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Archive for the ‘Sōja 市’ Category

Back in Okayama

Posted by Heliocentrism on June 5, 2015

Thursday, April 30, 2015

All Pictures

“If we were to have showers, this is where we would have put one of them.”

We have them, we just don’t like unlocking them

When Mark and I stayed at this campsite the year before, we saw that there were showers. We did not use them since they were all locked. It was mid-fall at the time, and we thought that that was the reason the showers were locked. (This sort of thing happens in Japan; the campsite is available year round, but some facilities like the showers are only unlocked from May to September.) So when our friend picked this campsite we gave no objections.

Bathing option number 2…

Roland stopped one of the campsite caretakers to ask what time the showers would be unlocked. He gave us a look that showed his disdain for uppity city-folk, then gave us directions for some sketchy onsen over yonder. I know I was in Japan, but at that moment I felt like I was in the American deep south. Then the caretaker walked away mumbling to himself and chewing on a straw of hay. (Okay, there was no hay…)

We couldn’t find the onsen the strange caretaker told us about, but we managed to find a nice inexpensive one not too far from where we were. We got in and showered, even taking some time to soak for a few brief minutes before going to meet the South African friends of our South African friends.

My delicate little flower… Mark.

Mark and I had already seen everything that Okayama had to offer. We lived there for a whole 7 months. So, we really didn’t care what we saw that day. We were just happy to hang out with our old nerdy friends. I don’t know if this is their, or our, or both couple’s last year here in Japan. During the whole trip there was an ominous feeling of an end of an era.

We’ll always have Okayama.

We all made hypothetical plans to meet up in some country or another to do one more camping trip, but who knows if that will actually happen. This is how life is for a wandering ex-pat. You make great friends, but everyone knows that one day you or they or both will move away, and you might see them rarely, if ever.

Roland never stopped taking photos.

We walked through the gardens and passed the castle. We never went into the castle itself, choosing instead to take photos of it from the garden. The best part of most Japanese castles are the photos of it from the outside.

Guess where I got most of the great photos of this trip.

With nothing left to do in Okayama city, we headed to Kurashiki’s historic area. We walked along the canal. Our friends caught up with their friends and the six of us, 3 couples, moved through this romantic area.

“Is this organic denim soft serve?”

This town makes denim. Apparently, it is famous for it. There are many denim shops in the history area and one of them sells everything denim; from jeans and hats, to burgers and ice cream. Yup, ice cream!

You can clearly see in the photo above a cone of denim ice cream, a denim burger, denim Chinese dumplings, and denim meat buns, which are all sold out. Mark and I could not pass up a chance to try denim soft serve ice cream. The denim burger, we could pass on; quite easily.

Tastes like the Gap…

The ice cream was actually flavored with the taste of the plain marble sodas that are common here in Japan. It was okay.

That evening all 6 of us when back to the campsite for a grilled dinner. Only 4 of us spent the night at the camp grounds. The other two would join us at the next campsite. They had not done much camping before and this was their first camping trip in Japan. We would show them the rope.

classic ring toss

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.)

 


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 (if you’re super skinny) and your kids can use in the summer.
  • There are showers, but they seem to never be unlocked.
  • The toilets and non-flush and, depending where your camping spot it, a long walk from your tent.

Zō no Yu Onsen
(蔵のゆ)
(Hot water of Kura)

How to get there:

  • Coordinates 34°36’36.4″N 133°46’44.2″E

Address:

121-1 Ojima Kurashiki, Okayama Prefecture 710-0047

Phone:

  • 086-435-9722

Websites:

Cost:

  • 410 yen – onsen 
  • 750 yen – onsen and sauna

Hours:

  • 10:00 – 0:00

Notes:

  • There is a ramen shop in the lobby area.
  • Bring a towel.
  • Shampoo and body wash are provided.

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

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. (This is amazingly cheap for city parking!)

Kurashiki
(倉敷市)
(Kurashiki-shi)

How to get there:

  • Coordinates 34°35’45.7″N 133°46’16.8″E

Address:

1 Chuo, Kurashiki City, Okayama

Phone:

  • 086-426-3411 (Sightseeing Department)

Websites:

Notes:

  • This town makes a lot of denim.
  • Kurashiki has a preserved Edo Period (1603-1867) canal area.
  • There lots of shops in the historical district.
  • There is also a pricey hotel in the Ivy Square area.

Map:

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

Camping Extravaganza

Posted by Heliocentrism on May 29, 2015

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

All Pictures

Not only do I enjoy not planning trips, but I also enjoy not helping to put up the tents.

Roland did ALL the planning.

I love traveling and therefore I like planning trips. But guess what I love even more than planning trips… Not planning trips.

It’s tedious work that requires several hours of research just to set one day’s itinerary. It’s even worse here in Japan, were many tourist spots have no or very little information online. Many websites are just a picture of the attraction and a phone number to call for information. (Don’t even get me started on finding information in English!)

I can communicate somewhat with my limited Japanese, a dictionary, and a quick game of charades. But, that only works in person. On the phone, things don’t usually work out for me. I avoid calling non-English speakers at all costs.

He planned the whole trip and cleaned and gutted this fish too!

So when our friends from South Africa invited us to their Golden Week Camping Extravaganza that Roland planned, we happily joined. Roland planned the trip, made all the reservations, found the locations to all the spots and the best ways to get there. If he and his wife ever do an around-the-world-tour and they invited us, we would be fools not to go!

Pineapple and Ham kebabs

Potluck… or rather Grill Luck

Normally, when we camp with the South Africans, we organize our meals. This cuts down on wasted food, wasted time, trash, and dirty dishes. But, since Freda and Roland were driving all the way up from Kyushu, we weren’t sure if they would get there in time for the first dinner.

Mark and I stopped at a grocery store near the campsite and picked up whatever caught our eye. Among the vast array of items we got were a pineapple, shrimp, a fish, and a lime. The South Africans seemed to have done likewise. They brought a ham, a medley of vegetables, and some sweet potatoes.

Delicious camp grilling on smoky grills

Everything just seemed to oddly go well together. I took it as a good omen for things to come. The next day we would meet some other campers and the 6 of us would have a great time camping, traveling, and playing nerd games together.

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.)

 


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 (if you’re super skinny) and your kids can use in the summer.
  • There are showers, but they seem to never be unlocked.
  • The toilets and non-flush and, depending where your camping spot it, a long walk from your tent.

Map:

 

Posted in Honshū, Japan, Okayama 県, Sōja 市 | 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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