Friday, March 27, 2009

Happy New Year!

A bit late I know, but it is! Lots has happened since my last post back in December. Still enjoying myself immensely here, I have recontacted for another year here in Shinano. School's going great, the students and teachers are as wonderful as they've always been. I've been doing a lot of skiing and other outdoor activities. Went snow camping two weekends ago on the top of a mountain nearby. Got myself a pair of backcountry nordic skis. I'm actually moving into a new house on Tuesday, a couple of minutes from where I am now but significantly better than where I'm living (not to say my apartment is bad or anything but I'm getting a huge house instead now). I wanted to update today though because got back at the beginning of this week from an exciting 5 day road trip to Japan's southern island, Kyushu. We saw Hiroshima on our way down, stopped in Nagasaki, saw a couple of other cities and then topped it all off with a relaxing two day stay in a hot spring town. Our itenerary was as follows:

Wednesday March 18th - Leave Nagano and drive straight through the night down to Hiroshima.
March 19th - Hiroshima.
March 20th - Nagasaki
March 21st - Kumamoto City and Kurokawa Onsen Village
Martch 22nd - Kurokawa Onsen Village, then return to Nagano.

Without further adieu, the photos!

This one was taken in Hiroshima, looking through a monument through to the blown out memorial structure at the peace park

Looking down the river in Hiroshima

A closer view of the memorial structure

A deer on Miyajima island, right across the bay from Hiroshima in the Seto Inland Sea (Awaji island is also in this area!)

A beach looking towards the "floating temple" on Miyajima.

The floating temple arches, one of the very famous sites here in Japan.

A cool looking old palm tree on Miyajima by a huge temple. It was totally summer here, in the mid 80s.

One of the main streets in Nagasaki.

A crazy 50 foot turtle temple on a hill in Nagasaki.

A famous statue in the Nagasaki Peace Park.

The black monolith there is directly below where the bomb detonated.

I don't recall the name of this volcano but we camped near it before we took the ferry from Nagasaki to Kumamoto City.

Spring has arrived! In Southern Japan at least (Nagano is still pretty chilly). The cherry blossoms are almost in full bloom at this famous park in Kumamoto.

The castle in Kumamoto.

Looking across the grassy, dry plains outside Kumamoto twoards the billowing active volcano Mt. Aso. The landscape here was quite unique, lots of rolling grass plains and huge swaths of burnt land. A little reminiscint of Colorado.

On top of the Mt. Aso, looking down into the pit of doom, the green is a caldera lake.

After the trip, I bought these bananas at my local grocery store for 4 bucks. There's about 15 of em.

Well that's pretty much it for now, I will try to update this blog more. For some reason it's hard to be diligent....