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My wife and I visited Japan two times while our oldest daughter lived and worked in the country for five years. We went up, down, around and across the country, in and out of big cities, small cities, to islands, to tourist places, local bars, Mount Fuji and more. We struggled to learn how to use the toilets once we found them, how to catch the wrong and right trains and how to bow the correct amount for almost every occasion. It’s a wonder I didn’t see more signs for chiropractic help but, then again, how would I read them? Anyway, if you’re looking to experience a spaced out feeling while traveling but can’t afford a ticket on the ship to the moon, Japan might be your best option.

Liking sushi and/or soup (Miso, or the egg laden, Udon) is a plus when tramping Japan, but there’s so much more on the plate there. Of course, I can’t tell you what half of it was or is, but if you have a daughter like mine you might find yourself enjoying Saki while ordering a second helping what seemed a delicious casserole only to later find out it was composed of fried cow guts. Bon appetit, and enjoy the stronger Shochu if you like Saki…it will help you forget.

Okay, discount some of the eye-ball foods or still alive squid. Concentrate, instead, on the millions of types of shoes the Japanese wear or the clothes that range from traditional Kimonos, New York City tight, expensive high style to the ‘metal’ look. Notice the street signs….

They mean no peeing or pooping on the street….just a head’s up/

And enjoy the absence of fearing you’ll be mugged (Ain’t gonna happen in Japan…) There’s a beauty in the country that is mirrored in the people’s hearts. It’s a kind, obedient society that honors others as they honor themselves and their heritage.

Our daughter lived in Kitsuki, Japan, where she taught English to middle schoolers who were strictly forbidden to chew gum in school, that a ‘high crime.’ Imagine this: if a teacher is ever caught driving after drinking the entire staff and children of the school are punished! See? It’s all for one and one for all or things get stinky real fast. Japan rows together.

My daughter left her purse on a train station bench and those attendants got her purse back to her days later though she lived in another city. Of course, her items had not been touched.

Kelly lived in a bay comprised of three cities: Kitsuki; Beppu and Oita.

Our daughter lived in Kitsuki which is located approximately where the number '10' is on this map...

Our daughter lived in Kitsuki, Japan,  which is located approximately where the number ’10’ is on this map…Swinging south by train leads to Beppu and then to Oita.

The ‘hot’ fun really begins in Beppu.. The place is smokin’-literally. The city sits on top of 3000 hot, volcanic vents (Bring marshmallows)city

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We bundled in robes and laid down in hot, black beach sand and listened to the ocean lap the shore twenty feet away as the warming effect soothed our souls. The rest of the day’s 90 degree heat felt cool.

I think it was here in, Beppu,  that I had a massage that featured a gal who actually hopped on my back and walked a few miles. Warning: don’t do this more than a few times per day-that could get like, really addictive.

On to Oita. (say it fast three times to sound like a tweety bird.)

That's Monkey Mountain behind us

That’s Monkey Mountain behind us-Our daughter’s adopted, ‘Grand Parents” in Japan put us up in this swank ocean side hotel and taught us how to take Onsens (Japanese baths) and how to eat some of the food.

Monkey Mountain is a famous place near, Oita, Japan. It’s teaming with wild monkeys, but a visit to Monkey Mountain doesn’t start that way. No, it starts at the base of the 2000 foot high mountain where a quaint train station painted in bright primary colors nestles among a dense jungle greenery-not a monkey to be seen, only a few signs and attendants that understand English who direct people to the train. Of course, this is a jungle train, something you might expect in a Disney safari ride- open air, no glass windows, small cabs that slowly rattle along a twisting, mountain climbing train track.

We finally stopped at the ruins of an ancient temple that looked out over the vast ocean. Again, the ‘monkey mountain’ thing seemed hardly unique with nary one in sight but for a few, small, cute monkeys. I had to wonder why the signs said, “Do not look monkeys in the eye?”

Jus’ a few cute ones….

“What monkeys?” I had to ask. Then someone hit a huge gong.

The entire landscape that I’d mistaken for jungle turned out to be made of monkeys!!!!

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A few thousand monkeys…

Me as a monkey!

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“I’m not looking; I’m not looking; I’m not looking….” Not a time to play, Peek-a-boo.

All of this was hysterical-like my wife. Still, we survived but as much as I enjoyed this my wife says, ‘Never again,’ and she hardly appreciated the monkey beaded small change purse I’d secretly bought her while there-go figure!

Japan is a beautiful country for Americans to visit. Their society has  so much to teach us. For one: respect, respect for the land, ourselves and others. I grimace to realize how much we as American’s have missed as I count the cigarette butts in the beach sands of Florida. The world isn’t really our ash tray. But I digress…

Somehow, in the vast scheme of things Japan has realized as a country that they were as responsible for Hiroshima as the United States was, that World War is a ‘no one is innocent’ thing. “All are punished.”* The people here hold life dearly, and respect every step they take.

The beauty of Japan is truly unbelievable.

cheers

Franque23

*Shakespeare

 

 

 

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The tide went out by afternoon and left the standing on bare ground.

The tide went out by afternoon and left the Torii gate standing on bare ground.

​It wasn’t too far from my daughter’s home in Kitsuki….a quick hour train ride-several hundred miles-and then a ferry over to this famous Island spot -the Itsukushima Shrine in Miyagima–We’d just arrived when a helpful person took our picture, and we would spend the entire day there–Kelly and I climbed up a steep path cut in stone to the top of a mountain higher than the one in the background…We had about 300 more yards to go to reach the top when we both decided to turn around and go back. The view was fab.

One thing-there’s a strong tide here–by afternoon the famous shrine stood completely on dry sea bed,,,people were everywhere digging up clams…we walked under the shrine that has stood in place since 1875. There had been a series of others in its place before then. The structure is made entirely of camphor logs…way thick, maybe fifteen feet around at the bases, and that thing stands about fifty or more feet tall……

Wild, miniature deer were everywhere to pet, feed or just enjoy.

soft and warm....

soft and warm….

The smell of easy to eat nibbles- skewered veggies and various meats-drifted through the air. A bunch of shops and vendors selling wares of every type lined the land side of the ocean walkway—As in many of the places we saw in Japan, there was an abundance of finely made china for sale, cups, plates, every kind of bowl. Most places offered to ship either for free or for  very little cost.

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Kelly’s home in Kitsuki was flanked by large bamboo….

The streets were crowded with open fish markets and veggie stands in some parts of Beppu.

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We strolled by thermally heated smoking land vents that hissed in many places about the town.

This pic is taken at a local park,, but steaming vents like this one is common around town.

This pic is taken at a local park,, but steaming vents like this one are common around town in Beppu.

Most memorable was lying in the naturally heated black beach sand by the ocean-quite the thing. Dale noted that after that hour-long rest, and quick shower, the heated summer day felt remarkably cool. The process was simple enough.

Someone shovels the heated sand on you...

Someone shovels the heated sand on you…

Then you lay like a heated lump on the beach for about an hour.

Then you lay like a heated lump on the beach for about an hour.

 

205626_1996162468753_7543855_nOf course, we had to go to the famous Gion district of Kyoto where Memoirs of a Geisha took place. We saw several Geisha impersonators,,posing for pictures as if they were Geisha’s, which our daughter explained would never happen. Then, by stroke of luck, we came upon a gang of paparazzi who were wanting in the street, hoping to catch a glimpse of a real geisha as she excited her apartment and fled into a waiting taxi… But best of all was the, “All my favorite things,” (omyyakamomy -maybe) pancakie thingy I ate in some off-street food joint that served beer as well…really fun,,,and the whole scene(abstractly written) is in my second book of Avatar Magic-The Code of Avatar Magic-*

The sakura, cheery blossoms, were in full swing that May-

The sakura, cherry blossoms, were in full swing that May-

We were lucky to hit the Sakura bloom just right. The land blazed light pink and cherry colors everywhere. While this riotous season is happening, the Japanese talk among themselves as if reporting the blooms like a weather event….It’s not a 90 % chance of rain, but rather, “The Sakura is at 85% south of Kitsuki.” Another might respond, “No, I think it’s more like 90%.”

The shrines, the Sakura, tha mountains and ocean, all of it made Japan a magical place to see.

The shrines, the Sakura, the mountains and ocean, all of it made Japan a magical place to see.

Kelly lived in Japan for five years teaching English to middle schoolers.

Kelly lived in Japan for five years teaching English to middle schoolers.

I loved every minute we spent in Japan--you really should go.

I loved every minute we spent in Japan–you really should go.

One of our first stops that visit was the Emperor’s palace and garden grounds…Hello…really? Disney can’t touch this.

I believe this is where Dale and I saw a wedding taking place on the Emporer's grounds....

I believe this is where Dale and I saw a wedding taking place on the Emperor’s grounds….

The whole country comes alive to the sight of the Sakura....

The whole country comes alive to the sight of the Sakura….

So yeah, even though I’ve previously posted three other globs covering our visits to Japan, there’s still so much more to tell. The last samurai castle to once have actively guarded a place in Japan, Kitsuki; the one million monkeys of Monkey Mountain; Oita and the walk on my back; ground zero at Hiroshima and the real beef of Kobe that I got to eat ON MY Birthday! Wowowow….Tender gains a new meaning.

We really need to talk this over in an onsen. There’s nothing like a Japanese hot public bath house….I’ve completely covered the procedure to follow in one of these houses* in another blog/glob so you won’t be freaked when we meet there…

The Japanese Onsen-a better part of our world.

The Japanese Onsen-a better part of our world.

You can go men/ women or separated-up to you.

You can go men/ women or separated-up to you.

But I have to say, going to men only and then bowing to a cleaning lady/girl while standing butt naked felt a bit off…

Cheers from the beautiful memories of Japan….

Franque23.

 

Exactly how to do an Onsen in Japan…https://franque23.wordpress.com/2011/04/19/onsens-for-a-clean-life/

 

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