Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Interesting Bird: Kakapo

The Kakapo is indiginous to New Zealand and is quite endangered. This photo is a bunch of young Kakapo from the Kakapo Recovery project website. I remember learning about them from high school biology class in an animals of New Zealand film. I think they're cute.


http://humortrain.com comedy

I used to have a tortoise... it escaped. It would eat anything.


From http://humortrain.com

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Things to do in Chubu #5: Gero Hot Spring Town

Things to do in Chubu (Central Japan) #5: Gero Onsen Hot Spring Village

Acessible via train from Nagoya, or the Japan sea-board city Toyama. Also near Takyama folk village. 
This is a more expensive trip than the others I post on my blog, if you stay overnight and factor in train fare to the destination, as it's tucked in seclusion in the mountains of Gifu. Very scenic and there are lovely spas in a variety of price ranges. But I find many of them expensive as the Japanese hot spring resort experience often involves food service in your room. The food's delicious, but room service is expensive in any country! I stayed at the Miyabitei Grand Hotel. It had great views and a great rooftop bath.

I'm still looking for my perfectly natural and stinky hot spring in Japan but have yet to find one that has notes of sulfur or lithium. But for a free time trip it's a good escape.

  1. The area around the station after snowfall, December 2011

More around the station.

The interior of our room, prepared for our arrival sweet snacks and hot green tea. 

The view from the room, town side.

We went with family friends and had a great time! 

Cute wares available in souvenir shops.

Hotel Miyabitei was nicely decorated. The experience may be difficult for someone who doesn't know Japanese, or may be just fine. I did all the exchanges in Japanese. Primarily they want to know what time you want your dinner, and we had complimentary use of a private bath as well for my husband and I, which the time for also had to be reserved.

More of the lovely decorations in the hotel lobby.

In Japanese, Gero is the sound that frogs make, so frog statues can be scene throughout the village. This is an Ashiyu bath where you may soak your feet for free. 

More of the foot bath.

It's a quaint town, and looks lovely in the winter and spring. Make that any season.

And we'll close with a winter view. 

Napoleon Dynamite Kip Create

Sometimes I feel like this in front of my children students...

"I am Kip Create and I am here to dazzle you"--- *blank stares*

Napoleon Dynamite TV Show Address Song

Napoleon Dynamite Address Song (From the television show which was aired on FOX but unfortunately didn't continue for long) It always had me in stitches! Love it!

Things to do in Chubu #4: Showa Village

Things to do in Central Japan (Chubu) #4 
Showa Village at Minokamo, Gifu

Showa "Village" is a little historical replication town from the same family as Meiji Village and Little World in the Gifu, Inuyama (just outside of Aichi) area. It is supposed to bring back memories of life during the Showa Era, or 1926-1989 (Apparently Godzilla and the original gameboys are already getting outdated so it's time to enshrine the memories of the time period at this park.)

Most of the replicas seem to focus on 50s/60s items such as television sets. Overall it's just a big park where you can walk around, stretch your legs, and see painted buildings. It cost money to enter but was not so expensive. Next to the park there is a Michinoeki.

They have some animals, which, perhaps it were best they didn't as the pens seemed a bit small and I can't imagine an alpaca enduring the summer in Japan, but overall it was a nice day out to stretch your legs and escape some of the smog of the big river delta that is Aichi and Mie prefecture.

Enjoy these photos, taken during springtime.

Max standing before a mock tea plantation. The tea bushes are real. It was nice.

House related to the tea plantation. Most buildings house small shops where you can pick up basic Japanese snacks like Dango (rice balls on a stick), meat on a stick, or oden fish cakes. 

Various activities are available for an additional but reasonable cost, such as ceramic pot throwing on a wheel, or simlpy painting already made pieces. 

Apprently people were really happy and really bright during the Showa Era.

There are murals throughout the park.

A schoolhouse, or building done in a traditional style.

A bus/train runs around the park and you can wait for it at little shack like stations like this.

The alpaca.

Small Animals "Encounters" Area

Look at the cute alpaca face! 

Room to roam if the city gets too tight for you!

A little house where you can watch rice pounding.

The pounding.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Things to do in Chubu #3: Swimming and Barbecue at Itadori River

Things to Do in Central Japan (Chubu) #3 
Swimming and Barbecue in Scenic Gifu! 

We went to Itadori river, which is accessible via Minokamo city. It's scenic and has a little pull off where you can drive riverside to set up your base camp to barbecue This area is not very accessible by train and I'm not sure about the bus. The train stops here and there among the villages making its way from Gifu city to the famous hot spring town Gero, and the train usually continues to Takayama. This excursion is best made with friends and locals during summer, or whenever it is warm enough to go into the river. The water is clean enough for the tasty river fish called Ayu. Restaurants which serve the fish fresh have sprung up along the highways, if you can find out where they recommend to go. It is served grilled, broiled, and fried.

 It's like a little fair, with restaurants and small snack stands along the highway that is next to the river and the pull off area. This is an octopus dumpling (Takoyaki) stand. 

That's what the pullover area looks like. Lovely!

With friends, riverside! 

On a cloudy day but in summer, still so hot you can go in anyway. 

Here are fried ayu! Delcious! Must admit that I would have been clueless how to eat this if I didn't have my Japanese friend's dad to teach me how to pull the bones up and prep them, if you will, for eating.

Things to do in Chubu #2: Ichinomiya Tower

Things to do in Central Japan (Chubu) #2

Ichinomiya 138 Tower Park

Location: Ichinomiya City:
Train/Bus Accessibility: No train access, access via Ichinomiya station and requires a bus, taxi, or ride from a friend to get there. 
Best time to travel: Any season. Escape the heat of the Nagoya 'burbs next to the nearest river. Ichinomiya tower park is right next to one and remember feeling relief there during the oppressive heat of summer. In winter the gardens are lit "winter illumination" with Christmas lights creating a romatic or family fun environment. Flower gardens are tended in late summer and early fall (we saw cosmos) 
Cost: Going to the top of the tower on a clear day will give you a view of Ichinomiya city and likely all the way to Nagoya. But trust most days are overcast and fog and pollution often obscures the view. If you go after a typhoon you can see Nagoya and beyond to the ocean, and lovely view of mountains in neighboring Gifu prefecture. 
   An adult is 500 yen; children, students, and seniors have discounted fare. 

Ichinomiya 138 Tower and Surrounding Grounds Park, Fall Season (Early October) 

Sunset at Ichinomiya 138 Tower Park

Cosmos planted, grown up in the fall season.

Another view of the tower.

View of a Ferris Wheel, Gifu Prefecture mountains. Kinka mountain is visible but Gifu castle is not in this photo.

Kiso-gawa (Kiso-River) is not for swimming. 

Exciting news! My friend Kenston from high school came to the park and liked it! "It was pretty."

With the hubby, can't you see how romatic a place Ichinomiya tower is? Its like our own little Eiffel Tower park, eons away from Paris.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Things to Do in Chubu #1: Hiking Kinka Mountain at Gifu City

Things to do in Chubu #1: Hiking Kinka Mountain at Gifu City
(From the side of the park opposite the ropeway station)

 This is the park at the entrance of the east side of the park. It's more oriented toward locals and there is free parking! On the other side with access to the ropeway, parking is sparse and there are fees. 
 There is a shrine at the entrance to the park. This was waiting in the stone lantern.

 All kinds of little creatures to notice on the walk up, including my favorite family of decomposers: Mushrooms. I wouldn't eat these if I were you.

 Various trails are connected from that trail, this sign is directing us to Gifu castle, for those who really want to be on top! 

 The view from the cliff side of the trail where there is a fork partway up. This is on a basic, misty, smoggy day in the Gifu. Just recently I went up after the typhoon. For a spectacular view, wait for a typhoon to wipe the smog of the auto industry away.

 This is no "walk in the park." The first time you come you may feel like it is better for mountain goats. This is on the "cliff" side of the trail. You may have to crawl up on all fours. But it's worth it for awesome views and actually proably if you attempted a second time you wouldn't feel it so difficult.

 This is from a clearing near the entrance to the ropeway (for those who don't want to hoof it up the mountain like mountain goats). The tower is in the town I'm living in. This was on a basic smoggy day. Again, when I went here after the typhoon, you could see to Nagoya and you could even see the bay/ocean in the distance.

My favorite part: there is ice cream at the top. But in the fall there are also mosquitoes. So you should come fully clothed and fully prepared to protect your face, as you can see one got me right in my forehead. >.< D'oh.

I rate it a difficult hike for someone who has never hiked before, but unless you have a condition then it is totally worth preservering to get to the top!