Saturday, April 29, 2006

Lovely time of year

When the Koinobori (above) come out, you know it is a sign for better weather to come. Actually they are the symbol for boys day. They come out slowly over the month leading up to May 5th. Boys day is quite nice for everyone because it is a public holiday, so are May 3rd and 4th. If you are clever and take the Monday and Tuesday before as leave, you get 9 days off in a row. Yippee
So... I am off today to Shikoku (the smallest of Japan's four main islands). First a ferry trip and them driving for 5 days. So I will see you all soon and share lots of photos and memories. I hope you are also planning some fun and relaxation at this time of year.
PS Bring on the blue skies!

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

I want to drive this car!

What a pout!

This is Milla, my god daughter. The thing is, this is Easter morning and I am pretty certain she was happy at this point. She did get a lot of chocolates. I can't wait to kiss those cheeks again!

Monday, April 24, 2006

The 'honto' of train travel in Japan

I found this little clipart on my computer today. I had to giggle at its accuracy. This is a common sight on Japanese trains. Everyone end up this way during their journey. When my Mum and Dad were here, we even saw a young boy sound asleep standing up. He wasn't holding on to anything. You have to laugh!

That's better

You Passed 8th Grade Science

Congratulations, you got 8/8 correct!
Speaka, I love science!

Sunday, April 23, 2006


You Passed 8th Grade Math

Congratulations, you got 9/10 correct!
I just wish I knew which one I got wrong.

A weekend project

My sister sent me a camera for my birthday... Yippee! I think I now have 5 cameras that I regularly use. I wanted some kind of cover for this one. I was thinking of buying a cute fabric one when I remembered that I knit. So this is the result of a weekend project. I completed the knitting on the train to Hiroshima.
I bought the following button in Hiroshima. It was pretty expensive but I fell in love with it. What do you think?

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Music to my ears

I am so excited. Last night I was driving home with my window down and I heard the first frog calls of spring. As Cindi knows, this makes me very happy. I am sure the amagaeru (rain frog pictured to the left - not my own pic) will be here in the next rainfall.

Note : a Japanese man told me Japanese people and foreign people have different ears. He said that insect noises are just that, noise to us, but the sounds of lovely nature to Japanese. I didn't agree with him but I laughed just the same. He went on to explain how Japanese are at one with nature.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Yamaguchi Bamboo

One of the things most difficult to photograph in Japan. Damp, dark places that the sun rarely finds!

A prayer for the New Year

A flash back to early spring

A single, lone, white plum blossom. Waiting for her friends to bloom.

No words are needed...

Except this is my local beach in Hikari...

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Easter Sunday at Alex's

Japan seems to celebrate so many holidays. They even celebrate Christmas to some extent but not Easter. Not at all. So today is Easter Sunday and Alex decided to throw a small gathering. Yummy food was promised and delivered and Louise even brought along some delicious marshmallow eggs.

Finally... SAKURA!!!

Kintaikyo in Iwakuni. Our favourite little, historical bridge.

Gion in Kyoto. If you keep your eyes open you may catch a glimpse of a Geisha. Careful though, they may not be real. We saw a couple of genuine ones - lucky us!

Reaching out from the heavens. Note the blue sky!

Note the rain drops and white sky! Miserable weather but everything was still so beautiful.

Beautiful in pink. This flower was in my favourite place to visit for cherry blossom, the gardens of the Heian Jingu (shrine) in Kyoto. Who would have known that such an amazing garden would be tucked away from sight?

For Mum. Such little secret delights wherever you search. Keep your eyes open and you never know what you will spot. This pretty little flower was growing amongst the moss at Ginkakuji (the Silver Pavilion).

Also at Ginkakuji, the BAD moss... Notice the sign attached? Moss the intruder. Hahaha, funny.

Monkeying around in Kyoto


Okay so you might actually say that this is one of the places I have been wanting to see. I really wanted to see it with cherry blossoms and blue skies. Well I got half my wish so I shouldn't complain.
Himeji castle was originally built around 1346 and is considered perhaps the oldest, most famous castle in Japan. I have seen a lot of castles in my time here but this one was definitely the most impressive. Lots of other castles were destroyed by fire or actually dismantled, most of Himeji castle is still original. None of the concrete you see at other castles. You can walk through the inside of the building and again, that is impressive. The size of the wood beams supporting the structure is unbelievable.
I advise everyone to visit if you get the chance. It is about an hour by train from Osaka. Just be careful that you catch the special rapid service or it will take you a lot lot longer (we know what this is like!).
There are holes or windows throughout the castle compound. They are for defensive purposes. Shooting arrows or pouring boiling oil on your enemy. They are really quite interesting and kind of pretty. This lot reminded me of a childhood program, Play School. On the show, they asked the audience to choose a window for the daily story. The round, triangle, rectangle or square window? I always chose the round window!

Kasuga Taisha, Nara

Kasuga Taisha is one of Japan's most famous shrines. You can find hundreds, maybe thousands of lanterns within its grounds. They light the lanterns twice a year. I can only image how they do it. This place is very pretty. Lots of red buildings as with most shrines and of course the lanterns. Lovely!
I thought this lantern was interesting. Notice the main part is actually made of wood. Inside that part is where you light a candle. Lucky the lantern is only lit twice a year.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Daigo-ji Hanami Parade

A Cherry Blossom Viewing Parade.

In 1598,
Toyotomi Hideyoshi organised a cherry blossom viewing party. He was the Daimyo of Japan at that time. In the years leading up to 1598, he had done a lot of work at daigo-ji ad he came to love the cherry filled gardens. He died at the end of 1598.

The parade we saw was a reenactment of the parade 400 years ago. It was fantastic even though we had to fight and jostle for our front row spots. We had waited over 1.5 hours for those key positions.

Yummy delights

I don't know why I look so grumpy in this photo, actually I do, it's the sun. It was so glarey that I couldn't keep a straight face. It happened to be about the most perfect day for our whole trip. Please notice I am wearing a t-shirt and THE SKY IS BLUE! What bliss! Janet and I took a moment out of a very long day of walking to enjoy a choco banana; a fresh banana covered in chocolate - YUM!

We headed off to the world heritage site of Daigo-ji for a famous cherry blossom parade (more about that later). Anywhere there is a parade or festival, you can sample some of the delights of the area. This guy is making a kind of biscuit with nutty beans. They were actually delicious!

I love the above restaurant. I found it in the lonely planet easily and then had to find it within the 'real' city of Kyoto. That was last autumn. Anyway, I had to visit again this spring. It is a tempura restaurant. Tempura is practically anything dipped in batter and deep fried. Sounds greasy I know but it isn't. Sooooo yummy and crispy.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Ryoan-ji garden, Kyoto

This could quite possibly be the most famous Zen, dry stone garden in Japan. The day we visited it wasn't dry however as it was raining on and off. I had heard that it was quite beautiful in the rain as the water brings out the colours of nature. It was stunning (my third visit) but I would have been happier with blue skies! It is thought to have been constructed some time in the 15th century and contains only 15 stones. When you enter the adjoining building, you come across a veranda area where you are free to sit down and contemplate the reason and meaning behind the garden. I just enjoyed the surroundings and quiet amongst the crowds!

Omikuji ~ fortunes

Omikuji is to be found at every shrine and temple throughout Japan. I think it is found at both - definitely at shrines! I would have to say that 99% of these fortunes are in Japanese, in the tourist capitals of Kyoto and Nara you can occasionally find English omikuji. You will notice in the first photo that you can also find Korean and Chinese translations. The process is, pay your money, read the fortune and tie it to a provided frame or any available tree. They are quite pretty when found in abundance. I was lucky in Nara to get a good fortune!
Click on he photo and you may actually be able to read my fortune!

English for the tourists

Janet and I were not too sure if this was supposed to be pointing the way to the laboratory or the lavatory. Either way I say stick to cute pictures of boys and girls... Less confusion then!
I LOVE this sign. It was placed at the beginning of a pond crossing. To cross the pond, you had to leap from one large stone to the next. What fun. Wished my Dad had been there actually. Oh and I was careful of my footing sufficiently and didn't fall in. Lucky!

Ass Parabacon ???

Pete told me recently that whilst he liked the photos on my blog, he thought it lacked reading material. Just for Pete, I plan on writing a few accompanying paragraphs for these photos...

Hmmm. A new found delicious treat. I think it is essentially a fish cake of some kind and at Miyajima, you can buy many different kinds including Ass parabacon. I actually bought this kind and thought it had just the right amount of ass in it. Incidentally, the sign behind isn't advertising a single octopus but octopus flavour!

Wednesday, April 12, 2006


Well I am home...

That has to be the longest I have ever gone without blogging. That is unless I left Japan.

I had my aunt come and visit for 2 weeks and we have been crazy busy (I have taken about 700 film photos!)

We looked around Yamaguchi, Kyoto, Nara, Osaka and Himeji.

Back to school tomorrow. Time to relax and sort out my head.

proper blogging soon - I promise.