fra-foa

Reading another blog, they mentioned going to a concert headlined by Chisako, the former singer of the Japanese band fra-foa. I have a passing interest in Japanese culture, mostly after visiting a few years ago, but I found this band quite interesting, They’re labeled as pop-rock, but it’s not what I’m used to in the USA. It is darker and the live concerts were full of raw emotion (now that I’ve read some more, I realize that was one of their trademarks).

Day in the Mountains

Hello all, well we had an experience yesterday. It was another gorgeous day & we took advantage of it. We planned on driving up the mountain & then hiking view 3 Falls. Well, first off the road going up the mountain was a two lane road that should have been one way! It was narrow…that is the first picture. The higher we went up the narrower it seemed to get. Thankfully we did not meet but 2 trucks in the road & that was at times we could pull off. Though, one was on the side of the mountain, but the road had been widened in turns & sharp curves. We were suppose to “turn right by the cabin”–we never found “the cabin”. So, we kept going up the mountain until we started heading down the other side. Stephanie turned the van around in the widest section of the road we could find. We laughingly joked that we would get cross ways the road & get stuck..but she made it. Hit the back end of the van against the side of the mountain–but we got turned around. No damage to the van & the kids were fine. So we make our way back down the mountain we had just climbed & I took pictures.
Once down the mountain, we decided to go to Kintai & eat our picnic lunch there. But first we would hike up to Iwakuni Castle. It is not a good sign when the first slope you come too is the steepest part of the hike. Because that one slope is a good bit of the first few minutes. We reached the top with no problem though. The picture of Stephanie, MDF & myself is at the cable car hut (yes you can opt to take a cable car up & down to the Castle…we thought the hike would be nice.) Around that clock is diamonds built in the walkway with various places & the distance in kilometers.

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Clock, halfway up the mountain

The next picture is of Iwakuni Castle. I was sitting on a bench looking up at it. It provided a great view of the city, as you can tell in the following picture. Stephanie was able to get us in front of the Castle.

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Iwakuni Castle

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View from the mountains.

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Iwakuni Castle again

By the time we hiked down, we were all ready for our picnic lunch. We were able to find a cute little hut to eat at.

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Picnic at the bottom of the mountain.

When we came back to the apartment all of us girls took naps. We have some soreness in our hips & JF’s knees are a little sore but other than that we are doing fine & thinking of walking along the sea wall later today.
We are going to a Spring Bazaar this afternoon (Friday) and for dinner we are going to Stephanie’s favorite restaurant-Gnesh. It’s an Indian restaurant, so it will be interesting. I’ll let you know how we liked it

Mountain Climbing

Today we tried to go to a place called “Three Falls.” The instructions said to go to the top of the mountain, turn right at a cabin, and we’d be there. So off we drove.
Now I ought to mention that most roads have a speed limit of 40 or 50 kph — which is only about 25-30 mph. It sounds slow, but most roads here would be narrow one-lane roads back in the States. 30 miles-per-hour is fast enough around here.
Anyway, so we headed up the mountain, and the road kept getting narrower and narrower, and it curved. And eventually it became a curvy, one-lane road with a mountain on on side, and a big drop on the other. Actually it was a two-way, one-lane road… more on that later. So we kept getting higher, but we never found a cabin and a right turn. Eventually we got as high as the road went and started down the other side of the mountain.

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Going up the mountain.

At each curve in the road there was a mirror so one could see if anyone was coming from the other direction before going around the curve. We were alone on the narrow road until we started down the other side. Then we almost ran head on into a little Japanese truck. Fortunately our “lane” was on the inside, beside the mountain… so we moved over to let him pass… which he did. I’m sure at least one wheel was dangling over the side of the mountain as he went by.
After that excitement we decided we need to turn around. So we drove a little more until we found a section of road with a guard rail and that was a little wider than before. We made the turn, barely, and started back. We never did find the “Three Falls,” but didn’t mind settling for the “Three Rapids in a Stream” that we passed on the way back.

A Walk and Dinner

Yesterday (Wednesday) was a down day. We spent the morning watching Abigail and MDF. We did walk over to Vasco’s office to take care of some paperwork for the house. After lunch we went for a walk on the sea wall.
For supper we went to the NCO club for “Mongolian Night.” We got to make our own stir fry dish, picking from a selection of meats, vegetables, and toppings. I chose some turkey meat, Chinese cabbage, bell pepper, carrots, and mushrooms. We payed by the ounce for the meat and vegetables (I got over a pound!), and then added as much rice as we wanted and seasoned to taste. Then we took the bowl outside for the chef to cook on the grill.
We got a lot of food, making it ourselves that way, and I was the only one who finished his plate. Actually the others only ate about half theirs! It was a lot of food. CDF thought her’s needed more seasoning and Vasco said that the only person who ever got the seasoning right was Stephanie.

Miyajima Continued…

Here is the rest of the pictures from Miyajima.
The first is of a shrine to some god. There is a link I will also include at the bottom if anyone is interested in learning more about Miyajima. We did not go through the shrine for a couple of reasons–first it cost $3 & second we don’t believe in other gods, hence, there is no point in dabbling in it.

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The next picture is of what we think is a newlywed couple having their traditional wedding pictures done. At first people were taking pictures of the woman alone–and I thought (the 3 of us thought) she was a professional model on a shoot. Then we saw the man–assumed they were professional models. Until this picture–and we realized that would be like a wedding kimono. She had just taken off her head dress or round hat & I got this picture with no one else in the picture–very hard. I found this very interesting.

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The third picture is of a working shrine. We saw people actually burning incense & praying to gods & using the shrine. The large bowl type front & center is the incense. Then you had various “stations” to pray & burn more incense at.

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This concludes the pictures of Miyajima. Here is the link to learn more.

Miyajima

Today, Wednesday, we took a trip to the Island of Miyajima. We drove up & rode the ferry over. It was a ton of walking –but I think it has been my favorite so far. There were little shops (it is more of a tourist place) and I was able to talk to the shop owners & buy a “handkerchief” (which I plan on using as the center of a quilt for our bed) and a small saki porcelain cup–which will be added to our shot glass collection. The shop owners were most helpful with my purchase of the handkerchief. And I paid for it!! I am so proud of myself because up until now JF or Stephanie had been doing the buying. They were both busy with the girls & I was free to look & browse & for once on this trip had money in my pocket! I was careful of how I spent the money–we used the last $6.50 on ice cream cones! J
About Miyajima. It is an island a little north of Iwakuni & is between here & Hiroshima. There are wild deer that eat out of your hand & are completely friendly–a tad aggressive though. They flock to whoever has food or may have food. MDF liked them from a distance–until one started being rather pushy for the food in her hand & followed her around. Then she got scared. However, she did enjoy running around with them (no food in her hands).

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The first picture is of our boat loading dock & another boat that looks like the one we took over. The large blue & white boat with a M in red is the ferry boat.

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The next picture is: JF showing MDF how to feed the deer. Very tame…later I discovered I could be a deer hunter. We were trying to eat a picnic lunch & the pesky animals kept trying to eat lunch with us…only we had to provide their food too! I soon got tired of them & no longer found it cute. In the next picture you can see how MDF reacted to the deer when it got too close.

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JF was able to take some really nice shots of her playing around. As you can see with her taking a short breather.

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The following picture is of the Tori gate. When the tide is low you can walk out & stand under the gate.

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Behind the Chicken Shack

The area behind the Chicken Shack was very pretty. A path went around the various buildings and across another waterfall and stream. Across a rock bridge was a “Buddha in a Bib.” Apparently people weren’t deterred by the bib and put Yen there for good luck anyway.

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Buddha in a Bib

Chicken Shack

Hello! We went to a place yesterday that is in the mountains & is known as the Chicken Shack. There is a restaurant that you can eat at & shops that you can walk through. The shops sell anything from food to knick-knacks. The weather was nice–a little drizzly but was fine for what we did.

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The first picture is of houses that we passed on the way. I am shocked at how close the homes are around here! And not only that they have 3 & 4 generations living in one house because owning a home is so expensive. Can you imagine?! Not only are the homes close to each other (some roofs over lap others!) they are right on the street as well! Literally, there is the road & then a house in some places. Others there is a small patch of curbing (if you can call it a curb) and there is the yard. They plant gardens down the way a bit & it is more of a community type garden. Everyone pitches in together & reaps together. Some have their own plots.

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The next picture is of a typical Japanese restaurant–pillows for chairs & a small table. This is looking into the Chicken Shack restaurant–MDF & I were curious. All around the area they had wood burning & tea pots going. I don’t know if you could drink from the pots–but I do know the smell brought back memories of hog killing days my family used to do! I thought I would be too young to remember but I asked Stephanie & sure enough it does. Not only that I was also looking for the cracklin’ pot! J Yea good memories.

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The next picture is of MDF & me in front of some very pretty flowers & Japanese figurines. The flowers by my knees are cut & floating in water. It was a very nice area. The following is of the 3 of us directly across from where MDF & I were just standing. Final picture–snack time for MDF. The Chicken Shack is the building behind me.

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More About Hiroshima, Part 2

We went back to the Peace Park to go to the Hiroshima Museum. It covered the devastation that happened in the city when the atomic bomb was dropped and then recovery after the war. It also had some exibits about nuclear war in general. It was a sobering experience to see again what kind of damage atomic weapons do. MDF hurried us along through the museum, but we managed to see enough of the exibits and make a new record for time viewing the exibits (about 45 minutes I think).
On the way back to the park we were passed by a number of grade school marching bands that were parading in the street. Some of the Japanese children were dwarfed by their instruments, but they were all good musicians for their age.
After we sat in the park for a while, the decision was made to go back to shops once more, mainly to visit Deodeo, an “electronics and more” store. The store had about 10 floors, each having a different department (computers, lighting, audio, etc). On the ground floor they had lots of digital cameras on display. I stopped and looked at a number of different brands, Canon, Nikon. I even got to try out one I had been interested in, a Pentax *ist D.