31 March, 2015

Flowering Cherry Trees - At Home

Kwanzan flowering cherry

Favorite dwarf iris
I took the dog out for his morning walk and snapped a few photos around my yard.

I somehow had pretty amazing dry weather while in japan. Even when the day was chilly, I mostly had sunshine for my travels.

At home, it mostly rained, making our (ahead of schedule) spring go crazy.

Rhody, azalea, red tulip
I try to glory in the blooms.
That sneaky artillery weed is about to fire off it's seeds.

Patio bed with 24yr old red emperor tulips

My back walkway from house to hangar culminating in star magnolia.

Good to be back.

29 March, 2015

Hello Kitty and Her Airplane

I found Hello Kitty in her airplane at the airport.

I don't even like Hello Kitty that much but she is cool with airplanes.

I was torn between a hand towel and this canister of ? cookies.

Both light weight but I only need one in my life.

Torn between going off to Naritasan Park to view the cherry blossoms which are going gangbusters today or slacking at the airport.
Feeling a bit lazy after a busy two weeks.

I made this passport cover a few years back for my sweden/Finland trip.

It's sized to hold Euro money.
It worked very well there.

On the left side, pockets for photo ID and credit card with pockets underneath for tickets/receipts.

I don't have to take my passport out most times so it was very convenient.

Most people in USA and Europe use their cards to pay for stuff.

Here, in japan, only somewhat useful.
Paper money is similar in size to American dollars - my passport holder is a bit short.

Also, it's a very cash society here.
Lots of coins.

I withdrew  $200 at the first atm. That's a lot of cash to be carrying around.  That amount would last more than a month back home. I mostly use cash for garage/estate sales and incidentals - important things like coffee.

Except, they don't use cards  here  very often.
I had to rethink my cash needs.

Nippori Fabric Town used almost $150.
Trains/buses/ uses more.

In any case, the conversion rate was pretty simple -- 100 yen to a very pretty dollar.
But you do need to mind your change and give back those pennies (silver color) and nickels ( with hole - don't confuse with other coin with hole) as fast as you get them.

I think I read on Blossom Quilt blog(?)  to bring a two zippered coin purse and separate out right away the good coins from the nearly useless coins.

You can buy one stamp at the 7-11. The hotel doesn't sell them.

28 March, 2015

Sea Glass

Awaji Island

Fabric, Or I Have A Problem

Yeah, that's a huge problem.
Sunday's haul.
Two bags full.

Awaji Bridge and Gotochi

The Awaji Island bridge was built only ten years ago. It's the largest suspension bridge in the world.

Huge ocean-going shipping channel

The palm trees lining the road lend this island a resort feel.
The humongous crumbling buddha.

This is how they deliver mail here in Japan. Motorbike in red.

Manhole cover commemorating the bridge.

Found this nifty gotochi of the Awaji Bridge at one post office and the gal gave us a mini-gotochi as a bonus.

We stopped at another post office and they had an array of gotochi. I wasn't tempted- I have enough to make a small collection.

While Janine was deciding, I wandered down the counter. 

Each station has different msde for sale. From Hello Kitty to Snoopy to pretty stationary.

And then I spotted something....

I walked back to my friend to show her my treasure and the gal behind the counter saw it and she whipped out the flat version of the jetliner.

For me, for free.
Everyone was tickled with my reaction.

Husband and Wife Waterfall, Fudo Waterfall, Mayoto Waterfall

In a very, out of the way, skinny back road, was a beautiful setting for a temple.

You look left to see a delightful bridge to cross the stream.
Look right as the stream falls through massive rocks.

This shrine was uniquely situated in a cave amongst the rocks.

Four leaf lucky clovers grow here
One last thing. See the last 2 photos? That's the road in.   Looks like a trail?
Erosion from raging waters has undercut that skinny road too. 
These narrow roads are all over Japan.

We parked back on the main skinny road in a rare pull-out. And walked in. Not far - less than 1/4 mile.

Almost forgot to show you the Husband & Wife waterfalls.
I couldn't insert it earlier in the post with this app.
This little gorge minus a bright orange temple is so similar to Oregon.

And I  hit that big gong -- twice.
Sweet booming sound.

Keinomatsubaraso Hotel On Awaji Island

My friend used to live on Awaji Island before she moved to Kyoto.

She proposed we drive there and stay overnight.
Her daughter met up with a friend at the Aeon Mall and we went on the Naruto Whirlpool cruise and then drove to our hotel.
Keinomatsubaraso Hotel.

Don't forget to switch to your toilet slippers.
This hotel is a traditional, older, japanese hotel.
On the beach with spectacular sunsets.

You take your shoes off immediately upon entering your room and switch to slippers.

One big room with  tatami mats. Low table in center with lots of hidden alcoves and closets.

A thermos of hot water was waiting on that table as well as a tea set for four.

In this closet, pajama robe and a warm robe. Plus a bag with a toothbrush, towel, and the all-important 'bath' towel.

Underneath - more chair cushions.

This closet held five futons plus covers and interesting  japanese - style  pillows.

Each room can hold five people.
We could have shared a room, but the price was the same -whether we shared or had separate rooms.

Pillows feel like corn husks inside.
Harder, but they cradle the head better?

The alcove next to the window held a table and two chairs.
Over in the left corner was the fridge and some massage tools.

You can imagine me flinging open closets and exclaiming.
Unknowingly, my friend gave me my favorite Japanese experience.

Because it got even better.

The baths.

no pictures - sorry.

We undressed and put on our robes, grabbed our big towel and our bathing towel and padded downstairs in our slippers to the baths.

We enter the women's baths which switch the next day to the men's.
Disrobe and go to the shower stations.
With your little towel.

You can use your towel to scrub with or if you don't like to flaunt it as a tiny frontal cover-up.
While in the bath,  the towel is folded and placed atop your head.

Nice body soaps, scrubbers, shampoos and conditioners are at your disposal.

When you feel sufficiently clean, you step into the steamy hot wooden bath and start your relaxation journey.

Each bath here could comfortably hold four or five people - like a large hot tub.

Too hot, get back out, shower down with some cool water.

Feeling like going to the enclosed outside pool? Step out through the sliding doors into another wooden pool. Sit on the shelf, or lay back and float.
Watch the moon as it moves across the sky.

Hot again?
There's shower stations out here too.

When you feel like you've had enough water therapy,  get out and go to the changing room and dry off. There are sinks and more lotions.

For your feet (horny calluses anyone?), for your face. Hair creams & oils.
Collagen to pat lightly into your skin.
Even hair dryers to return your hairstyle.

Robe on, slippers on, return to your room so you can collapse into a good night's sleep (once you figure out how many futons to sleep on and the odd pillows.)