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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:

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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 »

Not According to Google Maps

Posted by Heliocentrism on July 3, 2011

May 1, 2011

All Pictures

A wet morning

Campsite to Campsite

When we finally got to the Kobayashi camp site it was raining and the sun had already set. We managed to find the campsite and a spot to set up our tent without finding the camp office to check in.

We met a Japanese couple who spoke almost no English. They were the only other people at the camp. They showed us where everything was told us that the camp office was closed for the night. They recommended that we stop by the next morning to register and what not.

Those car mats would be complete soaked by morning.

Konsento doko desu-ka?

There was a kitchen area. It had sinks and lights. It was great for cooking, but not for eating since there were no chairs. There was a pavilion where we could sit to eat, but it had no lights.

We had electronics, like my phone, that needed to be charged. The last campsite had an outlet in the bathroom, but this one didn’t. We asked the couple, “Konsento doko desu-ka?” But they told us that there were no outlets.

the one and only outlet

But the place did have lights; they were just not turned on. Mark and I followed the string of lights to where they would be plugged in. At the end of the string of bulbs was a light switch and 2 electrical outlets. We flipped the switch, lighting up the whole camp. Then we plugged in our phone charger. The next day we got up early and plugged in our rice cooker to make rice for lunch later that day in another town.

We sat in the pavilion, eating our dinner in the light we had just turned on. The couple walk past us in the rain, looking a little confused. “How did they get light?”

 

This is what most tourists come to Kobayashi to see.

It’s not just a test! 

The next day we left the campsite. It was still raining. We saw some of the sites of Kobayashi through the down pour.

I have to be honest here. Yes, the town of Kobayashi was located very conveniently along the route we were taking. But the real reason I stopped in this town was for it’s name.

I am a Star Trek fan and I just wanted to say that I have been to a place called Kobayashi. Now if I could only find a place called Maru

tired already!

At least it’s not our own backyard.

After a day of sightseeing and step climbing we were ready to set up the tent and relax at a new campsite. I found one on the island of Oyano. I looked at a map on google and found the campsite.

From google maps, I got the website, address, phone number, and driving directions. I made reservations. I had a reservation number; all I had to do was show up.

We got to the campsite, a lady working there told us that we were in the wrong place. The campsite named on my paper with the reservation number was not here.

“Are you sure? Because google maps, says that this is here…”

The lady didn’t care what google maps was. She shock her head. “Not here”.

We wondered around the island, looking for our campsite. We stopped people walking on the road. Half of them pointed us to head further south, the other half had never heard of this campsite that someone had clearly mis-labled on google maps.

 

This is awkward…

We gave up hope of finding our campsite and just started to look for any campsite as we moved south. We saw a sign in Japanese that promised a campsite on the next island over. So we crossed the bridge.

We drove along the shore until we ran out of road. Then we saw another campsite sign. We got out the car and knocked on the door.

“Konichiwa. Campsite doko des ka?”

The lady beckoned me to follow her. She led me passed a bar in-the-making next to her house as she explained how much this campsite would be per night. She told me where the bathroom was and where to park my car.

She took me to a clearing behind her house. Mark and I stood there in disbelief. We had no chose but to stay.

We set up the tent and made tea for our dinner. As I sipped my tea, taking in the view I turned to Mark and said, “I can’t believe that we drove clear across Kyushu, to end up camping in someone’s backyard.”

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 banktoaskwhatATMs 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.)

Suki Suspension Bridge
& Mamako Falls

(ままこ滝)
(Ma mako taki)

How to get there:

  • 32°04’14.4″N 131°05’04.7″E

From Udo Shrine –

  • Get back on route 220 heading north
  • Take a left (west) onto route 10.
  • Keep straight on route 268 which will turn into 221 soon before you have to turn.
  • When you get to the town of Kobayashi turn right (north) onto route 265.
  • Go past road 26.
  • When you get to Suki Post office on your left take a right (east) at that intersection then another right at the T-intersections.
  • Stay on that road and turn right right before the baseball field.

Phone:

  • City Hall 81-(0)984-23-1111

Websites:

Cost:

  • 200YEN when open
  • 200Yen on the honor system when closed

Hours:


Inyoseki
(陰陽石)

How to get there:

  • 32°00’58.3″N 131°00’23.6″E
From the Campsite –
  • Get back on route 265 heading south.
  • Follow the signs that leads to the rock penis.

Address:

陰陽石茶屋
日本
〒886-0001 宮崎県小林市東方 3332-5

Phone:

  • 0984-27-3611

Website:

Cost:

  • Free

Hours:

  • Always available
Notes:
  • Legend says Inyoseki is where a dragon ascended and fell in love with a beautiful woman.
  • This is a natural rock shape.

777 Steps
in Higashikata Nature Park
(東片自然公園)
(Higashikatashizenkōen)

How to get there:

  • 32°30’18.1″N 130°39’06.6″E
  • Go on route 219 heading west
  • Turn right (east) onto route 3.
  • After you pass route 336 take the next left  (west) turn.
  • Then make a U-turn as soon as you can and go under the road for route 3.
  • Turn right at the end of the road on the left side there will be a bridge and a parking lot.

Address:

This is in the city of Yatsushiro, Komamoto. At  the intersection of Route 3 and Rinkosen

Phone: 

  • (0965) 33-4123

Website:

Cost:

  • Free

Hours:

  • Always availible

Notes:

  • Bring lots of water!

Map:

Posted in Japan, Kobayashi 市, Kumamoto 県, Kyūshū, Miyazaki 県, Yatsushiro 市, Ōyano 町 | Tagged: , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Tombs, Towers, and Temples

Posted by Heliocentrism on July 2, 2011

April 30, 2011

All Pictures

inside the tomb looking out

This would make an excellent swimming pool!

The next day we had ramen for breakfast and headed out for a day filled with sightseeing. The first stop was at the Saitobaru Burial Mounds, not too far from our campsite.

The main mound is in the middle of a small pit. We walked around the mound and then climbed down in the mound where the bodies were kept. There was nothing spectacular about it, but that is how most mounds are. That’s why I prefer Almond Joy.

What I really wanted to do was to flood the main mound and make a great big pool. The mound in the middle would have made a great swim-up bar.

Heiwadai Gardens

They look so surprised to see us.

Next we went to a tower that was built where Emperor Jimmu‘s palace once was. This tower was to represent the divine right of the emperor. Since Emperor Jimmu was the first emperor of Japan who was the son of the sun goddess, I guess this tower was a big deal.

It was not, in my opinion, the highlight of this park. That honor goes to the Haniwa Garden. I was delighted by the little statues of soldiers and animals. The expressions of their faces entertained me to no end.

a shrine for couples

I’d like one marriage, please.

This stop was not part of the original plan, but we saw a picture of it. Since it was along our route we stopped to check it out.

It’s a really nice island, filled with couples ready to pray for marriage blessings. At the time of this trip, I already knew that Mark would be the guy I would marry, so I guess I too, was looking for a marriage blessing.

The ice cream shop near the island is great too. There were so many unusual flavors of ice cream that it took me about 5 minutes to pick one. I went with Mango, boring I know… Next time I will try Tomato.

Sweet Potato Ice cream

More Ice cream? 

I felt bad about choosing such a normal flavor of ice cream. When I finished the cone, I promised myself that next time, if such an opportunity where to present itself again, I would go with a flavor of ice cream that I could not find anywhere else.

Once we were at the next shrine there was another ice cream shop. There weren’t as many flavors as the last ice cream place, but I got the chance to try sweet potato ice cream. It tasted, just like a cold sweet potato. Not bad.

 

make it in the ring for good luck

Make a Wish, if you can.

At Udo Shrine you can make wishes. Just pay 100YEN for 5 stones and toss the stones into the ring. You must throw with your left hand if you are male, and right, if you are female. I would have tried it, but there was too many people pelting the ring.

It started to rain, which is an ominous sign to any camper.

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 banktoaskwhatATMs 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.)

Saitobaru Burial Mounds
(西都原古墳群)
(Saitobarukofun)

How to get there:

  • 32°07’29.4″N 131°23’21.3″E

From the Camping Village Beach Takanabe –

  • Go straight from Takanabe station towards route 10.
  • Follow the directions to stay on route 24.
  • On route 24 you will see signs for the mounds.
  • Route 24 will turn, but you should stay straight onto route 318.

Website

Cost:

  • Free
  • Free Parking

Hours:

  • Always available
  • There is a shop nearby where you can buy souvenirs, lunch, and expensive groceries. It is open 9:00 – 17:00

Notes:

You can go inside the main mound.


Heiwadai Tower
(八紘一宇)
(Hakkō ichiu)

How to get there:

  • 31°56’51.1″N 131°24’57.6″E

From the Saitobaru Burial Mounds –

  • Go back to route 318 heading east
  • Route 318 turns into route 24
  • Take route 219 heading south
  • Take route 10 heading south
  • Turn right (west) at the 3rd light after the intersection with route 9.
  • At the end of the road, take a left (south) on route 44.
  • At the 2nd light turn right (west) on route 333. You will see the tower in the distance.
  • Park at First Parking.

Website:

Cost:

  • Free
  • Free Parking

Hours:

  • Always available

Notes:

There are many things in the park. Be sure to check out Haniwa Garden.


Aoshima Shrine
(青島神社)
(Aoshima-jinja)

How to get there:

  • 31°48’15.8″N 131°28’32.1″E

From Heiwadai Tower –

  • Get back on route 10 heading south.
  • Stay straight on route 10 which will turn into route 220.
  • You will see it along the way to Udo Shrine.

Address:

2-13-1, Aoshima, Miyazaki
Miyazaki 889-2162

Phone:

  • 0985-65-1262

Website:

Downloads:

e-mail: shrine@theia.ocn.ne.jp

Cost:

  • Free

Hours:

  • You can go anytime

Notes:

  • This is the place to go when you want to be married.
    • I don’t know if you go there when you are engaged, or when you are still looking.

Udo Shrine
(鵜戸神宮社務所)
(Udo-jingū)

How to get there:

  • 31°39’00.7″N 131°27’58.2″E

From Heiwadai Tower –

  • Get back on route 10 heading south.
  • Stay straight on route 10 which will turn into route 220.
  • Once you’re in the town of Udo turn left (east) on route 433
  • Follow the signs, or tourists to the shrine
  • It is about a 20 minute walk from the parking lot to the shrine.
  • There are two ways of walking to the shrine. One way, the old path, goes over a hill. The other way, the new path, goes through a tunnel.
  • They both have a lot of steps, but most people take the new path because the old path has many steps that are not in good condition.
  • Just follow the crowd if you want to take the new path.

Website

Cost:

  • Free

Hours: 

  • Apr – Sept 6:00 – 19:00
  • Oct – Mar 7:00 – 19:00

Notes:

This shrine is very beautiful.


Mamako Daki Campground
(まま子滝キャンプ場)
(Mamakotaki kyanpuba)

How to get there:

  • 32°04’21.1″N 131°05’22.3″E

From Udo Shrine –

  • Get back on route 220 heading north
  • Take a left (west) onto route 10.
  • Keep straight on route 268 which will turn into 221 soon before you have to turn.
  • When you get to the town of Kobayashi turn right (north) onto route 265.
  • Go past road 26.
  • When you get to Suki Post office on your left take a right (east) at that intersection then another right at the T-intersections.
  • Stay on that road, you will shortly reach the campsite which is near the baseball field.

Address:

宮崎県小林市須木大字下田976番地2

Phone:

  • 0984-48-2480

Website:

Cost:

  • Bungalow (8 person max) 4000YEN/per building
  • Permanent Tent (8 person max) 3000YEN/ tent
  • Bring your own tent 100YEN/ person

Hours:

  • Open May to September.
  • Check in before 18:00

Notes:

  • There are toilets
  • There were showers, though none were turned on at the time of our stay.
  • There is a kitchen area with running water and outlets

Map

Posted in Japan, Kobayashi 市, Kyūshū, Miyazaki 県, Miyazaki 市, Nichinan 市, Saito 市 | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Free Camping

Posted by Heliocentrism on July 2, 2011

April 29, 2011

All Pictures

sorry

I’m Sorry

First let me apologize for not updating for, what was it, …a couple months? I have not been not traveling, and I have not been to busying at work. I have been editing this blog, though.

I am a bad typist, speller, and overall, I’m not good at physically writing things like blogs. I don’t know why, but when I type, my mind and fingers are not in sync. Sometimes my fingers with leave out words or entire phrases when I type. Then when I read it back right before I post, my eyes will see what was meant to be written and not the tons of typos and errors.

I also do this really weird thing where I consistently and unconsciously replace one word for another. I write “about” for “above” and visa versa. Or “became” for “because”. Most of the time I am not even aware that I did it until I reread my post weeks later.

I do my best editing after I have forgotten what I meant to write. So weeks or months after this is posted I will be better able to fix this entry.

And I’m still not sure if the word is “entry” or “entree”. It doesn’t help that I am American and I went to a British school. So now I don’t remember how to spell some words like an American. Is it “traveling” or “travelling”? I could look it up, when I’m not sure, but many times I don’t realize when I am spelling things the British way unless someone points it out to me.

But most of all, I am a bad speller. I just wish that we spelled English words phonetically or that I had a ghost writer…

Why not climb some stairway to up a mountain?

Golden Week

I planned this trip weeks and months in advanced. I wanted to have fun and not get lost, but the best laid schemes of mice and men

First off, it wasn’t entirely my fault. There were roads on our map, that no longer existed. There were highways mis-numbered by google. And campsites mis-labled on google.

That said, we did manage to get to Usuki without getting lost. It is right around the corner, after all. Once we left Usuki, we got lost.

No pot, no dishes, but we have plenty of spoons.

Where are the dishes?

We packed up everything early that morning. I put everything in an area of our apartment that we hardly ever use. All we had to do was put them in the car. We brought our table, chairs, tent, sleeping bags, washing basin filled with dishes, cooler, …

When we got to the campsite, we unpack and started to make dinner. That’s when I realized that we didn’t have the washing basin filled with dishes. We had no pots, no cups, nothing to eat off of.

Luckily there was a hardware store not too far from the campsite. It was a 3 minute drive away. The prices weren’t too bad, so we got a new wok-like frying pan/pot and paper plates and cups.

Because camping season had not officially started the camp site was technically closed. I asked a city official weeks before to recommend some other camping area that would be opened. He said that we could just camp there for free. There was no guarantee of amenities though. But, everything seemed to function normally.

The first night on the beach was great. The solar powered heated showers were fantastic. The trip started off pretty well.

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.)

Usuki Stone Buddhas
(Usuki Magaibutsu)
(臼杵磨崖仏)

How to get there:

  • Coordinates 33°05’26.0″N 131°45’45.5″E

by car –

  • Take Oita Expressway.
  • Get off at the Usuki (臼杵) exit #16.
  • At the light turn left (west) on route 502.
  • At the 4th light turn left (south) .
  • The entrance will be on your right.

The Oita Expressway is free from Oita Exit #12 south.

Address:

804-1 Fukata, Usuki-shi, Oita

Phone:

  • 0972-65-3300

Website:

Downloads:

Cost:

  • Adults – 530YEN
  • Kids – 260YEN
  • Usuki Residences – Free
  • Free Parking

Hours:

  • Sunrise to Sunset

Notes:

  • 59 of the statues were selected as the first National Treasures of Japan in Kyushu.
  • It’s not worth it to make a trip all the way to Usuki to see this, but if you’re in the neighborhood, go see it.

Camping Village Beach Takanabe
(高鍋海水浴場 キャンプ場)
(Takanabe Kaisuiyoku-ba Kyanpuba)

How to get there:

  • 32°07’05.2″N 131°32’00.8″E

From the Usuki Stone Buddas –

  • Get back onto the Oita Express way heading south.
  • Continue until the Express way ends and head south on route 36.
  • Route 36 will end at route 217. Go left on route 217.
  • When Route 217 ends turn left onto route 10 heading southwest.
  • Turn left (east) onto route 311 towards Takanabe Station.
  • When route 311 ends turn right (south) at Takanabe Station. You will have to go through a roundabout.
  • After 2 block turn left (east) over the train tracks.
  • Take the left most path to the beach.

Address:

〒 884-0004

宮崎県児湯郡高鍋町蚊口浦

Phone:

  • 0983-22-1311
  • 0983-22-5588 (City Hall)

Website

Cost:

  • To rent a tent – 1,200/night
  • To bring your own tent – 600/night
  • Free when the campsite is closed. (It’s okay to camp here when the site is closed. I called city hall and they said it’s ok.)
  • Free Parking

Hours:

  • The campsite is open July 17 – August 31
  • You can stay here when the campsite at other times of the year if you have your own tent.

Notes:

  • There are toilets near the campsite.
  • There are showers close to the beach where the surfers hang out.
  • The showers are free and available even when the campsite is closed.
  • I think there is a kitchen, but it’s only available when the campsite is open.
  • No electrical outlets.
  • This is a surfing beach. It is not good for swimming.

*****UP DATE******

This campsite might be permanently closed.

Map:

Posted in Japan, Kyūshū, Miyazaki 県, Oita 県, Takanabe 町, Usuki 市 | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

 
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