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.
October 28, 2010
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.
October 19, 2010
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.
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.
October 18, 2010
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.
October 14, 2010
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?
October 13, 2010
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!
October 12, 2010
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.
October 11, 2010
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.