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Archive for November, 2014

Festival For No Reason

Posted by Heliocentrism on November 28, 2014

Saturday, July 26, 2014

All Pictures

Everyone is ready to dance!

So I’ve Started Taking Japanese Classes

Mark and I now live in a new city once again. This time, we live in a little sleepy town called Miyoshi that is behind god’s back and 2 hours by car from Hiroshima city. It’s a nice town with no malls, no Starbucks, and only one McDonald’s.

I get the feeling that the town either used to have more people or they are expecting a population boom. Everywhere you go in this town there are way more parking spaces than necessary. I’m not complaining; I think it’s great. That’s how it should be. It’s just odd. With places like Hiroshima city that seem to have one parking space for every 10 cars, it’s weird that this place seems to have 15 parking spaces for every car.

Out of step, but still having fun

When we first got to this town, someone at Mark’s work told him about an international potluck. We wanted to meet some people from our new town so I made some chili and we went. The chili was a hit and many people came up to me to talk about my chili.

We met some foreigners from Mark’s company and some others not working for his company. I was a little disappointed to find out that the people who weren’t co-workers of Mark did not actually live in my town, Miyoshi. Miyoshi is big, landwise. It used to be a bunch of small towns with almost no population and with Miyoshi in the center. A few years ago they did away with some of the surrounding towns and called the now bigger town Miyoshi. So now, anyone not in Miyoshi lives at least a one-hour drive from downtown Miyoshi.

Someone really enjoyed the new Planet of the Apes movie!

So, Mark and I are living in this new city and we didn’t have many friends yet. We also didn’t have internet yet. Getting the internet in Japan is a big almost insurmountable task. It can take months before someone comes by your house to install the cables or whatever they do. There is a lot of preamble to get through, like asking your landlord if it’s okay for you to have the internet and other stuff I don’t understand. Because we didn’t have internet at home our first few months, Mark and I went to the library almost daily to use their free wi-fi.

One day while checking emails I ran into a lady I met at the potluck. She said that she taught free Japanese lesson for some Mark’s coworkers and insisted that I join. “Why not?” I thought to myself. So Mark and I started going to weekly Japanese lessons.

The glow from a food vendor

One day the Potluck Lady thought that since I was a housewife, I shouldn’t just have lessons once a week, but twice. She insisted that I join another weekly free Japanese class closer to my home in addition to the lessons at the library. I tried to decline, but I could never come up with a good reason not to go. My Japanese is very bad and I really should be signing up for all the classes I could get. So, I thought I would try it out. “Why not?”

I was given another Japanese teacher and I liked her instantly. She is funny, witty, and she goes out of her way to make her lessons fun and interesting. It’s amazing when you think that the lessons are free!

In costume waiting for the bus downtown

My company wants me to get more people

So my teacher sends me an email Thursday morning. (My lessons or on Thursday afternoons.) She was inviting me out to lunch at the new restaurant of a British friend of hers. “Great,” I thought, “I love meeting new people.” She picked me and we drove out to the countryside of Miyoshi. The plan was to have lunch then go to class. Classes are held at the Miyoshi Board of Education building.

But we got to talking and time just slipped by. At first we were going to be half an hour late, then that deadline passed. Then we would be an hour late, but that deadline passed too. So, we gave up and just skipped class that day.

During the meal my teacher asked me, and the restaurant owner, if we would like to be in the festival that weekend. I’ve been to many local festivals in Japan with Mark and he always has the same complaint when we see a friend of our’s marching along with the Japanese in the parade. “Why didn’t anyone call me to join too?”

She explained that the company that owns the study-school she works for, needed more people to march. She was asked to recruit family, friends, neighbors, students… anyone. She talked about 10 of her kids to join and was now working on getting some adults involved. We wouldn’t have to pay anything. The company provides all the clothes, shoes, drums, and anything we would need. I told her that we would love to join and the next thing I knew Mark and I were in the back row of a practice march and beating drums.

Mark, the march leader, me

First let me explain how this works. In most Japanese festivals, companies want their presences to be seen so that everyone can know that they are part of the community. (It’s actually not just companies but clubs and schools too.) The workers love festivals and most people feel proud to be working at their company so it’s a win-win for both the company and the workers.

Every year the company does the same dance steps in the same outfit. Then, starting from a few weeks before the festival, everyone practices the moves for 30 minutes after work everyday. So, these guys have been practising for weeks and they were doing the dance or march steps they had done last year, and the year before that, and the year before that for however long they worked at the company.

Mark and I started practicing 2 days before the festival. We were terrible! We would start off on the wrong foot, spin at the wrong time, hit the wrong beat on our drums, and were generally out of sync with everyone else. There was an eight-year-old girl in front of me who was really showing me up!

Mark looking all festivally

We were so bad. The march leader tried to teach us the moves. First she showed us the beat we needed to play. “Great,” I said when I finally got it. I was really for the next part. She showed us the footwork. After a few minutes I got that too. Then she got the group in place to start practicing another round or marching. I had the beat and I had the footwork. I just need to put them together.

The leader blew her whistle for us to begin marching in sync. I got a few steps in and noticed my drumming was off. I corrected the drumming, but now my footwork was not right. Every time I got my drumming in sync with everyone else’s, my footwork be off and visa versa. I thought that this would never work. But the leader came over to me and told me to relax, just have fun, and not to worry if I messed up.

Mark and I came to practice the next day and we were a little better. In practice on Saturday, the day of the festival, we were a little better still. We never did get it right, but by the start of the festival we had figured out that the drumming was the most important part then came the spinning at the right time. Everything else could be faked and done halfway. The most important part was to look like we were happy and having a great time. This was a festival after all.

Will dance for food

Bento and Beer

Before the last practice on Saturday we were given lunch and the clothes we were to wear. Throughout the whole thing, we were liberally showered with free sodas, juices, and sports drinks. On Saturday beer was added to the offerings. The drinks were placed and huge bins with big blocks of ice.

The men, Mark included, drank all the beer they wanted. But, it was a really hot day and after a while everyone chose tea or sports drinks over the beer. No one got drunk or even tipsy.

“Let us do your hair,” they said…

Do you want to get her hair done?

My Japanese teacher turned to me as I finished my bento and asked if I wanted to get my hair done. “What would they do?” I asked. I didn’t really want anyone in my hair, but I was curious as to what would happen if I gave someone free range. “Oh, they would put it up, add more hair, and put flowers in… like that lady.” She pointed to a women with an entire garden on her head. It did look quite festive.

Mark turned to me and said, “You should do it. It would look nice.” I looked at him a little annoyed, “My hair can’t do that!” I turned to my teacher and politely told her, “My hair really can’t do that. It won’t go up.” “It doesn’t have to go up,” she said, “they could just put some flowers in.” Mark sipped his tea and nodded. “Flowers,” he cooed, “that would look nice.”

“What the hell does Mark know about my hair?” I thought. But, as I looked around the lunch room I notice that 90% of the women there had crap loads of gigantic flowers in their hair. If I was going to do this festival thing, why not do it right. “Alright,” I said to my Japanese teacher, “But just the flowers. No putting my hair up.”

My garden

Of course that was just the agreement between my teacher and me. The lady doing everyone’s hair downstairs had her own ideas. I told her that my hair was hard to deal with and it would refuse to be put up. But, she was not one to back down from a fight.

I sat in the hair chair and she took out a tiny-toothed comb. I looked at her comb suspiciously. She began and I could feel her tugging around my head. She said something in Japanese. “What did she say?” I asked my teacher. “She said your hair is very… ummm… very,” “Powerful,” came a voice at the other end of the room. “Yes,” my teacher agreed, “powerful.”

But the hair lady did not give up. She put my hair up in several parts and pinned in some flowers. I didn’t like it, but everyone else did. In the end it didn’t really matter. No one knows what my hair is “supposed” to look like. They only cared that it had flowers in it like everyone else, so I just went with it. “Why not?”

As I was getting my hair done I asked the ladies in the room what the festival was celebrating. No one knew. I got answers like: “It’s just a festival,” “We like festivals,” and “Fun!” A festival for no reason… “Why not?”

Why is no one is watching us?

Is there anyone left to watch this parade?

In the end we marched our little hearts out. At first there were only a few people watching the parade. With hundreds of people in parade it looked liked our tiny town didn’t have anyone left to watch. But once we got downtown and on main street there were more people. Of course many of those people where the same ones from the front of the parade who reached the end and were now watching.

I’m trying to focus on my drumming career now.

Once we got to the end our group disbanded. We changed our clothes and watched the rest of the parade as we ate festival and rested. It was a long march on a very hot summer day. Mark and I had a great time. We even told my teacher to sign us up for next year’s festival.

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.)

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:

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

Camping, Rabbits, and Poison Gas

Posted by Heliocentrism on November 21, 2014

Saturday, July 19-21, 2014

All Pictures

The Squares of Mark

The Fellowship of the Nerds

We were all packed and ready to go. I closed all the windows downstairs of our new apartment in Hiroshima prefecture and was about to turn off the computer. Mark asked me if he should bring the box of games. It’s a box containing games like Citadel and 7 Wonders among other nerdy delights.

“Of course,” I told Mark, “They will be expecting you too. In fact, they probably expect us to have a new game for us to play.” What kind of nerds would be if we showed up to a camping trip sans board games? “I do have a new game,” Mark said sheepishly, “I made it myself.” He started explaining his game. “I haven’t printed it out or laminating it,” he said, “Do we have time?”

I’m not going to say, “no” to a new game! So I gave Mark another hour to get his game made. I made myself a lemonade and watched China Uncensored and Crash Course while I waited. I had to turn up the volume to drown out Mark’s yelling at the laminator. (Yes, we own a laminator…)

“I place all my squares then I pick a swordsman, then I get a flag, then I choose a woodsman, then I get a star?”

Mark’s game turned out to be a bit complicated. We played one round in the basic non-capture the flag mode, but there were so many rules. Mark will work on his game some more, maybe even give the game an official name. We’ll try it out again on our next camping trip.

Tent or baggy sleeping bag?

Packing Light

Mark initiated this trip. He read an article about an island filled with feral rabbits. Since Mark likes petting and feeding animals, he had to see it. He planned the trip. …I mean he called up, Roland, a South African friend of ours and asked him to make reservations at a campsite. (Mark’s Japanese is not very good.)

Four of the other campers from our trip live on Kyushu. They woke up really early Saturday morning to catch a 4:00 am ferry from Beppu to Shikoku. Then they drove from the port to the campsite which took a few more hours. Mark and I had a 2.5 hour drive and we still managed to get there after they had set up their tents. They were waiting for us.

Four of them came in the South Africans’ k-car. So all of them had to pack very light; there isn’t much trunk space in most k-cars. Kane’s tent was very small and gave him just enough space for him to lay down. He plans to bike from Beppu to Kobe later on this year and this trip gave him an opportunity to test out his gear.

The view from a look-out near the campsite

We spent the rest of the day exploring the campsite. With this being a 3-day weekend and the area having lots of tourist attractions, the camp grounds was the most crowded I have ever seen a Japanese campsite. We walked around to see all the best spots that were taken by the time the Kyushuians got there. We still got a decent space, but people who showed up even later than we did had to set up their tents near the bathroom.

my meal: BLTs

A Meal From All

The South Africans and us used to cook our own meals then we would share the food potluck style. But this ended in lots of wasted food, double portions of meat, and mountains of dirty dishes, not to mention all the extra packing. So now when we go camping everyone gets assigned one meal.

I chose to make BLT for lunch since we would be gone for the day. I made the BLTs while everyone ate Freda’s “burritos sandwiches”. (In her determination to pack light, Freda forgot to bring the tortillas…) I put everyone’s BLT in zip-lock bags and handed them out before we leave that morning. We would find a nice place on the island infected with rabbits to have lunch.

the only a/c we’ll have all day

The boat ride was surprisingly cheap, for Japan. It only cost ¥310 per person one-way. We were so happy to find the seating area of the boat had air conditioning. I’m not sure what the people in their cars did. They stayed in their vehicles with the engines off and did not come up to the seated area. It must have been super hot.

Mark’s bag of bunny pellets made him quite popular.

Buy your own food

Mark read online that there would be rabbit food for sale on the island. There are boxes on the island for you to pay ¥100 and take a cup of rabbit pellets. Mark thought that the price was too expensive. So the day before we left Mark stopped by a pet store in our town and bought a 1kg bag of rabbit food for ¥300. (Even with everyone taking liberal amounts to feed the rabbits, the bag was still about 2/3rds full when we left.)

Once on the island we all took fists-full of pellets to lured rabbits out of hiding. In the area where more tourist were, the rabbits waited for us to walk over to them. In the area where less tourist were, the rabbits would hear us talking and come hopping out of the bushes like kids chasing the ice cream van.

Remember, eat the pellets not the hand.

They were just furry balls of cuteness and would eat right out of your hand. They did not, however, liked to be pet or picked up. If you held out a carrot for them to eat, one of them would eventually bite down on the carrot, snatch it out of your hand, and run off into the bush to not have to share the carrot with fellow bunnies.

For none carrot foods, they prefer to eat out the palm of a person’s hand. Any food dropped on the ground was no longer thought of as food. Sometimes we left food on the ground for a rabbit because we wanted to move on, only to have that rabbit disregard the food and hop along behind us in hopes of more pellets.

Who likes cahwots… Oh, who likes cahwots?

There are caretakers on the island who drive around and put on bowls of water for the rabbits. I don’t think they feed the rabbits though; they leave that to the tourists. There are plenty of tourists. Near the hotel where most of the tourist gathered around noon, I saw rabbits flat out refuse carrots and other treats, preferring to nap.

gas masks

How did you guys get here?

In 1929 the Secondary Tokyo Military Arsenal built a factory on Okunoshima to make poisonous gasses. There is a Poison Gas Museum on the island. The plaques on the walls say that the facilities were a secret. So much of a secret that most people, even in Japan, has no idea that Japan ever used poison gas on their enemies.

The museum states that little is known about how the gases were used in the war. They only know the effect the gasses had on the people hired to work in the factory. There were many type of poison gases made here and even though the workers used rubber uniforms to keep themselves safe, gas still linked through their suits. They had problems with their eyes and skin. Many got conjunctivitis, wet pleurisy, pneumonia, and bronchopneumonia.

masks

The museum was built by locals for, and in the memory of, the factory workers and other people harmed by the gas made on the island. It is also a reminder that “war is meaningless“. The government wanted to keep secret the fact that chemicals weapons were made and used by Japan, but the people of Hiroshima prefecture wanted everyone to know the truth so that they type of thing would never happen again.

As for the rabbits… Some think that they are the offspring of rabbits used to test the gas. Others think they were left on the island by visiting school kids. I could not find anything prove either theory. But, the whole thing was a big secret until 1984, so who knows? Personally, I think it is very unlikely that school kids would just leave a couple of bunnies here on the island.

the old poison gas factory

We  walked around the island feeding rabbits and looking at old relics of war. It was very hot and after a few hours in the sun walking became a chore. We timed our walk to end a few minutes before the next ferry came. We would head back to camp and go swimming.

The only thing these Doritos are good for

Catch a Fire

One the way back from rabbit island we stopped at a convenience store. We planned to swim and then head to an onsen before grilling tonight’s dinner, so I wanted some snacks. I found a pack of Doritos and just grabbed it. I forgot that Japan has no normally flavored Doritos. One should always inspect one’s potential Doritos, reading the label carefully and consult with a Japanese/English dictionary if needed. I picked up butter and soy sauce Doritos. It was awful.

When it was time to fire up the grill Mark noticed that there was no more fire starter left. I remembered reading somewhere that Doritos make good fire starters, so I handed Mark my degraded bag of chips. He said that it was better than nothing, but he would never actually buy Doritos to start fires in the future.

South African Cuisine

Boerewors

This was Roland’s meal. Freda prefaced the meal with a statement saying that the meat was not from South Africa, but from the Meat Guy, who is Australian. The Boerewors was labeled “untraditional”. She said that meant that the meat was thinner than usual. It didn’t matter to me; it was delicious!

The South Africans love to braa and Mark and I benefit from their braaing every time we camp with them. They bring a bag of South African species to cook their meats. They also marinate meats in South African sauces then grill them and serve them with potato salad. They know the way to my American heart; meat and potato salad!

packing up

The next morning the Kyushuians had to leave around 9:oo am so they could drive across Shikoku again and make it in time for their ferry. We promised that for the next camping trip Mark and I would drive down to where they are. They could just pick a spot and we would meet them there. We said our goodbyes and they were gone.

Kampsites and Kabins

On our way back we found a KOA campsite. It was closed, but it was definitely a KOA. It had Kabins and a lodge. It looked like it closed down within the past 6-12 months. I email KOA and asked about their Japanese campsite, but I was told that right now there are no KOAs in Japan.

That would have been nice…

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.)

Tatara campsite
(多々羅キャンプ場)

How to get there:

  • Coordinates 34°15’28.2″N 133°03’08.5″E

Address:

愛媛県今治市上浦町井口7523

Ehime-ken, Imabari-shi, Kamiurachō Inokuchi, 7523

Phone:

  • Japanese only 0897-87-3855

Websites:

Cost:

  • ¥1,000 tent plus:
    • ¥300 per Adult
    • ¥150 per child
  • ¥6,000 for cabin (4-5 people)

Hours:

  • Check in 15:00
  • Check out 12:00

Notes:

  • Hot Shower – ¥200 for 5 minutes
  • Kitchen areas
  • You can rent BBQ equipment
  • There is a Circle K within a 3 minute walk of the campsite.
  • There areafewOnsens within walking distance, more within biking distance, and even more within the distance of a short drive.
    • The silver dome onsen (しまなみドーム/Shimanami dome) is a 10 minute walk from the campsite.
    • Bring your own towel, soap, shampoo, and conditioner or buy them at the onsen.
    • There is also a gym at this onsen.

Ohkunoshima
(大久野島)
(Usagi Jima)
(ウサギ島)

How to get there:

  • Coordinates 34° 18′ 31″ N132° 59′ 35″ E

Address:

Okunoshima Visitor Center
Okunoshima, Tadanoumi-cho, Takehara City,
Hiroshima 729-2311

Phone:

  • (0846) 26-0100 (English maybe)

Websites:

Cost:

  • Free
  • The Poison Gas has a ¥100 entry fee.
  • Ferry From Omishima (the island we camped on):
    • Adult round trip – ¥620
    • Kid round trip – ¥320

Hours:

  • The ferries to and from the island start around 7:00 and stop around 19:00.

Notes:

  • This island is part of Setonaikai National Park (瀬戸内海国立公園).
  • There is a hotel on the island.
  • There is also a campsite.
    • There is free assigned parking.
    • Check in 13:00 and check out 11:00
    • Cost: ¥1,030 per tent plus ¥410 per person. (You must bring your own tent.)
    • Showers cost ¥400. (I don’t know what kind of shower it is.)
    • There are vending machines on the island, but no stores. The hotel does have a restaurant though.

Map:

Posted in Ehime 県, Hiroshima 県, Honshū, Japan, Shikoku, Takehara 市, Ōkunoshima, Ōmishima 町 | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Everything is Up Hill

Posted by Heliocentrism on November 14, 2014

Saturday, July 5, 2014

All Pictures

A suspension bridge

Of Mice and Men

The plan for this weekend was to have a fantastic Fourth of July camping event with people we’ve never met before. We were going to set up our tent on a beach several towns over and enjoy our Americaness. We would met campers and outdoor people. It would have been great. But it rained.

Or at least everyone thought it would have. The rain started on Thursday and the weather forecast for the rest of the week was bleak. On Friday the sky threaten to rain, but it never did. Okay, there was a good solid half hour of light drizzle, but it was not the stuff to stop a BBQ.

The camping plans were cancelled, but Mark and I decided to do something anyway. We looked online for things to do in our new prefecture. Every site told us to go to Hiroshima city.

We’ve already been to Hiroshima city. But, as far as the internet was concerned, the attractions there outshine everything else in the prefecture. Then I found Tripadvisor.com. It recommended going to something called the “Government Operated Bihoku Kyuryu Park”. I looked for information about it online and only found where it was. There was no other information. So we hopped in the car, punched in the coordinates, and drove there.

The Garmin could not see the park. It would give us directions past the park, then tell us to turn around. To the Garmin, the park was just a roadless void and it didn’t know what to do. We stopped for directions at a 7/Eleven and a lady put us on the right path.

Then I saw a sign for the park. It called the park “Bihoku Hillside Park”. It was a far sexier name for a park than  “Government Operated Bihoku Kyuryu Park”! That would also explain why I could not find any information online.

Mark’s new one-walled home

Yen Yen Yen

After paying the many entrance fees we drove for a while before we got to Parking Lot 1, the only lot opened at the time. This was a huge park and we were hoping it would be worth every yen we paid.

We walked into the main area and were taken aback by the vastness of the park and the almost complete lack of people. Two things that Japan is not known for are big areas and low population density. We looked around for things to do. Everything cost money.

Salad sandwiches!

We brought our own lunch so there was at least one thing we could do for free. The park had many picnic areas. We found a nice gazebo up a small hill and next to a waterfall. It was private and quiet. I loved it.

Mark not looking where he is biking

My legs fell all floppy

After lunch we went back down to the main area. There were 4 options for transportation around the park. One could walk, take the “train”, rent a bike, or use the free Carry-All. Walking is for chumps and the “train” is for suckers. We rented some bikes.

Shortly after getting on the bikes we realized that everything in this park is uphill from bike rental. I peddled in third gear, then second gear, then first gear. Then I got off the bike and walked. I had to lean on the bike to stay upright.

No peddling! Yeah!

When we reached something of interest we would get off the bikes (or just put down the bikes). There was gardens, groves, obstacles courses, bug houses, lakes, rest houses, cafes, and many more things. Many of the stuff were for kids, but there were still lots of things for nature lovers.

Hillside Slide

July: The Month of Bugs

Returning the bikes was the fun part. Once we reached the end of the park, it was a quick downhill ride back to the bike course starting point. After we put the bikes back we found a calendar which had the events that can be experienced each month.

“OOoooo May has a beautiful tulip gardens!”

“Look at the sunflowers in August!”

“We can make mochi in January.”

“There’s a light show in December! We must come back!”

“What’s July’s speciality?”

A lady in uniform past by us and heard the question. “Mushi desu!” she said with a smile.

“Bugs!?”

The Carry-All

…and no, it did not rain at all on Saturday.

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.)

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 the BBQ 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:

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

Moving To the Country

Posted by Heliocentrism on November 7, 2014

April 2014

Okayama Castle grounds

In early April this year, Mark’s company moved him from Okayama to Miyoshi. Okayama was a small city. There is nothing about Okayama that Mark and I will miss. We didn’t live here long enough to have any type of attachment to it.

It was a city and had all the things that most cities have. Those are the things that I will miss.

Our new town, Miyoshi is under all that fog

Miyoshi is a small town behind god’s back. There are few stores, only one hospital, and only two sushi restaurants. There is no Starbucks, but there is no traffic either.

I just need to dump this tissue…

Our recycling routine got a lot more complicated. In Okayama there were two bags, one for burnable things and one for non-burnable things. Here in Miyoshi there are 6 different recycling bags, plus strings for paper, and special drop off sites for things that cannot go into a bag. Then there is a horrible complicated schedule that involves knowing what number week of the month you are in.

Plastics and food trash are collected once and twice a week respectively. I pretty much have a handle on those. But our storage room is getting filled with cardboard boxes, paper, cans, glass and plastic bottles, and broken things because I keep forgetting to put things out on the 3rd Wednesday, 2nd Tuesday, or whatever. I’ve started taking the bottles to the grocery stores with the recycle bins rather than trying to remember when the collection days are.

Incense Ceremony

Miyoshi is still a nice little town, even if there isn’t much to do that’s not related to recycling.

Posted in Japan | Leave a Comment »

 
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