Tuesday, August 25, 2009


Nantai-san is a mountain outside of Utsunomiya in the Nikko national park. The mountain is 2484m and the trail head starts around 1220m, or about a vertical climb of 4000 feet.The climb started out steep and stayed that way to the summit, above is about 20 minutes in and I'm all ready starting to fall apart. At the start of the hike, it was cloudy with a slight mist, you could not really even see the mountain.Towards the middle of the mountain the clouds cleared and you could see lake Chuzenji. Lake Chuzenji is a resort area full of hotels and a small village.This guy was resting towards the middle of the mountain with a group of hikers playing a conk shell. I thought it was nice of him to make a little music for everyone one but also kind of dumb to carry around extra weight and then stand there wasting energy blowing in a conk shell.After about three hours, I found the summit.When I got to the top, I thought to myslef, "damn, this must be one of top ten tall mountains in Japan." But some post research proved that wrong, it's more like top 30 or 40.Above is the valley behind the mountain, the views up here were truly amazing.The return trip was kind of difficult by manageable. All those beautiful clouds turned out to be a little bit rain like.

Gozaisho Hike

Gozaisho is a mountain about a hour outside of Nagoya by bus on the edge of Mie prefecture. The summit is 1212m and the trail head starts around 400 or 500m, not to difficult.I did this hike with a group of people from Nagoya and none of us could figure out how the rock in the middle got perched on top of those other two rocks. Someone theorized the use of a helicopter.Here everyone is trying to get down a more difficult part of the course.Here is a view from the summit.This view was from about 1100m, if difficult to see but off in the distance is Aichi and the metro Nagoya!!If you are feeling a little lazy, but still want to visit the summit, you can take the rope way trolley too. Thanks to the rope-way, at the top of the mountain are a bunch of people wearing high heels and other clothing not really good for rock climbing, it's kind funny.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Asu no Shinwa

This is a mural by Japanese artist Taro Okamoto that was placed in train station in Tokyo called Shibuya.The name of the mural is Asu no Shinwa or 'myth of tomorrow'. It is a depiction of the atomic explosions and was painted in Mexico City during the late 60's. It was painted for a hotel, but I guess the hotel did not work out. After losing the mural for a few years, it was found in storage just outside of Mexico City and restored.Shibuya station is it's new permanent home.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Edo Wonderland

Edo wonderland is kind of like the Greenfield Village of Japan, located near Nikko. But not like Greenfield village, on average things here are 3000 years old, not 300.And actors and visitors don't dress up like farmers and other turn of the century clothing, but more like ninja's. These two are visitors to the park, standing in line for lunchGood news, the BBC has explained the two above... Click here.

Also at Edo wonderland they have many traditional theaters and performances including Orian, the ultimate Geisha theater. The guy below is the host, and guess who he picked from the audience to take part in the show.That's right, me! Now this probably was not by chance, first he explained they needed someone very handsome for the geisha to host, and in a room of 300 or 400 people... Second, I was one of three foreign people and third a friend kept pointing at me, then explained that I can kind of speak Japanese and I wanted to participate. All kind of not true.So here I am on stage being introduced to everyone, in Japanese. I was able to answer a couple of the questions, but a few others he had to whisper to me what he was asking in English. After the introduction was over, I was taken back stage, a few seconds later the curtain open and this is what everyone saw.At this point I'm not really sure whats going on, but you can see the costume they put on me. Nice jacket, wig with bald spot and eye patch. The eye patch went over my good eye. To the left is the host, the two girls you see on stage are the geisha apprentices. After a few minutes of talking, the geisha came out on stage and started to dance.There is actually a story that I kind of understood. The Geisha was under the impression that she was sent to entertain me, a rich millionaire. But after she starts to entertain she discovers that I'm in fact not a millionaire or famous person, at which point her heart is broken. The next photo is her the point in time when her heart is broken, and she actually sheds a tear.BUT then after her heart is broken, she decides that it's okay, she can still entertain me I just wont be getting her phone number after the show. After the show was over, there was a curtain call, we all bowed three or four times, everyone clapped.Star CastHere is a video of the dance from youTube, not quite my view though.


A couple of weeks ago friends of mine and I went camping in the prefecture of Gifu, a couple hours north, north east of Nagoya towards Nagano and it was fun. The camp site is nestled between a couple of mountain ranges along side of a series of rivers. I was able to go to a bonfire in Japan for the first time. This bonfire was setup by other people at the camp site, but the fire pit area was near our camp site, so we just joined them.

I guess this is very typical of a Japanese style bonfire. The first step, someone builds a meter or so tall box of logs and fills it with smaller pieces of wood and papers. This took place mid day. Shortly before the start of the bonfire, you need to gather all your friends, a couple them should have guitars or other musical instruments. Once that is done, the guy below poured a few liters of gas into the bonfire, I guess he was sure it would light on the first try.

Next, the guy who poured gas into the bonfire step back and lit a torch and made 5 of 6 loops around the camp fire, like it was the Olympic torch relay. During his run, he was also yelling stuff getting everyone ready for the camp fire.Then you light the fire, again, similar to the Olympics.Then this was really funny, after the fire got going, everyone formed a human chain and started to sing folk music. And it turns out 70% of Japanese camp fire folk music is Beatles covers.After everyone became to tired to sing, the fire was still too hot to get near. It took about 30 or 40 minutes to fall over and cool enough to kind of sit around.Here is the camp site during the day: