Wednesday, May 31, 2006
I went out locally with some friends to see the fireflies. Firefly season begins as it starts to get humid again; now! I really love walking amongst the fluttering insects. It is better than Christmas. Actually think of Christmas tree lights or the lights at the front of a house but many, many more... and they move around. It was so beautiful. Fireflies are so easy to catch. At one stage, I think I had about 15 in my hands.
I think I may go out again tonight.
Friday, May 26, 2006
Thursday, May 25, 2006
I feel the need to explain the following movie. Matt, Crystal and I headed over for dinner at Alison, Testuo and Elizabeth's house last Sunday night. Their place is huge and fully renovated. Down stairs is very Japanese and upstairs is quite western. Down stairs they even have a teppan grill (like an indoor bbq). You can sit around the grill and cook/eat anything that takes your fancy. We had the most delicious okonomiyaki. YUM! After about four hours of eating, chatting and drinking, we decided to move to the tv room. Testuo has set up a wide screen computer that also acts as a tv. He even has a karaoke system. Very cool.
So, about Matt... He is American and actually spent a chunk of time in good old Aus, and seems quite fond of his memories of his time there. He actually knows the song Waltzing Matilda. We were both very excited to find it in the karaoke book. Matt had drank quite a lot of Japanese wine by the time he attempted the song. Bless him... he really did a good job but the lyrics were really wrong. We were all laughing pretty hard by the end.
Alison, Tetsuo and Elizabeth, thanks for another wonderful night at your place.
Wednesday, May 24, 2006
Monday, May 22, 2006
I'm (so and so).
I like (so and so).
I play (so and so).
One of the funniest students I know, walked confidently up to me and said,
"I'm Tom Hanks. Nice to meet you."
I laughed so hard.
PS... These kids are around 12 years old.
The crickets were chirping.
The bats were clicking.
I got home quite late last night (just after midnight). When I opened my car door, I was surprised to hear such a lot of noise right in the middle of the night. The afore mentioned animals were all hard at it. They were really trying to out do each other.
I climbed my stairs happily thinking about the turn in weather and hoped to myself that there were not creepy crawlies at my door. The porch light was off and I fumbled with my keys for quite a while. I eventually stumbled inside and caught sight of something lying right beside where I had been standing seconds before. The small furry object was illuminated by the inside light. I opened the door a fraction more and noticed a teeny tiny bat. He seemed to be resting or sleeping right at my door. He was seriously lucky that I didn't step right on him. Actually, I am lucky too, as I would have got a terrible fright and perhaps even screamed.
He was gone this morning. I wonder where his day bed is? I wonder if he will be back?
Sunday, May 21, 2006
Saturday, May 20, 2006
PS I think I bought almost the entire outfit being modelled - though not the jacket!
Wednesday, May 17, 2006
Friday, May 12, 2006
Wednesday, May 10, 2006
Sunday, May 07, 2006
Throughout the Iya valley, we stumbled across bridge after bridge. This was a particular favourite. It is actually a walking bridge. A mighty feat of engineering that doesn't seem to lead to much at all. Beautiful view though.
The peeing statue. Everyone stops to take a photo of this very European statue in the middle of Japan. He is perched precariously on the edge of a very deep valley. It was actually pretty with the low rain clouds. Everything was so green and clean.
There is one particularly famous bridge, and hoards of people were there to look and walk across it. There is a purpose built car park close by which was also quite amazing. Alex and I stopped for a look but didn't cross. We were holding out for the lesser known 'Husband' and 'Wife' bridges in East Iya. These bridges hang side by side. The husband bridge being the larger of the two (of course... sheesh).
Me, balanced on Mr Bridge.
It wasn't that scary but you had to hold on. I found it exciting, trying to balance and juggle 3 cameras at the same time. Please notice how wide the steps are. My foot could quite easily fit between those planks!
Holding on carefully. As I said, not that hard. The funny thing was watching a tough bikey walking slowly across. He was holding on for dear life. He looked really scared!
Though difficult to see, each bridge is reinforced throughout by metal cord. The bridges themselves, are replaced every three years.
The scarecrows were even scattered up the hillside behind the houses. They went for miles.
This one has no face but most were amazingly life-like and detailed.
These two lovely ladies were just inside the house. They had perfect manners!
Sitting down for a nice cup of tea with the family. Hehehe
Some fellows enjoying the sunshine from the porch.
Friday, May 05, 2006
Chiiori, is a 300 year old mountain farm house set on a steep incline. Even the drive up to it was a struggle for my little yellow plate car, I can't imagine what it must be like to walk or ride there.
There are not many luxuries but I like it that way. I felt like I was camping within an old house, actually it was exactly that. There are two original, traditional fire places within the house. These have to be lit daily to help cure the thatch roof and keep away animals and creepy crawlies. The fires make Chiiori a very smoky place in which to be, but oh what fun. The thatched roof costs somewhere in the vicinity of $200,000 to replace and needed to be replaced about two years ago. Alex talks about the last rethatching in his book. This occurred 18 years ago. The thatching should last around 50 years if cured properly. For approximately 10 of the last 18 years, Alex used the house only occasionally and therefore lit the fires occasionally. As a result the roof needs rethatching now!
If you want to get clean, you have to drive approximately 25 minutes down the road to the local onsen. The onsen itself was a real treat. It belongs to a hotel. You take the lift to the third floor, at this point, you can take an indoor bath or get on a cable car and travel up the cliff for the rotenburo (outdoor bath). The rotenburo is set in the cliff face and was a wonderful experience.
You walk down to Chiiori from the car park. Lots of fun, especially at night when we went to the onsen. Lots of us tried to walk by the light of our mobile phones. This was quite difficult as I am sure you can imagine what little light phones actually give off!
The resident dog, Jackie Chan. Jackie has been living at Chiiori the longest of all the volunteers. He was lovely. Dad, you would have loved him!
The tomatoes pictured above are quite expensive. Can you see the box in the top left corner? They are priced at 25,000 yen. For those of you in Australia, that is about $300 for the box. Needless to say, I didn't try any to see if they really were delicious!
Yum! Sweet potatoes.
Yum. More potatoes. I think the ones on the right are mountain potatoes (Japanese). Different but yum.
Umeboshi... Not yum. I don't like them. Pickled plums. Pretty colours though.
Ahhhh. Japanese knives!
Thursday, May 04, 2006
Note : The above photo includes the front of the ferry (left) and the back of the ferry (right). Sorry, I don't know the technical names!
Note 2 : Japan is made up of four main islands; Honshu, Kyushu, Hokkaido and Shikoku. Shikoku is the smallest. Honshu is the largest (and where I live). I have now been to three of the four, having missed out on Hokkaido!