Thursday, June 30, 2005


Poru (Pole)

Poru, otherwise known as "POLE" in English, happens to be my favorite restaraunt in Japan. For anyone familiar with Japanese television, almost every major program has a section about eating or finding places to eat. I must say that I've tried more places than most Japanese ever venture out to find, as being a foreigner, I am spending half my time roaming around sight seeing. Poru just happens to be ten steps from the Kumamoto Gakuen University side gates. If you look up the street you can see into the back window of the International center on campus. Many students have never gone to Poru, which is odd, since it was designed specifically for the students. They serve big heaps f food for under five hundred yen, about four American dollars.

Big scary hungry foreign guy (Argh! Give me your puny Japanese bite sized meal! I will destroy you!)

Gee-whiz, I have a hankering for some Japanese home style cookin', where's about these parts you reckon I could find me some grub?

Oh hey, sorry about that western slang, I come from a real cowboy state, so imagine my suprise that Poru serves real beef in their hamburger curry, and the patty is American size! The food is home cooked and the special recipes of the family which runs the establishment (seen below). I have not found any place I love as much as Poru. The food is mouth waterig good, and even now as I write about it my mouth is drooling all over myself, I can't explain how awesome the food is. You just have to come to Japan and try it!

The friendly establishment owners

A sweet old lady and her daughter run the restaraunt (grandma is standing on a step, she's that tiny!). The pug just happens to be the new gaurdian of the front door. You get a menacing little bark and growl upon entering. Then he follows you to your seat and watches you, sniffs your pants, and once you've been adequately checked out and are safe, he trots back to the door to suprise the next costomer. This pup is under 10 months old, as there was a different dog which had this job last year, bust sadly past away. The new guy sure takes his work serious though, and he insisted on being in the photograph.

Tomare means STOP

A Japanese triangular stop sign

Red means go faster! No, wait, that's not right. Red means stop!

In Japan stop signs look like this. However, many places the word "Tomare" which means "Stop!" in Japanese is just painted on the ground without a sign accompanying it. This confused me when I first began to drive, because in America any intersection which requires a stop includes a sign. Not so here, but recently Japanese city planners have been trying to beef up there usage of signs. Still, small country villages or even the outskirts of Kumamoto itself, you can find lots of stops with no signs. Drivig becomes a full time job, and if you haven't read my post on driving which I made last month, go check it out!

Follow the Yellow Brick Road

We're not in Kansas anymore!

In Japan, where there is a large enough section for a bike route, the sidewalk is divide by a yellow line. This is to make visible the narrow side, designated for bikes, and the large side which is for pedestrians. However, as the width of the patch varies greatly depending on the available locations available area, the rules are often ignored. People walk where ever as to bikes ride as bike will often do. With so many people it only becomes a matter of dodging and keeping on your toes.

Mostly only the major streets get a yellow brick road. Most streets in the urban areas of Japan don't even have sidewalks. A good example of this can be seen bellow on one of the many streets I take my buddy "S" for a walk down.

No sidewalks

Care for a Smoke?

Care for a smoke?

In Japan vending machines which sell cigarettes are quite common. One's which sell bear up to a pint are also common. Whereas in America the cigarette market has been cracked down on the government and health food administration, in most Asian countries including Japan, the cigarette enterprises are sponsored by the government. This is to ensure soldiers, self defense army, and the like all have a ready supply of smokes when they get that nervous itch.

I'm afraid that the cigarettes are a lot cheaper than in the U.S. too. If you look at the price the Marlboro cigarettes (the most expensive brand in the machine), one pack only cost 300¥ (yen) which is the equivelant to about $2.70 in America. Last I checked American cigarettes were near four dollars per pack, with tabaco taxes soaring high.

The Good the Bad and the Ugly.

The good thing about cheap cigarettes in Japan, people can smoke if they want without feeling too much of a financial burden placed upon their wallets, however, the BAD is that most Japanese don't know how to deal with stress and nearly 87% of the population smokes. Many start in middle school! Think of a group of 8th graders smoking regularly without a care in the world because it's a culturally accepted way to deal with stress. Another BAD is that ever restaraunt allows smoking, and often time the non-smokers end up hacking (half-to death) or losing their appetites when the lightly flavored Japanese food all begins to taste like ash. Only Mos Burger has created a seperate enclosed "smoking" section, and I commend the fast food chain for making a bold move where others fear to lose customers. Another BAD is that Japanese don't have an smoking ediquette and will blow smoke directly in your face when they pass you on the street. The first time this happened I almost kicked the persons ass up and down the street, but once I realized they were all like that I learned to give them a quick cold glance of -want to die now? The return glance is either one of not carrying or total ignorance, but if there is one thing in this culture that would set me off to relieve some of my own stress, it would be to shove an entire pack of lit smokes down someone's throat and have them recite me 100 times that they will never blow smoke in people's faces again.

The UGLY... people who have never smoked in their entie lives, like Sayaka's mother, became adicted to cigarettes just a little over two years ago when she started a new company job. With lots of weary hours and high stress of having to perform at the company and come home and be the go to mom, this mother started smoking at 48 years old. Now if that sounds wrong to you too, then that makes two of us. Her teeth are already like six different multi-colored browns, she has more stress than before (so the cancer sticks she sucks back apparently had no effect on the stress levels) and she smokes now even at the most relaxing calm and sanquine moments. The oral fixation and addiction is so great, that everyone seems to be smoking here. I find it probably the greatest inconvenience about being in Japan, espescially with all the enclosed and tight spaces which leave little or no room for that type of habbit among those who despise it or who are serious about quiting.

Americans take for granted how lucky they are to have a health administration which knows the harmful effects of cigarettes (cancer sticks). I don't mind smoking a cigar now and then, but sometimes it's nice to breath natures fresh air without hacking and coughing a lung up, or having to hear someone else do the same. If you enjoy smoking, it would be better to do it outside then inside a tightly packed izakaya (small confined Japanese traditional returaunt). Until you've been in a room no bigger than a closet on a bench or sitting on the floor with seven or eight other people who are all smoking, then I beg you to think twice before smoking in confined places. It's just not a good idea.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Want to live Cancer free?


Until I came here I did not know that Watermelon came in YELLOW! I am used to the red, juicy, sweet watermelon everybody associates with this delicious melon, however, about a week ago I was told there was another color. I said this must be a lie, because in all my years I would have at least heard about it. Especially when my father and grandmother are melon devourering machines. Their fondness of the melon should have opened them up to the vastness the melon has to offer! Never once did they inform me about the sacred YELLOW water melon.

So basically, it tasted exactly the same as the red type.

Want to live cancer free? Well, if you're Jewish I'm afraid you're out of luck, and will most likely die a very cocher and painful cancer filled death. Yet if you happen to be big on sea food, you're in luck!

The SQUID has been proven to contain more than 80 grams of inferon, the same drug that is being used to fight cancer today. Not only that, but God put the squid on the planet for the soul perpose of saving the human race, it seems. You see, every part of the squid is beneficial to the human body. It's skin produces skin regeneration in our own bodies. The squids ink has the inferon, and the squid organs (if consumed) will make you smarter as it is mostly a brain-food type animal. Forget your ginko and your numerous other memory drugs, eating one squid is the same as taking a weeks worth of ginko bioloba!

Japanese will be quick to point out the nutritional value of every item. These aren't people concerened with labols government enforced nutrition charts, no, these are people concerned with the very properties of the food itself, and how you can utilize it to it's best purposes.

They've been testing the "squid" theory on laboratory rats for the past few years and it seems feeding them squid blocks cancerous cells from forming. What's more, is feeding them squid kills the cancer cells they already have and cures them! Other sea food which has the same effect are crabs. And oddly enough pork also has a large amount of inferon. Frying pork with green vegies and you get about 20 grams worth. Noted it's nowhere near the 80 plus grams of squid, but it's worth noting. Again, I'm afraid the Jewish community is out of luck, as it appears God was thinking a little broader than the wisest holy men and mankinds best scientists. Dying of cancer? Eat a squid and a pig. You'll live longer!

Beautiful White Fluffy Day

Cloudy Day

More clouds

After a brief shower this morning, the deep heavy gray clouds broke, sun came out and the percipitation formed waffting giant puffs of clouds. With the sunshine lighting them just right they looked absolutely beautiful. Happy clouds!

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Small Island, Small People, Small trees?


On my way to the store I pass somebody's Bonsai tree garden. Little is known about these trees (pun pun!) but we do know they can live to be over 120 or even 200 years old! That's old for something so small. I liked these pics because with the tires and the neighbor's old stinky sneakers you get a good idea of the exact petite size of these stout foresty members.

minirature forest

Here is a wider shot to capture the variety of the little green trees. Many non-native speakers make the mistake of calling them "Bonzai" trees. However, in Japanese "Bonzai" is the exlamitory or celebratory remark one makes when somebody shouts from glee. It would be the equivilant to yelling out "Yahoo!" for us English speakers.

Bonsai are hard to trim, since they live so long they grow extremely slowly. The art of bonsai trimming is to make them look beautiful, but one misguided snip may mean the end of pristine beauty in your lifetime of tree grooming, so think it through first! Bonsai trimming is a type of meditation, and it takes lots of practice. Most the trees we buy from stores have been pre-groomed and the odds are the tree will out live us and not need much maintenance in the future.

Many Tropical Flavors

Fanta Pineapple

One of the neat things about Japan is the variety of drinks. If you look at the picks of vending machines I have posted, you can see there are teas, coffees, juices, energy drinks, sodas, and a variety of flavors for each!

Above is something new that Coke sprung on us. Pineapple flavored soda! But the interesting flavors don't end there.

Want a drink? Hard choices when vending machines offer such variety.

miriad of treats

Next is a funny drink made by Sapporo (Cokes competition) and it is Melon Cream Soda. It taste like real melons too, which make for a weird sensation when all the fiz hits the tongue.

Melon Cream Soda

In the future I will update the different flavored drinks on this site, as they seem to be one of the most fascinating things one can enjoy while going to new and exciting places, especially foreign cultures.

Coke Products

Notice my 76 lubricants oil cap. I thought it was hillarious to have a cap that had the word "lubricants" written on it. Maybe that's just me though.

Aquarius (the big blue bottle) by Coke is my favorite sports drink in Japan. They just came out with Active Diet Aquarius which actually burns calories when you drink it. It's some kind of new active diet drink which works when you work. I don't know the exact science behind it, but it's sweet with a horrible bitter/dry aftertaste, however, it actually quenches the thirst. I'll get a pick of this strange drink up soon.

Another classic Japanese drink I like just so happens to make English speaking people laugh when they hear it for the first time. It's called Karupisu, which if you sound it out in the Japanese it sounds like you're saying "cow piss" in English (again I'll get a pic up soon). It's still hard not to break into a warm embarrassed grin when you get asked if you'd like to try a cup of "cow piss." But the drink is enjoyably good, so don't let the name fool you!

Wednesday, June 22, 2005


Sayaka & Aya

Aya is Sayaka's best friend. Basically she is the equivilant to Mike More, my own childhood best friend. Aya is big, funny, large laugh, an even larger smile, and her humor is very quirky. She's not your typical Japanese, and whenever she joins the party she cheers everyone up with her never failing upbeat quality. She brings to the mood and atmosphere a pleasant joyfull ora, and I haven't ever seen her down in the glums. Of course, I've seen her have bad days, but she reacts to the worst by making light of it. She puts people before herself always, and if there is going to be a butt of a joke, she most likely will make herself that butt. She has a wonderful personality and once you get past her intimidating size, then you get past the prejudice of letting your own personal ego put barriers between you and great people. Aya is someone everyone can love.

Batman Begins Review

Batman Begins

Everyone who was scared off by the Joel Shoemacher Batman films are all asking the same question... will "Batman Begins" be any good? Asking your fellow comic nerds probably won't answer the question, because as we all know they dream of being Batman hoping to get a girlfriend even though they, like their fictional idol, are misunderstood. The truth is, they probably will keep dreaming about girls and cars, and each nerd will line up to tell you how or how the film did not live up to the comics.

On the other hand, if you read the numerous reviews on or Entertainment magazine you'll get less of an answer than that with stupid reviews like, "Batman Begins redeemed the entire franchise," or "Dark and gritty, definitely not a movie for kids," or "This is how Batman was meant to be seen on the big screen." All these sound like repeats of the first Batman film, which everyone seemed to forget had the biggest opening of that summer release, and Tim Burton was praised for making the best comic book movie of all time. Since then people seemed to have forgotten about the dark knight in wake of the campy Shoemacher films, and not to mention the slew of other great comic book movie adaptations to see the light of day. If anything was perfect about this film, it was the timing of its release.

Forget the nerds; forget the redundant critics with a limited vocabulary. This is a real film review, and if you don't like spoilers, I recommend you leave now and actually go watch the movie. If you're that curious about it, enough to read what it's about, it only makes sense to go see it anyway.

Let's start with the comic book ties. Any nerd will tell you that certain aspects are inaccurate about the film adaptation, but then again it is a film which is dealing on a much bigger cinematic scale, one which must appeal to mainstream audiences and not just a huddle of die hard comic geeks. Yet I will be amiss if I did not say that even the most hard core Batman enthusiasts will be more than pleasantly pleased with this version of Batman. It has all the regular cast of characters from the comics, including Commissioner Jim Gordon (Gary Oldman), Alfred (Michael Caine), Ducard (Liam Neeson), Dr. Jonathan Crane aka the Scarecrow (Cillian Murphy), Ra's Al Ghul (Ken Watanabe), Lucius Fox (Morgan Freeman), Earle (Rutger Hauer), and Christain Bale as the Dark Knight himself.

Unlike the past batman films it was able to juggle numerous villains seamlessly without messing up the heart of the film. Everyone had screen time, but the focus this time wasn't to make sure every big star had equal billing time; this time it was about Batman. Even early comic characters like Carmine Falcone (played by Tom Wilkinson) -Gotham city's main crime lord makes an appearance. Wilkinson's performance brings that aggressive aggressive king of the world mafia lord superiority to the character and gives him the street talk of a man so in love with himself that he thinks he's god. Every supporting actor, whether it Michael Caine or Morgan Freeman jump into there roles and bring a well rounded richness to this movie.

Batman movie

This film is dark, comparable to the X-Men films, but the characters have real depth this time, more along the lines of the Spiderman movies minus the cheese. "Batman Begins" takes its characters serious, as if they were real people, and it shows by Nolan's gritty direction. The wonderful thing is that the atmosphere of Gotham city was realistically done this time around. Instead of giant moaning heads which bellowed steam in a rusty Harconian city of weird gargoyles, this time the city looks like a real city. It's not a movie set, or a model, it's a real city. To me this was direly needed, and thankfully, they pulled off a believable Gotham.

The dialogue is good, although there are some questionable moments in the understandability of why Ducard is going on this holy crusade. If you watch closely he says he wants to rid the world of evil, but then later on he attempts to kill a city of millions over an ideal to make a point. However, if you notice the blaring contradiction that Ducard believes he is doing the moral thing by ridding the world of evil he wouldn't become stupid and contradict his life's goal by slaughtering millions of good innocents. Maybe it's just me, but even a wacko would still be able to tell the difference, he just wouldn't care.

The Batmobile was one thing I wasn't sure about. I like Burton's version of the car the best. Even though I was skeptical about the "tumbler" it kind of grows on you as the film goes on. The nicest thing about it is that it is a real drivable car and they drive the crap out of the thing! I still don't like the car's looks, but it works in the film.

Giving Jim Gordon he keys to the Batmobile was a great moment in the film. Even though it wasn't a joke, all Batman fans could laugh at it and enjoy it as a great in film moment.

The beginning of the film was wonderful. Instead of opening in the city we start in a concentration camp somewhere in China with a scruffy Bruce Wayne getting roughed up by inmate thugs. The story progresses and we learn how he trains and the skills he gains which eventually make him the warrior of Gotham. The first forty minutes of the film focus on the man's journey to becoming a legend and shooting on real locals makes the movie really flesh out.

My biggest complaint would be the action scenes. I like fast and furious but dark and way too close on top of fast and furious, well; I had a little trouble figuring out what was happening and who punched who. If you don't have an imagination the fight scenes may confuse you. However they are much better than the fight scenes in "The Bourne Supremacy" which will give you vertigo.

The music was nice, but I kind of missed the Danny Elfman movie theme. This time you have entirely new music, and maybe that was a wise choice to take everything from a fresh approach, yet I kept waiting for a swell of base strings to rip into the Elfman Batman theme song. The music overall was really wonderful and it's probably a soundtrack worth buying.

There are many other elements which people will pick apart, like why falcone didn't burn to a crisp being tied to the bat-signal, or the L-train being a mile up in the sky, but let go of the plausibility long enough for your imagination to enjoy the neo-futuristic city design for two seconds and you'll be fine. Sure it has its fair share of mistakes, but it's a movie, enjoy it!


Finally, the Batman himself. Bale brings a straight forward Dark Knight. He doesn't copy anyone else prior but there are only so many ways to play dark and brooding vigilantly of the night. He brings a great tone to the characters voice; however, where Bale really shines is the Bruce Wayne character. Wonderful acting job by Bale here! For the first time we have a fully likable Wayne character -and all though Michael Keaton's Bruce Wayne was funny and charming he kind of fluctuates too much between confused Bruce Wayne and sociable Wayne. Luckily the joking in this movie was kept to a minimal and when there are jokes they seem to be more in character and more in the realistic tone of the film. Bale plays Batman against the Wayne character to create a wonderful contrast in personas. For this reason I think watching Batman works as more enticing because he is so different than the Wayne character. You almost get the feeling that he has a split personality, and this brings real depth to the character, especially when Rachel Dawes (Katie Holmes) tells Batman that Bruce Wayne is his real mask, and the guy at night on the rooftops is the real man. That was a great moment.

Oh, and if you are expecting cool ninja fights, don't hold your breath. Even though there were no crying sissy ninja's as seen in "Electra" the ninjas were puny wusses. But even picking out the worst faults of this film one realizes that even those are miniscule and trivial. The film is wonderfully cinematic, powerful, and Nolan brings those wonderful scenes which look like a still from a comic book panel. Look at the movie posters and see what I'm talking about, now imagine an entire movie that wherever pause every frame is a keeper! In keeping with the comic book tradition the film ends with a run-on into the next movie by introducing who the villain will be. Overall "Batman Begins" was about making a kiss ass movie, and Christopher Nolan and his crew did just that.

For another good "Batman Begins" review check out:

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Me in front of Ajisen Ramen

Trying too hard to be cool (and it shows)

Japanese Ramen

Ajisen Ramen

One of the nicer things about Japanese food is that they are the one's who invented and perfected Ramen. Now I'm not talking about your instant pack of dehydrated noodles that you cook in three minutes and have a narrow selection of flavors including, salt, salty, or saltier. No, not that crap, what I'm talking about is a real food, let alone a real meal.


Now that's ramen! Real meat, real vegetables, real noodles. Nothing but the freshest and the finest ingredients. Cha-shumen is the type of ramen seen above, which is a soup based ramen with the special flavoring of pork. The slices of meat are small pork cuts of the finest white thigh of a swine, and the flavor is to die for!
One of the unique things about Japanese quisine is its locality and the reginiol popularity of certain types of flavors or styles (via methods) of cooking. Kumamoto is famous for the ton-katsu flavor, or pig bone-marrow, which gives a fried pork-chop flavoring to the ramen seen above. Drinking up the soupy-mix at the bottom of the bowl when everything else is eaten up is the best part. It's where all the flavor is.
Every region sponsors a different food, or style of cooking or flavoring the same type of food. The ramen in Fukuoka is famous for it's spicy pepper flavors, and the ramen in Osaka is famous in yet a different way. Traveling Japan one of the greatest and funnest things one can do is try all the different flavors at each stop. (Kumamoto is also famous for Horse Shashimi -raw horse slices served like sushi). Oh, and if you happen to be Jewish, no worries mate! You can find other flavors of ramen including corn ramen. No meat, just lots of corn, noodles, and vegies! (Also suitable for you vegetarians out there).

Lil' Ajisen

One of the best ramen places in Japan actually comes from a fast-food chain called Aji-sen Ramen. Ajisen is distinquishable by the little (anime styled) girl holding the big fake bowl of ramen, and also the superior quality of the ramen they serve. Above I took a picture of the two gils to show you the contrast. The woman sitting in the window just happens to be Sayaka's mother.

Even though Ajisen is a mega-chain restaurant, I still rank its ramen in the top 3 places I have ever eaten ramen in Japan. The other 2 ramen sites beong to private small corner ramen shops which serve some of the greatest mouth watering ramen you could ever dream up. Fukoka is home to one, and Kumamoto has the other. I look forward to finding many more delicious ramen shops, and part of the adventure is he excitement of find the various places around town.

Blue Eyes & Brown Eyes Lub Lub

Here are the two love birds as they wait for delicious hot ramen.

Friday, June 17, 2005



One of the things I love about big cities is the convenient public transporation. Kumamoto has buses, taxi cabs, trains, and trams. The tram is my favorite because it goes up and down the center of town, one end to the next. You never have to worry about getting lost or having to connect to another tram. This is considering you only plan on going downtown for shopping or a movie. Trains can take you anywhere else but learning all the stops is difficult, especially when all the signs are in Kanji.

I also like the trams for their affordability. It only costs a mere $1.50 for me to go 6 miles into town. I love train cultures, every is just more relaxed and there is no or hastle of having to drive the busy streets. Also, they are always on time (unlike the buses which can often be 15 to 20 minutes behind schedule) and there is a new trolly every ten to fifteen minutes. They're like clock work I tell you! Plus they are air conditioned; for me this is a most important feature. Not being used to Kumamoto's super humid and awefully hot weather escaping into a air cooled trolly is one of the surest ways to escape the smoldering Japanese summer for a few blocks. Just enough time to duck and doged narrowly saving one's self from heat stroke. Trust me, I know from personal experience.

Hamptaro the great Houdini!


Of all the places to take a nap! Dan-chan has wedged himself in his little hole which exits the connector section of the 2nd level of his cage to the ground level. He some how has gotten all four of his legs to squish out the one opening. How he managed to get himself unstuck is beyond me, but he's a hampster of many tricks.

Mini "S"

Dumb and Noisier

Here's what I like to call "S" 1 and "S" version 1.5, and between the two of them I think they may make only half a brain. Anyway, Dumb and Noisier here treat me like an outsider. It's kind of getting old, I tell you what, the offensiveness of these two!

Perched next to the stair case these outdated "S"s (yes there are many animals named "S" in this family as Grandpa Miyamoto was lucky enough to name them all. He happened to name all the animals the same. Whether that's ingenuity or lack of imagination I don't quite know. I'll leave the answer up to you, but at least now you know the rest of the story). This set of "S" are the 3rd set, as the bird versions of "S" seem to become outdated more often than not and newer versions are brought in to replace the old. That lug of a mut "S" the wonder dog is the 2nd version of dog "S". There were several cats before him too with the same namesake. What fun! I find the fact that all the animals are named the same quite funny. It's a wonder more parents don't name their children all the same. They can never remember their names later on anyway.

So the numb-butter-bird-squad here squak all the do-dah day long. Yet anytime my presence appears they just shut up and stare at me. Whether or not they are antagonizing me or entering into a staring contest I don't rightly know. What I do know is they never shut up for anyone or anytime until I appear. That's when they fidget, hop around on their wood bar, and blink at me furiously. There may be some meaning in that, but I haven't figured it out yet.

Sanpo toki no shashin

Today along my afternoon stroll I found many beautiful flowers hanging out windows and along walls containing personal gardens. I must say they were all beautiful, so I thought of posting some of the bright colors before next week. Looks like rain!


Flowers 2

Flowers 3

Flowers 4

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Pillow Shot


Taken around 8 pm tonight, I couldn't resist stepping out for a brief moment to snap a shot of tonights beautiful sunset. The one thing about Japanese culture is their love for the "pause" which allows for reflection. If you watch Japanese Anime (animation) or even the live action dramas of Japan there will be opening shots of scenery with no action or voice over. Rodger Ebert has deemed this film technique as the "pillow shot" because more often than not the image focuses on the fluffy clouds hoverying sleepily up in the sky.

The closeness of nature and technology in Japan is almost symbiotic because the point of the matter is they have to work together. With everyone and everything packed so tight it makes the "pillow shot" so much more lovely, and it has one of the greatest effects on audiences and in real life too. Moments of beauty like this can bring tears to a Japanese person's eyes and right then you know the Japanese peoples close kinship with nature. There is never escaping the urban sprawl however, because somewhere in the background is always a train crossing kooing, the buzz of relentless scooter engines which sound like mostiquetos, or the hum of electrical power lines. The "pillow shot" has it's brief potency, and then like the cherry blossoms famous for their short life span, it all fades back into the noise of humanity.

Pink tidal wash

Where the Wild Things Grow


As we journeyed home from the park I stumbled upon some beautiful wild flowers growing on the side of an irrigation ditch. The sky was overcast with dreary grey clouds when suddenly brilliant colors caught my eye. With the drab colorless cloud cover glooming up the day these flowers seemed to be generating their own light.

Sayaka looks pretty as a flower

Sayaka stopped to smell the pretty flowers too. Doesn't she look stunning next to the radiant flower patch? However I must say Sayaka is the most beautiful flower of all.

Oh but wait!

I want to play
"S"'s day isn't done yet! How could we possibly forget about "S"? This is his day in the sun.

Bardging into see why we had to stop the playing just to smell some stupid flowers, "S" made it perfectly clear that he wanted more play! After peeing on the flowers "S" headed down the path to find new exciting adventures and smells. Most importantly the smells.

Until next time!



"S" was ready to go for his walk before we were. He had his leash in his mouth and kept jumping up on us to let us know that we weren't moving fast enough, because this was his most valuable time. Walkies time!

Let's go! Let's go!

Finally getting to the park "S" took his time sniffing every bush and tree, then when he felt hot from all the hard work he slowly and carefully laid down into the water for a quick refresher.

"S" takes a drink

After taking his drink and cooling off "S" contemplates what to do next.

What should I smell next?

Monday, June 13, 2005

Sky Blue

sky blue

Due to the conjestion and density of everyday Japanese living, seeing actual blue sky is rare. Not only does the polution smog everything up, but the constant humidity and climate make for grey days all around. This is especially true during this month of June, which is considered the big rainy season.

I found this blotch of blue sky and it was so beautiful I could resist taking a picture of it.


Me at the Suizenji shrine

Kengun shrine

Kengun shrine is intracately hand tooled out of wood. It is my favorite place to go to relax as it is always quite and has the best atmosphere. Also Kengun shrine is the most attractive shrine in my opinion, but I'm a sucker for the fine craftsman ship and artistry. Several of the trees which surround this shrine are over 800 years old.

back door

Even the back entrance way to the shrine is elaborate and beautiful. The rock gateway is pre-world I war era, and maybe even older than that.

Sayaka takes a sip

It is customary to cleanse your hands and drink the water before praying on the holy grounds. Here my lovely fiance gets rejuvinated by the holy water. Of course when I went to wash I had to contend with a thirsty wasp who chased me away twice. I doubt he was there to pray.

Pathway to the Gods

Path to the Gods

One of my favorite things to do in Japan is visit the shrines and gradens. The above picture was taken at Suizenji park, which is a beautiful traditional garden. This is some of the aesthetic landscaping that I was talking about earlier.

Suizenji Park

This is one of the most beautiful parks in all of Japan. Part of the film "The Last Samurai" was filmed here, even though it wasn't credited in the movie.

pond at Suizenji

Koi are for good luck!

Koi are said to bring luck. These giant goldfish are spoiled and treated as pets by tourists and Japanese alike. Personally I think they are greedy gluttons, and it was funny to see the looks on Japanese peoples faces when I asked them if they eat Koi. Being an island nation, it seems the Japanese will eat anything that comes out of the water, accept Koi. The shock was astounding. It would be like a cowboy having to eat his lucky hoarse. Well okay, that's a bad analogy, but they do eat horse in Kumamoto. It's a rare delecassy here, but I'll spare you those photos for now.