October 28, 2010

Red Spider Lily

Filed under: Chuugoku, Domestic, Trips — Tags: , , — myyearinjapan @ 11:40 pm

Throughout Yamaguchi, we saw a lot of these red spider lilies, called higanbana (彼岸花) in Japanese. It is a very common flower to see in fall. The name comes from higan and hana (flower). Higan is a Buddhist holiday celebrated at both the autumnal equinox and vernal equinox. Since the flower blooms near the holiday, it borrowed the holiday’s name. It seems like this holiday is celebrated by holding services at Buddhist temples. This isn’t one of those party-in-the-streets holidays. Those holidays are part of Japan’s other religion, Shinto. Most people in Japan celebrate aspects of both religions.

Higanbana 1

The Red Spider Lily in all her glory.


I find this picture to be slightly less glorious.

Rainy Mountaintop

Filed under: Chuugoku, Domestic, Trips — Tags: , , — myyearinjapan @ 12:13 am

After leaving the hotel, we drove up to the top of a mountain, which I’ve forgotten the name of. This mountain is supposed to have a great view of the ocean but with the torrential rain that was falling, we couldn’t see more than 10 meters in front of us most of the time we were up there. The view was still nice, but it was a very different view from what we expected.


Drenched fence


As I said, it was quite rainy and no one was around except for us. But the place is definitely set up for a good amount of visitors.

wind turbine

It cleared off for a monute and we got a nice view of this wind turbine, but it was still too cloudy to see the sea.



October 19, 2010

Same view in the daytime

Filed under: Chuugoku, Domestic, Trips — Tags: , , — myyearinjapan @ 11:55 pm

In my previous post, I posted pictures of the view from outside our hotel in Yamaguchi at night. These pictures are the same view in the daytime. It was raining slightly when I took these pictures and later in the morning, we had torrential rain, so the sky looks a bit ominous.

view 1

Looking at the view to the left

view 2

And to the right.

view 3

Looking directly out from the hotel at Honshu, the main Japanese island.


A black cat, perhaps to suggest the dark weather ahead later in our day? This little fellow wouldn't stop meowing. The hotel owner kept trying to shoo him away though.

From the Little Island

Filed under: Chuugoku, Domestic, Trips — Tags: , , — myyearinjapan @ 12:33 am

Our hotel during our trip to Yamaguchi was on a little island off the coast. It wasn’t too far off the coast. It was easily accessible by bridge. But before driving onto the island, we took a boat ride around the island to see the sights. The boat was quite shaky and most people were lulled to sleep by the rocking. We could barely hear the guide explaining what we were seeing. In the end, it was like paying $20 to take a nap. Near the end of the ride, my travel companions both woke up and looked out the window and said, “wow! that’s a big island!” They were looking at Honshu, the main Japanese island, but they thought they were seeing the little island we had just gone around. Try as I might to correct them, they didn’t believe me until we got into the port that they were actually looking at Honshu. These pictures are also looking out from the little island to Honshu.


palm tre

A palm tree outside of our hotel


Honshu, the main island. The lights don't look that impressive, but I think it has more to do with the town on the other sode being small than the distance between the little isle and the main isle.


A couple of street lamps light up the water.There must be a bigger city over that mountain the the distance because it's spilling light pollution.

October 18, 2010

More mosaics

Filed under: Chuugoku, Domestic, Trips — Tags: , , — myyearinjapan @ 6:18 am

In addition to the record setting mosaic that I talked about in my last post, there were a couple of other mosaic outside the Misuzu Kaneko Memorial Museum.  Rather than being photo mosaics, these were made with painted pieces of wood. If you’re wondering why this mosaic was made…I don’t know. It seems pretty random to me.

Whale mosaic

Whale tale mosaic

Misuzu Kaneko mosaic

Another mosiac portraying Misizu Kaneko

Mosaic Graffiti

If you look a lit bit closer at the mosaic, you notice that it's covered in graffiti. The one in the middle of this picture says, "Life is precious."


"A kind heart is a treasure."

October 14, 2010

World Record Photo Mosaic

Filed under: Chuugoku, Domestic, Trips — Tags: , , — myyearinjapan @ 1:03 am

Among the famous people who are from Yamaguchi prefecture is Misuzu Kaneko, a poet who lived at the beginning of the 20th century. Although she committed suicide at the age of 26, she was very prolific during the period in which she was writing. During my trip to Yamaguchi, I visited the memorial museum dedicated to Misuzu Kaneko. The museum is her childhood home and throughout the house, her poems are posted so that you can read as you walk around. They try to have the poems be relevant to the location they post them at. For example, next to the bath is a poem about the bath. And if you lack the amount of imagination necessary to imagine a bathtub, you can peek around the corner and see the very bathtub Misuzu is imagining. Poems that don’t relate to objects in the house directly are relegated to the back of the museum, next to the gift shop. Also next to the gift shop: a giant photo mosaic of Misuzu Kaneko’s face made of pictures of other people’s faces that holds the Guinness world record for largest photo mosaic. Or rather, a smaller reproduction of a world record mosaic, but does it really matter if it’s the real deal or not?

Misuzu Kaneko Mosaic

The full mosaic in all it's glory. On the side it has the final lines of her most famous poem, "Me and a small bird and a bell" (わたしと小鳥と鈴と). It reads, "Everyone is different. Everyone is great."

Her face

Her face only

Her nose

Her nose only.

tip of her nose

The tip of her nose. Look at all those smiling faces! Actually, it's a bit blurry and hard to see, so I apologize, but just trust me that this picture of pictures of faces is a small part of the mosaic.

October 13, 2010


Filed under: Chuugoku, Domestic, Food, Trips — Tags: , , — myyearinjapan @ 5:50 am

Chikuwa is a Japanese tube shaped food made from fish. In Yamaguchi, we happened by a place where there were several shops selling chikuwa. One of the old ladies working at a shop asked me, “What’s chikuwa in English?” To which I responded, “chikuwa.” And then she hit me! But whenever I bought chikuwa in the states, it was labeled as “Chikuwa.” I was being honest that it’s called “chikuwa” in english too!

Chikuwa on a string

A bunch of chikuwa pieces all strung up. This is not a typical way to serve or display chikuwa. It's just for show.

Making chikuwa

Making the chikuwa. Apparently they mix the fish with flour and such then wrap the mix around a stick and either boil or steam it.

October 12, 2010

A Train and Wind Turbines, by the Sea

Filed under: Chuugoku, Domestic, Trips — Tags: , , — myyearinjapan @ 7:32 am

This is my 200th post. Yay! Thanks for reading, everyone!

A little over a week ago, I took a trip to Yamaguchi prefecture with a couple of my co-workers, the farthest West prefecture on the main Japanese island of Honshu. It is closer to South Korea than Tokyo and apparently used to be refered to as the Western capital (西京), which answered a question I’ve always wondered about… (I’m mixing names of Japanese and Chinese cities here, but bear with me please. If Tokyo is the Eastern capital (東京 – East Capital is what the characters literally mean), Beijing is the Northern capital (北京) and Nanjing is the Southern capital (南京), is there a Western capital anywhere?)

Anyway, on the way to Yamaguchi, we drove along the coast and had many beautiful views of the sea.  The following pictures are from one of the first places we stopped at, just after getting to the coast.


Wind turbines

Wind power! Instead of having wind farms with hundreds of turbines mass producing wind power, these two wind turbines were just there by themselves. They looked a bit lonely.



the sea

Looking out at the beach and the sea. The weather has cooled down a good bit so no one was swimming, but I understand that this beach is packed in the summer time.



Train by the sea

This train probably doesn't run more than once an hour and we were only sitting at this place for about 5 minutes, so we were pretty lucky to see it. Maybe sometime I can take this train. It seems to have a very nice view.


October 11, 2010


Filed under: Inaka Life, Interesting — Tags: , , — myyearinjapan @ 11:58 pm

Around here, especially in and around my apartment building, there are a lot of spiders. Not just tiny little spiders, but big spiders too. And they make quite large webs, quickly. If you get home at 10 pm and park your car in the lot, by 8 am the next morning, a spider has often made a web connecting your car to the car next to it, I’ve been told. Impressive. They also have managed to make a very large web outside of my building, connecting the second floor of my building to the electrical pole and wires a few meters away. And this web has outlasted several violent rainstorms.

Spiderweb 1

This little fellow built his web on my balcony.

Spiderweb 2

Another view of the big web on my balcony.


Look ma! No hands! A spider in mid air. Actually, he has a web, it's just hard to see.

Spiderweb 4

Same spider. This was taken at a beach by the sea. At the bottom of the shot, a couple of my co-workers.


This spider was huge! The size of a hand! He was creeping around the hotel I stayed at for a night. Yikes! I hope he isn't poisonious!

October 7, 2010

Kit Kat Flavors 4

Filed under: Desserts, Food, Kit Kat Flavors — Tags: , , — myyearinjapan @ 2:30 am

The Kit Kats are back and just as flavorful as ever!

Kit Kat Coca Cola Flavor

A two for one deal! Cola flavor and Lemon Squash flavor. Seen in Tokyo.

Kit Kat Strawberry Flavor

Kit Kat Strawberry Flavor. Limited edition. Seen at my local convenience store.

Kit Kat Sparking Strawberry Flavor

Kit Kat sparkling strawberry flavor. Not to be confused with strawberry flavor. Seen at my local convenience store.

Kit Kat Banana Flavor

Kit Kat Banana flavor. Seen at my local convenience store.

Kit Kat Semisweet flavor

Kit Kat Semisweet flavor. Seen at my local convenience store.

Kit Kat Salt and Caramel Flavor

Kit Kat Salt and Caramek Flavor. Seen at my local convenience store.

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