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Archive for the ‘Kyūshū’ Category

Travel List Thursday: Oita Prefecture

Posted by Heliocentrism on December 1, 2016

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Posted in Japan, Kyūshū, Oita 県 | Leave a Comment »

Itchy Island

Posted by Heliocentrism on August 22, 2014

July 13-15, 2013

All Pictures

Roland’s post after this camping trip

Attacked!

We had lots of fun on this trip. We did have a close call when a tree fell on the path to the cabins we used often. Luckily no one was on the path at that particular moment. We were also constantly being attacked by every mosquito this side of the Mississippi. We were expecting the weekend to be quiet, but for the first 20 hours of the trip there was an army of jr. high kids running around and screaming at every bug and bat they saw.

The person hit the hardest by the bugs was Mark. His blood is delicious to them. On this trip he lived with a thick coating of bug spray on his skin and they still bit him. Even I was bitten, and bugs hardly ever bother me.

But we did have fun!

All our stuff

Don’t bring too much stuff

We tried to bring everything we needed and packed light at the same time. The campsite was on an island and we had to haul all our stuff ourselves on our backs. We could not drive to the campsite, unload, and then park. But since it was on an island there was no going to a 7eleven to pick up an extra bottle of water or a toothbrush.

We decided to leave the tents at home and instead fill our backpacks with food and supplies. We got one cabin for the 5 of us. There was not an extra inch of cabin space left when we were all lying down. It was a good thing there wasn’t a 6th person.

Up-the-Butt Chicken

Pinterest Meals

To keep the weight of our luggage down we assigned meals, instead of having a free-for-all cook out. Usually everyone would make a dish for every meal. But this usually caused overeating, lots of leftovers, and a lot of dishes. This time we planned ahead who would make which meal. There were 5 meals and 5 campers, so we each prepared one meal.

I picked drunk chicken, a recipe I found on Pinterest. This involves seasoning a chicken, placing a half empty can of beer inside the chicken, and putting it on a grill. This is what I wanted to make even though in my 4 years of living in Japan I had never seen a whole chicken for sale at the grocery store, ever.

5 little hens sitting nicely on the grill

I was talking to someone about how I wanted to make this meal for my camping trip, but alas I could not. Then she mentioned seeing game hens at a store called A-Price. A-Price is a grocery store that caters more to restaurants than individuals, but regular non-restaurant owning people  shop there too. A-Price is also notorious for having a particular item in stock one week and not the next. So, I ran down there and bought up 5 little hens.

But wait… I have whole chickens, but they are too small for any beer cans to be shoved inside. “You live in Japan,” Mark reminded me, “the land where someone always says, ‘This is too big. Can you make a smaller one?’ I’m sure you can find small beer cans to fit into your tiny chickens.

Mark selflessly volunteering to make my beer cans half empty

He was right. At the convenience store nearest to our apartment they sold tiny cans of Asahi beer. They looked like they were made for kids. I bought 5 of them. They weren’t that much cheaper than the regularly sized beer.

I was told that these were made for people to be able to drink and later drive home. Japan has a 0 alcohol level tolerance. If you drink even a little you cannot legally drive. But these were designed to be just enough beer for you to enjoy one and still have a 0 blood alcohol level in about 3 hours. (Maybe not 3 hours exactly, but some number of hours.) Take this information with a grain of salt. I don’t remember who told me this and I cannot find conformation of it online anywhere.

perfect!

It took several hours of grilling to completely cook the birds. There was a bunch of schoolkids standing by making their forgettable dinner. They watched intently as we seasoned the chicken, added spices to the beer, placed the beer in the bird, wrapped the birds in foil, and placed them on the grill. I didn’t have to worry that the chicken would burn without anyone noticing. Those kids were fixated on the meat. They kept commenting about how delicious it smelled. If anything started to burn they would notice.

Not only did the chicken smell good, they tasted great too. And the boys loved the seasoned beer. I took the beer can out of my chicken and did not touch it, but the guys poured their spicy beer over their chicken like it was gravy.

Playing nerd games while we waited for the chicken

Our days were spent swimming but the evening were meant for board games. We played a few rounds of Citadels and Zombies!!! on this trip. I always come close to winning, but I have only won once. It was Zombies!!!. I was so tired I wanted my character to die and be out of the game, so I kept taking risks. Apparently that is a good strategy, because I won and ended the game sooner than usual.

Getting Billy drunk so he won’t win

Grill Master Billy

Billy can grill. When we go camping with Billy we always hand him the tongs and step back. But when Freda and I looked into his bag in hopes of figuring out what he would make for his meal, we had our doubts about his cooking abilities. Left alone in the cabin with Billy’s grocery bag we just could not help ourselves. We had to look in. We found a can of mangos, a knife, and a bottle of ketchup.

“What do you think he’ll make with that?” we asked each other. We didn’t want to say anything to hurt his feelings, but we didn’t think we would enjoy his meal. “I know he’s single and sometimes single guys will eat odd combinations of things.” We even started thinking about a back-up plan. “I still have vegetables left over from my meal. Do you still have eggs and bread? We could do something with that…”

umm, Billy…

When it was Billy’s turn to make dinner we were all scared, but we didn’t say anything. He started by grilling some bread. “Yup, he’s lost his mind!” we thought. Then he took the bread off and put on some hotdogs.

“Wait, you had hot dogs!?” we asked him. “Yes,” he said not noticing our anxiety.

“Were they in your backpack this whole time?” We thought about the hot dogs sitting in the hot cabin for two days. They can’t possibly be good to eat now.

“No, I kept them in my cooler.”

“You have a cooler!? We didn’t see it in the cabin.” I thought back to the morning we first arrive. Mark and I had a cooler. The South Africans had a cooler and a Costco bag. Was that cooler actually Billy’s?

Not bad Billy

“I didn’t put it in the cabin. I didn’t want to carry up it the hill. I kept it under the table in the kitchen area.”

We looked on as he continued to grill. When the hot dogs where done, we put them on the bread and smothered the whole thing with ketchup. Then Billy started grilling vegetables… then beef… then pork… then fish. For dessert he opened the can of mangos. It was a very good meal! We started to sing the praises of Grill Master Billy.

We told him about looking into his grocery bag and how we thought the meal would end up. “Oh, if I had known that’s what you guys expected I would have done something like grill the mangos put ketchup on them and see if you would eat it.”

our weekend island home

When it was time to leave we were packed and ready to go on time. We climbed aboard the boat. But instead of taking us back to the main island of Kyushu, the ferry took us around the island on a short tour.

Goodbye!

This might be our last camping trip together ever. Billy would be going back to New Zealand in a few weeks. Mark and I would be leaving Oita and heading to some other town in Japan. We didn’t know where we would be going at the time. Only the South Africans were staying where they were.

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.)

Otojima Survival Island
(夢人島サバイバルアイランドキャンプ場)
(Mujintō Sabaibaruairandokyanpu-ba)

How to get there:

  • Coordinates 32°28’06.2″N 131°40’08.8″E

Address:

〒889-0611 宮崎県東臼杵郡門川町大字門川尾末字乙島9100
0982-63-1140

Phone:

  • 0982-63-1140

Websites:

Cost:

  • Bungalow – ¥3,500
  • Tent – ¥1,500
  • There are things for rent like blankets, dishes, and BBQ equipment
  • Round Trip Ferry Ride
    • ¥1,500 adults
    • ¥1,000 kids

Hours:

  • Check in – 15:00
  • Check out – 10:00

Notes:

  • You must have reservations ahead of time to stay here.
  • You also need reservations for the ferry to the island.
    • The ferry is run by an older couple and it runs only when needed.
    • You must tell them when to come back to pick you up.
    • You can park your car in the couple’s parking lot for free.
  • Pack light. You will have to carry all your stuff up to the cabins if you are not using your tent.
  • Bring lots of bug spray!

Map:

Posted in Japan, Kadogawa 町, Kyūshū, Miyazaki 県 | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

Surf City, Japan

Posted by Heliocentrism on August 15, 2014

Saturday, June 8-10, 2013

All Pictures

Mark on his (card)board

Moondoggie Mark

Ever since Mark got his PADI license in Thailand, he has wanted to learn how to surf. He had never surfed before so he wasn’t going to buy all the gear and equipment or take on a goofy surfer nickname right away. He just wanted to try it out first. If he liked it, then he would sign up for a class or buy a used surfboard.

Mark found out that Miyazaki, one of the prefectures next to ours, was a big surfer hangout. He had been trying for years to talk some guys into driving down there and spending a whole weekend surfing. At first he wanted to find some people who were surfers and had their own gear that he could borrow. But he never found such people.

Surfing gear is very expensive. Even renting is quite pricy. So when Mark finally got a bunch of guys together to try this whole surfing thing out, they came up with the plan of just renting 2 boards and 2 wet suits and taking turns surfing. And to save more money, they would camp instead of staying in a hotel.

Swifty is tired of camping

Once camping became part of this little adventure, the wives refused to stay home. We had no interest in surfing, but we’d watch and take photos. This would be a great 3-day weekend.

Double your grilling pleasure

Dueling Grills

I discovered some pinterest camp cooking boards. They inspired me. I spent months drooling over photos of campfire-cooked foods until I found the one I like. Freda also discovered the pinterest camp cooking boards. We were going to have a friendly little cook off. Everyone else seemed quite happy with our new-found hobby, camp chefery.

Bombs Away!

I made onion bombs. They are pretty much like meatloaf stuffed in onion. Freda enjoyed them because, as she said, “They look like Poké Balls. You just want to catch ’em all!” They tasted great too.

Master Grill Baker Roland

Roland did some grill top baking. It was a South African recipe. It never occurred to me that one could bake bread outside an oven, much less on a grill. They were delicious. We ate the bread with butter, honey, and cheese.

The boys look scared.

Hanging 10 is hard

The boys initially were going to rent two boards and two wet suits and then shared them. The surf shop owner, after seeing that they were trying to save money, worked out a group discount where they got 2 boards but everyone got their own suit. It was more expensive than what they were planning to do, but it was still a lot cheaper than it would have normally cost. And, the owner threw in a free 20 minute surf lesson.

on the practice board

They paid close attention to the instructions and did exactly what the owner said to do. Everyone started to relax. They actually felt like this was quite doable. They would be surfer dudes in no time. There was even talk of another surf weekend.

Huzzah!

No one’s breaking out the sex wax any time soon.

Unfortunately, the photo above was the only moment of surfing any of the boys had. And this one only lasted for a few seconds. Again and again the boys fell of their boards. Eventually they stopped trying to stand up, preferring to stay on their bellies.

The women, wading in the water, cheered the guys on. The sea was too rough for swimming. We chatted about who we thought would be to first to hang 10. Some said that Mark would be the first. I thought Billy might pull it off. We were all wrong. None of them managed the maneuver. Just standing up was a task and as soon as they kind of got off their bellies, they would fall off.

They turned in the board earlier than was necessary. It was cold and surfing, when you don’t know how, is very tiring. Mark said that when he had the board the wetsuit kept him warm. But, when he was waiting to use the board, he was too cold. The guys in the full suit felt opposite. It was fine when waiting, but when they had the board they were too hot.

Billy spying some fish

They turned in the boards, but kept the suits until the end of the day. Mark and some of the boys brought snorkeling gear, so the guys took the suits to another beach to look at fish and other marine life. The guys had fun doing this. Well, they did until Swifty remembered that after turning in the surf boards his wife gave him her phone to hold. Not wanting to hold the phone in his hand, he put it in the pocket of his shorts. He was not in a wetsuit; the phone was dead.

Ready to ride the waves?

Over all did the boys have fun?

They sure did!

Will they go surfing again.

Hell no!

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 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.)

Hyuga Sun Park Auto Camping Ground
(日向サンパークオートキャンプ場)
(Hinata Sanpākuōtokyanpu-ba)

How to get there:

  • Coordinates 32°20’34.1″N 131°37’36.8″E

Address:

Japan, Miyazaki Prefecture, Hyuga, Saiwaki, 303−5

Phone:

  • 0982-58 -0636

Websites:

Cost:

  • For tent camping (you bring your own tent) – ¥3,780

Hours:

  • Check in 14:00
  • Check out 11:00

Notes:

  • Campsite Facilities
    • Hot Showers (Coin Operated)
    • Electric outlets at each camp spot
    • Charcoal for sale and grills for hire
    • There are cabins too.
    • You can leave your trash at this campsite. Just separate burnable from non-burnables.
  • There is a nearby onsen
    • ¥500

On the Beach
(オン ザ ビーチ)

How to get there:

  • Coordinates 32°21’27.7″N 131°37’18.6″E

Address:

〒883-0022 宮崎県日向市平岩金ヶ浜2220

Phone:

  • 0982 57 2548

Websites:

Cost:

  • Surfboard Rental – ¥3,000
  • Wet Suit Rental – ¥2,000
  • Lessons ~ ¥6,000 per lesson
    • When you rent equipment you can get a free 10 minute lesson covering the general how-to’s of surfing.

Hours:

  • 9:00 ~ 17:00

Notes:

  • This is a surf shop and their stuff is name brand surfing gear. If you need things like sunscreen, a towel, or flip-flops you don’t have to buy them at this shop. There is a convenience store across the street that sells these things for a fraction of the price.

Map:

Posted in Hyūga 市, Japan, Kyūshū, Miyazaki 県 | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

Takachiho Gorge

Posted by Heliocentrism on June 16, 2014

April 20-21, 2013

All Pictures

Rowing down the gorge

So it’s going to be like that?

This was the start of one of those summers in Japan. During the workweek I’d sit at my desk and dreamily stare out of the window. The sky would be so blue. The sun would shine happily. There would be just enough breeze to need a long-sleeve t-shirt in the evenings.

It would be too hard to concentrate on work the whole day, so I would focus and get everything done in the mornings and let my mind drift after lunch. I would message friends about camping on the weekends. I did hours of research to find interesting spots to camp. My friends and I planned at least 2 camping trips per month for the next 4 months!

Then Friday would come. After work Mark and I would set out to the grocery store for supplies for our trip. We would do our shopping blissfully unaware that our plans were being destroyed. We would find out when we took our items back to the car. “It’s raining!”

But it was never just rain. Typhoons, floods, fires, locus, rivers turned to blood! All starting at 6pm Friday evening and lasting until 8pm Sunday night when the winds would suddenly died down, flood waters would recede, locus would spontaneously die and disintegrate, and rivers would return to having crystal clear water again. Every Monday through Thursday started and ended beautifully. The only exceptions were the Wednesdays that were holidays; then it would rain all day.

I’m happy because there aren’t enough oars for everyone!

This trip came about after many cancelled and postponed trips. We were to go camping up north, but it was supposed to rain. So we went down south to this campsite because it had cabins. Cabins or bungalows are sometimes cheaper than camping if you have enough people. With cabins you pay per cabin.

With campsite you pay per tent and per person. Cabins sometimes, but not always, come with amenities like hot showers, rice cookers, futons and blankets, and air conditioning. (These bungalows were very basic with futons and blankets. The showers and toilets were not in the bungalows, but in a communal area.)

We’re all hoping that it doesn’t rain.

We first checked in at the campsite and put our stuff into our bungalows. We had 2 for our group. Then we went to see about the gorge before it was supposed to rain. At first we walked down the little path, but it seemed like a sucker’s game. You went down a whole bunch of steps then walked for about 10 minutes, but you can’t get close to the waterfall. Then you have to climb back up those steps like a chump.

We chose to take a row-boat. There were 3 to a boat and only 2 oars. I figured that chances were good I would not have to row. My gamble paid off. There was only one rower and it was never me. Mark and Billy took turns rowing.

The lady on the right has a business meeting she needs to get to!

There were a few traffic jams. Everyone wanted to see the waterfalls so boats would slow down whenever they got to one. But no one really had control over their boat and everyone rammed someone. A few boats got too near a waterfall and got drenched. A couple handed me their camera to take their photo only to drift away with their camera still in my hands. After some maneuvering, we managed to get our boats close enough to hand the camera back. I was afraid that their expensive camera would end up in the river.

You have to be quick!

Can I interest you in some cold food?

We past this restaurant that served cold noodles. You pick up the noodles and dip them into your cup filled with soy sauce, seasonings, ginger, and chives. But before you can do that you have to catch your noodles with chopsticks. The noodles are sent sliding down a bamboo flume that passes your table.

The noodles we missed

Normally I don’t like cold noodles, but these were very good. I think I did a good job catching the noodles. I was still hungry, but I did better than I thought I would. A few months later, when I went back to Ohio, I made these noodles (minus the flume) for my family since it was a hot day.

You have to boil the noodles to cook them then drain off the hot water, rinse with cold water, and then put the noodles in ice-cold water. My brother, Malcolm, the lover of cold drinks, tasted the dish and said, “It’s really good, but it needs something…” “More ginger?” I suggested. I really like a lot of ginger in my sauce. “No,” he said. Then he got up from the table to microwave his noodles. “Now, this is good stuff!”

Let’s start grilling

With the appetizer out of the way, we headed back to the camp to start grilling. We started around 6 that evening and kept going until about 10. We grilled meat, vegetables, and even fruit. It was a feast.

Once that was done we cleaned up and headed to one of the cabins. It was raining, but we didn’t care. We played Citadels for several hours because we’re nerds. I love this game, but I can never win. I fly under the radar until almost the end of the game. Then everyone comes after me leaving me poor and powerless. It’s a great game!

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.)
  • 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.)

Takachiho
(高千穂)

How to get there:

From Oita:

  • Head from Oita on route 57. Then around to the town of Bungotaketa take the 639 to route 8.

Coordinates:

  • 32°42’43.4″N 131°18’20.9″E

Website:

Notes:

There is a restaurant near the gorge where you can try this cold noodle flowing activity. I’m not a huge fan of cold food, but on a hot day this stuff is delicious. (I like to put a lot of ginger in my dipping bowl.)

Don’t worry if you don’t catch much food. The noodles will land in a bowl at the end and will be served to you later.

  • Other than the gorge there are temples galore to be seen.
  • and a cave

Takachiho Gorge
(高千穂峡)
(Takachiho-kyō)

How to get there:

From Takachiho

  • Take route 50 south to until you see signs for the gorge.

Coordinates

  • 32°42’06.6″N 131°18’01.6″E

Website:

Cost:

  • There is no charge to get to the gorge area. But there is no free parking. If I remember right, parking was a flat fee of about ¥500 for the day. (But I could be wrong. It could be more.)

Hours:

  • The shops and boat rental probably close about 18:00 in the summer.

Notes: You can rent a boat to paddle yourself down the gorge

  • It takes about 30 minutes depending on your strength and stamina.
  • It’s ¥2,000 per boat.
  • It’s a maximum of 3 people per boat.
  • 8:30~16:30 and 7:30~18:00 in the summer.
  • You will have to wear a life jacket.
  • You will probably stay dry during the boat ride, unless of course if you have expensive electronics with you. Then you will somehow get stuck under the waterfall and everything will be soaked!

You can also walk along the gorge via a walkway (free).


Sato Camp Village of Gokase
(五ヶ瀬の里キャンプ村)
(Gokase no sato kyanpu-mura)

How to get there:

From the gorge take 218 heading west. The road the campsite in on has no name that I can find, but it’s near a waterfall called, “うのこの滝.” I highly recommend using a GPS navigator to help you find this place.

Coordinates:

  • 32°41’32.4″N 131°10’41.7″E

Phone:

  • 0982-82-1536 (Japanese)

Website Cost:

  • 1~4 person bungalow — ¥4,200 (if you have 4 people it will cost ¥1,050 per person)
  • 6~8 person bungalow — ¥6,300
  • 5-person-tent rental — ¥1,050
  • You bring your own tent — ¥530/person
  • Day camping — ¥300/person

Hours:

  • Check in – 15:00
  • Check out – 10:00

Notes:

  • They do have things like grills and tongs to rent.
  • The bungalow come with futons and blankets.
  • There are showers and toilets, but they are not in the bungalows.

Map:

Posted in Japan, Kyūshū, Miyazaki 県, Takachiho 町 | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

Camping in Nagasaki

Posted by Heliocentrism on January 20, 2014

October 6-8, 2012

All Pictures

AJET Camping Trip

The South Africans

This camping trip was planned and arranged by Frida and Roland, fellow nerdy campers. Both Frida and I were ALTs in the JET Programme and they lived about an hour’s drive from us. But we never actually met them until the latter part of our second year in Japan. I knew of them; we had several mutual friends, but we always seemed to just miss meeting each other.

The AJET leader in our area planned an awesome camping trip for JETs in Oita Prefecture. Well, camping not so much. Most of the “campers” were in cabins; cabins with a/c, kitchens, rice cookers… For some JETs, the ones living closer to cities, the cabins were nicer than their apartments.

There were a small few in tents. That’s where we met the South Africans. We were the only ones who brought our own grill. We were the only ones who brought first aid kits. We were the only ones who brought enough food for the whole trip and had coolers. Then I found out that they were a bit nerdy. Mark and I fell in love! Camping soul-mates at last…

We wanted to go camping with our new friends many times over this summer. But this year, 2012, had a typhoon or storm just about every weekend. We would make plans only to cancelled because of the weather. Then in July I was in the hospital. October was the first time we were able to go on a trip together and we brought some other campers too.

Everyone’s doing dishes but me.

Art and Nature

The main reason they pick this particular campsite was because it is near Huis Ten Bosch, which is like a cross between Holland and Disney World. At the time of this trip it also had some Dutch art on display for an extra fee. Frida, Roland, and the other were really keen to see the art.

But, Mark and I are not really interested in art. Although the Huis Ten Bosch itself seemed quite fun, the entrance fee was a bit high. Since I still could not walk or stand for too long without getting very tired we didn’t think we would get our money’s worth. Mark and I chose to stay at the campsite and relax while everyone else went to the park.

The Life!

The campsite itself was really nice. There weren’t too many other campers and the few that were there kept to themselves. I might have mentioned before how Japanese campers like to set up their tents right next to ours even when there are hundreds of empty sites to choose from. When we are part of a group, that does not happen.

Let me poke it. No boys, don’t poke it!

There was a beach right next to camp, but this is not a beach for swimming. It was very cold, but besides that, there isn’t any sand; just rocks. But still, the boys managed to find some fauna to play with by way of the solider crabs scurrying around.

Many families came by to day-camp and fish off the pier. And this seems to be the spot where many pet owners dump their unwanted cats. There were several strays ready to steal from our grill so we had to have someone on guard during all meals.

camping with friends

 

Frida and Roland brought a nerd trivia game. We played after dinner by moon light while listening to the waves. We had enough people to make 3 teams. Mark and I were on one of the teams. We played 2 rounds and Mark and I crushed everyone both times. And when I say crushed, I mean won by one point.

This was the first of many camping trips together and many Nerd Night battles. Freda and Roland introduced us to the worlds of QI, rooibos tea, and South African braai and showed us how to embrace the nerds within us. We introduced them to John Green, American over indulgence, and regaled them with stories about our Eagle summoning ceremonies.

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.TakecashandcallyourbanktoaskwhatATMs 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.)
  • 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.)

Osaki Nature Park Campgrounds
(大崎自然公園内 キャンプ場)
(Ōsaki shizenkōen-nai kyampuba)
(Ōmurawankenritsu Park)

How to get there:

  • +33° 3′ 0.79″, +129° 49′ 58.75″

Address:

〒859-3601 長崎県東彼杵郡川棚町‎
095-826-6715

Phone: 

  • 0956-83-3210
  • 0956-82-2661

Website

Cost:

  • 500 JYN per adult per night
  • 1,000 JYN for grill rental

Hours:

  • Check in 13:00
  • Check out
    • 18:00 day campers
    • 11:00 the next day for overnighters

Notes:

  •  There are lots of stray cats. It seems that this is a popular place for people who no longer want to be cat owners to abandon their cats.

Shiosainoyu Onsen
(川棚大崎温泉しおさいの湯)

How to get there:

  • +33° 3′ 20.87″, +129° 49′ 26.00″

Address:

川棚大崎温泉しおさいの湯
237 Ogushigo
Kawatana, Higashisonogi District,
Nagasaki Prefecture 859-3618
Japan

Phone: 

  • 0956-82-6868

Website

Cost: 

  • 500 JNY per adult

Hours: 

  • 9:30 – 22:00

Notes:

  • Many campsites with nearby onsens will give you a one time discount to use at the onsen. Usually the discount is 100 yen per person. You should get the coupon when you pay for your stay at the campsite.
  • There is a restaurant in this onsen and outlets to charge phones.

Sumie Family Vacation Village
(须美江家庭度假村)

How to get there:

  • Coordinates +32° 39′ 41.94″, +131° 46′ 5.03″

Address:

日本宮崎県延岡市須美江町69−1須美江家族旅行村

69-1 Sumiemachi Nobeoka,
Miyazaki Prefecture 889-0321 Japan‎

Phone: 

  • Management office 0982-43-0201

Website

Cost: 

  • CABIN – 5 persons per cabin                                                             ¥8400/cabin = ¥1680/person

-full kitchen (rice cooker, refrigerator, sink, dishes, utensils)
-TV
-bedding
-shower

  • PERMANENT TENT – 5 people   per tent                                  ¥1360/tent = ¥272/person
  • AUTO-CAMPING – bring your own tent                                     ¥3150/car = depends/person

-coin operated shower near tents
-rent bedding for 200 yen each or bring your own

Hours: 

  • Available year round
  • Check in  16:00 to 17:00
  • Check out 13:00

Notes:

  • BBQ Pits available to rent for ¥500
  • Nearby Aquarium Hours 9:00 – 17:00 M-F
  • There are 2 beaches within walking distance. The nicer beach is further away.

Map

Posted in Japan, Kawatana 町, Kyūshū, Miyazaki 県, Nagasaki 県, Nobeoka 市 | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

Oh, Oita!

Posted by Heliocentrism on January 7, 2014

September 17, 2012

All Pictures

feathered armor

 

When was the last time we went somewhere?

Since the Golden Week trip, Mark and I didn’t really leave Oita. We might have gone camping in Beppu, but that doesn’t count since the Beppu campsite is a 30 minute drive from our house.

I had major surgery in July and wasn’t allow to return to work until late August. I thought that I would use my “resting” time to go on trips, but I really did need to actually rest. I could not stand up for too long at a time. I was not in any pain, I just got tired very easily.

We’ve been standing like this for years and we’re not tired!

By September I was not 100% back to normal, but I really needed to get out. So I went on the internet to see if there was anything near us to see. I went to Google maps (classic mode) and clicked on “photos”. There were 2 photos that looked interesting. And so a trip was born!

I prefer Almond Joy…

Mounds Everywhere!

Japan is crazy about mounds. Wait…

Japan was crazy about mounds. Most of them are centuries old. Some millennia old; key-hole shaped, with giant rocks, lots of pottery. This was all the rage way, way, way back when. The mound in the picture above is from the 5th century. Think about that. This thing is a little younger than Jesus! (Okay, about 500 years younger than Jesus, but compared to my age they’re practically twins.)

In the 5th century Attila the Hun was bothering the RomansChichen Itza was being built. Supposedly King Arthur was fighting the Saxons. And this thing was made.

Holey rock mountain, Mark!

It’s at a school!?

Yup. It’s at a school. You see the photo above? Mark is standing on the baseball field of a junior high school. And those holes? Tombs… tombs from the 6th century. They’re empty now. I have no idea what happened to the people who were inside. But now, there is garbage in some of them.

nice

 

This was a great close-to-home trip that allowed me to get out, but not get too tired. Who knew that this kind of thing was right in little no-wheres-ville Oita?

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.TakecashandcallyourbanktoaskwhatATMs 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.)
  • 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.)

Oita City
(大分市)
(Oita-shi)

How to get there:

  • +33° 13′ 58.02″, +131° 36′ 21.50″

You can fly in.

  • From Oita Airport take the airport shuttle to Oita city. It’s a 1.5 hour ride.
  • Most of the flights are domestic, but there are a few flight to Seoul.

You can also take a train or bus to Oita.

Address:

International Affairs Office Cultural &
International Affairs Division Oita City
2-31 Niage Machi Oita City,
870-8504 Japan

Phone: 

  • +81-97-537-5719

Websites:

Downloads:

e-mail: kokusai@city.oita.oita.jp

Hours:

  • Buses stop running around 23:00 on regular days and 21:00 on holidays and Sundays.
  • Trains stop running around 22:00.
  • schedules of individual buses and trains vary.

Notes:

Oita is the capital city of Oita prefecture. It has the most shopping malls, but the best touristy stuff is in Beppu, the next city over.

Map:


Kamezuka Kufun Park
(亀塚古墳公園・海部古墳資料館)
(Kamedzuka kofun kōen Ama kofun shiryōkan)

How to get there:

  • +33° 14′ 5.58″, +131° 44′ 22.30″

Website

Cost: 

  • Free

Hours:

  • 9:00 – 17:00
  • Admission until 16:30

Notes:

  • Free Parking!

Map


Tunnel Tombs of Takio
(滝尾百穴)
(Takiohyakketsu)

How to get there:

  • +33° 12′ 58.91″, +131° 37′ 59.73″

Address: This is in the baseball field in a jr. high school.

Takio Jr. High School
349 Hada
Oita, Oita Prefecture 870-0942
Japan

Website:

Cost: 

  • Free

Hours: 

  • Whenever the jr. high is open for school or club activities… I guess.

Notes:

I’m not sure where you can park. Mark and I parked in the parking lot of the school and stayed for about 10 minutes.

Map:

Posted in Japan, Kyūshū, Oita 県, Oita 市 | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

Apocalyptic

Posted by Heliocentrism on January 2, 2014

April 28 – 30, 2012

All Pictures

apologies!!

Teaser Alert! … 

Once again I apologize for not posting. I have been on a few truly unforgettable trips that I must write about. But, I feel the need to go in chronological order. So, first I will write about the smaller trips. I will try to have a new one every week.

…and

After years of getting very lost, ending up on narrow windy back roads of Japan near heart-stopping cliffs Mark and I finally purchased a Garmin. So I no longer know the directions to any of the places we visit; I only know the coordinates. I will  leave the directions up to Google Maps. You can put the coordinates into your GPS device or print out a map.


Battleship Island

Isn’t the world going to end this year?

I think this trip started because of a Cracked article. I love Cracked. At the time of this trip I was a high school English teacher in Japan and didn’t do much at work because… (I could go into the many failures the public school system has of teaching English but, I won’t. So let’s just say…) my classes get cancelled a lot. Out of boredom, I read a lot at work; books, newspapers (online), Japanese lessons, and when I really just want to have fun, Cracked.

There are several articles like, Abandoned Places that will Blow Your Mind, Mind Blowing Forgotten Towns, or Creepiest spots on Earth… that will Blow Your Mind. I love these sort of articles! After reading all of them, I noticed that many of these articles include at least one place in Japan. According to Cracked, Japan is a weird place… that will blow your mind.

Creepy Japanese Places according to Cracked:

So Japan is creepy. Why fight it? That’s why for Golden Week 2012, the year the Mayan Calender ended and hence the world, we decided to see all the creepiness our Japanese islands, Kyushu, had to offer.

You can’t legally do much on Battleship Island

Battleship Island

It was a mini city that centered around coal mining from 1887 to 1974. Everyone who lived on this island was part of the booming coal mining industry. At its peak, 83,500 people per km2  were packed onto this tiny island. The high walls that protected the people and buildings from tsunamis is what give the place that “battleship” look.

But alas, with coal being so dirty, when new forms of energy came along, like petroleum, the coal industry died. And, so did this little mining island. Everyone left and this became one of the creepiest places in Japan. The only people who go to Hashima now are tourists, movie crews, and pop stars making music videos.

Here’s the fabulous pool!

The tour was a bit disappointing. There is a clear barred off path that you must follow. You are also not allow to stray too far from your tour group even when you stay on the path. The tour was in Japanese, and not very interesting so wandering off would have been the thing to do, except that there is no where to wander!

We have parties every night once those naive tourists go home.

You can, illegally, pay a fisherman to take you to the island after all the tours are done and explore the island on your own. It is dangerous; abandon islands tend to be huge death traps. Having a nice job, a husband I don’t want to see hurt, and not wanting to end up in a Japanese prison myself made me not adventurous enough to try this method. The group tour was good enough for me.

Tall Ships!

Russia: Land of Ships

After the tour we went to the Nagasaki Tall Ship Festival. We walked along the dock looking at ships from various countries, mostly Russia.

“Oh look this ship is from Vladivostok!”

“So is this one.”

“… and this one.”

“…and the one next to it.”

We had tickets for something to do at the festival, but we didn’t know what it was. All I knew was that I had paid for some activity that had something to do with a ship. I had to get the ticket a couple weeks before the festival and it involved me using the Japanese return postage post card for the first time ever.

The tickets were not expensive, but the process was very complicated. I figured it must be something really special. It was for a ride on a ship which sailed around Nagasaki harbor.

Is that rain!?

The special part was, that this is a sail boat, powered by sails. But it was raining and the sails were never taken out. Everyone sat below deck trying to stay dry and not throw-up. This might have still been a treat for Mark and me had we not just spent that same morning boating up and down this whole harbor going to and from Battleship island. (At least for that boat ride it was not raining and we had a great view of the harbor.)

Eventually, after I got nauseous, we did go above deck in the cold rain to see the harbor from the sailboat that was not sailing.

The Old Nagasaki Prison

Gone!?

Also on the list of disappointments was the Old Nagasaki Prison. Apparently 2012 was it’s apocalypse. When we got there only the main gate was still standing… and it was cleaned up! A few month earlier the town decided to tear down the old prison because people kept breaking in to the old building to take photos.

What kind of freaks would do that!?

They left the main gate, de-rusted and with a new coat of paint, because the prison is the town’s only tourist attraction.  It still brings people in too. Though probably not for much longer once word gets out…

Mudslide house

Next we went to Obama!

So there’s an area in Nagasaki called Obama. This would be a huge deal if Obama wasn’t such a common geographical name. There are tons of places in Japan called Obama. Just throw a rock…

But this Obama had a village that was wiped out by a mudslide in 1990 that was started by a volcano. One small part of the village was left as it was after the disaster as a memorial. We walked around the houses taking pictures.

We didn’t visit the museum or the school because we were running out of time. We needed to drive to Fukuoka and set up our tent before the sun set.

The Zombies are coming!

They’re coming!

Because we were running a little behind schedule, we took the much faster toll express way to Fukuoka rather than the cheaper and slower highway. The toll road has the added benefit of having more signs giving directions, signs that are written clearly and in Romaji, two lanes most of the time, and people who drive like they want to get their money’s worth from a toll road. On toll roads you are less likely to get lost and that alone is worth something when time is not in abundance.

What road are we on?

I gather that signs are very expensive here in Japan, since one can drive for miles without seeing one. Some stop signs as well as most speed limit signs are actually painted on the road. When using a paper map you first need to figure out where you are. Back in the states you can see signs along the road that tell you what road you are on. In Japan this is considered a waste of sign making material. You will only see signs for what road you can get to, and sometimes even then it’s anyone’s guess. Many times to figure out what road I am on, I will turn off onto another road, make a u-turn, and read the sign at the intersection.

I think the main reason why tolls are so expensive here is the cost of making all the extra signs.

We did manage to get to Fukuoka early enough in the afternoon that we visited the anti-zombie tower before heading to the campsite. It was very nice for a tower-that-you-can’t-go-near-because-it’s-not-actually-a-tourist-attraction.

This is actually a photo of my car getting an oil change, but it looked quite similar.

No! Green is Bad.

This is the really apocalyptic part of the trip. After this neither Mark nor I were in any mood to continue so we went home. It started after leaving the anti-zombie tower… I don’t know why I have no photos of the trip from this point on. I did take pictures, but they are all gone… so are Mark’s photos. …odd.

 We didn’t have good directions to the campsite. But, we did get to the general area. We stopped at a convenience store and asked, “Camping wa doko desu ka?” It was a badly composed sentence asking basically, “Where is camping?” It was good enough to get my inquiry across. The campsite didn’t really have a name other than east side of the Fukuoka mountain campsite, or something like that; not something that people who have not camped there would know. We were within a couple miles of the campsite, at the base of the east side of the mountain, but still no one knew where it was.

The sun had retreated for the day and it was too late to put up a tent. Defeated, we headed to downtown Fukuoka and got an internet cafe for the night. We were able to look up the campsite online and find exact GPS coordinates as well as other things to see that would fit into our end of the world themed holiday.

The next day, early in the morning, we drove to the campsite and put up the tent. It was a free campsite! The day was a bit windy, but we were up a mountain. The sun was out; it was a nice laundry-doing day.

We were running low on clean clothes. The plan was to go back down the mountain, find a laundromat  to do some washing, fill the car with gas, get some supplies, then chill at the campsite for the rest of the day, or two, or three. We had plenty of days left on our Golden Week holiday.

Not too far from the mountain there was a laundromat across the street from a gas station. Perfect! We pulled into the gas station and next to a gas pump. Normally a gas station attendant would come by and ask what type of gas I wanted and how much money I wanted to spend. But that didn’t happen here. It was a self service gas station. *GASP*

I never put the most expensive type of gas in my car. When I filled up this time I selected the cheapest option and filled the tank.

When I was done I felt really proud of myself. Pumping my own gas is something I’ve always had trouble with in Japan. It’s a complicated task mainly because the pump asks you so many questions, all in Japanese, before you can get the gas out of the machine. Once the screen at the pump turned into a slot machine and before I knew it I was gambling!

I know it looks easy, but you really need a master’s degree in Fluid Dynamics to fill your own tank.

Once I used a pump with an option for English. Many of the questions had to do with method of payment, whether or not a discount/ club card will be used. Is an oil change needed? Does the car need to be washed or wax? Are you free this weekend? What’s your blood type?How do you get your hair so shiny?

Mark and I got back into the car. We were about to cross the street and park at the laundromat when my car shuttered and died. I tried restarting the car. Nothing. Not even a cough. It was dead.

“What color pump did you use?” Mark asked.

J: “The cheapest one; green I think… Is that bad?”

M: “Green is bad. In the states…”

J: “No! In the states green is always diesel! Is it diesel here too?”

M: “Well, the car IS dead…”

J: “Damn it, diesel.”

Luckily, but not luckily enough to have not put diesel in a gas car, the car stopped right at the gas station. The attendants hoisted the car, drained out the diesel, cleaned the tank, and filled it with gas all while we did our laundry across the street. I think the whole thing cost us about 85USD, not including the tank of diesel that we never used and the new tank of gas.

Our budget

At this point we were still within our holiday budget. The cost of taking the diesel out was not too pricey. We could still continue. We headed back up the mountain to our campsite after getting stuff for lunch and dinner. We would make the best of it.

This should have been a sign.

It’s been years since I had regular access to a dryer and every time I used one it’s like I don’t know what can go in there and what cannot. I usually end up shrinking half my clothes. So, now I just stay away.

Mark did put in one load of jeans, socks, and underwear. The rest we took back to the campsite to hang up. It was quite a windy day, so I didn’t think it would take long for our clothes to dry.

When I went to hang out our laundry I realized that I had forgotten to bring clothes pins. I had to hang up the clothes by stringing the line through the t-shirts and other items. It’s a good thing the socks were already dry! We sat in a little cement shelter and ate lunch as we watched our clothes blow madly in the wind.

A photo of another camping trip

 

The rest of the day was spent looking down on Fukuoka from our mountain top campsite. The trees were really bending. Around dinner time our clothes were dry, but it was dinner time. We were going to eat then take the clothes in, but even hours after eating we still had not taken anything in.

When it started drizzling we put everything that wasn’t in our tent in the car except for the clothes, which were now wet again. There was no point since they would have to be hung out again later. When it started to rain harder we went inside our tent. We watched a movie on my android then fell asleep.

I woke up in the middle of the night when something hit me in the head. It wasn’t a hard hit. I thought that maybe Mark was moving around in his sleep and had knocked my head, but he was not near enough to me to do that. Then I though I had just dreamed it. I turned over and went back to bed.

Then it happened again. This time twice in a row so I knew what had hit me. The wind was so strong that it was making our tent lie down. I was being hit in the head by the top of our tent. I looked around our tent; I mean really looked around this time. Everything was wet. Our tent was a pool.

I woke Mark up and we went outside for a look at the campsite. I saw our clothes still on the line. It’s a good thing I forgot those clothes pins. That would not have been secure enough to keep those clothes from being blown off the mountain!

Me – This is what happens when you don’t watch TV. You don’t find out about the hurricane that is heading to your campsite.

Mark – Should we take down the tent and drive into town.

Me – How safe to you think the roads down the mountain would be?

Mark – You mean because there are no lights, it’s a windy road with falling rocks on one side and cliff drops on the other, and everyone speeds?

Me – Let’s just stay here.

So Mark and I got our towels, dried our tent out the best we could, and went back to sleep. Except we didn’t actually fall asleep. I kept waking up when the top of our tent hit me in the head. I worried that something, like our car, would be blown on top of our tent.

The wind sounded like it wanted to do some damage. I just imagined a family of campers finding our bodies the next day. “Well, at least they had sense enough not to use clothes pins and kept their laundry from blowing away. Too bad they didn’t use an anchor to keep their k-car secured to the ground.”

I slept 5 minutes out of every hour, but at least I was not cold; just scared.

another random camping trip photo

I must say something about our camping equipment. The next day I looked at our tent and all the poles were just fine. We do not have a very expensive tent. It’s just an Ozark Trail 4-person tent my mom just randomly bought us, when she couldn’t find the tent we left at her house. But that little tent took a beating and survived!

There was a lot of water in the tent, but the tent itself was not leaking. We sprayed the tent with Nikwax just before we set out for this trip. Water got in when the wind blew up the fly and when the wind blew the tent flat on the ground.

Our sleeping bags by Suisse Sport kept us nice and warm and mostly dry. They are reversible, meaning that it doesn’t matter which is the inside and which is the outside. But if you sleep with the blue side out, it will keep you dry if your tent leaks.  Sometimes the zippers are hard to use in the dark, but other than that I have no complaints.

By morning we had had it with Fukuoka and this trip. We packed up the car with our wet tent and wet clothes and went home. It took 2 days to dry everything out.

But I still love camping.

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.TakecashandcallyourbanktoaskwhatATMs 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.)
  • 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.)

Nagasaki
(長崎市)

How to get there:

You can get in by plane, train, and bus.

The nearest airport is and hour away from the city of Nagasaki.

Address:

Nagasaki-shi government office 〒 850-8685 2-22, Sakuramachi, Nagasaki-shi, Nagasaki

Phone:

City Hall: 095-822-8888

Emergency Phone Numbers in Japan:

  • Police 110
  • Ambulance/ Fire 119

Website

Downloads:

e-mail: info@at-nagasaki.jp

Notes:

Hostels are a cheaper alternative to hotel accommodations while in Japan. But, if you have a car, this might not be true. You’ll save money on a bed only to spend it on parking. Many hostels do not have free parking.

If you have a car while visiting Nagasaki, consider staying at an internet cafe. Internet cafe, called media cafes or netto cafes (ネットカフェ) in Japan are equipped for overnight stays. They are usually near train stations or in strip malls. Many come with showers, clean towels, and toiletries for free. All offer free drinks (coffee, tea, soda) for the duration of your stay. Most, though not all, have free parking.

On this trip Mark and I stayed at Planet-Cafe. We had to pay a one time 300 Yen fee for membership then, I think, 2,300 Yen each for a single cubical. The price for 2 singles and 1 double was about the same, so we got separate compartments. We parked in the paid parking lot of a nearby mall and had our ticket validated by the cafe; parking for us was free.


Battleship Island
Hashima
(端島)
Gunkanjima
(軍艦島)

How to get there:

  • 32°37’40.2″N 129°44’18.3″E
  • You will need to be part of a tour.
  • The ferry leaves from the  Nagasaki Port Ferry Terminal (near the Ohato tram stop).
  • The boat ride takes about 50 minutes each way.
  • There are 2 ferries a day.

Address:

株式会社ユニバーサルワーカーズ 軍艦島コンシェルジュ
長崎県長崎市常盤町1-60常盤ターミナルビル102号

Universal Workers – The Gunkanjima Concierge Company
Tokiwa town 1-60 Tokiwa terminal building 102 Nagasaki

Phone: 

  • +81-95-895-9300

Website:

Downloads:

e-mail

Cost:

  • Adult 3,600~3,900 Yen (Prices are more expensive on weekends and holidays.)
  • There is a 300~400 Yen discount per person if you reserve groups of 15 or more people.
  • For 4~500,00 Yen you can also charter a boat and go by yourself (with the tour company) or with just friends.

Hours:

  • meet at 10:10 for the 10:40~13:00 tour
  • meet at 13:30 for the 14:00~16:20 tour

Videos:

Notes:


Nagasaki Tall Ships Festival

How to get there:

  • 32°44’12.1″N 129°52’03.1″E
  • Got to the Nagasaki Port (Nagasaki Seaside Park, Dejima Wharf) near the Ohato tram stop.
  • Or by JR Train
    Disembark at the Power Dejima stop, then take the electric tram from the Nagasaki stop on Nagasaki JR.

Address:

Nagasaki Port (Nagasaki Seaside Park, Dejima Wharf)

Phone:

  • 095-829-1314
  • +81-95-823-3631 (English Only)

e-mail: info@at-nagasaki.jp

Website

Cost:

  • There is no charge to look at the ships.
  • It costs about 1,000 Yen to take a ride on the Kanko Maru Tall Ship. You must get your ticket before the day of the ride. There is a limited number of tickets. Call for more information.

Hours:

  • Late April

Videos:

Notes:

  • This event goes on for several days.
  • At night there is a light show.

Old Nagasaki Prison
(旧長崎刑務所)
(Kyū Nagasaki keimusho)

How to get there:

Website:

Notes:

  • Other than the main gate, there is nothing left of the old prison.
  • ****UPDATE***** The main gate might have been taken down too.

Obama Mudslide Village

  • Disaster Memorial Hall (雲仙岳災害記念館)
  • Buried Village ( Mizunashi Honjin Fukae Michi no Eki roadside park)
  • Former Onokoba Elementary School

How to get there:

  • Disaster Memorial Hall: +32° 44′ 37.01″, +130° 22′ 33.47″
  • Buried Village: +32° 44′ 22.66″, +130° 22′ 2.68″
  • Former Onokoba Elementary School: +32° 44′ 43.80″, +130° 20′ 26.49″
  • Buried Village
  • Former Onokoba Elementary School
  • The Mount Unzen Disaster Museum and Buried Houses by bus from central Shimabara City

Take a bus bound for Katsusa (加津佐) and get off at the Arena Iriguchi bus stop. Then walk  5-10 minutes to the disaster museum or the Michi no Eki Fukae bus stop next to the buried houses. The bus ride takes around 30 minutes and costs about 400 yen. There are 1-2 buses per hour. (There is also a free shuttle between these two sights, but it does not come by too often.)

Address:

Disaster Memorial Hall

1-1 Heisei-machi Shimabara-city Nagasaki 855-0879

Phone: 

  • Disaster Memorial Hall

0957-65-5555

e-mail: 

Disaster Memorial Hall  info@udmh.or.jp

Website:

Downloads:

Cost:

  • Disaster Memorial Hall: 1,000 Yen
  • Buried Village: Free
  • Former Onokoba Elementary School: Free

Hours:

  • Disaster Memorial Hall: 9:00 to 18:00 (admission until 17:00)
  • Buried Village: 8:30 to 17:00
  • Former Onokoba Elementary School: 9:00 to 16:30

Notes:

All these sights have free parking


Fukuoka Anti-Zombie Tower
(志免鉱業所)
(Shime kōgyōsho>

How to get there:

  • Coordinates: 33°35′26″N130°29′09″E

There is plenty of free parking at the adjacent ball park.

Not too far from the Fukuoka airport. (Directions from the airport)

Address:

Google map generated address:

Fukuoka-ken, Kasuya-gun, Shime-machi, Shime, 495−3 旧志免鉱業所竪坑櫓

Website:

Cost:

It’s free to look at. You CANNOT go into or unto the tower, unless of course, you are being chased by a zombie horde.

Hours:

Always available

Map:

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

Mark’s Batsu Game

Posted by Heliocentrism on April 7, 2012

Choosing the punishment

Updates, Apologies, and Excuses 

I will start with the Update. Mark hosted a Batsu game last week. A Batsu game, or punishment game as it is also known, is fun, funny, scary, and gross all at the same time.

What does that mean?

For this game, Mark made all the challenges. We were all at his and luck’s mercy. Mark would show us a folded paper that gave us a vague clue as to what the punishment would be. Then he would put down one playing card, faced down for each person playing. We would then pick the playing card we wanted. The poor saps who picked up the jokers had to do the punishment.  The paper would be opened and then… I’ll let the video show you the rest.

Fun right!?

fire on the mountain

Apologies 

I will apologize because there was a fire festival this week that we went to. But, I will not talk about it right now. I will later, but not now.

I’m busy, feverishly fixing all my photos. I normally use Facebook to store all my photos and then link them to this site. But, I’ve noticed that many of my photos on Facebook have been disappearing and then reappearing weeks later. This would be alright, I guess, as long as they come back, but when they do come back they have different url addresses.

What this means, is that the links to photos I have, no longer link to anything. You can see it for yourself if you look through this blog, since it has happen through the whole blog. So I have found a new place to store my pictures from where they can be linked, google+.

So now I’m in the processes of changing everything and when I’m done I will write about the fire festival.  …and by the way, that was my excuse for not updating my blog in such a long time. Well, that and the fact that Mark and I haven’t done much.

On the phone at a BTS station in Bangkok

Craziness

This is a travel a blog. I do encourage people to email me, or leave comments. I like when people ask me questions about traveling, ask for my opinion or advice, or tell me that they enjoy my blog.

But, every now and then, I get emails or comments from people who don’t quite understand what this blog is all about. About a year ago, I was getting about an email a day from a guy asking me what he should do on his trip to Taipei. I have never been to Taipei, but I sent him some links that I would look at if I were planning a trip to Taipei.

He kept emailing me, asking for prices of hotels, car rentals, flights, and what  exactly he should do everyday he was in Taipei. I emailed him and told him that I was just a blogger doing this on my free time and that he needed to call a travel agent. He still emailed me a couple more times after that, but I just ignored him.

I also get people who seem to be confused about what this site is. One guy thought this site was somehow connected to the Manila airport and asked about a wallet he lost there. Unfortunately, I couldn’t help him.

But, most of the time, I get messages and emails from people telling me that they enjoy the blog. I like getting questions about travel logistics, like one person who asked about buses to and around Jindo or the guy who asked about the very old train in Thailand.

I might not have all the answers, but I will try to answer as best as I can. Just don’t expect me to plan your holiday for you. (Though that might be fun to do as a job…)

Hope to fix the photos in the next few weeks. See you then!

Posted in Beppu 市, Japan, Kyūshū, Oita 県 | Tagged: | 2 Comments »

The Christmas Visitor

Posted by Heliocentrism on January 19, 2012

December 22, 2011 – January 2, 2012

All Pictures

playing cards at home

Our agenda for today: 1. Go to an ATM, 2. Get a Burger, 3. Take a shower.

Tom made plans to come to Japan for Festivus/ Christmas since February 2011. Last year, Mark stayed at Tom’s place a couple of times, while getting his visa for Japan at the Japanese embassy in Seoul. They also spent last Christmas together because Mark was having some huge visa issues. I think they even had a huge Festivus party where Mark aired all his grievances against the Japanese immigration policies.

We met Tom a few years ago when we lived in Seoul and did some traveling and free biking with him. Tom still lives in Seoul, but I don’t know if he still uses the free bikes there.

So Mark and I, who are on a tight budget have been saving our pennies,.. one yen coins, for the occasion. But, when we asked Tom what sites he wanted to see while in Japan, he said he just wanted to chill out and hang with us.

We said, “Really, there’s nothing at all you want to see?”

Tom – “Well, okay, just Hiroshima and something in your town.”

So Mark and I thought that since Tom just wanted to hang out, what we would do is to take Tom to all the restaurants in town Mark and I always wanted to go, but didn’t because we are saving money. I had about four restaurants in mind, plus some we had already been to.

Playing big titris at Park Place

For the “something in our town” we took him to see Mount Aso. There is really nothing to see in Oita except for Park Place, the biggest mall this side of Kyushu. And yes, we did take him to see Park Place.  There we ran into some of my students. I introduced them as, “my husband and a friend from Korea.” My students looked quite confused.

Students – Pointing to Tom “husband” pointing to Mark “韓国人”

Me – “No.” Pointing to Mark “husband” pointing to Tom “friend from Korea”.

They gave me funny looks, but smiled and walked away after the standard “nice-to-meet-chu’s.”

You’d think it would be warmer near a live volcano…

So rather than writing more about places I’ve already been to and blogged about before, some more than once, I will just write about the two unique events from this vacation.

Look at all his winnings!

Event #1: Tom Plays Pachinko.

Tom wanted to celebrate finally having money in Japan. Before he left Korea, Mark and I told him that getting non-Japanese bank cards and credit cards to work in Japan is very hard. But, he was running late when going to the airport in Korea and thought that he would just get some money at an ATM at Fukuoka airport.

That did not work. He called his card company and they tried to help him, but the ATM he needed was not at the airport. He didn’t have any yen and could not even pay for a subway ride to the train station. He was stuck at the airport.

Tom in Hell

Frustrated, he called me to tell me that he would just take another flight back to Seoul. That was when some lady, who overheard him talking to his card company earlier, handed him a 10,000 yen note (equivalent to a hundred dollars). When Tom asked the lady for her address so that he could repay her later, she told him to, “just go to Oita, and later, do something nice for someone else.”

For his next few days Tom had been calling his card company trying to figure this whole thing out. In the mean while, Mark and I paid for all his stuff. We weren’t sure if Tom would ever get any money in Japan. But, we didn’t care if he did. Tom had been so hospitable to Mark when they were in Korea earlier in the year.

Then one day someone from the card company asked if Tom had tried the 7-11 ATM. We went out to try it, and it worked. Well, first Tom tried it and it didn’t work. Then he called the card company again and they thought about it and figured that Tom might have asked for more cash than the daily limit. After that it worked.

The moral of this story is, if you go to Japan call your bank and ask what ATM’s you can use, then bring a bunch of cash.

“I’m tired from all this winning.”

So, the day that Tom finally had his own cash, he wanted to go to a pachinko parlor. So we went.

Everyone put 1,000 yen (~10 bucks) into their machine. Once it spat out a bunch of shiny balls into our baskets we started to play. Mark was the first one to lose all his money balls. He was out within 10 minutes of playing. I hovered the drain for about 30 minutes, then I was out.

Then I looked at Tom. He had 2 baskets filled with shiny gold balls.

Me – “Oh my god Tom, are you winning?”

Tom – “I guess.”

Me – “How are you doing this?”

Tom – “I don’t know. That lady told me to hold this nob like so and tap this button like this. Balls just keep fallin’ out.”

Me – “Wow. I lost all my balls.”

Tom – “Feel free to play with my balls. They’re very shiny!”

Mark and I continued to play, grabbing hand-fulls of Tom’s balls. We tried to copy what Tom was doing, but it didn’t work for us.

“I won some dessert and novelty coins!”

When Tom finally got tired of playing, or actually, when Tom started to lose, we stopped. We looked around for someone to help us turn in the balls. An employee ran over to us and poured his balls into a machine. It printed out a receipt.

The lady pointed to another woman behind a counter. He gave the receipt to her. She handed Tom a red bean cake and a small case with some weird coins. Tom was delighted with his prizes. We were happy for him.

We headed towards the exit with thoughts of dinner. Our friend just won some strange coins from a pachinko parlor. Who would believe that?

Then a guy in uniform ran after us. We turned to look at him, wondering what was going on. I mentioned wanting to use the bathroom as we were walking out and thought that he was showing us where the facilities were.

He took us through the casino and out a different door. There was no bathroom out that door, but he pointed to a little window. It looked like a teller’s window for a very shy clerk.

Is this another ATM?

All you could see was a pair of women’s hands. The uniform guy gestured for Tom to put his coin case through the window. The coins were taken and cold hard cash replaced it. Tom got 5,000 yen. He won actual money!

We all agreed that money was better than strange coins.

in front of Miyajima’s Torii

Event #2: Itsukushima Shrine – OMG are we in a line?

We went to the Itsukushima Shrine on New Year’s day. The shrine is on an island called Miyajima near the city of Hiroshima. It has an iconic gate where tourist gather to take photos. It is also a place where many religious Japanese go on New Year’s day to pray and ask god, or whoever for favors.

in the crowd

It was beautiful and crowded; so very crowded. We were just walking along one of the streets as the crowd of people gradually got thicker. We stood there for about 15 minutes slowly making our way forward when we realized that we were in a line for something. We had no idea what it was, but if this many people wanted to see it, it must be good.

It ended up being the Itsukushima shrine itself. After this Mark and I and Tom split up. Tom wanted to take photos of things and Mark and I wanted to get some omiyage, or souvenirs, for our co-workers.

It was nice, but because of the crowd we felt a bit intimidated. The Japanese are generally known for their politeness, but crowds are always the exception. We spend a lot of time hiding out in a nice, but highly overpriced well heated coffee shop. It was nice, almost empty, but the prices were steep.

I recommend going on a non-religious holiday.

To Tom!

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.)
  • 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.)

Beppu Hell Onsen
(Beppu Jigoku)
(別府地獄)

How to get there:

  • Coordinates 33°18’57.2″N 131°28’10.8″E

From Oita City –

  • Head north on route 10.
  • Turn left on route 500. (The turn is just before the Las Vagas pachinko parlor.)
  • Keep on 500,
  • then turn right at the light after the intersection with route 218. You should see lot of steam rising from the ground.
  • Park anywhere that’s reasonable.
  • Six of the Hell osens are within walking distance of each other.
  • There are two others that are about a 5 minute drive from the directions given above.

By Bus –

  • Take bus #2, #5, #9, #41, or #43 from JR Beppu Station to the Umijigoku-mae stop

Address:

There are 8 Hell Onsens. Seven of which, are within a walking distance from each other. The other two are a bus or car ride away. Please ask at the ticket counter for bus information.

  1. Oniishibozu Jigoku (鬼石坊主地獄)
  2. UmiJigoku (海地獄)
    • 別府地獄めぐり
      日本
      〒874-0000 大分県別府市大字鉄輪559−1
      0977-66-1577
  3.  Yama Jigoku (山地獄)
  4. KamadoJigoku (かまど地獄)(Cooking Pot Hell)
    • かまど地獄
      日本
      〒874-0045 大分県別府市御幸5
      0977-66-0178
  5. Oniyama Jigoku (鬼山地獄)
  6. Shiraike Jigoku (白池地獄)
  7. Tatsumaki Jigoku (龍巻地獄)
  8. ChinoikeJigoku (血の池地獄) (BloodOnsen)
    • 別府 血の池地獄
      野田778 Beppu, Oita Prefecture 874-0016, Japan

Phone:

  • 0977-66-1577

Website (Blood Onsen)

Download:

Cost:

  • 400YEN each or
  • 2,000YEN for all 8

Hours:

  • 8:00 – 17:00
  • Go to Tatsumaki-Jigoku (the onsen with the geyser last if you’re running out of time because this one stays open later so that visitor can see the geyser blow at the end of the day.)

Notes:

  • It might not be worth a trip all the way to Beppu just to see this. But if you are in Oita prefecture, why not?
  • You cannot get into any of the hell onsen. There are a couple that you can put your feet into, but no full body soaking.

Kitahama Termas Onsen
(北浜温泉/テルマス)

How to get there:

  • Coordinates 33°17’09.5″N 131°30’18.5″E

By Car –

  • Drive to Beppu at way of route 10 which is also route 52 through downtown Beppu.
  • It’s along route 10/52 and across the street from a pachinko parlor; what isn’t in Japan? The nearby landmarks near would be Beppu Central Hostipal and a short swimmable section of beach.

By Public Transportation –

  • Go to Beppu Station.
  • Exit through the east end of the station.
  • Head east until you reach route 10.
  • Then go north on route 10 until you pass Beppu Central Hospital.
  • Cross the street and look out for the osen.

Address:

11-1, Kyo Beppu

or

別府市京町11-1

Phone:

  • 0977-24-4126

Websites:

Cost:

  • Adult – 500JPY
  • Kids – 250JPY
  • You can bring your own towel, razor, or what have you, or you can rent them.
  • Shampoo, conditioner, and soap are free.
  • Parking is free

Hours:

  • 10:00 – 22:00
  • Admittance ends at 21:00

Notes:

  • This is a co-ed onsen, so you must wear a swimsuit when you go outdoors. You can go naked in the gender segregated areas.
  • Every now and then they change the gender of the locker rooms. So don’t head off to change in one direction that was the lady’s area the last time you came.
  • You will need to have a 100 yen coin to put your shoes in a small locker in the main lobby. Everyone must have their own locker and you will get your coin back when you retrieve your shoes.
  • Give your shoe locker key to the front desk clerk and he or she will give you a corresponding key to the lockers in the gender segregated area. Put your stuff in that locker.
  • Take a shower. Put on your swim suit and head outdoors.
  • There is also a sauna and a bucket of freezing cold water that you can torture yourself with.

 Mount Aso 
(阿蘇山)
(Asosan)
Komezuka
(米塚)

How to get there:

  • Coordinates 32°53’12.7″N 131°05’03.0″E

From Oita City by car –

  • Take route 10 south. Follow 10 to Inukai.
  • Then get on Route 57 (Inukai-Chitose).
  • There are 2 Route 57’s. If you get on the wrong one it doesn’t matter. They both basically* go the same place. One is just more windy than the other.
  • *Route 57 (Inukai-Chitose) will end somewhere in Onomachi Tanaka. When this happens just head north on route 26 to route 57 (Higo Highway).
  • Once you’ve left Oita Prefecture and you’ve passed the windy mountain area look out for route 111. Take a left onto route 111.
  • For Aso Mountain take route 111 all the way to the toll road, where 111 ends. You can then take the cable car up for 1,000YEN round trip/ person or drive up the toll road for 560YEN/ car.
  • For Komezuka turn right onto route 298. You should see Komezuka in 1 kilometer.

Website:

Cost:

  • Cable Car Ride – 600Yen one way, 1,000Yen round trip
  • To drive up to the top – 560YEN per car

Hours:

  • The toll road and cable car to Mount Aso are open 9:30 to 16:30 when the weather permits.
Videos:
about volcanoes:

Notes:

  • Don’t go in the winter to avoid the chances of you going all the way out there only to find that it’s closed due to snow.
  • It is recommended that people with asthma, bronchitis, or heart disease should not go to the top of Mount Aso.

Hiroshima
(広島市)
by bus

How to get there:

The bus stop for this bus is across the street from the Tokiwa near Oita Station, in front of the Forus.

Website:

Cost:

  • Oita to Hiroshima – 5,700YEN or
  • 4,750YEN with a group discount

Hours:

  • Bus leaves Oita at 10:09 and gets to Hiroshima at 16:12

Notes:

  • There is a bathroom on the bus.
  • The ticket for this bus ride includes a boat ride from Kyushu to Honshu. But you can buy tickets for the boat alone.

K’s House

How to get there:

  • Coordinates 34°23’33.0″N 132°28’25.7″E

The nearest Station is Hiroshima Station.

Address:

1-8-9, Matoba-cho,
Minami-ku, Hiroshima city,
Japan 732-0824

Phone:

  • +(81)-82-568-7244

Website:

e-mail: hiroshima@kshouse.jp

Cost:

  • Depends on the room, but Dorm rooms are 2,500YEN/ night.

Hours:

  • the doors are lock after a certain hour. I don’t remember what time.

Notes:

  • No free parking, but there is paid parking nearby. Ask about the cheaper weekend parking areas.

Hiroshima Peace Park
(広島平和記念公園)

How to get there:

  • 34°23’34.1″N 132°27’08.1″E
  • Take the tram #2, 3, 6 or 7 to Atomic Bomb Dome (Genbaku Dome-Mae)
  • This will put you right in front of the dome.
  • From there you can cross the bridge and head south to see the park, the museums, and other monuments.

Address:

  • Memorial Hall

1-6 Nakajima-cho,
Naka-ku, Hiroshima City
(in the Peace Memorial Park)

広島市中区中島町1番6号(広島平和記念公園内)

  • Peace Museum

Peace Memorial Museum
1-2 Nakajimama-cho,
Naka-ku, Hiroshima City
730-0811, Japan

Peace Memorial Museum
広島平和記念資料館 啓発担当
住所:広島市中区中島町1-2

Website

Cost:

  • Most are free.
  • The Peace Museum cost 50Yen to enter.

Hours:

  • The park is always open.
  • The museum and hall’s times are 8:30 – 17:00.
Videos:

Itsukushima Shrine
(厳島神社)
(Itsukushimajinsha)

How to get there:

  • 34°17’45.2″N 132°19’11.7″E

There are 2 main non-driving methods to get to the shrine.

1. Take the train to Miyajimaguchi Station then hop on a 10 minute ferry to  Miyajima (170Yen). You can just walk to the shrine from there.

  • This is the cheapest option, but not the quickest.
  • For crowed days, like New Year’s day, this is not a very good option. The crowd is huge and everyone is pushing their way on to the boat.
2. Take the boat from Peace Park. It costs 1,900Yen on way. But, don’t toss your ticket when you get to the island. When you show your old ticket you will get a discount for your return trip (1,500Yen).
  • Link for Schedule
  • The more expensive option, but it’s really easy.
  • No crowd. The boat can only fit a few people.
  • But, because the boat is small, tickets do get sold out.

Website:

Cost:

  • 350Yen to enter the temple

Hours:

  • It’s a temple, so I don’t think there is an official closing time, but monks do need to sleep…

Downloads:

Notes:

  • There are tons of temples on the island. Most of them up hills. Some up the mountain. There is even one, Sankido, that warships ogres.
  • You can take a cable car to the top of the mountain for some great views (1,800Yen round trip).
  • There are lots of deer just freely roaming the island. There are signs that say that they love to eat souvenirs and passports. That’s sounds implausible, but you never know.

Map

Posted in Aso 市, Beppu 市, Hatsukaichi 市, Hiroshima 県, Hiroshima 市, Honshū, Japan, Kumamoto 県, Kyūshū, Miyajima 町, Oita 県, Oita 市 | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Umbra

Posted by Heliocentrism on December 11, 2011

December 10, 2011

All Pictures

 

A Japanese moon

Did we miss it?

I knew there was going to be a total lunar eclipse. I read somewhere, Friday morning, that it would take place on Saturday morning. Mark and I planned to wake up early on Saturday to go out and see the eclipse. But we completely forgot about it and slept in.

Then as we were having lunch on Saturday, we remembered. I felt so disappointed. I began to wonder when the eclipse had taken place. I went back to the article I had read earlier. It just said that it would take place on Saturday morning, but the article did not say where or give an exact time.

Mark and I searched the internet. It was very frustrating because no one seemed to have a time and a place. One article would say evening another, early morning. One even went so far as to tell us the time in UT, but even after looking up “UT” on Wikipedia, I still had no idea what that meant for us living in Japan.

Mark finally found an amateur astronomy website from Australia where everything was written clearly. We didn’t even have to do the time conversions or any thing. It even told us when the moon would be fully eclipsed, when the “un-eclipsing” would start, and how long the whole thing would last. And it turned out, as you can guess, we hadn’t missed a thing.

Why is the moon hiding behind those clouds?

The Moon

I was a little kid the first time I saw a lunar eclipse. I was jumping all over the place with excitement, not so much for the moon’s impending trick, but because I got to stay up past 9:00pm. We had a huge patio in front our house and we all sat there with pillows looking up at the nights’ sky.

I was amazed when the earth’s shadow started to move across the moon like my mom said it would. I never thought that something as big as the earth could have a shadow. I wanted to watch every second of the eclipse, but my amazement was not enough to counter balance the fact that I was a little kid and it was way past 9:00pm.

I fell asleep. I woke up the next day feeling like I had miss most of the show.

Mark has a brain slug and we’re sitting in the middle of a cemetery during a lunar eclipse. What could go wrong?

This Time It Will Be Better

This lunar eclipse I wanted see and take pictures of the eclipse’s 3 key stages. First Mark and I walked around our neighborhood to find the ideal spot. We picked a cemetery atop a hill nearby for its complete lack of lighting. Around 9:15pm we brewed several mugs of coffee, got a flash light, blankets, and pillows then headed to the grave yard. (Well, there are no graves in Japan, …shrine yard?)

We played around with the camera, taking long exposure pictures of ourselves as the moon disappeared. Well, turned darker then red. Even though I was suffering from a really bad cold, I had enough padding, hot coffee, and blankets that I felt quite warm.

We were content to stay there the whole night, but it started to rain. We had to pack up and get indoors. I didn’t want to take the chance of getting sicker.

it’s starting

Every half hour or so, we looked out the window to see if the moon had come out. Around 11:00pm we just went out anyway. The full eclipse was supposed to be half way through around 11:30pm and I didn’t want to miss it. We went back to the cemetery, but this time we took the car and one of our neighbors but forgot the coffee.

The sky was very cloudy but we held to the hope of just a small break in the clouds big enough to snap a few pictures. We remembered where the moon was from last time and were checking around that area. Mark even joked about how funny it would be if the moon were behind us and cloud free the whole time. We all span around to look, just in case, but there was no moon. “How silly of Mark to say such a thing.”

We waited and waited… and got tired. So we laid down, and looked straight up into the sky and right into the face of a blood red, unimpeded moon. “How long has the clouds over our heads been gone?”

We watched the sky until we saw earth’s shadow slowing start to creep away. Without hot coffee, we began to get cold and sleepy. The rain started again, so we went home. Mark and I stayed up a little longer after that to run out our front door, check on the moon, and take more photos. We fell asleep after the moon was back to shining at its maximum brilliance.

All Pictures


Lunar Eclipse from Japan

 

How to get there:

We went to the cemetery near our apartment. It’s about a 20 minute walk, up hill all the way, from Minami-Oita train station.

Websites:

Cost: Free to just walk around.

Hours: The cemetery is always open and many people walk there for exercise.

Videos:

Map:

Posted in Japan, Kyūshū, Oita 県, Oita 市 | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

 
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