Friday, 29 October 2010

Funny Little Cars

Japan has some great and well known cars, this is no secret. But when you live in this island chain there are quite a few strange ones they seem to know will not do well abroad. These models have funny names like "what" "voxy" "scrape" and other names fitting their strange forms. As most of you have never been to Japan and have only witnessed their North American friendly models I am going to try and give you a glimpse of my streetmates here in the land of the rising sun. The funniest is by far the Japanese trucker penchant for dressing up trucks like something out of transformers, or better yet, the road warrior. There are black ultra-nationalist right wing group (think Japanese skinhead) cars that spew noise and propaganda and hate over the streets. Funny delivery trucks abound as do three wheel mini cars, this is a priceless sight to see for car fans, hopefully we can get some of these strange things into Canada: would be awesome to have a three wheeled transformer car.

Oh Japan...silly place

Thursday, 21 October 2010

Monkeys Gone Wild

Here in Japan we live with Monkeys in every forest even near urban centres. We were with our good friend Olly and on his second day here we saw a monkey race across the freeway in front of us, on his first day here we saw them hanging by the side of a road, so needless to say you are bound to see monkeys if you spend time in Japan. Well, maybe not if you are in Tokyo. Today I was fishing in the dam and on my way back to the car I spotted a large male eating persimmons in a tree, good thing this time I had my camera! He was quite easy to take pictures of and just kept munching on fruit until he decided the shoot should end and ran past me along a fence. This was a bit nerve wracking as male monkeys in Japan are known be aggressive, especially when cornered, but he and I ended the ordeal unscathed, so here are some pics for you all to enjoy.

Monday, 18 October 2010

Our Garden

It's been a long time coming..... but after a lot of work, here is our garden. Josh made it for me and we have maintained it together. Believe it or not we are still harvesting tomatoes and are planning on harvesting our peppers and carrots. We are a little worried about who will look after our bonsais when we leave but I have been so happy to have a beautiful place to sit outside.

We hope that you like our garden!

Hike in Kobe's high-end boar country

The other day we ventured across the nearby Rokko Mountain which divides us in Sanda from the regional capital of Kobe for a little jaunt in the mountains. What we came across surprised the both of us, Ashiya, a district of Kobe Japan overlooking both Osaka and Kobe reputed to be the most expensive in East Asia. At average prices for houses here going for $100, 000, 000 and apartment condos going for $10, 000, 000 we were floored, given the cramped and often rough quarters most Japanese live in.

An interesting note about this neighbourhood is the fact that it is a haven of wild boar, and signs around town warn people of their presence.
The whole hike began with a drive through an expensive toll road ($10 for 15 km!) which were loaded with porsches, ferrarris, lambourghinis, lotuses and other cars rarely seen around town. At points we saw groups of these cars huddled in the rest stations with their wealthy drivers proudly strutting among their competition. One way we know these are rich people is that credit in Japan is not what it is in most of the world, you can not get large car loans or credit cards and most loans need to be payed off monthly, meaning these cats were high rollers.

Next, we arrived in Ashiya and this was an incredible experience to behold. Houses from design magizines, a Frank Lloyd Wright 1929 original, and incredible resort-like villas carpeted the valley. The entrance to the mountain was graced with an impressive waterfall, which had it's own shrine to the inner Kami of the waterfall. This led onto a trail of rugged rocks and sandstone outcrops called Rock Garden, which was full of hikers and nature watchers. I would recommend climbing this trail anytime if not for the spectacular views over Osaka bay alone but for the boar sightings.

Along the trail there are signs warning of the boar and their aggressive tendencies and several groupings of their scat and trail marks. While halfway up the mountain we came across a cute female boar who nonchalantly strolled passed us and then hung around, no doubt for food, for quite a while. She was calm and beautiful, nothing like their horrid depictions of these animals.
She wagged her tail like a dog when she found some crumbs to munch on and passed alongside us within a meter, happily sauntering aroung for a little photo shoot. Our first boar was a great experience and the highlight of this hike. To be in this surreal rock outcrop of Rokko Mountain looking over the bay while being surrounded by wildlife like boar, birds and the rich 'n' famous was beyond our expectations when we set off in the morning. Overall, the great neighbourhood, cute wild boar, rugged rocky trail trail and spectacular views, I would say this was an incredible day and a place anyone coming to Kobe ought see.