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Archive for the ‘Oita 市’ Category

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 »

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 »

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 »

Pictures that can’t Be Posted

Posted by Heliocentrism on February 20, 2011

February 19, 2011

All Pictures

 

Ganesh and his GF

It’s a Sex Museum

Now when people think of Beppu they think of onsens. The city has an onsen on every block, just about.  When you drive around in the winter you can see steam coming out of every other building in town.

A few decades ago the city of Beppu was known for it’s sex industry. What exactly that means, I’m not sure. Either there were tons of prostitutes walking the streets here, or it was more legitimized with massage parlors and “health spas”. Supposedly, the Sex Museum serves in remembrance of the old days.

He seems content.

I was a little disappointed by the museum. It was very small. There was really nothing to learn. But most annoyingly, I couldn’t take many photos that I could post on Facebook.

This was not my first sex museum. Remember Loveland on Jeju Island? It was a very light hearted sex museum. There were many things to pose with, and take pictures of. Most of the naked people there were not real, and didn’t look real. It took a good few hours to see the whole of Loveland.

why?

Then there was another one I saw in China. It was small, but there were a lot of historical information. And like at Loveland, there wasn’t any real porn, just statues and props.

The one in Beppu seemed more like a porn parade or some guys basement collection on display. There wasn’t much to this museum and many of the electronic dioramas didn’t work. Many of the manikins looked too real to post pictures of them on Facebook. Overall it was… meh.

Some of the art came self-censored.

Some of the pictures came with a glass covering with sections of fogged glass. You could look around the glass by tilting your head if you want to see the graphic parts. If you don’t, like in the photo above, just line the fogged area up over the naughty bits.

Mark and his meal

A Restaurant that Brings out the Evil in Mark

It started a few weeks ago when Mark and I read a friend’s blog entry. I will pause here and let you read the post, because her telling of the story is better than anything I can write. I will put a picture here so you don’t have to worry about the spoilers below.

I’ll just order some sushi while I wait.

So, Mark will be heading to Korea soon and he will not be back for a month or two. So we decided to live it up, gastronomically, and treat ourselves to some sushi. Since we were going out for sushi, Mark wanted to try the fish that Megan had.

Yes. He read that blog and thought, “What a delicious sounding dish!”

ignore the green drink

At first Mark was disappointed because his fish wasn’t moving. It laid there with a stick through its head and tail, motionless. Mark ate his sushi wondering if he ordered the right thing. Half-way through his meal, the fish started its, well, death throws. There was no violent movement, but there was an obvious twitching.

So many options

I can read!

Overall the restaurant was great. In fact Mark and I are going back this Tuesday for dinner since Tuesdays are the cheapest nights to go. The sushi is only 90Yen per dish.

The sushi comes around on a conveyor belt along with other dishes, like fried chicken and fries. If you want a special dish, like living fish, or you just don’t want to wait for the salmon to come back around you can order dishes from the touch screen.

You don’t really need to know how read to use the touch screen, because there are pictures for most things. But drinks are another matter. Drinks have no pictures.

I was feeling thirsty and wanted some libations. I tapped on the drinks sections and scrolled through my options. I read like a 4-year-old sounding out letters then putting them together Sesame Street style.

I came across something that said メロン-something. “Melon! Mark it says Melon!” Mark was to busy sulking over his non-moving fish. But I was excited that my studying was finally starting to pay off.

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.)
  • 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 Sex Museum
(別府秘宝館)
Beppu Hihonkan

How to get there:

It’s across the street from one of the Hell onsens, Siraike-Jigoku.

  • Head north on route 10.
  • Turn left on route 500. (The turn is just before the Las Vagas pachinko parlor.)
  • Keep on 500, then make a sharp right at the light after the intersection with route 218. You should see lot of steam rising from the ground.
  • You can park in the lot of the Hell onsen or use the parking lot of the museum.

Address:

338-3 Shibuyu Kannawa
Beppu City

Oita Prefecture

Phone:

  • 0977 66 1385

Websites:

Cost:

  • 700YEN

Hours:

  • 9:00 – 17:00

****UPDATE****

This museum have since closed down

***************

Notes:

  • Be prepared to be completely embarrassed as you walk pass the array of sex toys for sale, if you in the wrong company.
  • This place does not feature any of the educational, or historical aspects of sex that most sex museums have; at least not in English.
  • This is just a place with lots of porn on display.
  • The museum is now closed.

Sushi-Meijin
(kaiten sushi)
(回転寿司)

How to get there:

The one we visited –

  • Go east on route 197 from Oita Station.
  • It is 2 lights past route 685 on the right side. If you pass the McDonald’s you’ve gone too far.
But, there are tons of them around. Just look out for a sign that advertises something for “105“.

Address:

寿司めいじん牧店
日本 〒870-0924 大分県大分市牧3丁目12−2

Phone:

  • 097-554-0377

Website

Cost:

  • The regular sushi is generally 105YEN per plate, with 2 pieces in it.
  • But it’s 90YEN on Tuesdays.
  • Other days have other specials, but my Japanese reading ability is not good enough to get more information.

Hours:

  • 11:00 – 22:00

Notes:

  • When it’s crowded, you will have to get a number from the machine and wait for your number to be called.
  • You can pick up anything from the conveyor belt or order it from the machine at your table. The price is the same.
  • When it’s time to leave, call over a waiter to add up your bill

 

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

No, it’s not creepy taking pictures at an osen… Well, maybe a little. Just do it quickly!

Posted by Heliocentrism on October 24, 2010

October 9, 2010

All Pictures

Yard work in the early morning

You want me to cut the grass with a… what? Scythe?

Last Monday I got a letter in the mail in Japanese. All I could understand on the page was 7:00am Saturday, October 9th. From this little information I knew what the letter was all about.

Yard work. More precisely community yard work. The people in my apartment block get together once a month to cut the grass, rake, and tidy up our little part of Oita. If you can’t make it or don’t want to clean, you will be charged 1500JPY.

Doing things the hard way.

We checked in a little before 7:00am and got a scythe each. Yup, we cut grass by hand here in Oita! There is a weed wacker, but only one. So the rest of us have to go the low tech route.

You grab a fist full of grass with one gloved hand and swing the scythe over with the other. It would be hard work, but we have very little actual grass around our apartment. It’s more like small strips of lawn here and there.

After work we gathered together for a little community chat. All the announcements were lost on the American tenants, but we tried to look interested anyways. The whole thing from start to finish took 45 minutes.

Talking strategy

AJET Sports Day

The following Monday was Sports Day here in Japan and so the Oita chapter of AJET planned a Sports Day celebration for the JETs and friends of JETs in the area. We went to a park in Beppu near the main train station.

In case you are unfamiliar with AJET, let me tell you what it is. They are a group of voluntarily JETs who plan activities for English teachers in a given town, city, prefecture. They help combat boredom and get us foreigners to socialize.

The day started out with Capture the Flag and progressed to other sports games like Kick Ball, and Multi-legged Races. One game we played called Vegetable Face Off, which had us pit two people against each other to see who could embody the essence of a given vegetable more. I still think I was cheated on my eggplant impersonation!

Sitting in hot water with friends

I really want a picture. Will it seem creepy if I whip out my camera?

To end our day of sports, we all when to Kitahama Termas Onsen. It is one of a few co-ed onsens in town. Most onsens require bathers to be completely naked so therefore the sexes are separated. These type of onsens are also isolated and have no view.

When an onsen is more public with ocean front views, people have to wear swim suits. Since bathers are already dressed, they might as well mingle with other sexes.

Sitting in a hot tub after a day of sports is a beautiful thing. There were pools with  different temperatures of water. We kept going from really hot to cold to warm to really hot. It was amazing!

All Pictures


 

Japan
(日本)
(Nippon)

How to get there:

You can enter Japan by plane or boat. Though, the number of boats going to Japan from other countries has gone down significantly.

Americans get 90-day visas to Japan at the port of entry. Check with your nearest Japanese embassy or consulate for visa information.

Phone:

Website:

Downloads:

Videos:

Books:

Notes:

  • Be careful what over the counter drugs you bring into Japan.  Actifed, Sudafed, Vicks inhalers, and Codeine are prohibited.
  • InternationalATMs are really hard to find; more so if you aren’t in a big city. Many places in Japan do not use credit cards. Take cash and call your bank toaskwhatATMs or banks in Japan will work with your cash card.
    • ATMs have opening hours. Usually 9:00-18:00 (They have better work hours than most business men and women here.)
    • The Post Office bank seems to work with the most international cards.
  • You can get a Japan Railway, pass which saves you a lot of money on the trains, but you can only buy it before you get to Japan and you cannot be a resident of Japan. (I don’t have more information about it because I’ve only ever lived in Japan; I’ve never been a tourist here.)

Beppu Park
(大分県別府市野口原)

How to get there:

  • Coordinates 33°17’13.1″N 131°29’15.8″E

By Car –

  • Drive to Beppu by way of route 10 which is also route 52 through downtown Beppu.
  • Turn onto route 32 which will take you right up to Beppu Station. Turn with the road and it will take you under the train tracks.
  • Once you pass the underpass, take a right at the first non-one-way street.
  • Go straight and then turn left at the light.
  • Continue straight until you see the sign for the park.
  • Parking is across the street from the park.

By Public Transportation –

  • Go to Beppu Station.
  • Exit through the west end of the station.
  •  Keep walking along that main road and you will reach the park.

Website:

Cost:

  • The park is free but there are small charges for parking and use of some of the sport facilities

Hours:

  • 9:00 to 17:00
  • Running track at night    17:00 to 21:00
  • Softball field at night        18:00 to 22:00

Notes:

It’s a big park that’s great for picnicking, frisbi-ing, soccering, or any other ~ing that one would or could do outdoors without getting arrested.

(I’m not sure if barbecuing is alowed…)


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.

Map:


 

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

Where is my robot butler!?

Posted by Heliocentrism on September 30, 2010

October 1, 2010

The JET Programme Welcome team meeting me at Narita Airport

Miss me?

As you may have noticed, I haven’t updated my blog in quite a while. It’s not because exciting stuff have stopped popping up in my life. NOoooOoo. In the past month, I’ve moved to Japan, bought a car, got 2 new sets of co-workers, moved into a new apartment,…. well the list goes on.

Basically, this is the whole town.

The main thing is that I moved… to a small city in Japan in the middle of rice fields. And I’m still waiting for my internet at home to be connected. There’s a lot of red tape envolved in doing just about anything in Japan and the internet is no exception.

It’s stressful. I’ve gotten phone calls from the internet company where they tell me that they just called to tell me that they will call me sometime later.

JET orientation in Tokyo

Me:                “So you called me to tell me that you will call me some other time?”

Int Agent : “Yes.”

Me:               “So why didn’t you just call me when you were going to call me and not call me to tell me that you are going to call me?”

Int Agent: “What?”

Me:              “Nevermind…”

Int Agent: “Okay. We just want to make sure you understand. We are going to call you sometime later, Ok?”

Me:             “Sure, I guess”

Int Agent: “Okay. Bye.”

It tastes like sweet and minty tomato soup.

So I sit at home eating my Tomato-Mints waiting for the next phone call…

Japanese technology is not at all what you think it is. Most stores do not accept credit cards. My bank card does not work all over Japan, in fact it only works in Oita-県 (県= Prefecture). There are vending machines everywhere, but they don’t sell much that I want to buy.

And there are no robots anywhere! Not one!

*sigh*

And my car is really small…

That’s all the car I could handle.

When the internet people finally call me, not just to tell me that they will call me later, but to tell me that they will connect my internet, I will start blogging again. Hopefully that will not be too far in the future.

“I’ll help you get the internet!”

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

 
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