Monday, May 31, 2010

#16: Public Transportation

Here in Japan we don't own a car. Really, there's no need and that freedom is nice. That is why I have put public transportation on my list of things we are going to miss about Japan. It's somewhat convenient and earth-friendly. :)

Deacon loves the trains!


A rare occasion....a bench all to ourselves. :)


This is the inside of the station we use the most, Den-en-chofu.
video

Figuring out the train system in Japan is a daunting task. But, once you've accomplished it everything starts falling into place and it's quite easy from that point.

A map and the listings of how much it costs to get from where you are to where you're going. Underneath the map are the ticket machines.


In America a teenager looks forward to the day they turn 16 because with it comes a driver's license and with that, a new-found sense of freedom. Here in Japan that just isn't the case. Many people don't even have a driver's license, or if they do they got it much later in life than 16 years old. They don't need it. Getting somewhere one doesn't need to rely on always having a licensed driver. Just hop on a train. You can get almost anywhere in Japan via public transportation. Be it train, bus, taxi, and/or ferry.

Little guy waiting for his train to get to school.


We have been able to go to a lot of places in Japan thanks to an amazing rail system. Here we are on a shinkansen (bullet train) with our friends.




My wonderful and dear friends, Jennifer and Evonne, came to visit us in Japan. We took a trip out of the city and I was asking them where we were going. As you can see, no one was all that excited that I was taking this video. :)
video

Trains have a lot of great amenities. We took a trip down south to the Izu Peninsula and on that train ride our train had a children's play room. Deacon had a blast. :)


One thing, however, I WON'T miss about public transportation is crowded trains. They are AWFUL. Seriously, packed. Just when you think no one else can get on five more people seem to fit! It puts the stuffing-clowns-into-a-car feat at a circus to shame. It's that bad. If you have ever heard rumors of people having to be pushed into trains by station attendants just to get the doors of the train to shut because they are so crowded the rumors are true. I have seen it only once (it's mainly during the morning rush hour which I try to avoid) and it makes me stare. Even though my mama taught me that staring is rude, I just can't help it. It's unlike anything I have ever seen. I have posted a video below from youtube.com. We have never taken a pic...I think we were too busy staring in amazement to think about pulling out a camera.






I posted this on a post a long time ago but I figured it needed to be re-posted for this entry because it's just so funny. This happened to me after we had been here maybe two months and hasn't happened since. I'm so glad we got it on video.

video

Thursday, May 6, 2010

#17: Mt. Fuji

The first four months we were in Japan the majestic Fuji was elusive to us. We even went to a spot where it was almost a guarantee we could see it but it never appeared. I like to think the mountain is shy often hiding behind clouds. My first glimpse of Fuji was in May of 2008. It was breathtaking. It's like I was looking at a painting or a picture or huge backdrop or something. It just didn't seem real. I took a pic that day but as always with majestic scenery the pictures don't do Fuji justice.



Jason has climbed this beast and we hope to do so again at the end of July just before we leave Japan. I can't not climb this thing! :) This mountain (or dormant volcano) is beautiful. I love it because it stands alone and it ascends gradually when you look at it from far away. I am so thankful that I have been able to see it on just more than one occasion. I will miss having the possibility of seeing it. Seeing Mt. Fuji is not part of our daily life but it is one of those things that have made this place, this country, beautiful for us.

These pics below aren't ours but I wanted to post some that showed a more "thorough" view of Mt. Fuji and some with cherry blossoms (also one of my favorites).





#18: Seto

Tucked away on a very tiny street is a small restaurant named, Seto. Seriously, it's tiny. There is only space for about 7 people to sit down at a bar. The chefs, a precious little elderly couple, have a very small space in which to maneuver. This place is fabulous for more reasons than just delicious food. The atmosphere is comfy and familiar. People come in and talk to one another. It's the Japanese version of the local dinner/coffee shop of the U.S.

Whenever we go we always get the same thing...chicken katsu. Basically, fried chicken but not fried chicken like in the U.S. There are no bones just succulent chunks of chicken, battered in a flaky breading and smothered in a delicious sauce that is common to Japanese katsu. This sauce, however, is homemade and better than any other katsu sauce I've had in Japan. The rest of the dish is served with a cabbage salad (love cabbage now thanks to Japan), the best miso soup, pickled daikon (a root vegetable that is a staple in Japanese foods), and a bowl of rice. I will most certainly miss this little place, the people, the feeling of it, and the food.

The front of the restaurant. This picture shows the width of this place...see, it's tiny.


The precious elderly couple who own and run this place. It's just the two of them. :)


Jason took this pic from the outside looking in. Where the picture cuts off on the right hand side is where the wall is. Walking between the wall and the stools is like scooting between people in rows of seats....slide front foot out, bring the back foot to the front foot and repeat the shuffle as you scoot along to your stool.


Enjoying some fabulous food. Jason's cousin, Ryan, was in town visiting us. Jason took this pic from the outside, through a little window, looking in.


After the meal Deacon and I hop onto the bike to head home. He loves riding in the bike and where his helmet...or "hat" as he calls it. :)








Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Hiccup in the countdown....

We lost our camera on our trip to China in March. Hence, I have been delayed on my countdown. Having no camera to easily tote around to capture the shots necessary to document all that I need/want to has caused me some slight delay. However, there is good news...we have just received our new camera in the mail. I have been taking pics and so the posting will commence. Hopefully at a some what rapid pace because I have a lot of catching up to do.