Saturday, October 13, 2007
Thursday, August 09, 2007
Chapter 1: How to convince me to come to your island
Okay, this part is pretty basic, Misty and I wanted to try and find a really nice beach for an anniversary day trip. So, we talked to our friends, hit the internet, even looked at recent newspaper articles about which beaches in the area had the best water quality, scenery, etc. In the end, all signs pointed to X beach at Island Y. So, we packed up and made the trip.
Chapter 2: How to convince me never to come back to your island
We arrived at the island with our maps, time tables, bus routes, yippee! As we got off the bus I asked the driver how to get to X beach from the stop. "Oh, go that way and take a left," he replied. Along the way, we checked to be sure we had the right street with some oyster . . . whatever you call guys who raise oysters. "Take that road to the other side of the mountain. It's a nice big beach!" Off we go, chair, parasol, suits and gear in tow, hiking the mountain to our island paradise. Did I mention Misty's three weeks from her due date? We get to the base of the mountain, and just like everyone said, there was the beach. A nice long stretch of sand, all the facilities the internet promised . . . Except for one thing, the large entrance gate is latched. Misty didn't take a picture of the beach as Matt hopped the gate to scope it out, but if she had, the scene would have looked something like this, only greener (compare below).
As we were on the way back from X beach, a kind mailman stopped to give us directions. "Yeah, that was X beach," he said, "but, people can't swim there at all anymore." In typical Japanese fashion, he crossed his arms as he said this, creating the sinking sensation one feels when a giant X appears across the screen on "The Family Feud," dooming their favorite contestant to years of ridicule at the office ("Dude, Amsterdam is not a country!") Note to self, if anyone asks me for directions to an abandoned, unusable beach, tell them the beach is deserted due to extreme safety hazards.
The postman told us where our plan B beach was, so we headed off in that direction. In theory, all we had to do was hop on the bus where we'd gotten off and take a five minute ride to the next great beach. In theory. In reality, the buses don't run on schedule. The buses don't run 30 minutes behind schedule. Basically, we saw three buses in seven hours where there should have been 14. Rather than sit in the sun waiting for a bus that wasn't coming, and unwilling to forfeit her trip to the beach, Misty opted to hike to the next beach. All told, we walked at least 4 miles. Did I mention that Misty is 9 1/4 months pregnant?
Chapter 3: How to redeem your island
Deliverance came in the form of a random taxi. This wonderful lady swept us into her air-conditioned chariot and wisked us off to adventure. Then she arranged to pick us up later. Kudos to you, lady! We might just come back after all.
Chapter 4: Fun in the sun
Beach B was every bit as beautiful as we'd heard. Matt set up Misty's chair, parasol and sheet and rushed head-on into the crashing waves and a first-time experience. For the first time in his life, Matt came face to face with a live jellyfish in the wild. Scratch that, five live jellyfish. The yearly jellyfish invasion of Hiroshima came a week early, bringing with it all kinds of adventure, panic and screaming children. All said, we did have a good time. Matt learned that the top of a jellyfish can't sting you no matter how many times you touch it, and so on.
Chapter 5: How to ruin your island after so many people worked so hard to redeem it
This one's pretty simple. Take the place of your taxi driver colleague who just went off duty, pick up your fare and hit the "foreigner" button on the meter. You know what button I'm talking about. The "I know that no white guy could possibly read my language, so I'll double the fare" button (yes, the meter really has a double-fare button). Good job, buddy! It didn't help that after we got to the ferry, the vending machine sold Matt a chocolate milk with white floaters in it.
Chapter 6: How to guarantee I'll come back to your restaurant
Feed me the best Indian curry, nan and tandoor chicken I've ever tasted, and do it all four dollars cheaper than every other Indian restaurant within an hour. Way to go Ganesh!! Your curry even made the mayonnaise you use as salad dressing taste good. You rock!
Postscript: Misty is the toughest person on the planet. Even though she's carrying a whole 'nother person under that shirt of hers, she hiked half of island Y. At first, she was a little cranky because she thought Matt had gotten her lost on one of those "scenic route" adventures (I've gotta prepare for fatherhood somehow). But, when we got to the Ghost Town, she realized he'd followed the directions right and was all smiles. Whenever we got to a bus stop I'd say, "Hey we should wait so you don't push it," and she would say something to the effect of, "The bus isn't coming, and I'm not doing all of this to not go to the beach," and off she'd go. Despite traversing a mountain or two, she was even asking if I wanted her to carry stuff. Mom's are scary strong.
Tuesday, June 05, 2007
Could you imagine riding on a train that is so crowded that the Station Attendants have to shove people in so that the doors will close? I have not personally seen anything like the above left picture but have heard Matt and other co-workers talk about it. Hiroshima, with a population of 1.1 million people, is considered "the country." As you can tell from the 2 pictures above, during rush hour in Tokyo trains can become extremely jam-packed. Unfortunately, some men take this opportunity to get a little too familiar with the ladies. When we visited Tokyo in March, I noticed the sign below on one of our train rides and thought it would be a interesting post to share with you all. Ladies, if you don't like the crowds and don't want the men to get to personal, the authorities have reserved this car for you...
Sunday, March 25, 2007
This first sign is from an italian restaurant Misty and I love. The food is really great, but the r's and l's aren't so good. In Japanese r and l are the same letter, so it can be a little confusing transliterating sometimes. Some of you may remember the Eric "Crapton" sign we posted the last time.
The sign to the right is pretty funny. It's practically unintelligible, but the part I think is most fun is that they warn you that they will not be held responsible if your remains are stolen.
This picture is from the restroom of the Tokyo International Hostel. All in all, it's not a bad place to stay if you're looking for somewhere cheap and clean. The sign is supposed to tell you to hold the button in until the toilet flushes. We were a little surprised that the hostel's signs were so poorly translated since the staff spoke such good English.
This last one, also from the hostel, is possibly our favorite Engrish sign that we've seen since arriving in Japan. You may be asking yourself, "Who would use the toilet for laundry or personal hygiene?" Rest assured, no one makes that mistake here. The Japanese says not to use the sink, but the word they use here for sink is really similar to one of the words they use for toilet. Someone just looked one line down in the dictionary by mistake.
Monday, March 19, 2007
Sunday, February 04, 2007
While this is the tradition, there are other practices in various areas of the country. Below is a sampling from the news yesterday of practices thought to drive out evil spirits. It is not comprehensive, but it is fun.
1. Crying babies. At Saikyoji temple, there is a yearly competition in which parents try to get their babies to cry by scaring, shaking or pinching them. The baby that cries first, wins. This is because babies who can cry loud are supposedly healthy. Plus, the sound of crying babies drives the evil spirits away. Maybe the spirits think the cries are a symptom of dirty diapers. Maybe they see parents tormenting their children to tears and consider their work done.