A Travellerspoint blog

MARCH REPORT

Festivals and Yokai - My Junior High School Blog

March was a good month for me to see new Japanese festivals.

First, I saw the dolls Japanese families show on girls' day.

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Then later I went to Omihachiman for the fire festival.

This was my first time looking around Omihachiman and it is quite a beautiful place.

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We'll be coming back here again to ride the canal later in the spring, and it should look beautiful with the Cherry Blossom!

The Sagicho Matsuri has 13 or 14 colorful Sagicho floats carried around the streets.

The floats, made of food, straw and wood, are paraded along the streets near the shrine.

This year the theme of the floats was 'Tigers' because it is the Chinese year of the tiger; I was born in 1974 which was also the year of the tiger!

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In the afternoon the teams carrying the floats begin to 'fight' with the.

The floats get damaged, but everybody has a lot of fun.

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There is also a kids parade with smaller floats.

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We also looked at the local shrine and the festival stalls (shops).

Then the bigger floats were put into position for burning.

This is a fire festival and the burning of the floats is the most popular part!

By now there was a real party atmosphere, a big crowd had built up and was waiting for the fires to start.

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The fire burned very bright and strong at the beginning because of all the paper on the floats.

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After the paper,the decorations and wood began to burn too - many people were dancing around the fires.

I went close to take some photographs, and it was very hot!

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Once the fire had burned down the cinders were cleared away by special firemen.

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I really enjoyed the festival, it was really fun.

This month I also did a road trip to Sakaiminato.

This town is famous for GeGeGe no Kitaro.

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We took the highway there and got there in just few hours and saw yokai everywhere!!

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Including many versions of Kitaro himself.

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He's even on the toilet signs.

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The most common yokai art on display are the small bronze statues that line the main street.

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There are 134 of these, and it was a lot of fun trying to find them all.

After leaving Sakaiminato we drove the car by the sea.

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The weather was cold and rainy, but we visited few beaches.

I even took off my shoes and socks to try the water - Cold, very cold!!

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Lastly we visited a big aquarium on the coast.

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For me though, this was the star attraction.

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It's a walrus - and I was surprised how big and heavy it was!

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For me it was amazing to see this animal so close!

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Wonderful creature - and a nice end to the trip.

I hope the weather will get better soon I can travel more!

Posted by DKJM74 01:25 Comments (0)

FEBRUARY:NAGANO KEN

春、雪好き猿が好き!- My Junior High School Blog

I like monkeys!

I like all animals - but I REALLY like monkeys.

They are cute and funny to watch.

So in February Harumi and I took a trip to Nagano Ken to see the Snow Monkeys!!

It was a long trip and we went to Nagano Ken by Shinkansen and express train.

The first night we stayed in Nagano city.

There was a festival of lights that night and it was very pretty.

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The temple buildings were all different colours; red, green, blue or yellow.

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We had a lot of fun in Nagano.

There was even a red London bus there!

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And a place with my name!.

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The next morning we took another train and went to Yamanouchi.

Yamanouchi is a small place by the mountains.

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Getting off the train the first thing you see is –

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Many people come here to see the monkeys and there are pictures of monkeys in many places.

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As we walked in the woods we began to see the monkeys.

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and in the monkey park it’s really easy to get very close to the monkeys.

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The most interesting thing here is the monkey onsen.

You can see monkeys in a nice hot bath.

They are very relaxed and it is easy to take photographs.

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Then we had a look at the park`s small museum, and walked back to the town.

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That night we stayed at a Ryokan with nice onsen.

We a had a large Japanese meal, and I wore a yukata for the first time.

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The onsen was beautiful and very relaxing.

I went into the outside pool at midnight and nobody else was there.

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The next day we had to go home again.

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But we made one more stop in Nagano city to see the temple in the day.

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It was a great trip and we had a wonderful time.

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Posted by DKJM74 18:20 Comments (0)

JANUARY REPORT

My Junior High School Blog

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So, now it is the `Year of the Tiger`- Which is my year!

I was born in 1974 - also `Year of the Tiger`

This year started off quite slowly as teachers had to work even when the students were still at home for the holidays (lucky students)!

So I asked Amano Sensei and Kurumi Sensei to teach me how to play Shogi.

It was very interesting to learn this Japanese game.

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The weather was still bad, so even at the weekend I didn`t want to go outside much, but I did visit the `Botanical Garden` in Kyoto.
Outside it was very cold and grey, but inside the glass house it was warm and colourful.

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However, soon the students came back to the school and the new term began.

For the first year students there was also an exciting snow sports trip to Hakodate mountain.

I was very happy to join the students and learn how to snowboard.

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Snowboarding was great fun and I want to do it more in the future.

I also made an intresting trip to Tsuruga in January.

I went to visit the `Orphanage` there.

An orpanage is a place where children who don`t have any family can live.

These children are called `Orphans` - about 60 orphans live in the Tsuruga orphanage.

I visited with many other JET program ALT teachers.

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These ALTs are from all over Shiga.

First we made paper snow flakes with the children.

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Then we played with them - it was a lot of fun and very tiring.

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The children took my camera from me and took many photographs - some of them are funny!

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ALTs visit the orphanage every month, I hope I will have time to go again and see the children.

I also went hiking with two of my JET friends in January; John and James.

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We walked from Hieizan train station over the hill to Kyoto.

After walking up the hill for a while we stopped to take a look at Enryaku-ji.

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Then we continued over the hill.

On the way we found two very old ski lodges.

We were surprised to see that there was still a lot of ski equipment inside though the building was very old and unused.

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We were very lucky with the weather that day, it was sunny and warm.

Next weekend it was very rainy so I went iceskating with Haru.

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My last trip in January was to see the Lake Biwa Museum on the other side of the lake.

We drove down the lakeside and across the Rainbow bridge.

I was surprised how nice the museum was, there were many interesting things to see.

There were exhibits and replicas of old Japanese village houses.

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There was also a large aquarium where you could see lake fish from all around the world - and the famous Biwako Catfish!

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January was the coldest month yet, and though I had fun I was looking forward to spring and warmer weather.

However, I had a very interesting snowy trip in February - but I`ll write about that next time!

Posted by DKJM74 21:47 Comments (0)

NEW YEAR REPORT

Nagoya Port and New Year in Kyoto - My Junior High School Blog

Today I will write about all my travels from the end of December and New Year.

My last big trip in December was to visit my friend Tomo in Nagoya and to see the Port area.

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The main reason I wanted to visit the Port was to see the large aquarium there.

There are many wonderful large tanks there with a wide range of interesting sea creatures; fish, octopus, mud skippers, shell fish, sea horses, turtles.

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There were also huge tanks with White Whales and Dolphins!

White whales are one of those creatures that just look so happy and gentle it’s a pleasure to watch them.

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Dolphins are always a pleasure to watch as well, they are so naturally playful.

Though it’s difficult to get a good photo of them the right way up, as they delight in shooting across the bottom of the pool upside down, curling up the glass and only going away from you right side up.

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Though we did get a better view of them during their show!

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I like the way you can follow them underwater on the big screen as well :-)

Maybe the most interesting things though were the exhibits about early diving and deep sea creatures.

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While at Nagoya Port we also visited the ship that Japanese explorers used to explore the Antartic;

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Behind the aquarium there was also a small fun fair.

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So we finished the day with a trip to the 'ZOMBIE HOUSE'

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And that was my last big trip of 2009, as the next time I was out it was to celebrate New Year on January 1st.

For that Harumi and I visited Fushimi Jinjya.

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I actually visited this shrine about 2 years ago with my good friend Nik on a holiday in Japan (while I still had long hair!)

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This time it was much busier with all the new year's visitors.

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We made our wishes for the new year.

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Then we explored the paths and shrines on the hill behind the shrine.

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I really like the Inari foxes, there are so many of them, but each has its own little differences.

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However, the best thing for the day was seeing a Tanuki :-)

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OK so it wasn't alive - but it was very cool and made me very happy!!

Well, that's all for now.

I hope that everybody will have a great year in 2010.

There are many things I want to do, places I want to see and projects I want to work on this year.

I hope that you will share these things with me too!

Posted by DKJM74 05:20 Comments (0)

DECEMBER: MIYAJIMA

(School Homework - Translate this page!!) - My Junior High School Blog

After Hiroshima we visted Miyajima.

Miyajima is an island near to Hiroshima.

It is famous for it's oysters, deer and beautiful temple with a huge gate in the water.

To go to Miyajima you take a ferry across the water.

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It was a nice, clear day when we got on the ferry. We could clearly see the oyster pots floating in the water and the mountain peaks of the island.

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As soon as you get off the boat there are many deer walking along the road.

They want the visitors to feed them.

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If you don’t bring food in your jacket pockets, then maybe they will eat your jacket!!

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The deer are really cute, they even ask for food at the local shops - these two deer want some icecream :-)

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After the port where all the deer are there are many small market streets.

Here there are many shops and resturants with interesting things to buy and eat.

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There is even the biggest rice paddle I have ever seen!!

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After the market streets there is a beautiful temple, and many more deer walking around.

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This is also where you can see the famous gate. At high tide it is in the water, but at low tide you can walk out to it.

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When we arrived you could get quite close to the gate, so we got a nice picture

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We also visited the temple.

It is built to stand over the water.

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Inside it is the same red paint and columns seen in so many temples here

But this temple feels very open and fresh. I liked it very much!

It is a popular place with many visitors.

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Inside the island there are many rocky mountains and a lot of forest.

You can walk here, but there is also a cable car to take you to the top of the mountain.

There are two stages to the cable car.

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Going up the first stage we got a gondola to ourselves, so we could really enjoy the view in comfort.

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The second stage used bigger gondolas and goes from one mountain peak to another.

The views are spectacular, you can see the sea and many small islands.

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This cable car station is a great place to look out from, you can see for a long way.

For the end of December the weather was wonderful.

Miyajima is a bit more south, closer to the sub-tropic regions further down the islands, so it is warmer than Imazu.

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From here we walked a twisting path up to a final rocky mountain peak.

It was exciting and mysterious; like an Indiana Jones movie, or level of a Tomb Raider game.

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At the top, after posing for some heroic pictures, we took a nice rest and just enjoyed the view.

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Soon it was time to go back down.

Another hike and two cable cars later we were back down by the temple.

Only now the tide had come in, so we got to see the temple surrounded by water.

It was really beautiful.

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I think Miyajima is the most beautiful place I have visited in Japan.

I recommend everybody to visit Miyajima if you can.

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Posted by DKJM74 02:53 Comments (0)

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