Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Adventure Time

I have been rather absent as of late, and as much as I would like to say that it was due to being far too busy having fun and exploring the country, that is not the truth, I have simply been lacking in the motivation department, and for that, I apologize. I know that not many people read this blog, but the few that do are close friends and family members, and I promised all of you upon my departure that I would keep you updated through this venue, and have failed to do so.  I am truly sorry.

So, with that out of the way, it is now time for me to try and play catch up a bit.

Two weekends ago, David and I went camping with another ALT (assistant language teacher) that I met through a forum called YETI (Yamanashi English Teachers International), it was great for both me and the other girl, because we were apparently both going a bit stir crazy with having a lack of things to do. It also helped, that she lived down in Nanbu, which is very close to Mt. Fuji.  It was great to have a weekend outside of the house, and even better to have one with great company in the middle of a gorgeous mountain region. 
The view of Nanbu
  We started our journey out by going to a small town festival at the top of one of the lower peaks, (which had a lovely view of Nanbu below where we got to meet a very nice old woman who was wearing a crocheted outfit she had made, that featured a bit more skin then I had wanted to see that day. She turned out to be the grandmother of 2 of Tara’s (the other ALT) students, and was kind enough to show us around.

She was also kind enough to treat us to a tea ceremony where we got some amazing snacks 

On the way back down to Tara’s apartment to get ready for the mountains, we passed many gorgeous flowers, and David informed us about how some bees like to get drunk and violent, he always seems to know the strangest trivial information…

I couldn't help but be amused.

Next we stopped for lunch at a little park that Tara knew of, and on the way up there we saw a freaking monkey! Sadly said monkey was too quick for me to get a photo of him, but it still made me pretty happy since I had heard from a lot of my cowokers that it’s pretty rare to see them in Yamanashi.  The park has some great Buddhist statues in it.
The bibs and hats are supposed to help protect children from harm, but to me, they looked a bit silly. 

some of the rapids we played in
After a nice meal, we finally headed to our camping destination, high up in the mountains. The location we decided upon was right alongside the stream and added the wonderful melody of rushing water to our entire stay.
We spent much of the remaining sunlight working our way down the stream and climbing down rapids and mini-waterfalls, it was quite a bit of fun, but I still wish that we had managed to find a good spot to really swim.
Once we had our fill of wandering the water, we headed upwards to check out the local onsen. For those of you who do not know, an onsen is a public bath where people bathe in hot sulfur water together in the nude. It was my first time, and I will fully admit, the first few minutes were rather awkward for me, especially since I had just met Tara that day and here we suddenly were chatting naked on top of a mountain with a bunch of old Japanese women. 
It was still a lot of fun though, and supposedly the hot mountain water mixed with sulfur is supposed to do wonders for your skin, and it was also nice because we met a sweet old woman who told us how her son lives in San Francisco and that she loves how beautiful America is. This encounter was made even better when we later found out that David had met her husband on the men’s side and had had almost an identical conversation with him about their son, suppose they are just an outgoing couple.

The rest of the night was spent playing cards, talking, and Tara telling a random conbini worker that I am an alcoholic (which is only partially true…), we had to spend most of the night huddled in our tent since it began raining, but that was fine, especially since the rain left us with a gorgeous fog the next morning.

We all woke up quite early the next morning to investigate the area away from the stream, and what we found were some amazing spiderwebs that a group of spiders had banded together to create. Some snails moving slowly to, well, somewhere. And a rather creepy empty building covered in rust and broken appliances. 

freaking creepy.
this is where every leech in Japan lives
On the way back down, Tara suggested we take a hike to see some gorgeous waterfalls, but we never quite made it to the bottom, because it would appear the trail leading to them is where every leech in Japan lives. During our hour or so on that trail, I personally picked off 22 of the buggers and am not ashamed to admit I was the first one to chicken out and head back up, the leeches just thought I was far too tasty

While still cringing from our encounter with the leeches, well, except David, who actually thought they were really cool and kept messing with them, we stumbled upon some rather strange remains of… something. We still have no idea what it used to be, but it was certainly odd. I did not get to go in as far as I had hoped though, because David pointed out a weird bug to Tara and she freaked out, proclaiming she had had enough bug encounters for the day. 

Upon calming down from all the bugs, it was decided that we should go to Tara’s favorite organic restaurant in the area, which also happened to be right across the way from Mt. Fuji, it also turned out that I had heard of this place from a documentary about the Jukai (aka suicide forest), so I was quite happy to check it out.   The food was quite tasty, although rather pricy since it was all made on site from their own gardens.
neat organic cafe
Overall it was a fantastic weekend, and while we did end up spending more money they we had originally planned, it was worth it to get rid of all my pent up frustrations from being stuck inside.

Now, I will close this off with a cute photo of David and I being, well, cute.