Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Cool belt for kids.

They may sell these everywhere, but I just found it today here in Japan.
It loops onto the first belt loops without actually buckling in front of the zipper. It lets little kids wear belts without having to fumble with a buckle.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Asaina Kiridoshi

The sign reads: Asaina Kiridoshi is one of seven opening passes of Kamakura. This pass leads to Mutsuura, an important port supporting the logistics of the capital Kamakura during the Kamakura period.

Under the direction of Yasutoki Hojo the regent of the Kamakura Shogunate Government the constructions work took place in 1241. It underwent numerous repairs since then.

The structure of the pass can still be seen on the large man-made cliff area. Alongside the pass, there are archaeological remains such as Yagura (ceremonial toms of medieval times), man-made cliffs, chiseled flat area and charnel. The Asaina Kiridoshi and its surroundings still convey the atmosphere of the medieval city periphery. March 2009 Board of Education, Kamakura City.

I thought the word "charnel" was a misspelling on the sign, but I looked it up on an online dictionary and it says a charnel house is a tomb, vault, cemetery, or other place where the bones of the dead are deposited; originally, a place for the bones thrown up when digging new graves in old burial grounds. The sign at the trail head said Asaina in English and Hirgana, but a directional sign leading up to here was spelled Asahina. I guess this is a popular mountain biking trail. I'll take more pictures when I actually hike up it. Apparently Kiridoshi means steep slope... I think.

The waterfall at the beginning of the trail.
These may be charnels.

This is the road leading up to Asahina Kiridoshi.
If you're coming from Hokokuji, the bamboo temple in Kamakura, head away from downtown Kamakura. Pass the Eneos gas station. The road will curve a bit to the left. The entrance to Asahina Kiridoshi is marked by a small sign on the right side of the road. There is a very small parking lot at the trail head, but it wasn't open. We were there on a Saturday around noon. I can't imagine when it would be open if it wasn't open then.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Marathon food

People lining the sides of the streets not only cheered on the runners, but they handed out food! These people were handing out the fried goodies I took a picture of below. Not your average long distance running food. In the Naha Marathon, in Okinawa, a soba shop provided bowls of Soba.
I'm sure someone else knows what this is, but it seemed like yakisoba in a fried shell.
The last two food stops on the marathon route had Anpan! I love anpan! It's sweetened kidney beans mashed together and baked inside rolls.
At this stop, they also had raisins and Umeboshi... YAY!!! Umeboshi is pickled plum and it really hits the spot when your physical resources are depleted.

This guy was handing out onigiri, or rice balls.
I bought Ume flavored gel at the Marathon Expo before the race. It is the best flavor of these gels I have ever had! Ume is Japanese plum.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Sideline entertainment at the Tokyo Marathon 2009

Waiting for relief.
There was a television crew doing a live shot right next to where I was standing before the start of the marathon. Everyone around me was really excited to see this guy. Many people were taking photos and yelling things out to him. I was told by a woman next to me that he is Masatoshi Hamada, a very famous comedian here in Japan.
This choir was right at the start line of the marathon. I think they may have performed the Japanese national anthem before the start of the race, but I was too far back to tell.
There were two military bands that I saw on the course. This is the only picture that turned out.
I thought I heard bagpipes! Maybe it was too cold for a kilt.

There were several Taiko groups along the route. They helped speed you up.
This guy was funny. He had a horse mask on his hand that he was making cheer for people.

There was lousy weather at the end of the race, but I saw this whole parking lot filled with kids performing. It was cold and rainy... poor kids.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Tokyo Marathon 2009 - Characters welcome.

The Tokyo Marathon! 東京マラソン
This may have been either the Shinjuku area, or Ginza, or another place altogether. They all kind of ran together. I do believe this was early on in the race though.

There were actually three Supergirls running together, but that picture is too blurry to post. They're fast as a speeding train.

That Japanese school girl (guy) was up with the really fast runners. I guess the skirt helps. The annoying thing about this marathon, was that there were two out and backs so you could see how far behind you were from your friends and people who started with you that you should be running with.


These characters were in front of the Kabuki Theater at the Higashi Ginza area.

I think the one guy was a police officer and I'm not sure what the other guy was. Let me know if you do!
I felt really safe knowing that there were ninjas amongst us. There were these two guys and a pink ninja.

Yes we can! Hello President Obama.

Guy riding a bird.
Tomorrow, sideline entertainment.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Tokyo Marathon - all talk, no pictures.... yet.

I just returned from running the marathon in Tokyo.  I think I will have some neat pictures that will give you an idea of how marathons differ between the States and here.... that is if I am able to move tomorrow.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

First Wood

This hotel was the first thing I saw upon my arrival last April to Japan. The "First Wood Hotel". I kept asking people who were driving to and from Narita to get me a photo, but no one ever got it... until today. I had to take someone to the airport and I was ready! Unfortunately, I was in a low-profile car.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

500 yen for a Happy Family Life... What a deal!

I was waiting for a bus after finishing up a hike when I saw this condom vending machine. It was located on a semi busy road in Hayama. I could see no rhyme nor reason for it being there. It was in front of a little market and across the street from a used car lot and what looked to be a small lumber yard.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Happy (belated) White Day!

March 14th was White Day. It's much like Valentine's Day. They have Valentine's Day here as well, but the women give gifts to the men on that day. White Day is for the women.

We went to Kamiooka where White Day sales abound!

I don't think the stuff above were really part of any White Day sale, but it looked interesting.

Mochicream!!! I was so excited to find one closer to where we live! We had it for the first time back in December.
We bought three different flavors. On the left is Beni imo, or purple sweet potato. There was a whip cream center. Mine was the black sesame one in the middle. On the right is Azuki Bean... can't go wrong with that one.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Dear Marathon runners, please keep your clothes on!

The Tokyo Marathon is next weekend, and I took this directly from their site:

To Runners Planning to Wear Costumes

We understand that wearing of costumes and putting on a disguise is one of the enjoyments to participate in a major marathon event. On the other hand, it might cause the runner itself to fall, and also make the other runners or audience feel uncomfortable.Please be advised that in order to permit wearing of costumes in the future, we request for each runner to understand the circumstances and extend exercise of their sensibility.The organizer will prohibit all costumes stated from 1 to 6 below and other related behavior that may disrupt public order and other standards of decency. In the event that the organizer finds behavior related to this notice the runner will be immediately disqualified from the race. We will not accept any objection upon our decision in relation to this matter.

1. Clothing that may harm others, induce fall, and conduct that may interfere with others.
Example 1: carrying a knife or a sword, wearing armor or costumes with rivets etc.

Example 2: long skirt, kimono etc.
Example 3: holding of hands among the runners

2. Clothing not appropriate for a sporting event that may cause discomfort to others.
Example 1: running naked, wearing of costumes or underwear that may resemble nudity.

3. Wearing of clothing intended to promote political preferences or views, religious belief and advertising of products or establishments other than the event sponsors.
Example 1: sash containing political party or candidate names, religious beliefs.

Example 2: costumes resembling a political or religious figure or merchandise other than the event sponsors.

4. Usage of fireworks, whistle and lighting apparatus etc. that may be used to distract or misguide other runners.

5. Wearing of clothing requesting of a donation or signatures for a petition etc.

6. Other clothing or costumes deemed inappropriate by the event organizer.

This seriously puts a crimp in my plans.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Random stuff.

I got my first, and last I hope, speeding ticket here in Japan. 15,000 yen for doing 61 kilometers in a 40 kilometer zone. I am not admitting guilt, I am simply saying that's what the ticket was for. I wasn't sure how taking a picture during the ticketing process would go, so I didn't do it. The picture below is in the Post Office where I paid the ticket.
The officer gave me a sheet with English instructions before he gave me the ticket. He didn't speak much English and I wasn't sure how much Japanese I should admit to speaking. The officer was extremely polite.

I had seven days to pay the ticket. To pay, you have to go to a bank or a Post Office to pay.
Now that's service! They also stop traffic and bow when you leave the gas station.

This may be other places, but it was my first time seeing it. It's a box of donuts that double as tape dispensers.
Fruit basket and Lyric toilet paper.
"The best assortment for your luxurious time."

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

A nice little run.

There are trails EVERYWHERE here in Japan! This section of a trail is between Zushi and Taura. It's beautiful. It is very soggy right now due to recent rains.
I ran down an almost hidden road in the Taura area and came upon a red Torii gate at a start of this path. It was beautiful, so I followed it up... and up... and up!

On the way up, I passed this little farm tucked into the Taura hills.

These Torii gates were lined up just above the little farm. I didn't count them, but they go on beyond what shows up in the photo. The path actually turns to the left and leads to a small shrine.
This is the shrine at the end of the Torii gates.
I took this photo at the park in Taura (see previous post). I think I caught the trail at Numama and took it to Mt. Futago, then Taura and back to Numama.
This is the pedestrian bridge to cross the expressway and head up to the Taura park.
Looking toward Zushi from the pedestrian bridge.
Apparently they have homes like this in Japan too. Reminds me of some neighbors I have had in the past.
Sake break! Sure, alcohol vending machines are common-place here in Japan, but in this particular area it just struck me as funny.
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