- - - 8/24/2008 - - -

Summer in Japan - Part 1 (Tottori and Shimane)

Filed under: — Andy @ 7:04 am

This summer I decided to do some traveling around Japan for a while. The first place I went was to the hometown of one of my friends in Tokyo: Tottori. Tottori is not really famous for anything except for having delicious asian pears and sand dunes. For a week I did a homestay with my friend’s (Kayo) family and extended family. Although I have never meet any of Kayo’s family before everyone welcomed me and was very nice. Kayo’s parents in law took me on a drive to Shimane to visit Izumo Taisha, one of Japan’s most famous shrines. I also climbed the highest mountain in the area, Mt. Daisen. When staying with Kayo’s family, I helped out picking asian pears in Kayo’s fathers field, did some swimming and snorkeling in the Japan Sea, and visited both a natural spring and a hot spring. Finally I visited the sand dunes and saw sand sculptures. Staying with Kayo and her family was really great experience, I had a great time and am already invited back to visit next year.

Full Photo Gallery

My host family.

The house where I stayed. There was nothing around except rice fields.

At Izumo Taisha.

Climbing Mt. Daisen with Kayo’s father in law.

The view from the top of Mt. Daisen was great.

I saw a fireworks show with Kayo and her friend. It was a great show and compared to Tokyo very few people. We sat on the bridge and watched the entire show with nothing to get in the way.

Helping out on the pear field. I enjoyed talking with Kayo’s father about the differences between a pear field and an orange field.

The Japan sea. Only a 3 minute walk from Kayo’s house. :)

The sand dunes in Tottori.

All the pictures are at the Full Photo Gallery

Summer in Japan - Part 2 (Himeji and Fukuoka)

Filed under: — Andy @ 6:27 am

From Tottori I said goodbye to Kayo’s family and headed to Himeji. I wanted to see Himeji Castle, said to be one of the most beautiful castles in Japan and one of its national treasures. From there I went south to Fukuoka in Kyushu. In Fukuoka I did another homestway, this time with my old boss from Okinawa. He was back at his hometown for the summer and invited me to stay with him and his family. He took me to some of the famous places including Dazaifu Tenmangu another of Japan’s great and famous shrines. He and his wife (and daughter) also shared with me some of the special foods in Fukuoka including mentaiko, and Hakta ramen. My old boss, in a way, became my new friend.

Me at Himeji Castle!

At the teahouse in Koukoen Gardens near Himeji castle.

My old boss (on the left) with me his father and daugher.

At the giant Fukuoka museum.

Me at Dazaifu Tenmangu!

Eating ramen. The daugher is 1.5 years old and already learning English from me ;)

All the pictures are at the Full Photo Gallery

Summer in Japan - Part 3 (Nagasaki and Gifu)

Filed under: — Andy @ 6:10 am

While in Kyushu I decided that I might as well go even further south to see the city of Nagasaki, famous for the second atomic bomb that was dropped on Japan. I went to the museum and walked though Peace park. Like Hiroshima, there is really no evidence left that an atomic bomb completely destroyed the city. Also, there is a ropeway that goes to the top of Mt. Inasa which I took to see the night view. The night view is one of Japan’s top 3 night views along with Hakodate(which I have been to), and Kobe. I also met a new friend, Kohei a medical student in Tokyo. Strangely, he reminded me a lot of my friend Josh, who is also a medical student (now in Oregon I think). We went out to eat one of the famous foods: Nagasaki Champon. The following day we also took a boat out to one of the near islands for onsen, and a bicycle ride. From Nagasaki I took a long bus ride up to the city of Hida-Takayama in Gifu. In Takayama, I yet again stayed with a friend. Yumiko, who I met in Okinawa runs a shop with her brother in center of the old-style traditional shopping street. The perfect location, I stayed with my friend on the second floor of the shop. She showed me around the area and we ate all the special foods in Takayama, including Hida beef and mitarashi dango. The following day was raining, so we decided to go see Hida Cave and the Harayu Falls. When we got to the falls it starting pouring, but we decided to go anyway and by the time we made it to the falls we were completely soaked, even with umbrellas. So we went to the other thing that is famous in Gifu, an onsen. After relaxing in the water and a change of clothes, I ate dinner with my friend and hopped on a bus back to Tokyo. In about 2 weeks, I visited many places in Japan and had a great time. Not to mention since I stayed with friends all but 2 nights, and my friends drove me around in their cars it was one of the cheapest vacations I have ever had. :) :)

As it says. The museum show very well the horror and devastation that comes atomic bomb.

The statue in Peace park. The elevated right hand points to the threat of nuclear weapons, while the outstretched left hand symbolizes tranquility and peace. Divine omnipotence and love are embodied in the sturdy physique and gentle countenance of the statue, and prayer for the repose of the souls of all war victims is expressed in the closed eyes. Furthermore, the folded right leg symbolizes quiet meditation, while the left leg is poised for action in assisting humanity.

Eating Nagasaki Champon with Kohei.

View from Mt. Inasa

Yumiko with mitarashi dango.

Yumiko’s shop in the middle of the old style street.

Getting wet at Harayu Falls.

All the pictures are at the Full Photo Gallery

- - - 8/20/2008 - - -


Filed under: — Andy @ 3:40 pm

I am back from my Japan journey… Also, I have just spent my 5th consecutive birthday in Japan. :o

- - - 8/7/2008 - - -

Japan Travel

Filed under: — Andy @ 12:12 am

This summer I will be traveling around Japan a bit. I leave tonite in the general direction of the yellow arrow. I plan on visiting Tottori-ken, Fukuoka-ken, Nagasaki-ken, Gifu-ken, and other places on the way. Be back in 2 weeks…

- - - 8/5/2008 - - -

Shiratoridai Bon Odori

Filed under: — Andy @ 12:09 am

Literally on the opposite corner from my building is a small park. Last weekend at the park there was a bon-odori festival. I went with a bunch of people from my building to eat the festival food and join the fun.

- - - 8/2/2008 - - -

Fireworks in Oshiage

Filed under: — Andy @ 9:01 pm

Although I havent gone to a fireworks show this year yet, I have gone to the park with friends to set off our own fireworks. It is fun, you dont have to worry about the huge crowds, and you can be as close as you want. I will still probably make it to a large fireworks show sometime in the next few weeks.

While setting off fireworks we found a semi. It’s quite rare to see a semi (cicada) right as they come out of the ground and before they shed their skin…