Well, since I had a three day weekend I really wanted to go on an overnight trip and stay some where. I was contemplating going to
By the way, in other news about my condition here in
And thus begins another rant. The types of bikes that seem to be popular in
So on to the story. After rushing back to the dorms after that last post, I quickly showered and got ready to go to
I was told by Kari that this temple had so many steps that the group she went with before had taken one look at them and turned around. These were the steps. And I must say, there were far less than I expected. I hardly even got my heart rate up. But, I suppose that is to be expected. There are only a few people who can keep pace with me in this program. Most everybody seems positively destroyed by the heat, but it really isn’t so bad as long as you dress well (I have gone commando the entire trip, except for when I put on nicer clothes), drink water and don’t use any of the anti-persperant sprays that are popular in Japan. Ok, so sweating is a little gross, but you sweat for a reason.
Unfortunately, the way that most people seem to try to beat the heat is by going at a pace that is so unbelievably slow that it could be mistaken for being asleep. This is a source of untold frustration for me. The other things that make us go painfully slow are taking photos, and shopping. By the way by taking photos I don’t mean “Line up shot, snap, done” I mean “Alright, now lets take a picture with A and B. Now just with B. Now let’s take one with all of us. Now let’s retake one because I looked kind of bad…” When this happens at literally EVERY scenic location, it gets really, really old. And why the hell do you need so many souvenirs! Actually, no, souvenirs I would be OK with, but when you are shopping for clothes that are available in
The picture is of the gate of
This is the pure water of Kiomizu temple. I tried some, it was good.
On the way back we saw this picture. I have no idea what they are trying to sell, but whatever it is, I want some!
Then we went to Karaoke.
Karaoke is so much fun. Perhaps even too much fun since I become so happy and excited that it borders on belligerent.
And once again I totally destroyed my voice. I should have started with calm songs rather than “Cryin’” by Aerosmith.
So the next day I woke up at 9 and got left behind as Kari, Mary, Cindy and some others went to the Gion festival, while I did laundry. Sigh. I then spent the next hour and a half trying to think of what to do with Tamoko and Mayumi, who are the new tutors and have already appeared in some of the pictures. Finally, frustrated by the fact that everyone else was waking up at and just wanting to do something, I told Morimori I was going to Maibara and walked to the station. However, upon reaching the station, my plans changed. Maibara would cost 950 yen, and would probably suck. However, Iga-Ueno cost the same and I had actually researched it ahead of time while still in
The train ride was very scenic, and for the first part an old woman sat down next to me and tried to talk to me. This was a pleasant change since most of the time no one will ever sit down next to me on the train, much less talk to me. In fact, later that very day a college aged girl and her boyfriend got on the same train as me, but when she went to sit next to me on the only open seat on the entire train, her boyfriend tightly squeezed her shoulder and pointed to the back of the train, where they then stood for 10 minutes until a seat opened up. Anyway, I reached Iga-Ueno station by way of a puttering gas-powered train bus (which shows you how remote this area is) and then took a bus to
And here is the keep of the castle. Cost 500 yen for admission. Very simple layout once you get in. This keep is actually a keep that was built later, since the original was destroyed by high winds.
Inside was a small but respectable collection of armor and arms as well as pottery and lacquer ware. I liked how they actually had the armor that peasant conscripts (the well equipped ones at least) would have worn.
This is the beast that is on top of Ueno castle. I have no idea what it is. In the background you can see Ueno.
And me with the castle.
So this was great, on the site of the old castle, the city has built a water tank. Hey, it is, after all, the highest point in town.
So, the thing that Iga is really famous for (or I should say, the only thing that Iga is famous for) is Ninjas. There is in fact, a “Ninja House” that one can visit. On my way to check it out, I discovered this beautiful pile of shrine stones.
But when I got to the Ninja house I was turned off by a variety of things. It was very crowded, it cost 700 yen, and there were women dressed in pink Ninja costumes shouting “Irashaimase”. I’m just not that into Ninjas. So I went back to the tourist map and tried to find something else to do. It was then that I say a sign for the “
I decided to take another route home, and while I paid only 950 yen for the return price, I actually rode the train for about 3 ½ hours. I saw some really picturesque scenery on the way from Ueno to
On the 18th of July I finally got to go for a positively awesome hike. I have been trying to find great places to hike ever since coming to
So, first a little background. I first learned about
So the monastery was rebuilt under the Tokugawa Shogunate, though it never regained its former importance. Here is Mary and Tomoko with
And here we are maybe 1/5th of the way up the mountain. Maybe I should set the scene a little too. It was sunny, really hot, and humid. No breeze at this part of the mountain. Maiyumi and Tomoko had planned to wear sandals, but I absolutely forbade this, and we spent a large portion of the previous night searching for shoes for them. Still, they were not exactly dressed for the hike. The stairs behind us in this picture, by the way, were REALLY hard to climb for some reason. If you ever go on this hike, realize that this is the hardest part.
This is us halfway up the mountain. I was so impressed with everybody. They stuck it out with out many complaints. It total it took us about an hour and a half. It was a beautiful hike. It left me feeling refreshed.
Here are the ruins of a temple. These type of ruins appear to be all over the mountain.
This is the main building of the reconstructed temple.
So this was really intresting. I ran across the exact same thing in
And once again, a pretty roof.
So there was no way we were going to hike down. We shelled out the 840 yen for the cable car ride.