2008 October 6 Monday thru October 13 Monday.

2008oct12mashikebeach

Another cold and rainy week, until Saturday when the sun came out again and it started to warm up.   

Monday October 13 was a National Holiday known as 体育の日.   

Literally, Physical Education Day.   

I'm not much into exercise or sports anymore like I used to be, so I made plans to drive down to Otaru instead.

I took my usual route to the Sea of Japan on Route 94, also known as the Inada Mashike Line  稲田 増毛 線.

This is a beautiful drive in any season, but now with the autumn leaves becoming more and more colorful, there were some unbelievably bright reds, yellows and orange colored leaves to be enjoyed along the way.

I took my sweet time and drove very slowly so I could fully enjoy the multi-colored tapestry laid out before my eyes.

When I got to the beach at Mashike, I was surprised to see how windy it was.   

When I opened the door of my van, the wind almost ripped it off!

Also, the waves were extremely rough and very high, at about 4 to 5 meters.

I have never seen the sea this rough at this location before.   
But then again, I have never been to this location in the middle of October before either.

I sat in my van and watched the beautiful but deadly ocean roll and growl with the fury of a woman scorned.

The next day, early on Sunday morning, I heard on the radio news that 5 young people from Asahikawa had been walking around on the rocks at Golden Cape 黄金岬 in Rumoi, when they got hit by a big wave.

Three of them got out alive, but two of them are still missing.   

Most likely their bodies will never be found.  Nature is beautiful, but if you don't fully understand and respect her, your going to get whacked.

2008oct12palosiksonstage

I finally arrived in Otaru City at about 18:00, parked my van at the MaxValue open 24 hours supermarket, and walked along the Canal Plaza until I arrived at Otaru Micro Beer in Warehouse Number 1.

The main reason that I came all the way from Asahikawa on this day, was to see the PALOSIKS perform the new songs from their new CD, which I also bought on the same day.

The first time I had the good fortune to meet PALOSIKS was on 2006 MAY 3.   I just happened to be in Otaru During Golden Week, because I had cabin fever real bad, and I love the beer they make in Otaru City Hokkaido Japan.

A couple of good reasons to make the 470 kilometer round trip, and stay overnight in the HOTEL NOAH.

This time I went  in October and was able to drink the German Style Oktober Fest Beer that Otaru makes every year, at this time.

It was the first time that I have been to Otaru Beer in October and the first time I was able to drink this special limited quantity beer.

2008oct12festbeer

How was it?

In a word, Deeeeeeeeeeeeelishih!!!!

Take a look at the photo on the left to see what I am bragging about.   

Hokkaido makes WORLD CLASS ALL MALT BEER, and in abundance.

By the way, the PALOSIKS new album is called ゆる ふわ Relax.

You can some songs from the album at the Palosiks MySpace web site by clicking here.

I will be writing an album review about it and putting it on this web page of my new web site at the Every Thing Japan Network in the near future.

You can also buy their new album from Amazon Co Jp as well as at the Otaru Beer Hall itself.

Enjoy!

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ワルツ・フォー・ティボー Music ワルツ・フォー・ティボー

アーティスト:パロシクス
販売元:PIRKA MUSIC
発売日:2002/04/22
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ゆるふわRelax Music ゆるふわRelax

アーティスト:パロシクス
販売元:PIRKA MUSIC
発売日:2008/07/11
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2008 September 8 Monday thru September 15 Monday.

GOLDEN HARVEST

2008sep14goldricefield05

Monday September 15 was a National Holiday in Japan known as KeiRo no Hi 敬老の日 Respect for the Aged Day. 

What a novel idea!   Show respect and pay attention to the older people in society, who have built this country into what it is today. 

I am talking about Japan.

2008sep14goldricefield04

In the very beginning of the stage play RUN, which I translated into English from the original Japanese, writer Kuramoto Soh 倉本總 wrote the following; 

As for me,….  Well,….   I used to be the same way.

I graduated from college and got a job at a big company.

It was during that time when Japan was still recovering from the damage it had suffered by defeat in the big war.

Anyway, without knowing why, I started running.  Running,…… running and doing my best. 

I lived that way for almost 40 years.  Getting closer and closer to retirement.  Today was my last day on the job.

(pause).

Yeah,  lately I’ve been really confused.

Even though I’ve reached retirement, should I keep on running?  Or, should I just stop around here somewhere, and take a rest?

That’s why I’m just standing around here and waiting.

I don’t know what to do.

The main point being that in late 1945, Japan was just a big pile of ashes with a black rain falling.

2008sep14goldricefield03

It is a whole new world today. 

Because of the slavish work of the millions of survivors from the atrocity that IS every war,  Japan has become the most peaceful, most civilized nation on the face of this earth today.   

Made in Japan, means something special.  Including this rice field in Higashi Kagura 東神楽町.   Japonica rice.   

I prefer to eat it as unpolished brown rice 玄米.

2008sep14goldricefield02

I could buy it directly from the farmers if I really wanted to, but usually buy it at a WESTERN supermarket. 

One of the few supermarkets were you can easily buy unpolished brown rice.

I eat more than 5 kilograms of it every month.

2008sep14goldricefield01

I cook it in a regular rice cooker, in the same way you would cook white rice.   Brown rice smells a bit nasty while it's cooking, but it tastes great.   

A bit more chewy than white rice, and not appropriate for use as sushi すし, but it goes great with curry カレーライス and everything else.   

Once you have had brown rice, you might like it better than white rice, but I doubt it.   

I am not in the majority as a brown rice eater, but then again, I know what I like. 

Fiber filled golden grains of locally grown brown rice.

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TWINBIRD 発芽玄米・納豆・ヨーグルトメーカー  HQ-2000 Kitchen TWINBIRD 発芽玄米・納豆・ヨーグルトメーカー HQ-2000

販売元:ツインバード
発売日:2003/12/04
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【送料無料】!数量限定 早い者勝ち!完売したら御免なさい訳あり米だけど毎日食べるお米に最適(玄米・白米・無洗米)無料対応・(代金引換・送料)無料 (配送会社がお選びいただけます)■西濃運輸は【送料無料】■ヤマト運輸は追加料金が発生します 【72時間限定送料無 【送料無料】!数量限定 早い者勝ち!完売したら御免なさい訳あり米だけど毎日食べるお米に最適(玄米・白米・無洗米)無料対応・(代金引換・送料)無料 (配送会社がお選びいただけます)■西濃運輸は【送料無料】■ヤマト運輸は追加料金が発生します 【72時間限定送料無

販売元:お米の大将
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2008 July 22 Tuesday thru July 24 Thursday.

2008jul24bieifirefestival

Just one more day of classes until the start of my summer vacation.   

On Thursday July 24, Ikuko and I went to the annual Biei Fire Festival 美瑛火まつり for the first time.   

Every year on July 24, they hold this powerful event.   

Why has it taken me so long to get there and see it for the first time?   

Lack of planning.    For years, I have been driving thru Biei on my way to the Mt. Tokachi Observation Area 十勝岳 望岳台 and FukiAge Outdoor Spa 吹上温泉露天の湯, and I have seen the posters for this event many times.  Finally this year, I made the smart decision to go and see it.   

It was awesome.    The contrast between WATER and FIRE has never been more obvious.   

Charles Hamel and family were at the event as well, and Charlie has a new digital camera, Canon EOS Kiss F 10.1 Megapixel DSLR which takes awesome photos!   

CLICK HERE to see one of his best.   

A photo good enough to be published in National Geographic Magazine.   

I also took a lot of photos on that night, with the very first digital camera I ever bought. 

The CASIO QV-3000EX.   This camera has the largest diameter glass lens, of all my digi cams.   

Perfect for night time photos.   

With a digital camera it is cheap and easy to take a massive amount of photos.   

Among those many photos, there are always some really good ones.   

Once and a while, a really great photo.   

You can see a slideshow of the best photos I took at this event by clicking here.   

The origin of this festival in Biei, has a lot to do with the repeated eruptions of Mt. Tokachi in the years;  1857, 1887, 1926, 1962 and most recently in 1988.   

That is very active volcano, if ever there was one.   

As you can well imagine, having a volcano blew it's top in a place that is close to where you live, is a big disaster for human beings.   

The main purpose of this festival which began exactly 20 years ago in 1988, is to beg the mountain to remain quiet, and not blow up again.    

It seems to have worked so far.  I think that I will make this one of my yearly traditions, and go every year from now on.   

After all, I have had the experience of driving from Seattle Washington to Spokane Washington on May 18, 1980 when Mount St. Helens blew up.   

It was a scary experience that I will never forget.   

There is nothing humans can physically do to prevent a volcanic eruption. 

Spiritually, we may have a chance, if we show our respect for the power of MOTHER EARTH.   

That is the real reason why this festival is so important.

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2008 May 24 Saturday and May 25 Sunday.

2008may27otarucanal2exp

I was hoping that Ikuko and I could get get on the road to Otaru by about 13:30 or so, but we were delayed until about 15:45.   

It was hot and sunny this afternoon, so I dressed in short pants and a short sleeved shirt for the drive to the coast.   

The route I always use when driving to the Sea of Japan from Asahikawa is as follows.   

First I get onto Highway 12 at the border between Kamui and Chuwa. 

I drive along Route 12 through two long tunnels until I get to the KamiKoTan 神居コタン area.   

There, after the end of the second long tunnel, I turn right onto Route 57 heading towards FukaGawa 深川.   

At FukaGawa, many people turn off onto Route 223 which leads directly to downtown Rumoi 留萌.   

I don't.   Instead, I continue on along Route 57 driving through FukaGawa and then on into MoSeUshi 妹背牛.   

There, I turn off onto Route 628 which is close to the PePeRu OnSen ペペル温泉.   

After driving for about 8 kilometers along Route 628, I turn left onto Route 94 which is also known as the 稲田増毛線.   

This Route 94 will take you all the way to Sea of Japan Coastline and Route 231 at a point about 3 kilometers south of Rumoi.   

This is by far the most scenic way to drive to the beach from Asahikawa.   After taking a rest at the rocky beach at the end of Route 94, we headed south down Route 231 towards Mashike Town 増毛町.    

Right after passing through Mashike Town, there begins a long series of tunnels which last all of the way down the オロロンライン until you get into HamaMasu Town 浜益町.   

We stopped along the way in HamaMasu to eat some Sea Urchin Rice Bowl うに丼 and other delicious foods.   

Then, we got back on the road for the remaining 90 minutes or so drive to Otaru.   

I know exactly how to get to Authent Hotel, because I have been there many times before.   

They even have free parking inside one of those Vertical Parking Elevators 立体駐車場, which is located right next door to the main entrance of the hotel.   

When we drove up to the entrance of the hotel to unload our bags, the person who came out to greet us, remembered me right away.   

He said; "You came here last year too, didn't you?"   

I said; "Yes, I did.  And the year before that, and the year before that, etc."   

It is nice to see a familiar face again, when on the road.   We checked in at about 19:30 and then immediately went back outside again, for the short walk to the Canal Plaza Area 運河プラザ and the Otaru Beer Factory in Warehouse Number One.   

Before we left Asahikawa today, we already knew that the PALOSIKS would not be performing tonight.   

However, we were looking forward to drinking the Helles German Style Beer ヘルス which is only available during the springtime and early summer of each year.   

This beer is truly a masterpiece of this brewery, and only costs 1,680 yen per liter.   

ONLY???!!!   Let's see, that is about 10 times more expensive than gasoline!    Yeah, well,.....  what the hell.  Helles is damn good beer.   

Unfortunately for us, we were both still rather full from our late meal in HamaMasu, and we couldn't  drink as much good beer as we usually do.   

Did we save any money on the deal?   

No, not really.   Sea Urchin Rice Bowl costs about 2,600 per serving, making it rather pricey for a single meal.   

But who cares anyway.   Money is just dirty paper.   

After spending about 90 minutes at the Otaru Beer Factory, Ikuko and I walked around a bit along the famous canal area.   

There were far less people than we expected, but then again, it was just another Saturday night in Otaru, with no special consecutive holidays for the Japanese Salary Man.   

Even though the air temperature was about 15 degrees C., the air felt colder than that because of the Sea Breeze moisture in the air.   

We hurried back to the Authen Hotel so that we could use the Mist Sauna and other fine bathing facilities.   

It felt very good to warm up again, and drink some brandy as we watched TV until about 02:00.

On Sunday morning, we woke up at about 7:30 and went up to the 11th floor for a Western Style all you can eat 食べ放題 breakfast.   

They also offer a Japanese Style breakfast on the 3rd floor of the hotel, for those customers who prefer it that way.   

We always choose the Western Style Breakfast with its scrambled eggs, bacon, crispy rolls, plus plenty of strong coffee and fresh Hokkaido milk.   

I almost never make this kind of meal for myself at home, even though I could do so very easily.   

I prefer brown rice 玄米 and natto 納豆, with various seasonings like kimchi, or hot mustard and soy sauce.   But this morning is different.   

A once or twice in a year, experience.   

As such, I really shoveled it down.   

Tasted sooooooooo good.   

Just like my typical childhood breakfast in Spokane Washington.      

Anyway, today it is raining in Otaru, and other locations in Hokkaido, as well.   

So, instead of driving back to Asahikawa, along the same route on which we came, we decided to first visit Wing Bay Otaru and take a look around.   

We haven't been inside this shopping complex for about 10 years, and many things have changed.   

One of the differences that I really liked, is the fact that, they have a stage on the first floor, for musical artists to perform upon.   

Our timing was just right and we caught the performance of two guys on amplified acoustic guitars, with excellent vocals.   

Asahikawa should have more of this type of stuff, in the AEON Shopping Mall.   

After looking around there for about 90 minutes, we were back on the road, Route 5 heading towards Sapporo, where we got onto Route 12 for the remaining trip back to Asahikawa.   

Distance wise, this route is shorter than taking the coast highway, but there are so many stop lights and traffic jams along the way, that it usually takes more time to arrive at our final destination.    

However, Ikuko's younger sister was recently transferred from Tokyo to Sapporo for her job, so we decided to drop in at her office and say hello.   

She had to work today until about 19:00, so we were only able to talk to her for a few minutes.    

Finally, Ikuko and I arrived back home at about 19:30 and immediately stretched out with a beer or two, to unwind.   

Driving through the big city, really makes me tired.   

That's why I always take JR if my only destination on a trip, is going to Sapporo.

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2008 May 18 Sunday.

2008may18chubetsudam

Today was the first day of this year, that felt like an early summer's day.   

Warm and sunny, with very little wind.   

At about 12:00, I called Charlie Hamel, to see if he was up for a bicycle ride.   

He said he was ready to go, so I packed my mountain bike into my Toyota Noah, and drove from Asahikawa up to Shibinai, using the back roads as much as possible.   

The way I always go there is as follows;   First I get onto Route  237 and drive towards Biei.   

After driving for 19.5 kilometers and just before the hill known as 美瑛坂, there is a sharp turnoff to the left which says 志比内 旭岳温泉 天人峡.   

I turn left there and get onto Route 213, which will take me right to the intersection nearest the Shibinai Elementary School, after driving for another 14 kilometers.   

The nice thing about taking this route, is that there are no traffic lights anywhere along route 213.   

It is also a very scenic drive that I enjoy every time.   

I arrived at Charlie's house and was greeted by some of the  kids who were playing outside.   

When Charlie came out of his house, he told me that he had a present for me.   

I went inside to take a look, and was pleasantly surprised to see a hot-air-popcorn-popper, and several kilograms of raw popcorn!   

Before the Hamel Family left Texas for Hokkaido, they sent me an email and asked me if I wanted them to buy me anything in the USA that I can't easily get in Asahikawa.   

I thought about it for a few days, and then realized that I have been eating pre-popped popcorn, that I buy for about 100 yen per bag, at the local supermarket.   

I love popcorn, but nothing tastes better than fresh popped popcorn, that is warm and fragrant, and full of life.   

Therefore, I asked them to get me the above mentioned products.   

Thank you!!!   I really appreciate it!   

Charlie and I saddled up, and got onto the road at about 13:30.   

We rode on Route 213 which leads up to the ChuBetsu Dam, ChuBetsu Lake and then on to the Y in the road, where you can take a right towards TenNinKyo, OR take a left towards AsahiDake OnSen.   

We didn't ride that far.   

We turned off of the main road, and drifted on down into the base of the very large, ChuBetsu Dam.   

See the photo above/left for details.   

While we were there, we got rained on a bit.   

Then, we got back on the main road, and back towards ShiBiNai, but this time along the gravel-lined elevated river embankments, that are everywhere, on this island.   

A slightly bumpy, but very scenic way to ride.   

We continued along the scenic route until we got back on the main road, for the remaining short ride to the 第一遊水地.   

This has recently become a public park, with a very nice park golf course, right next door.   

Also in this area, are some really nice looking private homes, newly built and mostly in a Northern European style.   

Some of the places also have, huge beautiful gardens.   

A very nice place to live, for a very long time.   

After looking around that area in a somewhat casual manner, Charlie and I rode back over to his house, about 4 kilometers away.   

We were both slightly afflicted with either leg pain, or butt pain.   

I was the one with the butt pain.   

After sitting on Charlie's flat  porch in the late afternoon sun, while having water-blaster gun-fights with the local kids, for about 20 minutes, I drove back home along the same route that I had come. 

Along the way, I got rained on, but only for a few moments.   

The brief rain storm both felt good, and smelled fresh.   

After I arrived back home at about 16:20, I immediately started a beer and BBQ party for Ikuko and myself.   

Today's menu;  Indian Curry Marinated Chicken Breast with Giant Green Onion blocks.   

Slowly roasted over a charcoal grill, with Yebisu Gold All Malt Beer.   

While we were lounging around on the second floor balcony and watching all the people and cars go by, the head chef of the soba noodle restaurant came outside from the main entrance and walked along the front of the building and then around the side and into the back door.   

While he was doing so, I looked up at us and said; KONNICHIWA!   

I held up the big tall cold boy in my right hand salute fashion, and returned the greeting. 

Then he said; "That food you're cooking smells good."   

I said; "Thank you.  I won't steal any of your customers!"   

We both laughed and went about our business.   

It's great to have friendly neighbors.

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2008 May 13 Tuesday thru May 17 Saturday.

2008may17greenmachinewaiting

Another long week of many classes and not so friendly weather. 

Along with my regular teaching schedule, I had an interview at the Asahikawa City Hall Foreign Relations Division.   

The purpose of the interview was to generate content, to be used in a monthly newsletter that is produced by the Asahikawa International Committee.   

You can visit their website by clicking here.   

I was interviewed by a young gentleman named Brendon, who said he is from California, near Los Angles.   

He asked me a series of about 14 or 15 questions, which the interviewer had devised by himself, after looking around on this website.   

In fact, the way he contacted me in the first place was by sending me an email to the address listed on the top page. 

The title of the newsletter article is;  Hello Asahikawa!,  and it will also appear on the website at this page.   

Most likely it will be in the June 2008 issue.   

About 10 years ago, I was asked to write a short essay for this very same newsletter.   

It wasn't an interview, and they didn't have a website at that time.   

I'd like to share it with my readers right now but,  I can't find a copy of my WORD document on which I wrote it.   

Basically, I said that;  I really like living in Asahikawa, because the city is not too big and not too small, it is close to the big nature of the mountains and the seas, and the people are very open and friendly.   

That is the gist of what I said, at that time.   

I still feel the same way today.   

Some things never change.   

Anyway, also working at the same office as Brendon, is one of my long time students.   

She has been coming to my classroom a lot longer, than she has been working at this office, but I know she can do a good job at her new position in the office of the foreign relations division for the City of Asahikawa.   

One thing that impressed me about Brendon, is his knowledge of the Japanese Language. 

Speaking, reading and writing, seems to be a daily necessity for his life and job.   

He told me that he had studied Japanese at the university and had come to Japan on the JET Program, in order to make practical use of what he had learned while living in the USA.   

Now, that's a man with a plan.  Rock on big guy!    

On a different subject, the photos you can see above/left were taken on May 4th, 2000.   

This is  the 上雨粉林道 which is a rather long mountain bike trip from my place in Kagura.   

I haven't been to this area on a bicycle ride for a long time, but I think it might be a place where I should ride through again, this year.   

At the time that this photo was taken, there were not many insects in the air, yet.   

If you come back to this location in summer, don't forget to bring some bug repellent.   

There are huge horsefly looking critters, that draw visible blood when biting human flesh.   

Speaking of mountain biking, Charlie Hamel and I have been talking about going together on a serious riding adventure, but somehow, I haven't been able to get my ass in gear, and get going.   

To tell ya all the truth, I haven't done any serious cycling for about 2 long years.   

One of the reasons, is because Ikuko likes walking much better than cycling, so if I wanna go out with her, I've gotta hoof it.   

However, now that Charlie is here and ready to ride, I need to fix my flat tire, tune up the gear cables and get back on the road.   

I thought that day, might be today, but I was wrong.   

After my only class for today was finished at 11:30, I sat down to eat a big lunch of 冷やしラーメン.   

Made last night by Ikuko, and still plenty of leftovers, for lunch today.   

I ate it slowly, while watching some documentaries on You Tube.      

About 90 minutes later, when I was finished eating, and ready to ride down to my friendly bike dealer's store for a patch job and a tune up,......   THUNDER and LIGHTNING.   

What are the chances of that?         

No cycling for today.  Maybe tomorrow?   

Maybe not, but I do wanna drive upstream to Shibinai, and visit with Charles Hamel and Family.   

We both have lots of other mutual hobbies, that we can enjoy together.   

I'll call ya tomorrow at about 12:00 noon, my friend.   

Hope to see you all again real soon.

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2008 May 12 Monday.

2008may12mikunitogehighbridge

The photo on the left,(上) is yet another excellent picture from the very well organized website, Rambling on my Hokkaido.   

This is a snapshot of MiKuniToge 三国峠, which is about a 60 - 90 minutes drive from the center of Asahikawa.   

From this angle, it looks like a rather dangerous drive along that very high and winding road.   

When you actually drive across it though, it's NOT that scary.   Although, it really should be.

Speaking of scary, I went to the Young Buds Kindergarten again today, for the first class of the new school year.   

Naturally, I met all of the 1st year students 年少.   

Most of them were calm and relaxed, but a few of them were very anxious and frightened, and feeling the whole gamut of childish emotions.   

This happens to everyone, when you suddenly realize, that your mommy and daddy will not always be at your side, 24/7/365.   

And that's just the beginning of a life story.   

One of the girls in the new class, has lived in an English Speaking Country for more than one year, and she could understand everything I said, during our short lesson.   

Another young girl came up to me to shake my hand, at the end of the lesson, just like all of the others, but she also gave me a big hug, and a kiss on the left cheek.   

It was so sweet.   

Please don't tell Ikuko, about this kiss and tell, story.    

After that was all finished at about 12:00 noon, I drove back to my classroom to make and eat some more of that red soup Korean style ramen that I sometimes make for myself.   

Starting at 13:00, I was back at the 神楽公民館英会話を楽しむ会.   

I started off the conversation circle today, by talking about my boring Golden Week.   

Usually, I travel far and wide around Hokkaido during GW, but this year I didn't, because of various reasons, as noted in my previous blogs.   

Almost everyone else in the group had a travel tale to tell, and one young lady in particular, had prepared an interesting quiz, about how to read the names of some small towns and villages along Route 142, that runs between 釧路町 and 厚岸町 in Eastern Hokkaido.   

I don't have enough time to reproduce all of the アイヌ語当て字語(漢字) here in this blog, but if you have a copy of the very detailed Hokkaido Super Mapple, somewhere in your home, you can look at it, and see for yourself.    

I couldn't read 90% of the place names that she wrote upon the white board.   

That was a great presentation Mrs. I!   

Please do another one again sometime.

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2008 March 30 Sunday.

2008mar30shibinaibackyard

Oh what a beautiful sunny day. 

By that I mean, the sky was so clear that I could vividly see the Taisetsu Mountain Range from my balcony window.   

On days like this, a drive towards the mountains is a must, if I have the time.   

And today, I had all the time in the world.   

Just a few minutes after 12:00 noon, I got a telephone call from Charles Hamel asking me if I had enough time to drive over to Shibinai and visit for a while.   

Of course I did, and I arrived there at about 14:15.   

Even though they do not yet have a telephone line nor internet service, they have just about everything else they need to live comfortably at their new home, thanks to all of the nice people who live nearby.   

Their kids were outside, playing with the neighbor's kids and having a wonderful time.   

We adults sat around the kitchen table talking about various things for about 40 minutes or so when I finally said; "Hey Charlie.   

We should all take a drive up towards the mountains, because the weather today is absolutely perfect for just such a drive."   

Charlie agreed and told me that his children had never seen snow before they came to Hokkaido.   

Even though there is still some snow on the ground around their house, as you can see from the photo above/left, the really deep snow can only be seen near the base of the mountains during this time of year.   

So, we all hopped into my Road Meister Toyota Noah mini van, and drove straight towards the mountains, passing by Chubetsu Dam and Chubetsu Lake along the way.   

First destination was Tenninkyo Hot Springs  天人峡温泉.   

We went as far as the road would take us and ended up at the parking lot of the Hotel 天人閣.   

We all got out and looked around as much as we could, but the hiking trail to the waterfalls was still full of snow and not passable.   

Next, we drove back down the hill until we got to the "Y" in the road that leads up to the Asahidake Hot Springs 旭岳温泉.   

We turned right and drove back up the hill until we got to the ropeway at Asahidake, but we didn't get out of the car there.

We just drove slowly around the area, enjoying the beautiful sights.   

After that, we drove back down the hill and on into Shibinai, with plenty of daylight left.   

On the way up to the mountains, we stopped along the road where there is a clear view of  Lake Chubetsu, and the kids had some fun walking around on the top of the deep snow, and even making and throwing some snowballs, for the first time in their lives.   

Yeah, it's cold isn't it.   

The Hamel Family members were all smart enough to wear long rubber boots, but I was crazy as usual wearing only sandals without socks.   

I did not climb around on the snow, for obvious reasons.   

Even so, the time I did spend out of the car walking around, was a bit cold for my feet.   

It will be getting warmer day by day from now on so, I won't be wearing any socks or shoes for many months.   

Simple is best. 

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2008 March 17 Monday thru March 19 Wednesday.

2008mar19koreanvillage

On Monday, at the 神楽公民館で英会話を楽しむ会, I talked a bit about Saint Patrick's Day, and how it is celebrated in the USA and other countries around the world.   

My ancestry is about 1/4 Irish and 3/4 German, so I have some affinity for this celebration.   

I have fond memories from my elementary school days, of a certain custom that was popular at that time.   

If a person wasn't wearing something GREEN in color, the other students could take their fingers and pinch them.   

This was a symbolic gesture to represent a snake bite, according to the Irish Legend of Saint Patrick's Day.   

According to this legend, St. Patrick was walking along the roads throughout Ireland, while playing a flute.   

When the snakes on the island heard the flute music, they all started to follow St. Patrick as he walked along the roads.   

Being a clever guy, St. Patrick saw an opportunity to rid the island of all snakes, so he led them all up to the cliffs that overlook the sea, and the snakes all fell off of the cliff and into the sea.   

That is why, there are no snakes in Ireland to this day!!!   

I can't testify as to the veracity of this story, but it does make the imagination ready,  for a good legend.

On Wednesday evening after my last class of the day was finished at 19:00, Ikuko and I got on a bus and rode out to the Suehiro District of Asahikawa, heading for a Korean Restaurant known as 韓国村.   

Neither of us have ever been to this restaurant before, and the objective of our visit was to celebrate Ikuko's birthday anniversary, which was on March 11.

We were both very busy on that day, so we took advantage of some extra free time today, to have a birthday party for her.   

This restaurant is managed by a Korean person, and the food is authentic.   

Each table is contained within a small private room, and the atmosphere is truly relaxing.   

I was pleased to see that the entire menu was written in both Japanese and Korean, and I had a good time reading the Korean Language names for all of the selections on the menu.   

After about 90 minutes of good food and good drink, Ikuko and I paid our bill, and went outside again to walk back to the bus stop.   

Unfortunately, there were no more buses for the day, that go directly to the Kagura District where we live.   

So, I flagged down a taxi.   

If you like Korean food, I highly recommend this restaurant.   

You can visit their official website by clicking here.  韓国村

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2008 March 11 Tuesday thru March 16 Sunday.

2008mar16skyflyrainbow

Instead of snow, it has been raining a lot this week.

This, is a good sign.

A sign that warmer temperatures, and an explosion of new life, will soon be upon us.

Here in Hokkaido, and all around the world.

Today on Sunday, I took advantage of the excellent sunny skies, and went for a drive to Kami Furano, and then back up North again, for a swing-by thru HigashiKawa Town and ShiBiNai Village.

The farther you get away from the city center of Asahikawa, the sweeter and more fragrant the air becomes. There is a very noticeable difference.

The district I live in, is just across the Chubetsu River from the center of the city.

It will be even closer, in the very near future. Two more bridges are scheduled to be built, within the next 1 to 5 years.

Then, Kagura WILL BE in the center of the city! YIKES!!!

What ever happened to my Country Living???

This location is good for my little classroom, but the air is not so sweet, in this area of Hokkaido.

Suddenly, I remember back to living in LA. Hell A.

No complaints here, in Happy Camper Land, Private Hokkaido.

While I was at the top of a very well known hill in Kami Furano, I took some photos of the clearly visible snow covered mountain range in front of me.

As I was doing so, I heard a jet airplane coming from the west.

As I looked up, I could see that it was a regularly scheduled passenger airliner, taking off from Asahikawa International Airport, and heading for parts, southwest from here.

I was able to snap a photo of the airplane, with a big rainbow in the misty sky above, as you can see from the photo above/left.

There are many flights, every day.

It is easy to take off, when you know you can fly.

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