirara.

Map:


Majestic!

The Next Beach

We spent the day at Kute Beach. It was part a beach day, part a reconnaissance mission. It’s sometimes hard to find information about Japanese campsites online, so we had to look around the area in person for some camping spots for later.

Kute Beach is okay, nothing special. It’s a fine beach that’s free with free parking. Most of the people who go to this beach live nearby and walk to it.

our future camping neighbors

After swimming we drove along the coast until we saw some tents at a park. We got out the car and asked the campers there about the campsite. They spoke no English but we were able to communicate with my limited Japanese. They told us that camping there was completely free and year round. We thanked them for the information and told them that we would return in a few days.

It’s dead Mark!

Before we drove back home we went to a roadside rest stop for some ramen. After dinner, our car wouldn’t start. We had no idea what to do.

We don’t belong to any roadside assistance clubs like AAA or JAF. We left the hood of the car open hoping that someone would come by and offer to give us a jump-start. No one did.

After about 20 minutes I went inside one of the shops at the rest stop. I asked an employee for advice. I told a lady that my car “sleeps and can’t wake up.” She seemed to understand what I was saying. Then I asked her if she had “jumper cables”. I couldn’t think of a way to describe jumper cables with my limited vocabulary. So I mimed connecting to cars, then turning one on so that the other will start. “Oh, I see,” she exclaimed in Japanese.

She went in a back room to explain everything to her manager. He came out and told me something in rapid-fire Japanese, before heading out the door. The lady looked at me, “Everything will be fine. Just wait a moment.” She motioned me to sit by a window.

Ten minutes later the manager came back. “Which car is yours?” “The white Wagon R from Okayama.” Mark and I led him to our car. He took out his cables and jump started our car. We were very grateful. We thanked and bowed to the manager.

Instead of driving home, we went to the nearest Auto Bacs. We keep a stash of cash with us when we go on trips. It’s called the “car fund”. We put aside about $400 each month to pay for any car related surprises. We took that money out and bought a new car battery and jumper cables at Auto Bacs.

The people at Auto Bacs were very nice. We showed up about 10 minutes before closing time. But, they still greeted us like we weren’t making them stay late. They put in the new battery and cleaned our windshield and windows. They waved goodbye to us as we pulled out of their parking lot.

That will do!

A few days later

We came back a few days later. We put up our tent next to the guys who gave us the camping information at Tagi Beach. They were two men who were there the whole time. Sometimes other men would join them camping, other times a group of 5 or 6 boys would join them. There were women who would come by and they would cook for the ladies. But the women never spent the night like the men or boys did. We just referred to them as “the boys”.

After we said hello to “the boys” and set up our tent, we drove up the coast for a better beach. Tagi Beach had free camping, but the beach itself was no good at all for swimming.

It wasn’t long before we found a lovely and lonely spot. We parked our car nearby and got in the water. It was a lazy swimming day.

Mark went off snorkeling and floated around very contentedly. After about an hour of this I felt something. It was like a cross between a bite and an electric shock. But it was so faint, I almost thought I had imagined it. Then I felt another one. This time it was worse.

Damn you sea creatures!

I put on my snorkel mask and put my head under water. Jellyfish! Jellyfish everywhere! Now they were all coming after me. I got out of the water and sat on the shore.

It was a hot day. Too hot to sit on the beach out of the water. So, I went back in. The jellyfish attacked again. I got out of the water. I called Mark. “Lets get lunch!”

sea-snails

“The Boys” Give Cooking Advice

We got up one morning to find a new beach for the day’s swimming. As we were leaving we passed “the boys” and gave them the usually “Ohiyogoziemasu” and small talk. They were grilling something that smelt really good.

“Oh, did you go shopping already?” I was just teasing. “The boys” were great fishermen and were basically living off stuff they caught. The only thing they seemed to buy was beer, coke, and whiskey.

“No, we got that from the sea. Try some!” Mark was hesitant, but I really wanted to try it. One of “the boys” handed me a shelled sea-snail. “It’s delicious!” I was shocked. It smelt good, but I didn’t think it would actually taste good too.

“I grilled it, then fried it in butter.” Then he handed one to Mark. Mark liked it too.

We decided that Mark and I would gather some sea snails and try to cook them. We went to the rest stop to use their free internet. We looked at some YouTube videos on how to cook fresh sea-snail.

Well, we tried it that evening. But it didn’t taste like what the boys made. Ours tasted like sea poison.

Poseidon

“The Boys” get Mark into Spear Fishing

Another day as we were heading off to another beach, we stop by “the boys” camp for our “Ohayo” and small talk. In the course of the conversation, (“The boys” speak no English.) they recommended that Mark get a spear to catch fish. They noticed that he had been having no luck with his fishing pole.

They told us where we could buy a spear, how much it cost, and even gave Mark a short lesson in using one with one of their’s. They advised getting the bamboo one, because it floats. But we didn’t understand that part of the conversation until Mark lost a metal spear.

The Bounty

So, for the next couple of days we stayed at Tagi Beach. Mark spent the whole time spear fishing. He caught many fish, but they weren’t big enough to make a decent meal. He said, “All the bigger fish are too smart and fast for me to catch. All I can get are the slow dumb ones.”

We ate slow dumb fish more as side dishes to accompany the chicken and pork we brought to grill. We did not try sea snails again.

It’s going to rain all day.

A Day Indoors

One night it rained a lot. In the morning it was still raining, so instead of heading out to another beach, we went to a mall. First we had breakfast at a Joyfull. The plan was to stay indoors until the rain stopped. We got gas, found some internet, and checked the forecast. It would stop raining around three in the afternoon.

We spent the next morning laying our things out to dry before we went out swimming. We were still having a great time.

Happy Camper’s Cove

The Day “the Boys” got Weird

We mostly only talked to “the boys” in the mornings. In the evenings they were usually entertaining guests or fishing. For the most part, other than our morning “ohiyo’s” and small talk, they pretty much kept to themselves. So it was a little odd when one of them came over to us while Mark and I where talking on the beach.

We had not seen this particular guy before. He was about the same age as the two main guys who stayed at the camp the whole time. I think he was about 45 or 50ish. He claimed to speak more English than the others, but it was hard to tell; he was kind of drunk.

He asked us where we were from. “We’re from America.” “America!? I like America!” We asked why he liked America and he told us that he liked “FreedOOOMMM!”

“Someone’s been buying into the propaganda.” But, that’s not what he meant. We would soon find out when the conversation took a bizarre turn.

He asked us if we were from Colorado. He really wanted to visit Colorado. “Do you like skiing?” “No, not ski.” He seemed very confused as to why the topic of skiing was brought up.

“Then why do you want to go to Colorado?” “Freedoooooommmmmm!” Then he started to smoke an imaginary joint. “Do you know magic mushroooooooms?”

Mark and I just looked at each other. “It’s magic season.” Then he name some town where there are plenty of magic mushrooms growing in the forest. In a combination of English and Japanese he told us where to go to get them and how to prepare them. But, it took a while for him to give us all this unsolicited information. He kept slurring his words and starting over.

“So you like smoking, drinking, and magic mushrooms?” Mark confirmed.

“I don’t drink!” He seemed offended. “But I love cocaaaaaaine. Do you have cocaaaaine?”

“No.”

“I looooooove cocaaaaaine!” Then he rolled over on his side and just stopped moving. He made no sounds. He just lay there with a big silly grin on his face dreaming about his beloved cocaine. I thought that this would be a good time to back away and leave him there.

I started to get up. “If I had cocaaaaine I would share it you. OOHHHHH!” He started moaning loudly. Some other guys, none we had seen before, came to get Mr. Cocaaaine. They picked him up off the ground and dragged him to their tent.

That night, there were screams all night long coming from “the boys'” tent along with some randomly shouted, “Fuck you’s,” “Fuck me’s,” “Fuck baby’s,” and other various things to fuck. They sang songs, or rather shouted songs. But, most of the night was spend screaming; it wasn’t the “I’m being chased by an ax-murderer” type of screams. It was more like the “I’m at a fabulous rock concert and I’m stoned out of my mind” type of screaming.

“The Boys'” tents, days before the Weird Night

The next morning, “the boys” were nowhere to be seen. Mark and I were looking up at the sky, which was threatening to rain again, and wondering if we should just pack up and go home. Then we saw some official-looking people. They didn’t have uniforms, but they did have badges.

They asked if they could talk to us. It seemed ominous. They spoke no English, so I took out my pocket dictionary. It seemed like the conversation we were about to have would be the type where one would want as little misunderstanding as possible.

“Did you hear any noise last night?”

We both nodded our heads. We pointed to the other camp. “Drunk maybe,” I said. “Normally quiet, but last night party I think.” They asked us where they were.

“I don’t know. I speak only a little Japanese. They don’t speak English. They went to the store maybe. Their car is not here.” The officials seemed satisfied with that. They walked over to “the boys” camp and left a letter on their camping table.

“Mark, I don’t know what is going to happen next, but I think we should be far, far from here when it happens.” So we packed up our stuff and headed back home.

Japan has strict drug laws. You can get in trouble by just being friends with someone who has drugs, especially if you’re a foreigner. The officials never asked us our names or where we lived. I didn’t want to give them an opportunity to come back and do so. At that moment, all they knew was that some people were very loud. If they found drugs in their tent or something, I didn’t want to be dragged into that.

I heard that Japanese prison is no fun.

All Pictures

Posted in Izumo 市, Japan, Shimane 県, Ōda 市 | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

A Day at Hamada Beach

Posted by Heliocentrism on January 17, 2016

Thursday, July 30, 2015

All Pictures

Japan
(日本)
(Nippon)

How to get there:

You can enter Japan by plane or boat. Though, the number of boats going to Japan from other countries has gone down significantly.

Americans get 90-day visas to Japan at the port of entry. Check with your nearest Japanese embassy or consulate for visa information.

Phone:

Website:

Downloads:

Videos:

Books:

Notes:

  • Be careful what over the counter drugs you bring into Japan.  Actifed, Sudafed, Vicks inhalers, and Codeine are prohibited.
  • International ATMs are really hard to find; more so if you aren’t in a big city. Many places in Japan do not use credit cards. Take cash and call your bank to ask what ATMs or banks in Japan will work with your cash card.
    • ATMs have opening hours. Usually 9:00-18:00 (They have better work hours than most business men and women here.)
    • The Post Office bank seems to work with the most international cards.
  • You can get a Japan Railway, pass which saves you a lot of money on the trains, but you can only buy it before you get to Japan and you cannot be a resident of Japan. (I don’t have more information about it because I’ve only ever lived in Japan; I’ve never been a tourist here.)

Iwami Kaihin Park
(島根県立石見海浜公園)

How to get there:

  • Coordinates 34°57’04.7″N 132°07’05.1″E

Address:

〒697-0003 島根県浜田市国分町

Shimane-ken, Hamada-shi, Koku-buncho 1644-1

Phone:

Websites:

Downloads:

e-mail:

Cost:

  • Entrance fee – (There was a fee we had to pay. I don’t remember now it if was an entrance fee or just a parking fee. I think it was about 1,000 – 1,500 Yen for both Mark and me or for the car.)
  • Coin shower – 200 yen

Activities:  Register at the beach (Hours 9:00 to 17:00)

  • Banana Boat – 1,000 Yen
    • must be 6 or older
    • 10 minutes
  • Jet Ski – 2,500 Yen
    • must be 6 or older
    • passengers only
    • 10 minutes
  • Wake Board – 3,500
    • must be 12 or older
    • 20 minutes
  • Snorkeling with Guide – 4,500 yen
    • must be 6 or older
    • 90 minutes
    • 10:00 – 16:30
  • Scrambler – 1,00 Yen per person
    • must be 6 or older
    • 4 people max
    • 10 minutes
  • Life-Saving Junior Program – 1,000 Yen
    • elementary and junior high school students
    • 60 minutes
    • 5 people

Auto Camping: Open year round and all holidays

  • Over night camping
    • Bring your own tent – 3,830 Yen
    • 3 pm to 2 pm the next day
    • Renting a permanent tent – 6,440 Yen
    • electricity – 510 Yen
  • Day Camping
    • Bring your own tent – 1,910 Yen
    • 10:00 to 14:00
    • must have revelations at least a day in advanced
    • Renting a permanent tent – 3,110 Yen
    • electricity – 250 Yen
  • Over Night Cabin
    • 16:00 to 10:00 the next day
    • Small  (2 – 3 people) – 3,280 yen
    • Medium (4 – 5 people) – 3,860 yen
    • Large (6 – 7 people) – 5,920 yen
    • electricity – 510 Yen
    • bring your own bedding, pots, dishes, etc
  • Day Cabin
    • 11:00 to 15:00
    • must have revelations at least a day in advanced
    • Small (2 – 3 people) – 250 yen
    • Medium-sized (4 – 5 people) – 310 yen
    • Large (6 – 7 people) – 500 yen
    • electricity – 250 Yen
    • bring your own bedding, pots, dishes, etc

Non-Auto Camping:

I think there is free camping here. But, I’m not completely sure.

Hours:

  • I think this place closes, but I cannot find any information about it other than when the office is closed for checking into the cabins, campsites, and such.

Notes:

  • Facilities – Restrooms, showers, cabins, auto-camping, free camping, communal kitchen, beach.
  • There is an aquarium nearby.
    • adult 1540 yen
    • 9:00-17:00 Closed Tuesdays
    • free parking
  • Beach map

Map:


Me in my swimming hat

Year 2 with to Air Conditioning

It was that time of year again, when the sun, in all its glory, reminded us that our little apartment has no air conditioning. We still refused to buy an a/c unit. One would cost about $2,000. Instead we took one-fourth of that money and headed to the beach several times this summer.

Very Nice

One beach we visited was the nicest beach, in Japan, that I have ever seen! It’s called Hamada beach. The sand is soft; not the rocky foot-knives type sand normally at Japanese beaches. You can actually walk bare footed there.

The day we went the beach was not crowded at all. There was even a section of the beach that we had all to ourselves. The sea was calm there. It was very peaceful and quiet.

The “Crowded” Area

Beach Wear

The first day at the beach I actually wore a swim suit, but with a hat. Most women in Japan are almost fully dressed at the beach. They don’t want to tan. At first it looks silly, but then when you think about it, it makes sense.

Sunscreen only does so much. And, although I don’t mind getting a tan, I don’t like when my skin peels. When I wear a hat while swimming, my face does not peel even when I forget to reapply sunscreen. That’s great!

No more sun-burns for me.

I’ve even started to swim with a long sleeve t-shirt when I know I will spend many days at the beach.

All Pictures

Posted in Hamada 市, Honshū, Japan, Shimane 県 | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

Rice Drumming

Posted by Heliocentrism on January 10, 2016

Sunday, June 7, 2015

All Pictures

Japan
(日本)
(Nippon)

How to get there:

You can enter Japan by plane or boat. Though, the number of boats going to Japan from other countries has gone down significantly.

Americans get 90-day visas to Japan at the port of entry. Check with your nearest Japanese embassy or consulate for visa information.

Phone:

Website:

Downloads:

Videos:

Books:

Notes:

  • Be careful what over the counter drugs you bring into Japan.  Actifed, Sudafed, Vicks inhalers, and Codeine are prohibited.
  • International ATMs are really hard to find; more so if you aren’t in a big city. Many places in Japan do not use credit cards. Take cash and call your bank to ask what ATMs or banks in Japan will work with your cash card.
    • ATMs have opening hours. Usually 9:00-18:00 (They have better work hours than most business men and women here.)
    • The Post Office bank seems to work with the most international cards.
  • You can get a Japan Railway, pass which saves you a lot of money on the trains, but you can only buy it before you get to Japan and you cannot be a resident of Japan. (I don’t have more information about it because I’ve only ever lived in Japan; I’ve never been a tourist here.)

Miyoshi City (Hiroshima Prefecture)
(三次市)
(Miyoshi Shi)

How to get there:

  • Coordinates 34°48’11.2″N 132°51’21.9″E

Address:

2-8-1 Tokaichi-naka
Miyoshi city, Hiroshima prefecture 728-8501

Phone:

  • 0824-62-6111

Websites:

Cost:

  • This town is one of the few towns in Japan that has more than enough free parking everywhere.

Hours:

  • This is a small town. I know it calls itself a city, but it’s not. Nothing opens before 9:00 and everything is closed by 21:00. The exception being convenience stores which are always open.

Notes:

  • There are many Miyoshi cities in Japan. This one is in Hiroshima prefecture.
  • This town is mostly known for its wine (and lack of Starbucks).

Map:


Mark and Mark

There aren’t too many foreigners in Miyoshi, but apparently half of them are named “Mark”. The guy in the photo next to Mark, is Mark’s friend, Mark. He is also from Michigan, not too far from where Mark grew up. They have similar hobbies, opinions, and likes and sometimes it’s hard to distinguish which one is being talked about.

The Cult of Mark evolves dressing up and standing in mud.

So how did they end up like that?

Well, Mark was talking to some lady at work; not a co-worker, just some old lady who likes to show up and practice her English, I guess. (And we’re talking about my Mark.) She told him that the town of Mirasaka, which is a sub-division of Miyoshi, was having a rice planting festival.

Mark has planted rice before. Almost every foreigner in Japan has. It’s marketed as being part of the “Japanese experience”. If you’re lucky, no one will try to charge you for it.

Usually you get suckered in by a farming family who will “let you have a great time planting rice all afternoon” in their field. Sometimes they do give you lunch, but not always. It’s back-breaking labor and not worth a free lunch in the slightest!

I mean, seriously, what part about this looks like fun?

I’ve never done rice planting myself, not because of any cleverness on my part, but because of shoes. I can’t find decent shoes to fit me in this country, so I’m sure as hell not ruining any of my nice shoes for a day of “fun rice planting”.

Nobody likes this crap! Nobody!

Mark did some rice planting when he worked at a pre-school in Oita. His school thought it would be fun for the little kids to plant rice. They just got really muddy and cried a lot. Those rice farmers prey on the young and naive as well as foreigners.

Drumming for Rice

The old lady’s English was not that great. So Mark thought the conversation went something like this:

Lady – We’re having a rice planting festival. We don’t have many people but we need more planters and drummers.

Mark – Drummers?

Lady – Yes, drummers. Some people beat drums while other people plant rice. Are you interested?

Mark – As long as I don’t have to actually plant any rice and I get to stay clean… why not?

Lady – And bring as many of your friends as you can! No females though.

Some of these rows are crooked!

Mark sent the call out. Mostly people were interested, but there were many festivals going on in Miyoshi at the time. All of our friends were busy doing other festivals, except for Mark, the other Mark. (Okay, honestly, they heard the words “rice planting” and wanted nothing to do with this festival. Some even questioned if they should continue being friends with Mark.)

So Mark got back to the lady. She seemed disappointed that only 2 foreigners would be doing the rice planting this year. She told Mark that both he and Mark would have to come to rice planting practices every Sunday for the next 5 Sundays.

Mark – “Wait… What!?”

Yes. They had practices! Mark and Mark ended up going to only one. When he got back from the one and only practice, Mark fully understood what was going on.

“We’ll just stand here” – The Marks

Mark – The drummers did the practicing. They had been practicing for months now and it’s pretty much too late to     become a drummer.

Me – So, you’re going to have to plant rice?

Mark – No, that’s only for women. Men drum. Women plant rice.

Me – So what do you do?

Everyone was quite surprised to see the Marks at the practice. There was no shortage of people as the old lady said. They had a number of participants they were very comfortable with. In fact, there was a bit of a discussion with the festival people and the old lady to figure out what the Marks could actually do during the festival. All the jobs were already taken.

During the discussion the Marks thought, “Hey, great! We’ll just leave you to do your thing. We just wanted to help because we thought you needed people, but since you don’t… I mean, we don’t really want to be here!” But the old lady would have none of that. They had promised, so they were committed.

Good job boys!

Eventually it was decided that they would hand the women the rice to plant and wash any fallen drum sticks. These were basically token jobs. All the women had plenty of extra planting rice with them and the men clean their own sticks when they dropped them. But they didn’t do any of the hard work and stayed relatively clean.

Knee deep in mud

The whole thing lasted about an hour. There was a lot of festival food. When the vendors found out the my husband was one of the Marks, they refused to let me pay for anything. In fact, they gave me more free snacks and treats for the guys.

The boys had fun, but most importantly they learned a valuable lesson. “Stay away from anything that has anything to do with rice planting!”

All Pictures

Posted in Hiroshima 県, Japan, Mirasaka 町, Miyoshi 市 | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

Gates And a Bridge

Posted by Heliocentrism on January 3, 2016

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

All Pictures

Japan
(日本)
(Nippon)

How to get there:

You can enter Japan by plane or boat. Though, the number of boats going to Japan from other countries has gone down significantly.

Americans get 90-day visas to Japan at the port of entry. Check with your nearest Japanese embassy or consulate for visa information.

Phone:

Website:

Downloads:

Videos:

Books:

Notes:

  • Be careful what over the counter drugs you bring into Japan.  Actifed, Sudafed, Vicks inhalers, and Codeine are prohibited.
  • International ATMs are really hard to find; more so if you aren’t in a big city. Many places in Japan do not use credit cards. Take cash and call your bank to ask what ATMs or banks in Japan will work with your cash card.
    • ATMs have opening hours. Usually 9:00-18:00 (They have better work hours than most business men and women here.)
    • The Post Office bank seems to work with the most international cards.
  • You can get a Japan Railway, pass which saves you a lot of money on the trains, but you can only buy it before you get to Japan and you cannot be a resident of Japan. (I don’t have more information about it because I’ve only ever lived in Japan; I’ve never been a tourist here.)

Senjojiki Plateau Campground
(千畳敷高原キャンプ場)
(Senjōjiki Kōgen Kyanpuba)

How to get there:

  • Coordinates: 34°24’51.2″N 131°05’26.6″E

Address:

Country Kitchen Yubinbango759-4402
Yamaguchi Prefecture Nagato Hioki in 1138-1

Phone:

  • 0837-37-3824

Websites:

Cost:

  •      1-5 people:  500 yen / night
  •   6-10 people:  800 yen / night
  • 11-30 people: 1,200 yen / night
  • 31-50 people: 1,800 yen / night
  • 51-70 people: 2,500 yen / night
  • 71 or more people:  3,000 yen / night
  • day camp is free

Hours: (Country Kitchen’s hour’s)

  • 11:00~17:00
  • Closed on Thursdays

Notes:

  • To check-in the camp ground, go to the coffee shop, Country Kitchen. It’s at the top of the hill.
  • Staying at the campsite gives you a discount at the coffee shop. But, I’m not sure what this discount is. I think it might be 100 yen off a waffle or something.
  • There are no showers at the campsite itself. 
    • There is an onsen nearby (Kiwado Hot Spring/ 黄波戸温泉).
    • Directions
    • Coordinates: 34°23’46.2″N 131°07’55.3″E
    • ¥ 400 – adults
    • Closed Mondays
      • 10:00 to 21:00 (May-August)
      • 10:00 to 20:00 (September to April)
    • A small towel comes with the entrance fee, but you might want to bring your own regular sized towel.
    • Phone: 0837-37-4320
  • During the holidays, all the toilet paper gets used up by day campers. You should bring some TP of your own for the evenings.

Motonosumi Inari Shrine
(元乃隅稲成神社)

How to get there:

  • Coordinates 34°25’14.6″N 131°03’46.6″E

Address:

Japan, 〒759-4712 山口県長門市, 油谷津黄498

Yuyatsuou, Nagato City, Yamaguchi Prefecture

Phone:

  • +81 837-23-1137

Websites:

Cost:

  • free

Hours:

  • Normal Temple hours

Notes:

  • There is free parking in an open lot across the street.
  • The coin box, where you would put your temple offerings, is on the top of entrance torii. If you can throw your coins into the box, your wish will be granted.

Kintai Bridge
(錦帯橋)

How to get there:

  • Coordinates

Address:

1-14-51 Imazumachi
Iwakuni city Yamaguchi, Japan 740-8585

Phone:

  • 0827-29-5116 (Iwakuni Tourism Promotion Division)

Websites:

Cost:

  • 300 JYN to cross the bridge
  • 200 JYN for nearby parking

Hours:

  • Always Open

Notes:

  • In August there are fireworks displays at night.
  • At night the bridge is illuminated.
  • There are many food vendors around the bridge in the afternoon and evenings.
  • You can also enjoy traditional cormorant fishing near the bridge, but have no information about that.

Map:


I didn’t even bother to count them.

On the last day of our big camping trip we saw Motonosumi Inari Shrine. It’s a foxy little shrine with a great view of the sea. We took lots of photos here. But, no matter how many I took, I didn’t get one picture that look as nice as the one in the Yamaguchi tourism ads.

The Last Photo

But we could not stay long. Two of the group had to drive all the way back to Oita prefecture. We said our goodbyes to the best camping friends we had. We had been camping with Freda and Roland for the past 4 years. They would be leaving Japan the next July and heading back to South Africa.

Hopefully, we’ll see them again in their hometown one day.

A Fancy Bridge

Kintai bridge was only slightly out of our way, so Mark and I went to see it. We walked around the town a bit, but it was clear that the bridge was the main attraction of the town.

We bought a grilled squid, which was not as good as the grilled squid from TsunoshimaWe sat on some steps and ate our squid while looking at the bridge. Then we headed home.

All Pictures

Posted in Honshū, Iwakuni 市, Japan, Nagato 市, Yamaguchi 県 | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

Traffic

Posted by Heliocentrism on December 27, 2015

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

All Pictures

Japan
(日本)
(Nippon)

How to get there:

You can enter Japan by plane or boat. Though, the number of boats going to Japan from other countries has gone down significantly.

Americans get 90-day visas to Japan at the port of entry. Check with your nearest Japanese embassy or consulate for visa information.

Phone:

Website:

Downloads:

Videos:

Books:

Notes:

  • Be careful what over the counter drugs you bring into Japan.  Actifed, Sudafed, Vicks inhalers, and Codeine are prohibited.
  • International ATMs are really hard to find; more so if you aren’t in a big city. Many places in Japan do not use credit cards. Take cash and call your bank to ask what ATMs or banks in Japan will work with your cash card.
    • ATMs have opening hours. Usually 9:00-18:00 (They have better work hours than most business men and women here.)
    • The Post Office bank seems to work with the most international cards.
    • Sometimes 7-Eleven atms work with foreign banks too, if you’re lucky.
  • You can get a Japan Railway, pass which saves you a lot of money on the trains, but you can only buy it before you get to Japan and you cannot be a resident of Japan. (I don’t have more information about it because I’ve only ever lived in Japan; I’ve never been a tourist here.)

Senjojiki Plateau Campground
(千畳敷高原キャンプ場)
(Senjōjiki Kōgen Kyanpuba)

How to get there:

  • Coordinates: 34°24’51.2″N 131°05’26.6″E

Address:

Country Kitchen Yubinbango759-4402
Yamaguchi Prefecture Nagato Hioki in 1138-1

Phone:

  • 0837-37-3824

Websites:

Cost:

  •      1-5 people:  500 yen / night
  •   6-10 people:  800 yen / night
  • 11-30 people: 1,200 yen / night
  • 31-50 people: 1,800 yen / night
  • 51-70 people: 2,500 yen / night
  • 71 or more people:  3,000 yen / night
  • day camp is free

Hours: (Country Kitchen’s hour’s)

  • 11:00~17:00
  • Closed on Thursdays

Notes:

  • To check-in the camp ground, go to the coffee shop, Country Kitchen. It’s at the top of the hill.
  • Staying at the campsite gives you a discount at the coffee shop. But, I’m not sure what this discount is. I think it might be 100 yen off a waffle or something.
  • There are no showers at the campsite itself. 
    • There is an onsen nearby (Kiwado Hot Spring/ 黄波戸温泉).
    • Directions
    • Coordinates: 34°23’46.2″N 131°07’55.3″E
    • ¥ 400 – adults
    • Closed Mondays
      • 10:00 to 21:00 (May-August)
      • 10:00 to 20:00 (September to April)
    • A small towel comes with the entrance fee, but you might want to bring your own regular sized towel.
    • Phone: 0837-37-4320
  • During the holidays, all the toilet paper gets used up by day campers. You should bring some TP of your own for the evenings.

Tsunoshima
(角島) 

How to get there:

  • Coordinates 34°21’37.7″N 130°52’31.8″E

Websites:

Downloads:

Cost:

  • free

Hours:

  • always avaible

Notes:

  • Traffic gets very heavy during holidays. There is only one bridge to the island.
  • My advice is to park near the bridge, and take a bus to the island. Later in the day, when traffic get really thick, it is literally quicker to walk from the Lighthouse back to your car.
  • From JR Kotti there is a bus to Tsunoshima (20 min).
  • If there is no traffic, I recommend not taking the bus.

Tsunoshima Bridge
(角島大橋)
(Tsunoshima Ohashi)

How to get there:

  • Coordinates 34°21’07.5″N 130°53’14.9″E

Address:

Kanda, Hohoku-cho, Shimonoseki-shi, Yamaguchi-ken

Phone:

  • 083−786−0234 (Hohoku-cho Tourist Association)

Websites:

Cost:

  • free

Hours:

  • always available

Notes:

  • There is an area near the bridge where you can park for free and take lovely photos of the sunset and the bridge.

Church from the movie:

Miracle in Four Days
(四日間の奇跡)
(Yokkakan no Kiseki)

How to get there:

  • Coordinates 34°21’12.0″N 130°50’57.7″E

Address:

山口県下関市豊北町大字角島1413-1

Phone:

  • 083-786-0477 (Tsunoshima Ohama Campsite)

Websites:

Cost:

  • It’s free to look at the church
  • I can’t find any information on the campsite.

Hours:

  • The church is always available.
  • I can’t find any information on the campsite.

Notes:

  • The church is not a real church. It’s just the shell of a church that was used in a movie.
  • It is near the Tsunishima Campgrounds.

Tsunoshima Lighthouse
(角島灯台)
(tsunoshima tōdai)

How to get there:

  • Coordinates 34°21’09.0″N 130°50’27.5″E

Address:

〒759-5332 山口県下関市豊北町角島2343-2

Phone:

  • 083-231-1111

Websites:

 

Cost:

  • 200 JYN
  • 300 JYN for parking
    • There is free parking by the campsite. Theoretically, you could park and the campsite for free and walk to the lighthouse. But, you might not want to do this on a hot day.

Hours:

  • May – September: 9:30 – 16:30 (Last admittance 16:15)
  • October – April: 9:00 – 16:00 (Last admittance 16:45)

 

Notes:


Tsunoshimaterasu
(角島テラス)

How to get there:

  • Coordinates 34°20’59.6″N 130°50’25.6″E

Address:

山口県 下関市 豊北町大字角島字田ノ尻2899-1

Phone:

  • +81-80-9869-9733

Downloads:

Cost:

  • Dishes are about ¥1,000~¥1,999
  • There is free parking across the street.

Hours:

  • 10:00~18:00

Map:


It’s too cold to sleep in anyways.

Mark and I woke up early in the morning. Normally we wake up with the sun, even on holidays. We try to sleep in, but we just can’t.

It wouldn’t have matter this day anyway. The couple in the tent next to our friends took it upon themselves to personally get all of us out of our tents to see the sunrise. The South Africans tried so very hard to ignore the couple, but in the end it was just less annoying to get out of their tent and take a few pictures.

This kept them entertained for hours!

After breakfast the boys discovered that food left on the table would be stolen by hawks. The birds would swoop down and grab cookies, meat, or crackers. So they spent most of the morning putting out treats and trying to get the perfect hawk photo.

Of course, once the early-bird couple saw what they were doing they put a stop to it. They were really bossy for people we didn’t know! Later that morning we nearly gave them a standing ovation when they started to, very slowly, pack up their stuff. I just hoped that they were in fact leaving and not moving closer to our tents to keep a better eye on us.

Just a normal day at church.

What we wanted to see was the Motonosumi Inari Shrine. Our friends, who planned this whole trip, somehow thought it was on this island. We drove around looking for the shrine while stopping to check out other stuff on the island too.

We came across a church that was a prop from a movie none of us had heard of. There was nothing inside… or rather, there was no inside.

Yes, I’m wearing a Mr. Sparkle t-shirt.

In our hunt for the shrine, we found free parking near a pizza shop. It was a hot day, so cold drinks and pizza seemed like the perfect things to keep us occupied while Roland figured out where the shrine was. While Mark and I waited for our pizzas, we tried some grilled squid which this island was famous for. It was really good.

The shrine was not on this island. But by the time we realized that, we were eating pizza and didn’t care. We could see the stuff that was on the island, and visit the shrine the next day. The pizzas were pretty good.

No elevator in that thing?

We walked to the lighthouse museum then climbed the stairs to the top of the lighthouse. Personally, I think there were way more people in the lighthouse than there should have been. It was a very tight squeeze. When I had gotten my fill of acrophobia and wanted to come down, I had to wait for a long procession of people coming up the stairs. This thing was clearly built for a small crew.

Who are the suckers, the people in the air-conditioned cars or people passing the cars by walking?

It was a nice day. We were taking things easy. Not even not seeing the shrine got us down. The next thing we had planned was to drive to the other side of the islands one bridge and watch the sunset. It would have been a fully relaxing end to a stress free day.

There is one problem that arises when you have an island that is popular with tourists in the height of tourist season with only one two-lane bridge leading on or off the island. TRAFFIC!! The traffic was so bad, people casually walking strolled right passed us. What should have been a  20 minute ride took us 2 hours. 2 HOURS!!

I wouldn’t say it was worth it.

We did manage to get a few photos of the sunset though. And you can see some of the poor saps still stuck in traffic on the bridge.

But on the bright side, when we got back to the campsite the early-bird couple was gone!

All Pictures

Posted in Honshū, Japan, Nagato 市, Shimonoseki 市, Yamaguchi 県 | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

The Best Campsite

Posted by Heliocentrism on July 3, 2015

Monday, May 4, 2015

All Pictures

Japan
(日本)
(Nippon)

How to get there:

You can enter Japan by plane or boat. Though, the number of boats going to Japan from other countries has gone down significantly.

Americans get 90-day visas to Japan at the port of entry. Check with your nearest Japanese embassy or consulate for visa information.

Phone:

Website:

Downloads:

Videos:

Books:

Notes:

  • Be careful what over the counter drugs you bring into Japan.  Actifed, Sudafed, Vicks inhalers, and Codeine are prohibited.
  • InternationalATMs are really hard to find; more so if you aren’t in a big city. Many places in Japan do not use credit cards. Take cash and call your bank to ask whatATMs or banks in Japan will work with your cash card.
    • ATMs have opening hours. Usually 9:00-18:00 (They have better work hours than most business men and women here.)
    • The Post Office bank seems to work with the most international cards.
  • You can get a Japan Railway, pass which saves you a lot of money on the trains, but you can only buy it before you get to Japan and you cannot be a resident of Japan. (I don’t have more information about it because I’ve only ever lived in Japan; I’ve never been a tourist here.)

Tamagawa Campsite
(田万川キャンプ場)
(Tamagawa Kyanpujō)

near

Tamagawa Onsen
(田万川温泉憩いの湯 )
(Tamagawa Onsen’ikoinoyu)

How to get there:

  • Coordinates 34°39’09.7″N 131°39’44.3″E

Address:

Campsite: 〒759-3112 山口県萩市江崎

Onsen:

1740-1 Shimotama
Hagi, Yamaguchi Prefecture 759-3112

Phone:

  • Campsite: 08387-2-1150
  • Onsen: 08387-2-0370

Websites:

Downloads:

Cost:

  • Campsite:
    • 1,000 JYN/ Night / Tent
  • Onsen
    • ¥ 410 / adult
    • ¥ 200-100 / kids

Hours:

  • Campsite:
    • 8: 30 ~ 19: 00
  • Onsen:
    • Closed Mondays
    • 10: 00 ~21: 00 (last admittance 20: 30)

Notes:

  • To check-in at the campsite, go to the front desk of the onsen.
  • This campsite is near or part of Yutori Park Tamagawa.
  • There are no tents to rent.
  • There is also RV camping for ¥ 1,000 per day.
  • I’m not sure it there are showers on the camp grounds, but there is that onsen nearby.

Senjojiki Plateau Campground
(千畳敷高原キャンプ場)
(Senjōjiki Kōgen Kyanpuba)

How to get there:

  • Coordinates: 34°24’51.2″N 131°05’26.6″E

Address:

Country Kitchen Yubinbango759-4402
Yamaguchi Prefecture Nagato Hioki in 1138-1

Phone:

  • 0837-37-3824

Websites:

Cost:

  •      1-5 people:  500 yen / night
  •   6-10 people:  800 yen / night
  • 11-30 people: 1,200 yen / night
  • 31-50 people: 1,800 yen / night
  • 51-70 people: 2,500 yen / night
  • 71 or more people:  3,000 yen / night
  • day camp is free

Hours: (Country Kitchen’s hour’s)

  • 11:00~17:00
  • Closed on Thursdays

Notes:

  • To check-in the camp ground, go to the coffee shop, Country Kitchen. It’s at the top of the hill.
  • Staying at the campsite gives you a discount at the coffee shop. But, I’m not sure what this discount is. I think it might be 100 yen off a waffle or something.
  • There are no showers at the campsite itself. 
    • There is an onsen nearby (Kiwado Hot Spring/ 黄波戸温泉).
    • Directions
    • Coordinates: 34°23’46.2″N 131°07’55.3″E
    • ¥ 400 – adults
    • Closed Mondays
      • 10:00 to 21:00 (May-August)
      • 10:00 to 20:00 (September to April)
    • A small towel comes with the entrance fee, but you might want to bring your own regular sized towel.
    • Phone: 0837-37-4320
  • During the holidays, all the toilet paper gets used up by day campers. You should bring some TP of your own for the evenings.

Map:


It rained all night.

Should I stay or should I go?

When we woke up this morning we had the choice of taking it easy and spending another night here or spending the day driving south to Yamaguchi and spending two nights there. When these options were presented, the ladies and I had just returned from using the bathroom. This bathroom had evidence that someone in the camp was very sick… We wanted to leave.

Breakfast for 6 on a rainy morning

The rain was supposed to stop around noon. We would take a chance and leave in the early afternoon. Even though that seemed like a long shot, it was worth it to pack up a dry tent instead of a wet one.

In the mean time we made breakfast, ate it, and did dishes. Then the plan was to go to the onsen to take showers and then take down the tents that would hopefully be dry by then. But then it stopped raining and the sun came out earlier than expected.

The new plan was to put as many things in the sun so that it could get dried out. Then someone decided to just take down their fly. And then someone decided to just flip over their tent. Then someone decided to just take down their poles. And the next thing I knew we spent an hour drying every thing out and taking down the tents and packing the cars.

So then we went to the onsen, showered, and left town.

Oh wow!

We drove for half a day and ended at this wonderful campsite. Roland had saved the best for last.

We were all glad we didn’t choose to stay 2 nights at that other campsite.

All Pictures

Posted in Honshū, Japan, Nagato 市, Yamaguchi 県 | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

 
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