Monday, 26 November 2007

Riding along on my push bike honey, along the Kibi Plains!!

23rd November

Today was a national holiday so we decided to finally go on the Kibi Plains bike tour. We have been meaning to do this for sometime but we never really had found a good time to do it but today was perfect – it was sunny but not hot and there were plenty of autumn leaves around. Tina, Steve, Marie, Shinya and I hired a car and we left the driving up to Shinya! We arrived at the station where you hire the bikes, got our map and headed off on the 3-4 hour round trip bike tour! It was a beautiful ride which went through rice fields, along rivers and bypassed temples, pagodas and shrines. We stopped for a nice picnic lunch prepared by Tina outside a temple. The ride didn’t take too long but we couldn’t resist stopping to look at the temples and shrines and of course to take many photos!! It was a great day and I really recommend taking a day to go on this bike ride!

All of us on our bikes!

The scenery on our ride

Kokubunji Temple in the distance and the pagoda in the temple grounds, this is where we had lunch.

5 storey pagoda

The pagoda with beautiful red autumn leaves

This looked beautiful - old gravestones and the amazing yellow tree and bright red berries. Shinya told us that these are actually unnamed graves or people with no families, so although it was beautiful it was also sad.

In the Okayama area Momotaro (peach boy) is a famous folk tale about a boy who was born from a peach and goes out and fights demons and saves the world! I love peaches and I think it is a great story! I bought a phone charm from Kibitsu shrine which is a peach and if you look through a tiny hole you can see Momotaro! There were a pictures of him at the shrine, this one is of him being born!

And this is Momotaro off to save the world!

A beautiful lantern and water feature used to cleanse yourself in the grounds of the Kibitsu shrine

A beautiful garden which was across from Kibitsu shrine

Me with amazing autumn leaves in the garden near Kibitsu shrine

Thanksgiving Dinner

22nd November

When you are living with Americans you always learn new things and also get to experience their culture! We were lucky enough to be involved in celebrating Thanksgiving. It was a great night where we booked out a local restaurant that was putting on a Thanksgiving buffet. The restaurant was full of all our friends and of course lots of amazing food including roast turkey!

Tina, Steve, Marie, Makoto, Kyosuke and I at our table - ready for turkey!!!

The amazing buffet which had turkey, salad, carrots, glazed potatoes, macaroni and cheese, stuffing, beans, gravy, cranberry sauce and more! Yum!!!

Wednesday, 21 November 2007

Tina’s Birthday Dinner!!

19th November

Today was Tina’s birthday so we went to an Izakaya in town for dinner. We have been to this Izakaya many times now and it is definitely one of my favourites! After we went back to Tina’s for cake. I made the cake – the first one since Tina and I made a disasterous one in her oven. I managed to understand my oven and this cake worked out really good! I think Tina had a great night and a wonderful birthday in Japan!

The birthday girl with Richard, Marie and Steve!

Fumiyo and Hiromi enjoying the Izakaya!

Kyosuke, Harvey and Taube.

Makoto, Me and Kyosuke.

Everyone at dinner!

The birthday girl!

The cake

Blowing out the candles!

Steve, Tina, Marie and I.


Tuesday, 20 November 2007

Himeji Gardens - beautiful Autumn colours!

18th November

Well we braved the cold, cold weather (I think it was about 11 degrees or less!) and finally headed to the beautiful Himeji Garden. We had been waiting for the perfect time of year - Autumn! The gardens were so beautiful and the colours were amazing! I will let the photos speak for themselves . . .

Me with an amazing Momiji tree! (Maple tree)

Marie - just a head on a branch! How cute!

Tina and Steve - what a fantastic photo - taken by me, of course!

This is the best photo - how amazing are the colours!

Tina’s Birthday – Hawaiian Style!!

17th November

Well why not have a Hawaiian theme party in late Autumn??!! That's what Tina thought and what a fantastic idea! For Tina's birthday party we had a party in the meeting room so we decorated it with flowers, a wall hanging from Okinawa, made a ton of cocktails and turned on the heaters! I had arranged for Mum to bring grass skirts and shell bras for Tina, Marie and I so we would look the part! We had a great night and I have to say I think I make pretty good illusions, pina coladas, midori splices and everyone's favourite, captain milk (Captain Morgan rum, milk and chocolate!)!!

Marie and I making drinks!

Makoto, Richard and Kyosuke at the "bar"!

Tina and Richard

Tina and Marie

Tina, Marie and I

Tina, Marie and Steve

Genki FM – Radio stars!

17th November

Well today we had been asked to go to the Egret Centre to be on the local radio station. We met a lady who works for Genki FM and she really wanted us to go on the radio! So we were told to bring a Japanese friend who speaks English to help translate. Unfortunately our friend, Makoto slept in and didn’t make it so we were quite worried as we thought we may not know what is going on! But once we were inside they had notes for us to read in English and it all seemed ok. We were taken to a recording room and got worried as we hadn’t really practiced but we then realized that we weren’t going to be live they were just going to record our voices to use all the time! It was so funny especially when the guy told us to say it “more cool” or “more happy”!! So now if you are listening to Genki FM you might hear Tina, Marie or myself saying “ How are all you beautiful people out there today? Hope you are listening to our exciting radio station – Genki FM!”

Hiroshi, Hitomi, Marie, Tina and I at Genki FM.

Me working my magic in the recording room!

Monday, 12 November 2007

Let’s enjoy an unexpected tour of Shodo Shima!!

11th November

Today Steve and Marie had to work for their junior high school’s cultural days so Tina and I thought we should go on a day trip together to a new and exciting place but still reasonably close to home! Well it took us forever to work out where considering we have travelled so much this year but Shinya suggested Shodo Shima an island off the coast of the Hyogo area. In hindsight we did this trip all wrong – but how were we to know! It was a fantastic, exciting and hilariously funny day trip! It started with us finding out ferry times in the morning – too late to leave earlier! But we headed to Himeji Port to catch the 11:15 ferry – the ferry would take an hour and forty minutes to reach the island. Past ferries that we have caught have been anything but luxurious so the thought of spending an hour and forty minutes on one did not sound appealing but when we saw the ferry we would be catching we were pleasantly surprised. It was huge! It had couches, chairs and tables, video games, a cafĂ© area and space underneath to carry cars and tour buses! So Tina and I found a couch and spread our things out around us but due to the tour buses suddenly we had five 65 year old Japanese tourists siting with us! One man was very drunk and kept telling us that we were beautiful and he wanted to share his lunch with us! He even went as far as getting the tour photographer to take photos of us with them! So our ride to the island was quite entertaining!

The huge ferry!

Inside the ferry

The people that sat with us - the guy between Tina and I is the drunk one!

Tina on the ferry - it was freezing outside!

Me on the ferry - it was really windy too!

When we arrived at the island we didn’t quite know how we should get to where we wanted to go, so we asked a few people and soon had the bus figured out as best as we could. However it was going to be a long ride! The coast line was amazing but I was only able to get one photo from the bus.

View of the coast

Our main destination was to go on the Kankakei ropeway. However it was a lot harder to find! So we changed buses only to discover that suddenly we were at the Monkey Park and our bus would stop here for 25minutes which sadly was not enough time to see the Monkey Park! So then our bus continued with us wondering how we got on this tour bus as it looked like a normal public bus! We then stopped at a really beautiful look-out before continuing to the ropeway finally! We went down the ropeway and the scenery was just amazing! Another place where Autumn is so beautiful!

View from the lookout

View from the ropeway on the way down

Beautiful Autumn leaves

Finally we made it back to the port just in time to catch the ferry home. Shodo shima is a beautiful island and I recommend people to visit it but I think you need more than one day there and it would be great for swimming in summer. Tina and I had a crazy day exploring the island but we are glad we got to see another new place in Japan!