Tuesday, July 29, 2008


Between Osaka and Nagoya, along the Kintetsu rail is a city called Nara. Nara, of course, is very famous and known for wild deer and temples, and near Nara is a small city called Nabari.This gets kind of confusing, if you transfer at Nakagawa station and take that train to the left, you can go to a more small station called Akameguchi and this is where I found myself this past Sunday with a couple of co-workers, trying to find a waterfall park. Looking at the map of the Kintetsu rail line that serves much of Japan south of Nagoya, we picked is location almost at random, over that of Nara and a beach south of Toba. Getting off the train, we really had no idea where we were or how to get to the waterfall park, which is actually called "The Akame 48 Waterfall Park," but there was this sign to help out:So, lets look at this sign. We were at Akameguchi station, up there in the upper left. The first leg of the trip was down the left edge of the sign, more or less you were suppose to pass all those land marks on the map, but it also turned out the path was well marked with wooden arrows on post. The second part of the hike was through the waterfall park, it was not completely obvious, but you needed to follow those arrows that pointed at each other on the map. And the last section of the hike was on the upper right of the map, no big deal, it just kind of looks like there was no train station over there. And we were also not quite sure what that white paper was covering. The walk from the station to the entrance of the park was about 4km, all of which one of my friends keep saying, "watch, when we get there, there will be a large parking lot full of cars, and bus'."Well, who would of thought, there was the large parking lot, bus' all over the place, even taxi's But it was okay, the walk was worth it, it was a tour of a small farming city that you would not normally walk though. Bus service to the park was provided by JR rail system, so the Kintetsu did not really advertise it.

Just beyond that building up there was the entrance of the park, it cost about 3 bucks to get in there. To borrow from the Nabari City website, this how they describe the park: The Akame 48 waterfalls is in the south of Nabari City which is located in the Muro Akame Aoyama national park. The akame 48 waterfalls are well known for picturesque scenery. They were chosen as one of the hundred most beautiful waterfalls and best for bush walking. It is an area abundant with precious wildlife. And they are right, here is the first waterfall you see when you enter the park:The park is about 90% really easy paths to walk and the remaining 10% is rock carved stairs, rooted paths and kind of slippery ground. Which is a good thing, because a bunch a people along the route were wearing poor hiking shoes and high heels. Here is a view of an easier path to walk seen from a more difficult path to get too:Here I am, about 2km into the park. I think the total length of the park was about 8km, mostly uphill (mountain). But even at this point in the hike, I was starting to feel tired, it was over 94 deg's and humid, but I'm not complaining...Here are a couple more of the waterfalls:About 5km in was this waterfall:I think to see the rest, please plan on a visit. If you notice, no one is swimming in the water, even though it's really hot. Well, it's a rule.

At the end of the hike, we popped out on a road. We were planning on taking a bus back to the train station, which was 7km away and went around the mountain, but there was no bus. Well, this is what we thought, we asked this lady who was selling tea and cola, "where is the bus?" and she said "no bus." So we started walking the road back, because there was no taxi's too. But it turns out, about 20 minutes into our walk, the bus passed us. "Crap!" we all kind of thought to ourselves. But we made it back, and when we got home, this was the view of Nagoya from the 40th floor of Nagoya station:

Wednesday, July 23, 2008


I guess the shape of this car is based on Cinderella pumpkin coach:I think it is kind of ugly.


Koban is Japanese for police station, and that is where I found myself upon returning from Detroit to Japan. Typically, talking to the police is fun or not fun. For example, if you are having a BBQ between your condo and garage, and there are some kids walking in the alley with a carton of eggs, you can call 311, be transferred to 911 and there you are, talking to the police. This is fun, because you never know what will happen next. Sometimes, it's the middle of summer and you are sitting on your neighbors stoop, trying to hydrate over a talk story and without warning, crown vic's come racing up from all three directions. This is not fun, because you never know what will happen next, but it's cool when the police determine every one on the stoop is 'US persons.' In Japan, I needed to figure out how to register my new bike.Above is the Koban I ended up going to, it's located at the base of Nagoya station and has 5 cops in there. Not one of which can speak English. On the Internet you can look up how to register a bike if you buy the bike at a bike shop in Japan or from a private seller in Japan. Nothing really covers what to do if you buy a bike in the US and have it flown into Japan and the best way to figure this out is to go right to the source. It was not to much trouble, buy my conversation took about 20 minutes and engaged all 5 police people, in that little room. The conversation, translated into English went something like this: "Hello, I'm Demian." "Hello." "I am from America. I now live in Nagoya. My bike is from American. Now what?......" "What?" "Okay. I just fly here. I have a bike. Here is the receip-to. It is my bike. Now what?" "ahhhhh, hmmmm, what?" "Can I register my bike here." "oh, ummmm, no." "okay. Where can I register my bike?" "Bike shop."

At that point, I ran from the Koban, I think they think I was asking to many questions. But I did end up going to a bike shop near where I work and was able to register my bike. Turns out all you need to do is take your receipt and Y350 to any bike shop and they can write up the license for you. And when your bike gets stolen, the police will stop people at random in an effort to find it. Here is my new ride:If you look, you can see that pivot in the middle. The bike can fold down relatively small, not much larger then the 20" wheels. The idea being, I can fold this thing up and take it on the train when I travel around Japan.This bike works really well too, so far I have been on two trips around Nagoya and you can't even tell you are riding a folding bike. It has full suspension and 8 gears, so it should work well it most places. Kind of a funny note, it was made in China, shipped to California, air lifted to DTW, drove to Dearborn, then again to Canton and back to DTW and then flown back to Nagoya. Basically, I think this bike has to worst carbon footprint in the history of bikes. I'm also thinking about getting a second folding bike and keeping at the train station near where I work. Some thing to ride to and from the office everyday and when friends visit, a second bike I can grab for traveling around with.