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Archive for the 'Amami Islands' Category

Posts related to our New Year (2008) trip to Amami-ooshima

New Year’s Tangerines on Cars, and More….

For reasons I've yet to fully investigate, it's common around this time of year to see vehicles in Japan adorned with some kind of display incorporating twine, an evergreen twig, white strips of paper, and sometimes a tangerine. Just based on what else I know of Japan, I'm sure it's related to Shinto, because the white strips of paper are usually the zigzag streamers used in Shinto rituals. It's probably mostly just a non-religious custom now, having evolved from a religious purification ritual of some sort. That's my guess.

Anyway, the picture above is of an old truck on Kakeroma-jima [...]


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Random Pictures from Around Japan

Today's post is an essentially-random collection of pictures.

A view of Mt. Fuji, taken with my point-n-shoot from the window of a shinkansen (bullet train) traveling at about 250kph. This was from a trip about a year ago to Tokyo to see Kousuke Atari in concert.

A point of trivia: I believe the river you can see in the background is an electrical dividing line: household current to the east of the river (Tokyo, Nagano, Sapporo...) is 50Hz, while that to the west (Kyoto, Osaka, Nagoya, Hiroshima, Amami....) is 60Hz. The difference matters less with modern equipment, but old clocks [...]


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Tasty Keihan

Fumie's grandmother was born and raised on Amami Ooshima, an island far in the south of Japan, part of a long drawn-out chain of islands that delimits the boarder between the East China Sea and the Pacific Ocean. The island's main local specialty mean is keihan, a shredded-chicken rice/soup dish.

Fumie's grandmother lived in the Kyoto area for 50+ years after WWII, but she kept her Amami roots and continued to prepare keihan for her family when she had one. Her daughter, then, having grown up with the dish, continued to prepare it for her own family when she had [...]


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Kine Imai: 1924 – 2008

As we've been expecting any moment since her stroke at the beginning of the year, Fumie's grandmother (Fumie's mother's mother) passed away Friday afternoon. She was born Kine Ueda on Amami Ooshima (an island in southern Japan) in 1924. She was 84.

The last time I talked with her was while looking at maps and satellite photos of Amami, prior to my first trip there during the new-year's holiday, as she talked about the place she left as a teenager and longed to return to. She last visited about 10 years ago, but a mild stroke soon after left further [...]


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Fun Spooky-Tree Swing on Amami

During last month's trip to Amami Ooshima (a southern-Japan island in the East China Sea), the big attraction for Anthony at our hotel was a swing. Out behind the gift shop was a spooky-style tree with three swings hanging from it, and a bunch of netting above to allow kids to climb its expansive branches in safety.

His favorite by far was the orange buoy, which he sat on while I pushed or swung him around.

Of course, focus and composition were also a challenge, doing everything with one hand while pushing him with the other, all the while having [...]


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On the Beach at the Bashayama-mura Resort, Amami Ooshima

Despite having a cold during our vacation last week to Amami (a southern Japanese island in the East China Sea), I somehow found the energy to take a few pictures.

I'm busy now with other things lately (have you done your taxes yet?) so I haven't had time to go through our photos from the trip, so here are a few from the beginning, of Anthony playing on the beach in front of the hotel.

There was a bright overcast with only the occasional bit of sun peaking through, so there wasn't much color in the water.

Our hotel [...]


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Venting About My (sort of) Cursed Vacation

I was feeling just dandy last Saturday morning while we awaited the airport shuttle to pick us up to start a five-day mini vacation to a somewhat tropical island in southern Japan, so I was more than a little dismayed when after hauling the luggage down to the van and settling into my seat that I suddenly realized that my cold – one that plagued me for a month but had, I thought, been over for the last week – had returned with the almost audible thud of a proverbial ton of bricks hitting me. I suddenly felt miserable, and [...]


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Amami Tour Guide: Hirozou Yasuda

As I mentioned on my recent Overwhelmed: an Embarrassment of Riches post, I've been meaning to write about Hirozou Yasuda (安田ひろぞう, or just "Hirozou-san"), the guide we had for a day on Kakeromajima, one of the small southern-Japanese Amami islands in the East China Sea.

We're getting ready for another trip to Amami this weekend, having visited the first time over the New-Year's holidays. I don't know that we'll run into Hirozou-san, but Fumie has been exchanging emails, so I hope so. We really enjoyed the day we spent together.

I tended to take pictures of Anthony, so most pictures [...]


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Spooky Tree on Amami’s Kakeroma-jima Island

Finally getting around to writing one of the posts I mentioned in Overwhelmed: an Embarrassment of Riches, here's the "spooky tree" that our guide, Hirozou-san, showed us tucked away in a far corner of the small and sparsely populated Kakeroma-jima Island of southern Japan's Amami Island Group in the East China Sea. We visited Amami over the New-Year holiday.

The whole tree seems to be made up of nothing but twisty tangled clumps of aerial roots that drop down to establish new trunks. As time progresses, they get sturdier and become trunks, branching out to start the process again, thus [...]


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Overwhelmed: an Embarrassment of Riches

I feel absolutely overwhelmed with stuff I want to write about and share.

I was hoping to finally get around to posting about some interesting things from last week's trip to Kanazawa. I'd already done one post with a few pics from Kenrokuen Gardens, but there's so much more, including the interesting "Modern Art (Japanese Style)" train station, and a pool you can go into without getting wet...

However, those plans got interrupted because Saturday was the graduation ceremony at Anthony's preschool, which created its own subject matter that awaits posting. I did do the one already, but I could [...]


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Desktop Backgrounds: Bamboo, Stones, and Coral

Bamboo floor of the outside walkway at the tea house of the Murin'an gardens, taken last summer when my friends KFC and Verena visited Kyoto.

The next two are stones on the beach of Honohoshi Cove on Amami Ooshima, of the Amami island group in the far south of Japan, about where the East China Sea becomes the Pacific Ocean. The curved stones make a surprisingly calming sound as the waves wash up and down them.

The final one today is also from our trip to the Amami island group, a beach on the southern tip of Kakeroma-jima [...]


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Amami’s Mangroves

On the last day of our New Year's trip to the Amami Islands in southern Japan (all Amami posts), we went for a canoe ride among the Mangroves that grow in one spot, on the mid-eastern coast of the main Amami Ooshima island, where fresh water from a river mixes with the salt water of the East China Sea.

Fumie took on the role of Guest Services, and I was Propulsion and Documentation. (That is, she held Anthony while I paddled and occasionally tried to take a picture with one hand while trying to not drop the oar with the [...]


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Old Coral Walls of Amami

The roads of southern Japan's Amami Islands used to be lined with walls built from dead coral, but now only a few such remnants of the past remain. During our trip to Amami, we visited the most western village on Kakeroma-jima (the island outlined in purple on this map) and found some of the old walls. Some were quite tall, perhaps two meters.

The five sticks seen leaning against the walls in the image above are an example of what one often saw while driving around Kakeroma-jima: long sticks placed at frequent intervals along the road. It turns out that [...]


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Dynamic Skies in Amami

As I wrote before, it was often windy and rainy during our New-Year's trip to Amami, in southern Japan, but the weather was quite dynamic and squall might be immediately followed by brilliant sunshine.

Within 10 minutes of each of these photos being taken, it was raining.


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Odd Bridge Loopy Road Thing

While heading to the airport at the end of our trip to Amami (more Amami posts), I noticed this amazing "bridge ramp thingy" (I'm not really sure what to call it) while driving through the city of Naze, off in a direction we weren't heading.

This detailed map (courtesy of Google) shows that it makes two complete revolutions:

I've never quite seen anything like it. It's definitely on my list to check out next time we go to Amami.


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Remote-Island Bed-and-Breakfast: “Horizon Club”

Our New-Year's trip to the Amami Islands in southern Japan consisted of two nights on the main Amami-Ooshima island, followed by two nights on the much smaller, much more sparsely-populated next island south, Kakeroma-jima (カケロマ島, the island outlined in blue on the second map of my initial post). The land area covers the size of a large city, but it has a population of only about 1,000.

We stayed at Horizon Club, a "pension" (bed and breakfast) near the eastern ferry port. (Horizon Club – ホライゾンクラブ: web site - blog)

The location consists of a small two-room lodge, and three [...]


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Colorful Plants on the Amami Islands

While on our trip to the Amami Islands in the south of Japan, we came across all sorts of odd plantlife. Well, odd to us, that is. This orange pod thing came in all shapes and sizes, and looked like some kind of aloe-like plant:

In looking it up now, I see that it's not an aloe-like plant, but that is aloe, just not the non-flowering Aloe vera I was used to seeing occasionally in pots while growing up.

This next grassy-type-puffy thing was a weed found pretty much everywhere...

Beside the road at one point we came across some [...]


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Really, Really Windy Days in Amami

As I mentioned on my Amami Islands post, it was really really really windy for the first few days of our New-Year's visit to Amami Island (奄美大島) in the East China Sea in the far south of Japan. The airport is near the Kasari-cho area (the north-east part of the island) where Fumie's grandmother lived until a teenager, and in exploring that area after we arrived, we found ourselves at a deserted lighthouse at the most northern tip of the island.

I don't suppose that the picture above really shows the whipping wind very well, but it was truly impressive. [...]


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Amami Islands, Southern Japan

We took a short trip over the New Year holiday to the Amami Islands of southern Japan, in the East China Sea about halfway between Okinawa and the Japanese mainland.

The map below shows our flight back, from the northern part of the main Amami island (circled in green) to Osaka (circled in blue). Mentally, Amami feels much further away than Hokkaido (circled in Red) where we visited last May, even though the latter is indeed farther away.

When we went to Hokkaido, we took an 18-hour ferry trip, but were almost always within sight of land. The flight back [...]


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