With Backpack

One World in One Lifetime

Archive for the ‘Oita 県’ Category

Travel List Thursday: Oita Prefecture

Posted by Heliocentrism on December 1, 2016

Download PDF Version

Posted in Japan, Kyūshū, Oita 県 | 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 »

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 »

I Want to Hold a Baby Tiger

Posted by Heliocentrism on November 20, 2011

September 22, 2011

All Pictures

These capybaras would rather eat that give us any attention.

Eye of the Tiger

After we got married, Mark and I felt like we should do something… We didn’t have enough time to do a long trip because we had plans to meet up with some friends that weekend. But, we really wanted to go somewhere. So we thought that it would be fun to visit one of the hundreds of amusement parks in our prefecture.

Mark wanted to hold a baby tiger, but as you can see from the video below, the tiger didn’t care too much for Mark.

We got on one of the park’s caged buses. They drove us around the park and stopped to let us feed the many animals. We stayed on the bus and fed the creatures through the bars of the bus. There were many animals that are not to be fed like the buffalos and baby giraffes, but we didn’t know this at first.

If you can’t tell these pellets apart, there is no hope for you.

They did give us lots of extra instructions and information about each animal, but it was all in Japanese. We don’t speak Japanese well enough to understand something like, “This lion has lion pox. Don’t let him sneeze on, or near you or all your hair will fall out and your skin will turn green.” It was only after we did something that the guide would say, “No. No feed baby!” or “No. No feed buufaaroo!” or “Dis giraffes food, dat rhino food.” Honestly, all pellets look alike to me.

Below is video of Mark having fun with the giraffes.

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.)

African Safari Wildlife Park
(アフリカンサファリ)

How to get there:

  • 33°21’02.8″N 131°24’51.1″E

From Oita by car –

Take route 10 heading to Beppu. Turn left onto route 500.

After you pass the Hells, you will see signs to Africa Safari writen in Romaji (Roman Letters). Just follow the signs.

Address:

〒872-0722 大分県宇佐市安心院町南畑2-1755-1

Phone: 

  • 0978 (48) 2331

Website:

Downloads:

Cost:

  • 2,300YEN
  • You can get a 200YEN discount per ticket if you buy your ticket at Lawson.
  • 1,000YEN to ride the Jungle Bus and feed the animals.
  • 500YEN to hold baby lions or tigers.

Hours:

  • Check Website
  • The available time for holding baby tigers and/ or lions ends earlier than the times for the park itself.

Notes:

  • Parking is Free.
  • You can drive your own car in to where all the wild animal are, but you would have to be crazy to do that with a k-car. (Your average rhino is bigger than a k-car.)

Map:

Posted in Beppu 市, Japan, Kyūshū, Oita 県 | Tagged: , | 1 Comment »

Once Again, No Dig

Posted by Heliocentrism on October 30, 2011

August 12 – 15, 2011

All Pictures

No photos inside the consulate

That’s Never Happened Before!

Mark and I had to head west to Fukuoka to get some paper work done to get married. That part of the trip was not very interesting, though there was some confusion with our transaction. They kept asking Mark and me where we were from.

Mark – “I was born in Korea, but I’m American.”

Embassy Guy – “Okay, so where is Josephine from?”

Me – “I was born in the U.S. Virgin Islands.”

Embassy Guy – “The United States Virgin Islands?”

Me – “Yes.”

Embassy Guy – “Wait, you’re both Americans?”

Mark and Me – “Yes.”

Embassy Guy – “Wow. That’s never happened before. I have to go look this up. I’ve never seen two Americans coming in here to get married. I don’t even know what papers you would fill out…”

Mark did his research before hand, so we already had the correct American-American marriage forms in both English and Japanese. We got our paper work notarized and went on our way.

I loved that, even though there are only 2 people in this walking tour, Mr. Guide still feels the need for a bullhorn.

Try Again*

Since we were in the area anyway, we decided to go back to Yoshinogari Historical Park. I didn’t get to see the active dig last time since we got there at 16:00 in the afternoon. I thought that this would be my second opportunity.

We were going to spend the night at a campsite in Fukuoka and then go to the historic park the next day. When we got to the campgrounds we were told that the cost of camping with our own tent would be 4,500YEN per person per night. That would be about 100USD for the both of us. A hundred bucks to use our own tent!? It would be cheaper to get a hotel! We did not stay.

Instead we opted for an internet cafe near the dig site in a town called Tosu. It cost less than half the price of the Fukuoka campsite and we didn’t have to set up our tent. It came with internet and free all you can drink soda, juice, coffee, and watery soup. There was even a 24-hour restaurant in the cafe that had inexpensive bland food. It was great!

We made sure to get the to historical park early this time, but alas, the area of the dig was closed for two weeks starting the day we got there. If I had arrived the day before I could have seen it. I have now officially given up hope of ever seeing this thing.

We did get to see much more of the park than we did last time. Mark even signed up for fire making lessons. It only took him about 45 minutes to make fire.

secret hanger

Sweet Dreams and Flying Machines in Pieces on the Ground

After spending half a disappointing day at the park we went back to our prefecture. I found a website that talked about hidden airplane hangers that were used during WWII. There were some in Usa a few towns over from Oita. So, we stopped by to see them on our way home.

But, by the time we got to Usa, it was too dark to see anything. We drove to our favorite Oita prefecture campsite, which is not too far from Usa, and set up the tent for the night.

The next day we drove around for hours looking for the hangers which were about a half an hour drive from where we spent the night. It was not on our map of the prefecture. Even though our map has detailed picture representation of mountain elevations, it doesn’t mention anything about possible tourist attractions.

We had to stop by a temple and look for the big map of interesting things in the area that usually accompanies temples, waterfalls, and the like. The map at these things are usually cartoonishly drawn with many icons and not-to-scale roads. We compared it with our map and figured that we would have to pass a broken down train station, and sorry looking river, and then turn at a stop light that may or may not exist.

We found the hangers, eventually.

* I apologize for the horrible Japanese song. I hear it in every store I go and I didn’t want to suffer alone.

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.)

The U.S Consulate in Fukuoka
(アメリカ領事館)
(Amerika Ryōjikan)

How to get there:

  • 33°35’17.3″N 130°22’22.7″E

By car –

The Consulate is seven minutes from the Nishikoen exit of the Fukuoka Urban Expressway. There is no parking at the consulate, but there are parking lots nearby. The Ohori Park lot is the largest.

Directions from the Kyushu Expressway are found here.

Address:

U.S. Consulate Fukuoka
2-5-26, O-hori Chuo-ku
Fukuoka, Japan 810-0052

Phone: 

  • 092-751-9331
  • 03-3224-5000 After hours emergency number for US citizens

Website:

Hours:

Notes:

  • There is no free parking near the embassy.
  • You are not allowed to bring any electronic devices into the embassy. So bring a good old fashion paper book to read for your wait.
  • They have a little library of books that you can read there. Hopefully you will not be there long enough to finish any of them.

Planet Media Cafe
(プラネットネットメディアカフェ)

How to get there:

  • 33°21’51.8″N 130°30’11.6″E

It’s off route 34 when heading east from the historical dig site. When you near the town of Tosu, look out for route 17. Head south on route 17. You will see a big shopping area on your right. Park there.

Address:

佐賀県鳥栖市轟木町1173 ゆめタウン鳥栖別館

Phone: 

  • 0942-87-3750 Japanese only

Website:

Cost

  • Once you get a membership card for 300YEN you can choose from a list of options
  • For 9 hours Mark and I paid about 2000YEN each for our own rooms in the “reclining” section.
  • Deals come and go.

Hours:

Always Open.

Notes:

  • No Showers at this particular one.
  • Comes with all you can drink, soft drink machines.
  • You can order food at any time, you pay when you check out.
  • Free toothbrush and tooth paste
  • pretty quite

Yoshinogari Historical Park
(吉野ヶ里 遺跡)
(Yoshinogari iseki)

How to get there:

  • 33°19’25.0″N 130°23’26.3″E

From Fukuoka –

  • Get on route 3 heading north
  • Take a left (west) on route 209
  • Stay straight on route 264 which will turn into road 22
  • Turn left (southwest) on route 34
  • At the 6th light, turn right (north) on route 385
  • The park will be on your left

Phone:

  • 0952-55-9351

Website:

e-mail: himika@yoshinogari.jp

Cost:

  • Parking 300YEN flat rate
  • Adult 400YEN
  • For 100YEN they will teach you how to make fire, sort of…

Hours:

  • 9:00 – 17:00
  • The dig site closes at 16:30

Nagasakihana Resort campsite
(長崎鼻リゾートキャンプ場)
(Nagasakibana Rizōto Kyanpu-ba)

How to get there:

  • 33°40’55.9″N 131°31’29.3″E

From Matama Beach –

  • Get on Route 213 heading east.
  • You will pass 4 tunnels.
  • After the 4th tunnel you will be in a little town. You will need to make a left onto a little road that is opposite to a pedestrian tunnel. The first time you go, it will be a little tricky, because you can’t really see the pedestrian tunnel when making the left. But if you reach a 5th tunnel, that is kind of long, turn around and you will be able to clearly see the pedestrian tunnel.
  • Take the road across the little one lane bridge and take the biggest road up the hill.
  • You will pass a rape field and a sunflower field.

Address:

4060 Mime, Bungotakada, Oita Prefecture 872-1207

Phone:

  • 0978-54-2237

Websites:

Cost:

  • 1,000YEN per tent   &
  • 300YEN per person
  • The second night they only charged us for the tent. I don’t know if they always do this, or they just liked us.

Hours:

  • Open year round
  • Reception hours are 9:00 to 17:00

Notes:

  • They also have cabins, some with AC.
  • There is a beach at the campsite.
  • There are free electric bikes you can borrow.
    • 1 person – 1 hour max
    • 2 people – 2 hours max

Special Attack Monument &
Underground Hanger
(城井一号掩体壕)
(Shiroi 1-gō Entaigō)

How to get there:

  • 33°32’56.0″N 131°20’23.5″E

Well, it’s kind of hard to get to mainly because Oita Prefecture has so many damn route 10’s.

Basically go to route 629 off of one of the route 10’s in Usa. Then at one of the stop lights near a river you will head south on an interesting looking road.

I know; these are really bad directions. But, it the best I can do with roads that either have no name or have the same name as other roads close by.

Websites:

Cost:

Free. It’s really just something in the middle of rice fields.

Hours:

Always available

Map:

Posted in Fukuoka 県, Fukuoka 市, Japan, Kanzaki 市, Kyūshū, Oita 県, Saga 県, Tosu 市, Usa 市 | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

One of Japan’s Best 100 Sunsets

Posted by Heliocentrism on July 27, 2011

July 16 – 17, 2011

All Pictures

Of course I brought the wrong camera for sunset photos…

Finally!

I have blogged about Mark’s and my many attempts to see the sunset at Matama beach. This is supposed to be one of the most beautiful sunsets in Japan and we, up until this time, have always managed to miss it.

This time we showed up a good 4 hours before sunset. We ate at the restaurant on the beach, then sat in the water until the tide came in. When it was almost sunset we got out of the water and sat on the cement steps leading to the sea.

They didn’t notice me fall.

Right before the sunset I noticed that my shoes were a bit sandy. I wanted to rinse them off in the ocean water before I put them on. I stepped on the last step above the water, which was beginning to get flooded. There was a patch of slick moss under my foot and before I realized that I was falling, I was on the ground with one leg under me and the other awkwardly reaching out into the water.

I got up and I felt no pain initially. In a few seconds there were streams of blood running down my right leg. I rinsed it off with the salt water so I could see the wound. It was not too bad. I enjoyed the sunset as I bled.

Enjoying warm shallow water

Japanese Lesson for this situation

So, I’ve been living in Japan for almost a year now and that’s a total of almost 2 years of my life spent in Japan. But still I speak very little Japanese. Don’t feel bad Japan, I grew up with 2 Spanish-speaking parents and still have no idea what the heck Speedy Gonzales says. It’s not you, it’s me.

I basically learn just what is needed for me to survive. This is why I can order food in Korean, I can say, “Fill-her-up,” in Japanese, and say bad things about your mother in Spanish. But I can’t ask about the weather in any language other than English.

And for the record, my parents did not teach me to say bad things about your mother in Spanish. …And tu madre es una dama simpática.

I will put here, for future reference, for me or whoever else needs it, the vocabulary needed for this situation.

Rubbing alcohol 

  • 消毒用アルコール
  • (Shōdoku-yō arukōru)
Topical antibiotic cream (Like Neosporin in the US, or Fucidin in many countries)
  • 抗菌外用薬クリーム
  • (Kōkin gaiyō-yaku kurīmu)
  • Make sure to ask a pharmacist about this one. Not all topical antibiotic creams are for wounds, most in Japan are for rashes.
  • This one might be hard to find.
  • 絆創膏
  • Bansōkō

or in my case

  • 大きい 絆創膏 (Big band-aid)
  • Ōkii bansōkō
No need for sentences. That will just give me more things to forget.

Guards of Scotch

Typhooie!

Before we went to Matama beach we pitched our tent and Mark sprayed it down with Scotch Guard to make it more water proof. The last time we were camping, the tent leaked so this needed to be done. Before we left the apartment we saw that a typhoon was heading our way. The storm would hit Oita Monday night, so we didn’t cancel our trip. The Scotch Guard would help us if it started to rain a couple of days before the storm.

Just to get something straight before I continue. I do not recommend camping during a Typhoon, or even a tropical storm. A tent is not good shelter from anything other than mild rain. We checked the weather forecast before heading out and we knew that we were good for camping until Monday evening. By then we were safely back in our apartment by Monday night.

St. Croix

Mark –  “What’s the difference between a hurricane and a typhoon?”

Me     – “Geography”

I grew up on the island of St. Croix in the U.S. Virgin Islands. As a kid I loved hurricanes. It usually meant that my parents would let me stay up late to see what was going on. The electricity would sometimes go out, and my mom would bring out her kerosene lantern.We would sit in the living room listening to the radio. I would curl up in a blanket on the sofa next to my mom or dad as the wind whistled outside. The reception on the radio would crackle as the fire in the lantern danced about. I loved the sound of the radio snow over the howling of the wind along with the smell of the burning kerosene. I would go to bed hoping that school would be cancelled the next day.

Usually, nothing more than a couple of trees or telephone polls would be knocked down. Most of the time, I and many other kids, would be in school the following morning making up tales of people blown away in the winds. The hurricanes, would either just miss us and only dump rain on us, get down graded to a tropical storm, or turn away from us completely. My first real hurricane was Hugo. Few people on the island were prepared for the disaster Hugo would bring.

The aftermath

You haven’t seen a real hurricane yet!

The morning of September 17, 1989 I was excited. It was a Sunday. Not only was my piano lessons for that day cancelled because of the hurricane, but so was school the next day. I hated piano lessons!

My family and I went to the crowded grocery store where everyone was buying the hurricane essentials, batteries, water, canned food… I, for one, was thrilled. The air was filled with hurricane anticipation as everyone, excited about the hurricane, talked about what they thought about the storm.

The afternoon we and all our neighbors prepared for the hurricane. I remember my parents arguing about some sand we had in the back yard. My parents were fixing up the house, so my father bought some sand with which to make cement. My father said that it wasn’t necessary to cover the sand with tarp. “Would you cover the whole beach with tarp?”

Mom – “No but the beach gets its sand from the ocean. If some sand gets blown away, more will wash up on shore the next day. I’m telling you, if you don’t cover the sand, it will be gone by tomorrow.”

My father covered the sand, but it and the tarp would be gone by the next day anyway.

My mother was the only one, who seemed uneasy. Everyone else was looking forward to a little excitement and a day off that Monday. This would be the biggest hurricane the island had seen in over 60 years, so schools and businesses had already announced that they would be closed on Monday.

My mom walked around like Cassandra warning people that this hurricane would not be any fun if it did hit St. Croix. She lived through hurricane Hattie when it hit her home town of Belize City, Belize. “We were excited, just like you are now.” My mom made my dad take extra precautions. They parked the cars closer to the house and away from the trees in the backyard. They took in anything that could be taken indoors.

The size of my island compared to hurricane Hugo

I didn’t know wind could do that!

The hurricane was supposed to hit late that night, so I was surprised, when at 6:00 pm I could see the bushes in the yard in front of ours laying down because of the wind. “Wow, I didn’t know wind could do that!” My mom dryly replied, “This hurricane hasn’t even started yet.”

I wanted to stay up, but my parents made me go to bed around 9:00 pm. I’m not sure how long I was asleep, but sometime that night my father woke me up. “Come, we have to go to the living room.” I was a little groggy, but I got up and followed him. He seemed worried and agitated. As we passed my bathroom, I stopped. “Can I used the bathroom first?”

I asked, only out of respect. I didn’t really think  he would say no. He hesitated, looking back down the hall where we had just come. He seemed to be thinking it over. “Make it quick.”

I didn’t understand what was going on. I was a kid and I was too sleepy to care. When we got to the living room my mom was sitting on the floor with her flash light. The electricity was out. I started to remember the hurricane. “Are we camping out in the living room?” This seemed like fun.

“No”, my dad said, “It’s… it’s… ”

“Just show her,” my mom interrupted.

My dad took my hand and a flash light and led me back down the hallway. My parents’ bedroom door was closed. “One quick look, then we have to go back to the living room.” I could not imagine what could be in their bedroom that would cause them to spend the night in the living room.

He opened the door. I could hear the wind outside screaming around the house, but everything looked normal. He closed the door. “What? I didn’t see anything.”

He opened the door again, but this time he turned on the flash light. I followed the spot of light with my eyes. It moved from the floor, onto the bed, then up the wall. There was a gap between where the wall ended and the roof began. The roof was moving up and down. “Wow! Do you think that could happen in my room?”

My room was across the hall from my parents’. “It is happening in your room. That’s why we woke you up.” I didn’t believe him. I was asleep in that room not more than 10 minutes ago. If my roof was dancing, I think I would have noticed. He open my bed room door to show me. Sure enough, the roof was bobbing up and down like a play thing of the wind.

I felt sick. I sat in the living feeling cold on the inside. The roof of my bed room was being pulled off the house as I slept. I was right under it and I didn’t even know. What if my parent slept as deeply as I did?

We tried to get some sleep. Just when I had calmed down I heard a crash. The chandelier on the living room ceiling came crashing down inches from my mom’s head. I began to think how lucky that was. If she have been hit, there would be no way of getting her to the hospital any time soon. After that I could not sleep.

I sat there rocking myself as my parents tried to sleep. My mom kept telling me that everything would be okay. From her tune of voice, I knew that she didn’t believe what she said. My stomach didn’t feel so well.

Sometime after that we heard a big woosh sound. My dad went to look at the rooms down the hall. I followed too. My parents let me. I guess they thought that my imagination was too active and I would be less afraid if I saw what was going on, then if I didn’t.

We looked into my parents’ bedroom. The roof was gone. The bed, clothes, and other things in the room were spinning around as if being stirred with a giant invisible spoon. “This can’t be good,” I said to myself.

We all went back to the living room to wait out the rest of the storm. No one tried to sleep now. I don’t know what was going on in my parents’ heads, but my mind was buzzing. “What is tomorrow going to be like? My parents will have to sleep in the living room until the roof over their room is fixed. Maybe we’ll have to get a new house.”

Sometime after that we heard the woosh sound again. It was the roof over my bedroom. We just sat there. We did not feel the need to look. I knew that all my things were gone.

Later the winds died down. My dad went outside the check on the cars. He wanted to walk down the street to see what happened to the neighborhood, but my mom wouldn’t let him.

“The hurricane is not over. This is just the eye.” She told us.

“What? You mean there’s more?” I asked.

“That was just the first half. Now the wind will come in the other direction. We should really move to the other side of the house, but…”

I had never heard of an “eye of a storm” before. I don’t think I was the only one, because later I heard stories of people going out during the eye thinking everything was over, only to be caught outdoors when the second part of the storm began. I don’t know how true any of those stories were. Maybe they thought the eye would last longer than it did and didn’t have enough time to get back indoors.

Hurricane Hugo

When the storm started again we sat in the living room. No one spoke a word. The winds roared outside mocking us. It moved like a monster trying to rip open our home to get at us.

I looked up at the roof on the other side of the room. “Mom, this roof is going to go.” My mom shone her flashlight where the roof and wall met. It looked normal. There wasn’t even a crack on the wall. “I think it will be fine.”

“No mom. This roof is going to go.” I insisted.

“You’re just scared. Everything will be fine.” she said.

I muttered to myself, “That roof is going to go!”

Half an hour later, as I was staring at the roof, it just lifted up. It broke apart in the air and disappeared into the dark windy night. It even took the lighting fixtures with it. I don’t remember the sound it made. I just sat there, looking at it go, blown away like paper. The blackness of the night came in my house and it brought rain. I was getting wet.

My parents grabbed me and took me to the middle room. They closed the door and we sat on the bed.

I felt really sick and I really needed to pee. Even though the bathroom was right across the hall, my mom would not let me leave the room. There was an orange tub that she used to bathe me in when I was a baby. She gave it to me and told me to take it to the closet and pee in it. I went to the closet and sat over the basin, but I could not pee. I was just really scared.

My mom did not want to be trapped in the house. She and my dad started to think of things they could do to ensure our survival.

“If this house catches on fire, something crashes down on this roof, or this roof goes, we’re trapped.” My mom said.

“If only we had a basement.” My dad put in.

Houses in the Caribbean don’t have basements. Under our houses, we have cisterns, where we keep the water from the rain that falls on the roof. We use this water to flush the toilets and for showering. I did hear of a family who, after losing their roof and most of their walls, spent this hurricane standing in their half empty cistern. They must have opened some sort of lever to keep the water flowing out the cistern so it would not fill up and drown them all.

“But, Mr. Ash, has a two-story house. We must go to Mr. Ash’s house.”

Mr. Ash was our next door neighbor. I had been over to his house countless times to play with his oldest daughter Kizzy. The family lived on the second floor and Mr. Ash worked on the first floor.

He made and improved houses for a living. He had his own business. He designed his house. The first floor of the Ash house was his office. It looked like a smaller version of a hardware store. There were tools, machines, and equipment on this floor of the Ash residence. Kizzy, her sister and brother, me, and all the other kids in the neighborhood were never allowed on the first floor. So of course, we were always trying to get in.

The family lived upstairs. There were steps that went from their front garden to the second floor, completely bypassing the ground floor. I don’t even think there was a way to go from the first to second floor without going outside.

The Hess Oil Refinery on the Island

I didn’t want to go. It wasn’t so much that I was afraid of walking out in the storm. The dangers of that only occurred to me years later. I didn’t want to see the living room without its roof again.

In the spare bed room, nothing had changed. It looked like it did before the hurricane. Its roof was still on. Its floor was still dry. Everything in the room was as it should have been. Outside the room was complete disorder. And the storm was just about halfway passed.

Later we would find out that the hurricane was moving very slowly. Although the winds were moving at 140 mph the storm itself was moving at about 3 or 4 mph. I remember my dad using his car to show me how fast 3 mph was. “I can run faster than this!”

My parents each held onto one of my forearms. I was given a hat and jacket and was told to cover my face and keep my head down. The wind was so strong, I remember, that it stung my face. It was very hard to walk because the winds made putting my foot on the ground almost impossible.

We got over to the Ashs’ house and their gate was latched but unlock, like it usually was. They had 2 big, mean looking dogs, Blackman and Whiteman, that guarded the house, but they were indoors for the storm. We opened the gate and closed it behind us. We got to their downstairs door and started yelling and banging on the door. My mom prayed that they would hear us. We stood out there for a minute or two wondering if we had made a huge mistake. When the door open, I fell in.

The National Guard was called into St. Croix.

I sat on the floor in complete shock. I could not stop shaking. I threw up and kept throwing up even though my stomach was empty. I saw Kizzy and her brother and sister. They looked scared too, but they were not in the state I was in. Mrs. Ash, kept bringing me water and asked if I needed anything, but I just wanted to be alone with my vomit bucket. I move to a corner where I fell asleep.

The next day I woke up on the floor. My bucket was gone and so were my parents. I sat there thinking, “I’m homeless. I don’t have a home anymore. Where am I going to sleep tonight?” Mrs. Ash told me that my parents went to do something for the house. She tried to feed me cereal, but I could not eat.

The upstairs of the Ashes’ house was heavily damaged. Parts of their roof had been damaged, but it did not come off like the roof of my house.They spent the next couple months living on the first floor until the upstairs was completely fixed.

When my parents got back they took me to see the house. “Is it safe? There is a lot of water; what about live wires?”

“There is no electricity on this island. No stop lights. Nothing is working.” My dad said.

We walked through the house. It did not look familiar. Everything was thrown about and wet. The only glimmer of hope for me was that, among all the soaked and bloated items floating around our house, was the piano. Well, it didn’t float.

My mom sat on its bench which sagged a bit and threatened to give out. She stood up and tapped a key. It groaned like a dying cat. “Oh no, not the piano. I wanted to have at least one child learn to play the piano well.” Days later when we loaded up a borrowed truck of our things to be taken to Anguilla, the dumpsite, I happily tossed part of that piano bench in. Did I mention that I hated that piano?

We went to the back yard. “There’s our roof! Can we just put it back on?” I asked.

My parents looked at the roof suspiciously. It was a completely intact roof, laying galvanize side down. All it was missing was the rest of its house. “That’s not our roof.” my mom said.

I looked at the thing. It was smaller than our house and it was the wrong shape. Besides, we didn’t lose our whole roof, just the bits in the front and the bits in the back. Many of our neighbors roofs were missing but none had a roof like that.

Mr. Ash came over, along with other neighbors and they butchered that roof. Parts of it went on our house, Mr. Ash’s house, and other neighbors’ houses to keep the rain out. There was a small tropical storm coming and it rained the entire next day.

The tropical storm was Gabrielle, formally hurricane Gabrielle, but by the time she got to us, she was weak and old and only delivered rain. She would have never even stayed in my mind, if my house had a roof. But when she came every Cruzan was listening to the weather forecast on his or her radio like it was the latest gossip.

Thankfully, our radios still worked. They were our only connection to the outside world. We had no electricity and the phones were down. The day after Hugo we stay glued to the radio as we tried to clean up what we could. I remember that the governor at the time, Alexander Farrelly who lived on St. Thomas, got on the air and told the world that the US Virgin Islands were all oaky.

Those of us on the island of St. Croix were shocked. Apparently, the island of St. Thomas was not hit as severely. But since we, on St. Croix, had no electricity or any means of contact to the outside world, the governor assumed that no news was good news. Later he would have to retract his statement and ask President Bush, not only for aid for St. Croix, but for soldiers to put the island under Marshal Law. There was wild looting, fighting, and all around chaos in the streets for days following Hugo.

My parents were a few of the lucky people who were able to collect their insurance money. Many insurance companies went bankrupt. It took people months, some years, to repair all the damage. Some of them had to pay for the repairs all on their own.

Within a year, our house was completely fixed. The new roof that was put on, not only had 3 new sunroofs, but was designed to withstand any hurricane. The roof had smaller eaves and was connected to the bottom of the house. The builder told us, “For this roof to go, the walls must go with it!” As far as I know the house is still there.

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 cashandcallyourbanktoaskwhatATMs 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.)

Matama Beach
(真玉海水浴場)
(Matama Kaisuiyokujō)

How to get there:

  • 33°37’20.9″N 131°28’23.3″E

From Oita by car –

  • Take route 10 North.
  • When you reach Hiji town, you can stay on route 10 or take route 213
    1. If you stay on route 10 at Hiji town, you will get on route 213 in Usa. Be careful because the turn is at an odd angle making it a little easy to miss. This is the shorter way.
    2. If you get on route 213 in Hiji, stay on route 213 until you pass the beach.
  • It doesn’t really look like a beach when you’re driving by. It is mostly a cemented area with lots of parking across the road from the “beach”.

Address:

〒872-1101 大分県西国東郡真玉町2144-12

Website:

Cost:

  • Free

Hours:

  • always available

Notes:

  • There is a little restaurant at the beach that sells drinks, snacks, and meals.
  • When we went, the water was not deep enough to swim in. But I don’t know what it is like at high tide or at other times of the year

Nagasakihana Resort campsite
(長崎鼻リゾートキャンプ場)
(Nagasakibana Rizōto Kyanpu-ba)

How to get there:

  • 33°40’55.9″N 131°31’29.3″E

From Matama Beach –

  • Get on Route 213 heading east.
  • You will pass 4 tunnels.
  • After the 4th tunnel you will be in a little town. You will need to make a left onto a little road that is opposite to a pedestrian tunnel. The first time you go, it will be a little tricky, because you can’t really see the pedestrian tunnel when making the left. But if you reach a 5th tunnel, that is kind of long, turn around and you will be able to clearly see the pedestrian tunnel.
  • Take the road across the little one lane bridge and take the biggest road up the hill.
  • You will pass a rape field and a sunflower field.

Address:

4060 Mime, Bungotakada, Oita Prefecture 872-1207

Phone:

  • 0978-54-2237

Websites:

Cost:

  • 1,000YEN per tent   &
  • 300YEN per person
  • The second night they only charged us for the tent. I don’t know if they always do this, or they just liked us.

Hours:

  • Open year round
  • Reception hours are 9:00 to 17:00

Notes:

  • They also have cabins, some with AC.
  • There is a beach at the campsite.
  • There are free electric bikes you can borrow.
    • 1 person – 1 hour max
    • 2 people – 2 hours max

Map:

Posted in Bungo Takada 市, Japan, Kyūshū, Matama 町, Oita 県, St. Croix, United States, The, US Virgin Islands | Tagged: , , | 4 Comments »

Yosh

Posted by Heliocentrism on July 14, 2011

July 11, 2011

All Pictures

nice day to learn how to drive

Starting Early

I started this process in April when I showed up at a JAF center to get my license translated. I knew that around July all the new JET’s from last year with cars would need to get Japanese driver’s licenses when their international driving permits expire. I wanted to avoid the rush. But things in Japan are never straight forward. It took months to get all my senseless paper work in order.

speed up here?

3 or more years

I first needed to drive through the practice course. To be allowed to do this I needed to find someone who has had a Japanese license for at least 3 years. That eliminated all my JET friends. The ones who have been here long enough, don’t drive.

I needed to find a co-worker to help me. I hate asking my co-workers for stuff like this. They work so hard and are always busy. They usually work 2 or more Saturdays a month, whereas I never work on weekends, so I felt really bad asking this favor. But I needed to get my license. I would have to ask someone to give up a precious Saturday to drive around with me.

So I asked my supervisor. We found one Saturday where we were both free. It was all the way at the end of May. He was a really busy man. I waited until the next time I was able to leave work early then drove over to Oita’s DMV to sign up for time in the practice car.

The DMV is no fun.

Proof of 3 Months

At the DMV I ran into, David. another JET trying to get his license. There was a snag in his paper work. His passport was not proof enough that he had been in the states for at least 3 months after getting his license. You see, the US passport control does not stamp the passport of exiting US citizens. He had to come back later when he had some better proof.

I tried to sign up for practice time, but I was told that I would probably fail if I practiced on my own. I was given the number of Mr. Yano. (I have since lost his number.) I was told to call him and he would teach me everything I needed to know and that he would take care of making the appointment.

Mr. Yano’s help was a bit expensive, but this would mean that I would not have to steal a Saturday from my supervisor. So, I called Mr. Yano and met him one Saturday morning. He didn’t speak English fluently, but he spoke well enough.

Mr. Yano and me

I’m really glad to meet you!

After spending 2 hours with Mr. Yano, I could see why most people fail this driving test. It’s really not a test about how well you drive; you never leave this course, so who knows what kind of bat-out-of-hell driver you are? They test how well you can remember and follow a bunch of silly instructions.

On the first 2 curves of the course, you are not allowed to use your brakes. Mr. Yano said, “It’s dangerous to use the brakes on a curve.” But it was quite safe to use your brakes on all other turns on the course. I also had to break 3 times before really slowing down the car. This is supposed to be a warning for the person behind me that I am stopping. I guess my car slowing down and the brake lights aren’t big enough clues.

I was told that hitting the curb on the S-turn part of the coarse  was an automatic fail. It is better to back up many times. I just had to make sure to do a 5-point yosh before going in reverse.

What’s a 5-point yosh? Well, let me first explain what a yosh is. It is hard for the proctor to see what you have noticed while you are taking your test. So they make you say this word, which shows that you have noticed something. The 5-point yosh is:

  • Point 1 – Look at the left side mirror and say, “Yosh”.
  • Point 2 – Look at the left side blind spot and say, “Yosh.”
  • Point 3 – Look at the rear view mirror and say, “Yosh.”
  • Point 4 – Look at the right side mirror and say, “Yosh.”
  • Point 5 – Look at the right side blind spot and say, “Yosh.”
Mr. Yano also pointed out that I might fail the test if I get my yoshes in the wrong order. When pulling into a lane I yoshed left then right. He said that I must yosh right then left. I also didn’t drive close enough to the curb in certain sections and not close enough to the middle of the road in others. I was taught, in the US to stay the hell away from either the curb or on coming traffic; not so on a Japanese driving test.
If I had not met Mr. Yano I would have failed the driving test and not even know why.

I’m going to yosh the hell out of this test!

Test Day

I showed up early and handed in all my documents. I used old credit card statements as proof that I was in the states for at least 3 months after getting my current Florida driver’s license. Luckily for me, Discover card keeps statement records for up to 7 years and will mail them to you for free once you request them.

First I had to have an interview. The interviewer was a very friendly man, who spoke  English well. He asked me questions about my driving test in the states. It was over before I realized that I was being evaluated. Everything went well and I moved onto the next step.

The written test was made up of 10 questions. They were easy, but I missed some questions because I over analysed them, thinking that they were put on the test to throw me off. I managed to pass with no points to spare.

The next step was my vision test. It was just lights and colors like the vision tests at most DMVs. I passed with no problems.

Then it was time for the driving test. The proctor spoke no English at all. I yoshed my way into the car and yoshed all the way through the course. Half way into the test I realized that I was not paying attention to my hand positions while turning.

Normally I turn hand-over-hand and sometimes I hold the wheel with my palm up for a better grip. These are a big no-no’s. I also notice many other mistakes that I had made, like not driving close enough to the curb.

When I was done, I yoshed myself out of the car. I stood there awkwardly as the proctor sat in the car for about 3 minutes feverishly writing on my evaluation sheet. He got out and, without saying a word, motioned me to follow him.

We got into an elevator and he began to ask me questions in Japanese. All I could say was, “Wa-ca-de-mas sen.” (I don’t understand.) We got out of the elevator and walked to waiting the area. He pointed to a chair and I took a seat.

waiting for my test results.

He disappeared into one of the offices and emerged behind the counter. He started talking to the ladies at the desk while still writing on my evaluation sheet. “Wa-ca-de-mas sen, Wa-ca-de-mas sen, Wa-ca-de-mas sen,” he said to the ladies while shaking his head. “No matter what I ask her, she says, ‘I don’t understand'”.

I felt tired. I was at the DMV since 12:30pm and it was now almost 5:00pm. It had been a long day and I would have to do this again. Near the counter was a bus schedule and I looked at it. My international driver’s license would expire soon, and I might have to take the bus here to re-take this test.

The guy who had interviewed me called me over. He was looking down at my evaluation sheet behind the counter as I walked over to him. “You know, sometimes miracles happen and one happened today. You passed!”

like I’m some sort of baby.

Young Driver

Since my license is new, even though I have been driving since I was 16, I have to put these stupid “new driver” magnets on my car; one in the front and one in the back. Usually, only 18-year-olds have these. This is to let everyone know how inexperienced I am. The only good thing about the magnets is that no one is allowed to drive close to me or cut me off on the road.

People still do, though. In fact the “new driver” magnets seem to bring out the jackass in most drivers. I get tailgated and cut off more now than ever.

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 callyourbanktoaskwhatATMs 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.)

Department of Motor Vehicle Licensing
(大分県運転免許センター)
(Ōita ken unten menkyo sentā)

How to get there:

  • 33°11’16.8″N 131°38’59.2″E
  • Head towards Park Place, which is near exit #14 on the Oita Express way.
  • Go south of Park place on the numberless road on the map below.
  • You will see a lot of parked cars.

Address:

6687 Matsuoka, Oita City

Phone:

  • 097-536-2131 (ext: 702-245)

Website

Download:

Cost:

  • It depends on how many times you fail.
    • Most people fail several times.
  • 3,000YEN to translate your US license at any JAF.
  • 1,000YEN for the “Rules of the Road” book.
  • 8,000YEN to have Mr. Yano teach you how to past the test.
  • 4,000YEN to practice on the course.
  • 2,400YEN for the application fee. (Paid right before the written test.)
  • 1,650YEN to rent the car. (Paid right before you take the driving test.)
  • 2,100YEN for the registration fee. (Paid after you pass the driving test, if you pass.)

Hours:

  • Mon – Fri 12:30 – 14:00 excluding holidays

Notes:

  • This is for US citizens.
  • Australians and New Zealanders don’t have to take this test; those lucky bastards.
  • You are given one year to drive on an international driver’s license, after that you must get a Japanese license.

Steps to getting a Japanese Driver’s License:

Step 1.

Get your valid driver’s license Translated at JAF. You will need to bring:

  1. This PDF form filled out and signed.
  2. Your current American driver’s license.
  3. 3,000YEN.

You can buy a copy of the “Rules of the Road” book here, if you cannot find someone to lend it to you. You just need a quick read through this book. There is no need to really study it.

Step 2.

Practice: I was given Mr. Yano’s number by the guy at the DMV.

  1. Call Mr. Yano, or some equivalent. (8,000YEN)
  2. Book practice time on the driving course. (4,000YEN)
    • If you hire Mr. Yano or an equivalent, they will make the appointment for you.
  3. Pay close attention. Every little thing you do, no matter how mindless or insignificant you think it is, matters a great deal on the test.
  • Reading the instructions is no substitute for physically practicing the course.

Step 3.

Taking the test.

  1. Make a reservation at your local Department of Motor Vehicle.
    • You will need to make reservations for your first test.
    • If you fail, you will not need to make reservations for your second, third, or subsequent tests. Just show up.

On the day of the test bring the following:

  1. Your current American driver’s license.
  2. Translation of your current American driver’s license.
  3. Your Passport.
  4. Proof that you were in the US for at least 3 months after you got your current license.
    • You can use utility bills, college transcripts (if you just graduated), credit card statements, or whatever you think might be proof.
  5. Your Alien Registration Card also known as your “gaijin card”.
    (外 国 人 登 録 証 明 書)
    (Gaikokujin Toroku Shomeisho)
  6. Certificate of Registered Matters
    (登録原票記載事項証明書)
    (TorokuGenpyoKisaiJikoShomei Sho)

    • You get this at city hall
  7. Photo
    • There is a photo booth at the Oita City DMV
    • 700YEN
  8. At least 6,150YEN total
    • Application Fee – 2,400 YEN
    • Car Rental Fee – 1,650 YEN
    • Registration Fee – 2,100 YEN
  9. An Interpreter
    • Not needed at Oita City

Map:

Posted in Japan, Kyūshū, Oita 県, Oita 市 | Tagged: , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

My Shiny Little Balls

Posted by Heliocentrism on July 8, 2011

June 26, 2011

All Pictures

No establishment in Japan has parking like a pachinko parlor.

Do you want to pachinko tomorrow?

If you’ve ever been to Japan, chances are that you’ve seen a pachinko parlor or two. They are everywhere, even in little boondock villages in the middle of swampy rice fields. They are always open and have plenty of parking. Many of them have little restaurants or cafes that serve food until late at night.

I have gone into many pachinko parlors, but have never stayed longer than the time needed to use the bathroom. The machines are noisy. The people are very zombie like. Everything is written in Japanese. And the whole thing is very overwhelming. So when my neighbor, Brandy, offered to go with us and show us what to do, Mark and I jumped at the chance.

I hope this ends well.

We got in and sat down at some open machines. We each put in 1,000YEN into our machines and little silver balls came out. We put those balls back into the machine with hopes of getting more silver balls. Sometimes more balls came out, but more often none did.

We ended up losing all our balls. Well, I kept one as a souvenir.  We spent one hour playing pachinko, but many people spend half their lives there. I know I used to work in a place like this.

This place is probably closed down by now.

Would you like a sandwich or some tea?

When I lived in London I needed money to pay for my flight to Japan. It was the summer and my contract in Japan started in November. So I found a job working in the “arcade” in the picture above.

It was a miracle that I got the job, because I showed up about an hour late for the interview. I somehow ended up at Victoria Station which was no where near where I needed to be. I managed to charm Wendy, the manager and was hired. (I honestly think she hired me because she liked my American accent.)

The odd thing was that I thought I would be working in a gaming arcade. You know, the kind where little kids come in and spend all their coins. What it actually was, was a casino with only slot machines.

My job was to give change, clean the machines regularly, serve coffee, tea, and sandwiches, call the hourly bingo, and basically chat up customers to make them want to stay and lose,… um, spend all their money.

“All my balls are gone!”

He asks for tea, but that’s not what he wants.

It was a pretty easy job and I liked most of the customers. One day a guy came in and asked for ” a cuppa”. Later I got to know him better and found him to be a fairly decent guy who wished to keep his anonymity. He asked to be referred to as “Ghosty” and he never wanted to talk about his life outside the arcade. But even on the first day I met him, I knew he was a bit strange.

me – “What?”

Ghosty – “a cuppa”

me – “Copper?”

Ghosty – “Ah-cup-ah”

I stared at this guy waiting for more of an explanation. He put on his best fake American accent. “I want a cup oFFFF.”

me – “A cup of what?”

Ghosty – “You know, a cuppa…”

me – “Oh, you mean tea!”

He lit up and nodded. “Yes, please.”

me – “Sure, I’ll get you some tea. Would you like milk and sugar?”

The people around me laughed. “You don’t put milk in tea dear, unless you’re Scottish. Oh Americans!” said a lady not looking away from her machine.

“I would like some milk and sugar,” Ghosty said.

So I got him some tea, with milk and sugar and handed it to him.

“What the hell’s this!?” he asked.

me – “Your tea, with milk and sugar, like you asked”

Ghosty – “But I didn’t want this!”

I stood there, completely confused. He asked for tea. I got him tea, just the way he asked for it. Then another one of the floor girls, as we were called, came by. She call me over. With her thick Polish accent she said, “Never give that man tea.”

me – “But he asked…”

“I know,” she cut me off. “He comes in everyday and asks for tea, but he doesn’t want tea. He wants coffee.”

“So why doesn’t he ask for coffee?” I asked.

“Who the hell knows! But give him coffee with 2 sugars and a little milk.” As she went back to the break room she shouted under her breath while waving her hands, “These people are driving me crazy!” She was joking… somewhat.

How could something so cute take all of my money and give me nothing in return?

But you speak English

Another day while I was on break at work, two of the floor girls came into the break room. “We need your help. You are a native English speaker; talk to this woman.” My co-workers were from Poland and Estonia. I got up and went onto the floor.

I walked over to the red headed lady they wanted me to talk to. “Could I get you anything?” I asked politely.

She replied with a bunch of rolled R’s and some cackles. What ever she was saying, she seemed to be in a good mood about it.

I walked away, turned to my friends, and told them that I couldn’t help. I had no idea what the lady was saying.

“But you speak English…”

“Yes. But that lady doesn’t. She is Scottish. Her accent is too thick for me to understand. But I guess I could try again.”

I walked over to the lady and said, “I’m sorry, could you speak a little more slowly. I’m having a hard time understanding your accent.”

It turned out she wanted an egg sandwich, but she didn’t say it like this, “I want an egg sandwich. What she said sounded more like this, “Ay won’t un eggy…” and then a word that didn’t come close to sounding like the word “sandwich”.

She then asked me how long I had lived in England. I told her that I had been in the country for over 2 years, but most of that time was spent in Manchester. I had a conversation with the Scottish lady in which I understood less than half of what she said and smiled and nodded through the rest.

Ironically enough, my grandmother’s family comes from Scotland. Her brother still lives there, but I’ve never talked to him, but I’m guessing I wouldn’t understand him any more than I understood the Egg Sandwich lady.

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 callyourbanktoaskwhatATMs 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.)

Any Pachinko Parlor
(パチンコ)

How to get there:

  • Go to Japan.
  • Look out your window.
  • If you don’t see a pachinko parlor you might have to go outdoors and walk in any directions for about a block or two.

Website:

Cost:

  • Usually a minimum of 500 or 1,000YEN to play.

Hours:

  • They NEVER close!

Notes:

  • They are everywhere.
  • They have tons of free parking.
  • Never use a machine that has someone’s stuff on or near it.
  • It is not gambling. That is illegal in Japan. Pachinko is “gambling” which is quite legal.
  • Never ask where you can exchange the balls you’ve won for cash. That would make it gambling, which is illegal in Japan. Instead just look for the nondescript place outside in the back where they exchange the balls for cash. This is how “gambling” works.

Map: (Any where in Japan)

Posted in England, Japan, Kyūshū, London, Oita 県, Oita 市, United Kingdom, The | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

 
%d bloggers like this: