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Archive for October, 2014

Okayama Castle

Posted by Heliocentrism on October 31, 2014

March 17, 2014

All Pictures

Wanna go for a walk?

Let’s Walk

This started out as a walk near the river by our apartment. It was a very nice day and before we knew it we were downtown. Since we were in the area we went to the castle to see what there was to see.

Walking and looking fabulous

It’s a really nice park. The gardeners were getting the place ready for spring. In a few weeks the place would be decked out with flowers and other plant life. There were many spots to relax in the shade or sun. There was also a picnic area where people can eat their bentos.

Nice!

There were also many runners and joggers. There is a trail that goes around the castle grounds. So, if you want to exercise in this beauty, you don’t have to pay the entrance fee. There is also a bathroom along the running trail.

Complimentary music whenever this guy is practising his trombone

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 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.)

Okayama Castle
(岡山城)
(Okayama-jō)

&

Korakuen Garden
(後楽園)
(Kōraku-en)

How to get there:

  • Coordinates 34° 39′ 54.65″ N, 133° 56′ 9.79″ E

Address:

2-chome Marunouchi, Okayama-shi, Okayama

Phone:

  • Castle: +81 86-225-2096
  • Garden: +81 86-272-1148

Websites:

Cost:

  • Castle – 300 yen
  • Garden – 400 yen
  • Castle & Garden 560
  • Prices vary when there are special exhibits.

Hours:

  • 9:00 ~ 17:30
  • last entry is at 17:00
  • close Dec 29 – 31

Downloads:

Notes:

  • Parking is near the Garden. It costs 100 Yen/ hour

Map:

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

Naked Men

Posted by mracine on October 24, 2014

February 16, 2014 

All Pictures

 

A temple full of naked men

Written by Mark

“Not, again” I thought as my body was being crushed on a wooden beam. My arms were pinned down to my sides. I forgot to keep my arms up; a rookie mistake. The sweat streamed down my face from the heat of all the bodies. The crowd surged again and pushed me helplessly in one direction and then another. There were screams coming from all around and people accidentally touching parts of my body which made me more than a little bit uncomfortable. This was the Naked Men’s festival and I was in the middle of it.

I got up that day preparing for what was to come ahead. I put on my coat, gloves, and hat, kissed my wife goodbye, and left my apartment. I lived only two train stops from Sadaiji station, where the event took place. However, I took the train in the opposite direction towards Okayama Station. The Naked Man Festival was totally new to me. I needed help from a group of pros.

I arrived at Okayama station. I pulled out my cell phone and call my friend, Justin. He was crazy enough to do the festival with me. We met at the south side of the Station. This is where we would board a bus that would take us to Naked Men. We were early and the buses weren’t there yet. There were a few other foreigners there, but not much more than usual. We went to the McDonald’s trying to build up stores of fat on our bodies. We’d need them to keep warm later.

Anything to be on TV.

When we finished eating, we went back to where the buses would be. There were several empty buses waiting to be loaded. A few groups of foreigners were walking around. I assumed that they were waiting for the go ahead to get on the bus.

As I looked around, I noticed two groups of people filming some of the foreigners there. And of course, those foreigners were hamming it up for the camera. Typical… Justin jokingly said that we should try to be on camera too. I took the joke seriously and we made our way in front of one of the cameras. I really hammed it up, too.

Getting ready for the cold

Finally, the person leading the foreigner’s bus called for us to get on. We all climbed aboard. A camera crew also joined us on the bus. Apparently, they were going to film the whole trip. Our group leader did this event several times before. He told us the rules and what we should watch for. “Keep your arms up while you’re in the crowd. If they go down, you won’t be able to brace yourself when you fall and it’ll be hard to put them back up. Be careful of the steps. They are made of stones and they’ll hurt if you fall on them. Stay away from the pillars, they don’t flex as much as your bones. Make way for any people in dark clothes. They are emergency personnel and they’ll be getting hurt people away from the crowd.”

We’ll need to remember what warmth feels like.

Then the leader of our group got to the heart of the matter. “We will be going for the shingi, a magical stick of incense that can be traded for lots of cash. This is what you want. There are also other sticks thrown but can’t be traded in for money. However, they are extremely good luck and you should go after those as well. If you get a stick, don’t let it go, hide it (who knows where?), and make your way out the temple area.”

While we weren’t organized enough as a group to work together, the general consensus was to help and protect each other. “Oh,” the leader added, “if you see a Japanese person with yakuza like tattoos with a stick, let them keep it.”

The bus took us from Okayama bus station to Sadaiji bus station. While it clearly states in the rules that you shouldn’t drink before participating in the festival, this didn’t deter most from drinking on the bus. I confess, I took a few sips from a bottle as well.

Drumming for nudity

It was dark outside when we arrived. We all got off the bus and followed the leader from the bus station to the temple. It was about one fifth of a mile away and people greeted and cheered us on the way to the tents.

If you participate you don’t really get to enjoy the other parts of the festival. There were people performing for crowds and lots of festival foods. There were things to do and see but we were just herded straight to our tent.

Do I look okay?

At our designated tent, we paid our entrance and clothing fees. The clothing consisted of tabbies so thin that socks would have been better and a fundoshi, just a long strip of cloth; that’s it. We went into the tent to change. The tent was large and people claimed their area to change. In the center of the tent was an old man and woman. These two volunteers were the skilled helpers that help you get dressed properly.

better than wearing pants!

I took off my coat, hat, gloves, sweater, shirt, undershirt, pants, underwear, socks, and shoes. I put them in a bag provided and made my way into the line to have my fundoshi put on. I guess I‘ve been to enough onsens to not feel awkward being nude around others. Then again there was an old lady in the tent with a smile on her face like it was her birthday or something.

The old lady instructed me to hold one end of the cloth while she started wrapping it around my body. At that time, the camera crew joined us in the tent. Onsens be damned! It was a hell of an awkward situation. I was getting interviewed being mostly naked while and old lady played grab ass.

With the fundoshi wrapped around my body, the old man helped secured it in place by giving me an atomic wedgie. We were told to use the colored electrical tape to secure our tabbies from falling off our feet. I wrapped them around my leg, then decided to decorate my arms and hands with red, white, and blue tape. Got to represent America!

Ready to begin

So there we stood in the freezing tent while we waited for our turn in the festival. We were cold, so cold. I decided I needed more food to eat. McD’s didn’t cut it. Especially after having a few drinks.

I grabbed some money and snuck out of the tent. There were specially roped off areas that people weren’t allowed to cross. It’s to keep onlookers and participants separated. I ignored the rules, jumped the rope, and queued behind the first food line. It was a little awkward being mostly nude while everyone else around was not. I grabbed some hot udon and chugged it down.

I made my way back to the tent. It was about time to line up. The leader had us in columns of four. I was in one of the middle columns in the middle of the pack. We put our arms over each other’s necks and started to shout “Get the shingi!” over and over again.

A pool in the middle of winter?

Our group followed other groups into the temple area. They had the temple set up so participants made several loops around the area. The first stop was the cleansing pool.

It was about three to four feet deep and filled with freezing water. The water didn’t have ice in it or anything like that, but I would like to point out that I was wearing a coat and several layers of clothes when it was warmer in the day. Without hesitation we headed into the water. Each step splashed cold drops of water onto everyone. It didn’t help that people inside our group were using their hands to splash each other while we walked through the water.

marching around the temple

By the time we got out, I was totally soaked. We marched up to the temple where the shingi would be thrown. We continued around the temple to the shrine. I suppose we were to say our prayers or something to that effect, but I’m not sure. We continued our way over a tiny bridge where the gathering people could see us.

We went to where we had entered, and to my horror, we were making another lap around the temple. Next stop, cleansing pool. Again, I got soaked. At the end of that loop, we did another lap. The nice thing about the third trip to the cleansing pool was that by then I was too numb to feel much of anything.

“Oh god I’m so cold. How many times do I have to watch them circle the bloody temple!?”

After the third lap, we were allowed to place ourselves where we thought the shingi would be thrown. I went up the stone steps and found a place on the platform. The area was well lit from above.

I could see the window where the sticks would be thrown. I couldn’t get too close though. There were about a few thousand people blocking my way. Other people got behind me and pushed me a little forward. Then more people got behind them and pushed them forward as well. I was still feeling cold but the bodies surrounding me at least blocked the wind.

This seems safe.

We stood there on the platform. People crowded together, tightly packed like a tin of sardines. My arms got sore from keeping them up. It was getting warmer from all the body heat. I was starting to get my body temperature up when a head popped out a window from above.

I was really excited. This is it. A Buddhist priest looked at the pile of people from level above. He ducked his head back in and reached for something. He threw it down on us and…. I was wet again. The priest continued to throw ladles full of cold water for a while and then left us to enjoy our moistness.

This is crazy.

I was standing there tired, wet, and ready for this to be over. Then it happened. The crowd moved a little to the right, then a little to the left. Then it moved some to the front and some to the back. There were pushing and shoving. I guess everyone was trying to get the best spots possible but this was dangerous. We were on a platform with steps at the edges. The crowd moved even farther right, maybe two or three feet. Then three feet to the left. The crowd pushed forward and then back. So far back I had to put my foot on the top step. This was getting insane.

Over and over again, they were pushing. Each time, some people got knocked off the platform and fell onto the steps. Usually only a few. The people on the steps pushed and held the people above them. Then, the first great fall happened. I was in the middle of it. The push forward was strong and the response was even greater. I felt and heard the people behind me not getting the footing they needed to keep from falling. First a few people fell. But as the bodies lay on the stone steps, people in front of them lost their footing too. Like dominoes, people started to fall.

Without the resistance from the fallen people, the crowd from the front pushed twice as hard. I tripped over legs. I would have smashed my head and broken my shins if it weren’t for the kind people who I landed on. I tried my best to get off these poor men as fast as I could, but I too had people on top of me.

Safety workers to the rescue

I got up and made a stupid decision. I chose to stay. I moved in closer to one of the pillars. You know, the pillars I was told to stay away from. For the most part, the pillar acted as brace and shield from the moving crowd. Every once in a while the crowd would push just right and pin me to the pillar. Between the press of bodies and an unmovable pillar, I couldn’t move. I couldn’t breathe. That proved to be very uncomfortable.

Catch it!

I again, tried to move closer to the window where the shingi would be thrown. Again the window had a priest throwing water. It came as a blessing now. Steam would rise as soon as it hit the throng of people swaying below. Two more times I fell onto the steps. Luck stayed with me because I was never on the bottom of the pile.

The time was getting near. There were more priest by the window. They were about to throw something other than water. The crowd cheered and yelled and jostled for position. There was a fever running through the people.

I looked up at the window ready for the sticks to be thrown. I was ready. This was it this time. I could see the sticks in the hands of the priests. I could see the smoke from the incense stick known as the shingi. I could hear many voices in the crowd screaming “Get the shingi!” I was screaming with them as well. Then… Then, darkness. The lights were cut off. The sticks were thrown and the crowd moved in many directions at once.

Who will get it?

To be honest, I have no idea where the sticks were thrown. I don’t know how one gets out of the mass of people with any of the sticks in his hands. I couldn’t see what was going on. I could hear and see people pushing, shoving, and grabbing. What I couldn’t see, were any of the sticks. However, I could smell the shingi. It was everywhere.

The crowd didn’t sway as before. People knew where the shingi was and move towards it. The people with the shingi couldn’t push their way out. Thousands of people stood gridlocked on the platform. Then, strangely the crowd moved to the right. I’m not sure what happened but somehow the sticks must have been passed around.

People were frantically sniffing the air. “Did the shingi go to the right? Or did it go to the left?” It’s hard to tell. It was like this for four or five minutes. Then the crowd started to slowly disperse.

Clean up time

I wasn’t sure when or how the sticks got out, but like everyone else, I supposed that it did. I left the steps and started walking back to the tents. I was tired and a little disappointed that I didn’t even get a chance to touch one of the sticks. As I was leaving I saw a group of people gathered. I went to investigate.

To my surprise, eight or more men were grabbing onto a stick. I jumped into the group. I stuck my hand in and touched their hands. I gripped tighter, trying to get a hold on this stick. One or two people were ripped away and I got a hold of the stick. Twisting and turning, I got a better hold. I was so close.

I pulled and yanked. There were still many people surrounding us but only four guys and me had our hands on the stick. I pulled and pulled and pulled. Until, damn it. It slipped from my fingers and I fell.

I got up. The group of people who were fighting for the stick suddenly stopped. They all started walking away from the area, empty-handed and in different directions. “What just happened?” I wondered making my own way back to the tents.

Later, I think I figured it out. The last four were a group working together. When I fell, one of them pocketed (where?) it and they all walked away.

The shrine

I got to the changing tent. Not one stick was gotten by anyone from our group. The group leader was bouncing around happy because he at least got to hold the shingi. He went around letting people smell his hand which reeked of incense.

I took off my muddy loin cloth and got dressed. I was thankful to be in warm clothes again. I went back to the shrine looking for my wife. Most of the crowd was gone by then. When I found her, I asked her what she thought of the event where I stood outside in the freezing night mostly naked and wet. She complained to me how cold she was watching. We got into our car and went home.

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.)

Getty ImagesSaidaiji
(西大寺)
(Rhino Temple)

Naken Men’s Festival
(裸祭り)
(Hadaka Marsuri)

How to get there:

  • Coordinates

Address:

3-8-8 Saidaijinaka, Higashi-ku, Okayama, Okayama Prefecture 704-8116, Japan

Phone:

  • Kinryozan Saidaiji 086-942-2058

Websites:

Downloads:

Cost:

  • 500 yen

Hours:

  • 3rd Saturday in February
  • regular hours – 9:00 ~ 16:00

Video:

Notes:

  • This festival is held during the coldest month of the year.

Map:

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

Mini Trips

Posted by Heliocentrism on October 17, 2014

November 3, 2013 – February 9, 2014

All Pictures

He thinks I want to hurt Kobe’s economy.

Take a Little Trip

This entry is about the little trips we took either on the way to running errands, or just a long walk around our neighborhood. None of them would make a good trip on their own, but they make nice added detours.

That’s my foot!

Robot a PSA: Don’t Date Robots

We were heading up north to get some stuff from the Costco in Kobe. We left home really early in the morning so we would not get stuck in traffic. The plan worked beautifully; there were very few cars on the road. But, we ended up in Kobe a good 45 minutes before Costco opened. Rather than sit in the Costco parking lot we checked the GPS to find interesting things nearby.

That’s how we found Gigantor. Since it was so early in the morning there were plenty of probably-illegal parking spots on the side of the road. I wedged the car between two illegally parked trucks and checked my watch. I figured if we stayed less than 15 minutes we’d be okay. No one bothered us about our parking.

Hello human!

The next detour we came across on a map of the area. There was a picture of a robot on a map. So, we went to see it. It was in fact a big robot. He seemed friendly and loved having his photo taken.

Other than the robot, which is at a rest stop, there was nothing else to do in the area. There were restaurants at the rest stop, but they were all overpriced and didn’t seem like anything special.

What time is it? 11:20.

Around the Neighborhood

The rest are things we happened upon while walking near our apartment. This first one was some sort of oasis. There is a water-clock, a fountain where people fill up their jugs of water, a foot bath, and a water playground for kids.

I think it is supposed to promote keeping the water clean and safe to drink. This part of town has a lot of factories, so I guess people need to be reminded that clean water is a gift that should not be taken for granted.

prayers

The next is one of the many temples on the hill near our home. There is nothing special about this particular temple. It’s just a nice place to walk to and around and a great place to take some photos.

More clean water!

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.)

Gigantor
(鉄人28号)
in (Wakamatsu Park)
(若松公園)

How to get there:

  • Coordinates 34°39’20.1″N 135°08’38.2″E

Address:

Wakamatsu Park
兵庫県神戸市長田区若松町6丁目3

6-3 Wakamatsucho, Nagata-ku, Kobe, Hyogo Prefecture 653-0038, Japan

Websites:

Cost:

The park itself is free. You might have to pay for parking. There is a mall nearby, but I’m not sure what the park situation is like there. Mark and I just parked on the side of the road and only stayed long enough to take a few photos.

Hours:

  • Always available.

Videos:

Notes:

  • He protects the city of Kobe. From what? I don’t know. Let’s say… cattle rustlers.
  • There is a mall nearby.

Z-Gandum
(Ζガンダム)
at (道の駅久米の)
(Michi no eki kume no sato)

How to get there:

  • Coordinates 35°03’21.6″N 133°55’22.1″E

Address:

久米の里>
563-1 Miyao
Tsuyama, Okayama 709-4613

Phone:

  • 0868-57-7234

Websites:

Cost:

  • Free
  • Free Parking

Hours:

  • Always available

Time Aqua Garden
(おまちアクアガーデン)

How to get there:

  • Coordinates 34°41’10.8″N 133°58’21.3″E

Address:

おまちアクアガーデン
岡山県岡山市中区雄町

Phone:

Websites:

Cost:

  • Free
  • Free Parking

Hours:

  • 9:00 ~ 18:00

Notes:

  • You can refill your water bottle here for free.
  • There is also an area for kids to play in the water along with a foot bathe.

Ontokuji
(恩徳寺)

How to get there:

  • Coordinates 34°39’54.8″N 133°57’44.1″E

Address:

613 Sawada Naka Ward, Okayama, 703-8234 Japan

Phone:

  • +81 86-272-4843

Website:

Cost:

  • free

Hours:

  • regular temple hours

Notes:

  • This is a small temple in a small neighborhood.

Map:

Posted in Honshū, Hyōgo 県, Japan, Kobe 市, Okayama 県, Okayama 市 | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

2 Days Away from Our Prefecture

Posted by Heliocentrism on October 10, 2014

December 21-23, 2013

All Pictures

We’re going to a Park!

A Vacation for Pennies (uhm… yen)

Mark planned this trip. We wanted to do something for winter break, but we did not want to spend a lot of money. In Okayama we live near some nice big cities in Japan. Many of them are less than a half day’s drive. So we took two days to see 3 cities each with a tourist attraction that was not too expensive.

This is where all the flowers would be, if there were any flowers.

The first stop was the Expo Commemoration Park in Osaka. If I lived in Osaka and had kids, I would get a year pass for this place. It’s a huge park filled with stuff for kids to do. In the spring there are lots of flowers to admire. In winter, not so much.

We walked around the park exploring each section. When it started to get dark, we headed for the main gate. But, first I needed to use the restroom. We took a detour to pass a certain set of bathrooms and in that process, we found a group of people playing loud music.

Mark swore he heard K-pop and we marched into the crowd to check it out. We stood in the middle of herds of people. Half of them were standing in line the other half were jostling for seating space under several tents. We looked around for a sign to explain what was going on.

Ramen Expo!!!

“Mark, Mark, it’s a ramen expo!!!!”

I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned it on this blog yet or not, but I LOVE ramen. I am also quite an artist when it comes to making ramen at home. Depending on the mood I’m in I might add extra things to my ramen to liven up the flavor like, cheese, kimchi, vinegar, hot peppers, crushed peanuts, sesame seeds, sake for rice, lime, I could go on.

The Ramen Brochure

The lines people were in, where for the many types of ramen for sale. Mark got a brochure and we looked through it. I’m sure the booklet explained the history, making, or ingredients of each of the ramen, but we could not tell. We had to make our decisions based on pictures and the little Japanese we could read. Luckily for me, most of my Japanese vocabulary is centered around food.

Yum!

I knew I wanted one with meat (にく), an egg (たまご), and some kimchi (キムチ). We searched through the booklet and found a vendor that sold kimchi ramen with beef or pork. Almost all the vendors gave you the option of adding an egg or two to your soup. We walked to the back of the crowd and bought tickets for ramen. Then we looked for our vendor.

Which one is the one in the little ramen book?

We stood in several lines, trying to find the vendor we had chosen from the brochure. Many of the vendors used kanji to write their names, and fancy kanji at that. Everytime we thought we found the correct line, it turned out to be the wrong one. We gave up on finding this particular vendor and just went to the one with the shortest line. When we reached the front of the line I saw a sign that advertised extras like kimchi and ramen eggs for 50 yen per serving. “That’s good enough!”

What Luck!

We took our food and headed to one of the tents. They were heated and were a lot warmer than the benched outside. Just as we entered the tent a large group of people got up and left the tent. I think they were from a school field trip or something. We sat at an empty table and ate our ramen. By the time we finished our table was full, so we didn’t stick around to chat. There were more people who needed seats.

Christmas lights of Osaka

Next we headed downtown to look at the Christmas lights. Well, they didn’t have so much of a Christmas theme as a Christmas feel. There were a couple of displays that were Christmasy, but most of them were just nice lights to enjoy near the end of December.

winter garden

Christmas in Japan is not like Christmas in the states. You order some chicken from KFC weeks in advance along with a cake from some bakery. Of course you can decorate your door with red and green kitsch. You might even buy an already decorated 5 inch Christmas tree to place in your apartment or shop window. But, no one celebrates Christmas day here, anymore than one would celebrate Groundhog’s day, assuming you don’t live in Punxsutawney, PA.

You could almost fit a double bed in here.

We spent the night in a tiny hotel room. The hotel was really not nice. We only put up with it because it cost 2,000 yen ($20) and it was only one night. I would have prefered staying at an internet cafe, but this was cheaper.

Hurry up and take your photo!

Because our hotel was so dreadful, we got up early and drove to Nara. Mark wanted to see this temple just to feed the deer. Mark loves feeding things. They sell deer food from wooden boxes placed around the temple grounds. It’s based on the honor system. You put 100 yen in the box and take out one bag of deer food.

“It’s too early to eat, human!”

Since we got there so early the deer didn’t seem fully awake yet. We went into the temple and looked around there, before going back outside to feed the deer.

He reminds me of Zoltar

We found this wooden statue in the temple near the main hall. It is a Pindola called Binzuru. If you touch a part of your body that is ailing and rub the corresponding part of the statue’s body, you will be healed. I’m not sure what to do if one has, say breast cancer…

Now, who’s the popular kid?

Once the deer were fully rested, they were more willing to chase Mark around as he bestowed deer pellets upon them. Mark spent more time with those deer than he did in the temple.

The nicest entrance ticket I’ve ever had.

Next we went to the Kinkaku Temple in Kyoto. I really was not expecting much from this temple. I’ve seen many temples before. This wasn’t even the first temple I had seen that day.

Wow!

But when I saw it. Wow, that was one hell of a temple. We could not go near it of course; we were only allowed to admire from afar.

Try your hand at some good luck?

There were many stone cups for you to try to toss coins into for good luck, wealth, or health. Look at all that disappointment.

Hooray for English!

There were machines that sold fortunes. Usually there is a paper and drawer system of buying oracles at temples. I have never been able to crack it. But that doesn’t matter anyway, I can’t read Japanese. So even if I did find my correct fortune, I can’t read it. But this temple not only gives their fortunes by way of a vending machine, there was one in English!

My 2013 Oracle

It’s in English, but I’m still not sure what it says…

I have no idea where this is. 😦

After getting my oracle that told me to stay where I was, Mark and I left Kyoto and went home in Okayama. On the drive home we found this park, but I just can’t remember where this is. I wrote the name of the park down somewhere, but I can’t find that notebook. I only know that this park is in some town between Kyoto and Okayama.

…Maybe that was what the oracle was warning me about.

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 askwhatATMs 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.)

Expo Commemoration Park
(万博記念公園)
(Bampaku kinen kōen)

How to get there:

  • Coordinates 34°48’44.1″N 135°32’20.0″E

Address:

Senri-Banpaku-Koen, Suita-shi, Osaka

Phone:

  • 06-6877-7387

Websites:

Downloads:

Cost:

  • Adults – 250 yen
  • Kids-  70 yen
  • Under 7 – free
  • Parking –
    • 800 yen weekdays
    • 1,200 yen weekends

Hours:

  • Closed Wednesdays
  • 9:30 ~ 17:00 entry stops at 16:30

Notes:

  • Sometimes there are exhibits that cost extra to enter.

Tōdai-ji
(東大寺)
(Eastern Great Temple)

How to get there:

  • Coordinates 34° 41′ 21″ N, 135° 50′ 23″ E

Address:

1 Zōshi-chō, Nara, Nara Prefecture

Phone:

  • +81 742-22-5511

Websites:

Cost:

  • 500 yen (museum only)
  • 800 yen (museum and Temple)
  • Parking is free (I think…)

Hours:

  • 8:00 to 16:30 (November to February)
  • 8:00 to 17:00 (March)
  • 7:30 to 17:30 (April to September)
  • 7:30 to 17:00 (October)

Notes:

  • constructed in 752
  • There are many deer walking around the grounds you can feed.

Kinkaku-ji
(金閣寺)
(Temple of the Golden Pavilion)
(Rokuon-ji)
(鹿苑寺)
(Deer Garden Temple)

How to get there:

  • Coordinates 35° 2′ 22″ N, 135° 43′ 46″ E

Address:

1 Kinkakuji-cho, Kita-ku, Kyoto City

Phone:

  • 075-461-0013

Websites:

Cost:

  • 400 yen adults
  • 300 yen kids
  • There is no free parking. You can pay less and park further away, or pay more and park next to the temple’s entrance.

Hours:

  • 9:00 ~ 17:00

Notes:

  • This is one of the few places in Japan where you can get a fortune-tell paper in English.

Map:

Posted in Honshū, Japan, Kyoto 市, Kyoto 府, Nara Prefecture 県, Nara 市, Osaka 市, Osaka 府 | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

November in Okayama

Posted by Heliocentrism on October 3, 2014

November 11 & 23-24, 2013

All Pictures

I could really go for a peach right now!

The Story of Momotaro

There once was an old childless couple. They really wanted to have children, but they had gotten old and so pretty much gave up on that dream.

One day while the old woman was washing clothes in the river, she saw a giant peach floating by. This being Japan, fruit is expensive. A free giant peach is a big freaking deal! She grabbed the peach and pulled it out of the water.

The peach was so big, the woman figured that she could take a bite out of it and her old far-sighted husband would not notice. So, she took a bite, then two. Then one more; why not? She magically transformed into her younger self.

When her husband came home he was shocked. Not only was his wife younger, but she didn’t even bother to finish doing the laundry. She explained to her husband how she found the peach and how it had made her younger.

I got 3 portions of magic peach.

The Husband was not buying this nonsense. He was a bit upset. He had no clean clothes to change into after a hard day’s work and it turns out his wife was gorging herself on free “magic” peach without him. But hey, there’s free peach! He took a bite.

I look years younger when you don’t focus the camera properly.

Magically the husband also turned into his younger self. Now that the couple were younger and had better vision, they could see how hot they had become. High on magic peach, they lustfully took their little two person party to the bedroom for the best sex they had had in years.

ummm…

Nine months later the old, now young couple had a baby boy. They named him Momotaro, peach boy. Hey, it’s better than naming him Viagra boy!

Momotaro grew up to be a strong magical boy who travelled the world, I mean Japan, doing good deeds. He would eventually befriend a dog, a monkey, and a bird. This really broke his mother’s heart because Momotaro would never “just find a nice girl to make grandbabies.”

Home of the Demon

One of the good deeds happened right here in Okayama prefecture. There was a prince who lived in a Korean-styled castle on top of a mountain. He was a terrible prince and did terrible prince things. Like… he umm, he wouldn’t… umm. He was just a bad guy. His name was Ura, a terrible name. Everyone called him a demon.

The demon is up there?

So the villagers asked Momotaro and his animal friends to fight the demon for them. And, Momotaro said, “Sure why not? It’s not like I have a girlfriend or anything. I’ll do it!” So he climbed up some stairs on a mountain and went into a cave that looked like a big vagina and beat up a demon prince.

Wait a minute!

The villagers were so happy they had a barbeque feast and they did not invite the demon. But, somehow he showed up anyway…

(This is more or less how the story goes…)

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 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.)

Ki Castle
(Ki No Jo)
(鬼ノ城)
(Demon’s Castle)

How to get there:

  • Coordinates 34°43’34.8″N 133°45’47.0″E

Address:

〒719-1101 岡山県総社市奥坂1762

Phone:

  • 0866-92-8277

Websites:

Downloads:

Cost:

  • free

Hours:

  • Always available

Notes:

  • This is a Korean style castle.
  • It was made in the late 7th century by the Yamato Imperial court.
  • AlongwithOnino-sashiage-iwa there are many ruins near by.

Sunagawa Park
(砂川 キャンプ場)

How to get there:

  • Coordinates 34°42’11.1″N 133°45’22.7″E

Address:

〒719-1105
岡山県総社市黒尾792

Phone:

  • 0866-92-1118

Websites:

Cost:

  • 1,000 JPY per tent for night camping
  • 500 JPY per tent for day camping
  • Parking is free

Hours:

  • Open year round except for Dec. 29 – Jan. 3
  • Night camping 14:00 ~ 10:00
  • Day camping 10:00 ~ 17:00

Notes:

  • There is a persimmon grove where you can buy fruit in the fall.
  • Take your trash home with you.
  • You need to make reservations before hand.
  • There is a water slide that you and your kids can use in the summer.
  • There are showers, though I do not know how much they cost.

Map:

Posted in Honshū, Japan, Okayama 県, Sōja 市 | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

 
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