Saturday, January 31, 2009

Kito Kato... More new Kit Kats

Special KitKat for Setsubun.
Lemon flavored. They're white chocolate.
Azuki Sando. This was a regional KitKat that my friend Mel brought me and Katie back from one of her trips. Thank you Mel!!!

This one is also courtesy of Mel. She went KitKat hunting all the way to Singapore!
A mixed bag so you can share with your friends. There are some pretty interesting flavors due out in February!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

There's more to Mt. Takatori than meets the eye!

The last time I hiked up Mt. Takatori (鷹取山)from Jinmuji Station, I just kept right on going through to Oppama Station. Today, I took a different path.
I did take a little detour to see the Magai Butsu (磨崖仏) again.
I can't wait until Spring when the Magai Butsu will really stick out! I took this photo from a viewing platform above where the rock climbers climb on Mt. Takatori. If you look closely, you can see the Buddha in the middle of the picture.

Just follow that path there and head up the stairs to the viewing area.
These tiles on the ground telling you what you can see the various directions. Mt. Fuji (富士山)was not visible today, but a gentleman hiking showed me his pictures of Fuji that he took on New Year's morning. It really is a spectacular view. I have seen it before from the trail there as well.

This picture is a little out of order. This is the Jimmu Temple (神武寺) early on in the hike from Jinmuji Station. I was having trouble making the photos cooperate for me.

From the viewing platform, you can see Landmark Tower in Yokohama.
This is a trail that starts from the rock climbing area. It divides here. It was very cold when I was running the trail, so I stuck to the trail that directed me to the Taura Station. Next time I'll take other trails!
I thought this area was beautiful.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Happy Chinese New Year... from Japan!

video

Even if you didn't make it up to Chinatown in Yokohama to ring in the New Year, fear not! There were Lion Dances this afternoon and there will be more festivities in the near future. If you would like to avoid the crowds and the cold, play the video I took. Most of the time I had to hold my camera really high up to clear the heads in front of me. Check out Yokohama Chinatown's web site (Japanese only) for more information.

Look closely, and you'll see the little oxen in the plants. 'Tis the year of the ox.This is what Chinatown in Yokohama always looks like, so when we got there I was worried I had gotten the dates wrong. We were there 20 minutes before the festivities were to begin. Right before they started, three tour groups and a bunch of people showed up. It made viewing the Lion Dance a bit of a challenge.

Here is the lion dancing into a Chinatown business.
We were standing right next to the percussion section.

The picture above is pre-festivities.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Cave Graves and a big white head.

The trail head lists this area as Kogane Cave Grave 黄金 やぐら. I don't know what that means, and I cannot find anything about it on the web. The trail where these caves are is below, and parallel to the Kinubari Yama Trail. Don't go after it rains, it's not safe.
It was hard for me to believe that this trail was so close to downtown Kamakura. It was very quiet and peaceful.
That white thing in the middle of the picture above is the Ofuna Kannon (below). I took the photo below back in May. I intend to go back, so I'll post more about that later.
She's a big statue! You can see her from the train as you near the Ofuna station.
Fuji san was very clear this morning. I saw many photographers along the Kinubari trail.


Obama shirts for sale in downtown Zushi.

Aaaah! Birds!!!

The birds here are insane! They are everywhere. We took some bread out in our backyard because we saw one bird, a hawk, circling above. We threw one small part of a piece up in the air and had a bunch of new friends.
If you look really closely, you can see a small piece of bread on the right third of the picture.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

I see dead people.

We went up to view cadavers in Kawasaki today.  It really was neat, but no photos allowed :(

I think it was called Jintai, Mysteries of the Human Body.  Here is a link to an article written a couple of years ago about this.

If you're interested, take either a JR or a Keikyu Train to their respective Kawasaki stop and head to the 0101 building.  Tickets are available for purchase for 1500-yen, less if you print out a coupon from their web site, on the 2nd floor.  Head up to the 4th floor and enjoy all the body parts.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Welcome to the International Space Station...

...right here in Japan!
We made a trip up to the Odaiba area to visit the International Space Station. These high schoolers are entering into a mock up of part of the ISS at Miraikan.

Space toilet!

This is a replica of a private room in the International Space Station. The blue bag on the left is a sleep sack. The astronauts zip themselves into it to sleep.

The above reads, "Japanese Space Foods. Foods made in Japan and authorized in 2007 for the first time for use by astronauts."

Tuna with Miso Sauce space food.
Soy Sauce Ramen.
These are the two packages of space food we bought. I'll take pictures when we eventually open the packages.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Obama coverage here in Japan.

video

This aired Wednesday morning at 06:00 which is 16:00 Tuesday afternoon in D.C.

The live coverage led the Tokyo newscasts this morning and continued throughout the news hour in a little box while they moved on to other news.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Robots!!! We are in Japan, dontcha know?

There will be future posts from Miraikan. There was so much to see and do that I want to break different sections down into separate posts.
Above is ASIMO. You may have seen her on the news. She is a robot that moves kind of like a human. It kind of troubled me a bit. When she walked toward us I kept thinking, "Must kill humanoid!"

She is kicking a ball in the photo above. It is just a regular ball, it just looks like a glowing ball in the picture.

video

If you go, you can catch the ASIMO show at 11:00 and 14:00. It is worth seeing it!

This may not be the best picture to show it, but the above little vehicle kind of floats above that track. It works on magnets. Those kids are controlling it.

More fun with magnets! You can control these little hover-craft like things.
This is another robot demonstration.
This display is kind of neat, even if those dolls are kind of creepy. There are two microphones on either side. When you talk into them, the dolls and the robot appear to be you talking.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Space Food, Japanese Style!

This post is a preview. We went to the International Museum for Emerging Science today and I'm a little too worn out this evening to do a complete post. For now, please enjoy some Japanese freeze-dried Japanese food. We bought the Takoyaki flavor and the Daigaku Imo flavored one.

Look! Space Curry! They only had beef flavor.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Shakado Kiritoshi 釈迦堂切通し

Shakado Kiritoshi is a really beautiful, almost secret place in Kamakura. You can get to it driving if you are very, very brave and there is no parking. Katie and I drove to it a few months ago, but today I walked. I recommend walking. The entrance is just 1.9 kilometers from Kamakura Station or 400 meters from Hokokuji.
According to another website, the tunnel was built around 1200. It is very large. There were no people walking through this morning, so I couldn't use them for scale. The pictures below are from the Kinubari Yama trail. Shakado Kiritoshi is not on the trail, but they are not far from each other. I think they were only 500 meters apart.
There are caves all over Kamakura. This one is quite big. It is just under the peak on Kinubari Yama. When you get to the highest point on the trail you have to make a decision between a trail and stairs. If you choose the stairs to get down, you'll come across this big cave.
The other side of Kinubari Yama is a beautiful dense forest.
This was the view from Kinubari Yama. Fuji wasn't visible this morning.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Sagami Bay

I saw a photo from this location on Google Earth and dragged my friend Katie with me to navigate. Let's just say we found it on the way back. It was worth the wait though... in my opinion.
I love this view of Mt. Fuji. I took it from Rt. 207. It is about 5km north of Tateishi.
I tried to crop the white lighthouse out of all of my photos, but this one snuck through. The lighthouse is known as the Yujiro Lighthouse in commemoration of Yujiro Ishihara. Ishihara was an actor who died in 1987.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

The Cultural Center at Shonan-dai

Feel free to touch everything!!!
What a fun place! It is called the Cultural Center at Shonan-dai. Right now the planetarium and star theater are closed for repairs. That is what is in that big globe. No worries. There is still plenty to do!
We had the whole place to ourselves until three different preschools came in. Believe it or not, there was still plenty to do without stepping on each other's feet.
Those kids above are playing in the Forest area. I would call it a prehistoric area. Those are dinosaur eggs they are climbing through.
The second floor of the Children's Center is the Loop Gallery. It is filled with different things about space. They have a video gallery, computer games, and a "terescope" of infrared rays among other things. Unfortunately, if you don't speak or read Japanese, you may be a little lost up here.
Back downstairs now. In this area, you can paint up your face. There are a bunch of photos pinned above the mirrors and you can make your face up to look like them if you choose.
This area is called, "Musical Instruments of the World". There are a few instruments in glass cases, but the rest are open for you to try any of them out. There are plenty of drums, but my favorite are all the instruments you play by plucking them with your thumb.

Near the forest area is this honeycomb. You're not really supposed to climb on it, but it was comically big and I like comically big things.
What are you looking at?
This! This area had a bunch of different lenses to alter things.
These pyramids have things you can look through and see different things. There are also little experiments in between the pyramids. There are kaleidoscopes, a microscope that kids can manipulate on their own to see what different things look like magnified. There is also a fun-house mirror.
This is the Costumes of a World area. Take off your shoes and see what you look like dressed as an Egyptian child.
There is also an area called "Toys of the World" where you can play with toys from all over the world. The whole place is very hands on.
Admission is 300-yen for adults. Adults are considered high school age and above.
100-yen for kids from the age of 6 to high school.
Kids under the age of 6 are free.
It's closed on Mondays.
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