Arrgghhggh! Somehow I don't have any of the photos from day four of the trip!!, when we were in Fujimi, Nagano. How could they just disappear from the computer like that?!?
Anyway, what happened, was we arrived in Fujimi map, Nagano around 10:40 moblog . We set up out bikes and hit the road. I guess if I have to choose a period to loose the photos for, this may be the best. It was the most memorable of the trip, so I don't really need the photos I guess.
Our goal for the day was to reach the nearby Haramura map, where we had actually visited a few years ago on our birthday. (which happens to be Oct 1!!). We never have taken he dance lessons that I promised to Tomoe as a birthday present...
Anyway, we rode out from the station and the view was amazing. The sky was deep blue and the fields were deep green. This was the first time it really struck me how much sky is visible when you get out of Tokyo. Every time I looked up I couldn't help but stop Tomoe and say "Wow! Look at that!" about nothing in particular.
We stopped early on to have a great picnic lunch moblog Tomoe had prepared before she left Tokyo that morning (remember she had to work the day before). We sat there next to the field while dragon files buzzed around us, and all seemed good in the world.
A half hour later we were on our bikes again and heading further north moblog into the mountains. Along the way, Tomoe passed an old farmer woman in her truck who stopped to ask where we were going. When Tomoe told her, she asked what we would do for dinner. Tomoe replied that we would probably buy some vegetables when we get there and the woman started throwing freshly picked corn at her moblog. We thought we had our dinner, but in actuality, the corn had a rough time, half of it was eaten by wild animals while we slept that night, and the other half was not finished until two days later. The problem was just that everywhere we went there was always something good to eat. If we didn't eat it at that moment, it would forever be trumped by something fresher.
We arrived in Haramura much earlier than we expected, finding that there was not really much to do once we got there. Four years ago, without bikes, just walking from place to place took up an entire day, but now, we were able to visit all the places we had been then, see how they had changed over the years, and still it was light out.
Luckily the rain came to add a little drama to the day. During the whole trip it only rained twice. Both showers were less than one thirty minutes in duration, and both were within a two hour period moblog, moblog. Having waited out both of the rains moblog, moblog, we made our way to the Canadian Village, a very unique plot of land owned by a crazy Japanese man who built an amazing house/restaurant by hand. The reason we visited the area four years ago was mainly to see this place, which Tomoe had learned about from a cookbook written by the Canadian ex-wife of the crazy Japanese man.
The crazy man moved there some thirty years ago, at which time ran around his property naked, while building his house. The tourists heard about it and began to visit, turning his home into a restaurant. By now, he is a regular on NHK, and they film on his estate. The weekend we were there, some fashion photographers were stopping by to do a shoot in the outdoor kitchen.
I spent a while chatting with him about his house and lifestyle. He told me "This lifestyle doesn't need money." Hmmm... then why is it we could only afford to eat a loaf of bread and butter at their restaurant that doesn't need money? (It was a dang god loaf of bread and butter though, and we went back the next morning for more.)
Taking a break from the trip, I'll post some photos from Tokyo these past few days.
So we arrived in Katsunuma map, wine country, and tourist country. The orchards were beautiful, and the grapes looked delicious moblog. Tomoe would be leaving that night to go back to Tokyo for work on Friday, so we mistakenly tried to "fit a lot in" to the rest of the day. Unfortunately, when you try to fit a lot in, you miss way too much. We were in the "city" for most of that day, where it was hot and there were lots of hills, with little rewarding scenery.
Since we were there, I convinced Tomoe to go to do some wine tasting moblog moblog. There is free wine tasting all around the city, but that would require riding our bikes more in the heat and hills, so we opted to pay a thousand yen or so for access to tourist joint that had gathered hundreds of brands from around the city.
The wine was crap, but that's OK, we didn't loose too much money, though in the end we decided it would have been much nicer to buy a 2000 yen bottle and sit and drink it on a nice bench overlooking the city, rather than sample hundreds of 500 yen per bottle wines. Live and learn.
Tomoe left for Tokyo moblog, and I headed back to the tourist joint for the bath, which was pleasantly affordable at only 600.. or was it 800 yen? Anyway, after a day of bike riding, it was well worth it, and what's more, it was an outdoor bath over looking the city from the top of a mountain. (actually it was called "Grape Hill") I spent an hour in the bath, than another hour in the break room filling up on free ice water.
When the break room closed, I set out to find a place to pitch my tent for the night. I found a nice little temple a couple hundred meters away, so didn't even have to break a sweat riding my bike. I was all freshened up from the bath and ready for a good nights sleep, but the inside of my tent moblog was like a sauna, and the mosquitos gathering outside smelled blood. It was not a pleasant night.
The next morning view made up for it. I was packed up by 7:00 moblog, and headed down to a nice grape vineyard where I would spend the next couple hours painting.
While I was there, a peach farmer stopped by to chat, I learned a lot I wish I had the time and patience to repeat here, but... Anyway, he left after chatting for a half hour or so. A couple minutes later he drove up with a bag of fresh grapes and other fruits and vegetables moblog. My dream of a grape breakfast was realized, and there were still some left over for lunch.
I packed up my painting tools, and started to explore more of the local farms. Along the way I was given even more grapes moblog, so now I had my dinner moblog and nighttime snack... and Saturday's breakfast.
I spent Saturday night in much the same way I did Friday night, with the exception of the wine tasting fiasco. Another one hour bath... one of the greatest things about being on the road in Japan is that everywhere you go, there is a great bath... every night.
If anyone is interested, the first or second weekend of October (you'll have to confirm this yourself) is a huge festival where 500 yen will get you a bottomless wine glass. good at any winery in the city. On top of that, grapes are all you can eat- for free.
It's pretty crowded I would imagine, but it's only a two hour train ride from Tokyo to Katsunuma Budokyo station on the Chyuo line, and the grapes are awesome!
I finally have a chance to give a little narrative about my trip. It's more for myself, so I don't forget, but you're welcome to read too. I'll be peppering it with photos and links to photos. Unfortunately, I already used up the best shots from the trip in my teaser posts.
So here goes...
We woke up early Wednesday and each rode our bikes to Meidai-mae where we dis-assembled them moblog much to the chagrin of the angry "no-bike-parking here!" man. A little over an hour later we were in Ootsuki city map moblog, in Yamanashi-ken. I'll skip over the boring parts like when my bike fell apart as soon as I started riding it, and we had to spend another hour or so hanging out in front of the hardware shop trying on different size bolts before I finally got it patched up and we hit the road for our amazing journey.
We followed the JR Chuo line as far as Hatsukari map moblog, where we decided to take the long scenic route over a couple mountain passes instead of following the busy highway to Sasagomap, where we planned to stay the night. Besides, if we had taken the highway, we would have arrived less than three hours after starting the trip.
We made it down to Sasago map by nightfall only to find that the bath house we saw on the map had gone out of business, and the nearest grocery store was back in Hatsukari map (where we had come from a couple hours earlier) Granted we could have taken the highway to Hatsukari in about twenty minutes, but we would have lost all sense of accomplishment for riding over the mountain.
Hungry, sweaty, tired and dejected, we happened upon a dingy little roadside diner, where it looked like we could get a cheap bowl of rice moblog. As luck would have it (and often does when we travel) the only other customer in the diner was a construction worker who was living in the now defunct bathhouse / inn. It had in fact been turned into a dormitory for the companies workers and truck drivers. He made a few calls and before you know it we were relaxing in a nice tatami room after a great hot bath moblog.
He didn't have the authority to let us stay in the old inn for free, but let us set up our tent in the back, away from the busy road. Day one was a complete and utter success!
We arrived in Katsunuma early afternoon, but my finger is cramping up now, so I'll have to continue this tale later. For now, you can check out these photos.
Still no time to post a few words about the trip, but it's not so bad because a lot of cool things are happening now, and I'm overflowed with projects I enjoy. I hope I can find time before I forget about it. Until then, here are a few more photos.
More to come...
More to come...
Too many stops.
Drinking a beer after a bath.
Small town. Supermarket closed on Sunday, no7-11... yet they live.
We, on the other hand, have to eat at a truck stop.
An old farmer woman gave us our dinner for tonight.
Eating an onigiri and grapes overlooking Katsunuma.
Soon I'll go to the outdoor bath with the same view.
Ran into mom & pop greap farmers packaging their harvest. Recieved more grapes, so stopped in shade to eat.
So far I've eaten about 50 bucks worth.
Sapporo wine factory.
As I was sitting in a vinyard painting, a farmer stopped by. We chatted about 20 minutes and he left.
5 minutes later, he came back with a bag of fresh grapes & tomatoes.
Had a great bath in open air bath. Now enjoying sauna in tent. Outside is cool with beautiful moon--and skeeters.
Tomoe has to work Friday. We meet here Sat. Then to Nagano.
I'm off for a week by bike around Nagano. I don't have my air-h yet, so I can't post photos from my real camera along the way, but I do have my mobile, and Kevin Cameron (that's me!) from The Bastish Net was kind enough to make Mfop2 which allows me to moblog the journey... and since it's a company phone, and I'm not paying the billl, I'm going to take my second stab at moblogging.
My first and only attempt to actually use my software previously was a few months ago when I first recieved my phone from the boss. I was out to dinner with an Simon Parker, an Mfop user visiting from England, and I Mfoped some photos from the night to his blog Here and here.
New evidence indicates that exercise and weight training in combination with lowered levels of alcohol consumption actually help to promote fat gain and muscle loss.
Today I had a one-month-or-so physical revue at the gym. After diligently waking up at 6 am three to four times a week and jogging to the gym where I cram as much weight training in as I can before it's time to go to work, while my weight has stayed the same, I have actually gained fat mass, and lost muscle mass.
How can this be? I asked the fitness expert, and he told me I should watch what I eat. Well, I have pretty much stopped drinking, I eat more vegetables, and fruits, less potato chips (which were my only greasy weakness) and haven't received a box of cookies and chocolate from home for over a month.
The expert looked stumped. He suggested I try jogging. I told him I run to the gym every day. Granted, it's not a marathon, but it raises my heart rate.
I suggested the machine that measured me was wrong. After all, I feel one-hundred times better, I'm running faster and lifting heavier, and I am closer to my high-school form than I have been in years. Obviously loosing muscle mass wouldn't make me (more than before) ripped. Obviously the extra fat mass is not making me stronger.
His response to this was that it is probably due to my form while lifting. He then followed me through the weight room looking for anything that may have been a little off in my form, such as I lowered the bar 1 second to fast, that would account for the fat gain. When I objected to some of what he told me was bad form, and harmful to my body, he stuck by his story until about ten minutes later, having forgotten what he said previously, he told me either way is fine. To the end, he never accepted that the machine might be wrong.
Oh how I love talking to smart people like that.
I had made up my mind to let my boss know tomorrow that I am leaving. Then I chicken out again. The thing that scares me this time is not the idea of quitting when unemployment is so high... it's not doubt over whether or not I can get into a grad-school next year, it's not if the boss-man will be so peeved at me that he refuses to give any recommendations... I've overcome all those fears.
No, what scares me this time is the thought of giving up all my stuff. I was sitting in my massage chair a bit tonight, and although I rarely use it, I am afraid that I will never be able to find another massage chair that cheaply.
This afternoon, Klee was sitting in the window facing the river. On five separate occasions people walking by on their Sunday stroll stopped to watch her and commented. I'm afraid that if I give up this apartment, I will never find another apartment so great for so cheap.
It wasn't hot today, but it still felt great to take a nap with a cool breeze blowing in through the window, and spending nights sleeping snuggly in front of the electric fan. It's a simple, wonderful experience, and I know there are only a few (forty or so) more summers left in my life. I'm afraid that I will miss out on valuable lazy days if I am sleeping in a hot tent on the side of the road.
Tomoe and I had some great Thai curry, made with all the fish products which have been piling up in my freezer over the years. It was great fun to make it, and great fun to eat it, together with the birds, on the wobbly table I made three years ago. I'm afraid to get rid of the table because it is a "memory". I'm afraid that the birds will die as I am riding my bike through Hokkaido, and I'll never again have the chance to enjoy such a time.
Why is all that stuff so important to me that I actually consider throwing my life away just to keep it all. Why do things seem so valuable, that I consider it better to stay where I am with what I have than to move forward and see what I may be able to get?
I thought I was all over my fears, but it looks like I have a few left... They always seem to creep up on the weekends, when I am far away from that office, and when I have time to do what is important for me. I'm sure that by Tuesday morning, all the fears will have once again been washed away by the feeling that I am wasting away, spending most of my hours doing something that has almost no importance to me.
I'm curious to see what effect an upcoming five-day bike trip in Nagano with Tomoe will have. I'm expecting that it will wash away all doubts, and I will love the idea of biking Japan again.
Just some happy peaceful photos to balance out the day's posting.
Jogging to the gym this morning, about 100 meters from where I found the dead-looking girl last week, I ran across an accident scene. At first I only saw the truck carrying combustible materials, and was going to take a picture just cause it seemed like a "close call". What if the truck blew up?
As I got closer however, a mangled motor scooter became visible beneath the truck bumper. I have no idea how the rider of the motor scooter made it off of the bike without loosing a leg or both, and even more sup rising was the fact that his blood covered helmet was laying a good ten meters away. I guess for his sake, I hope he was thrown that far, rather than be pinned under the truck and bike. The policeman assured me that the rider was OK, considering what had happened.
I wondered if I should post photos of the drunk girl the other day, and even more, I wondered if I should post the bloody helmet photos. Will I become an ambulance chancing paparazi photographer always looking to exploit other people's mis-fortune?
Obviously I have decided to post the photos, and I rationalized it by telling myself that there was no body, and I was not seeking this out. I always stop and take photos of everything, no matter how small, that catches my eye, or makes me stop and look twice. This is obviously something that makes me stop and look twice. I guess if I start to seek out misfortune, I've become a major baddie, but for now, these things just seem to be finding me.
I have been less active in photo taking recently. Partly because walking the exact same path from the train to work every day gets a little old. Likewise, the same trail from work to the bread shop at luch gets old. I have also had some other things on my mind, and find it hard to enjoy much of anything... hopefully this will subside soon.
I haven't taken many photos lately, unless you count the 400 or so I took as part of a group project with some other members of the Japan Photography Mailing List. Ten of us met up in Ogikubo Saturday for some photography, beers, and bragging about our cameras. Can't show the results of that yet though...
These photos are kind of leftovers from a week or so ago. I just never had time to post them. Not that I had a lot of time tonight either, as I'm working on three other websites, and some other stuff people wrote to me about, but I haven't posted a photo in a long while.