Monday, November 05, 2007

Weekend in London

Last weekend Michael was coming and since it was his birthday we took a day off to London. The visit of the London Tower took most of our time. Only few remains from its foundation in 1078 by William the Conqueror. The White Tower is where the original tower was built and the Norman main hall is accesible for visitiors with reconstructed wooden beams which then carried the roof:

Here is a view of London Bridge from the Tower:

And now I'm pretty sure that the end of the monarchy is coming. They have to keep the ravens in a cage to keep them from leaving the Tower. Oh oh...

We then had a ride (or rather flight, after all it's sponsored by British Airways) on the London Eye.

After endless queuing you will be truly rewarded by a spectacular view over London and it's main sights like Westminster, St. Paul ...

Monday, October 22, 2007

Noodle Restaurant

video

This is still in Kumamoto, but I guess I'm hungry that's why I posted this noodle restaurant ad :)

(Use Quicktime if your media player doesn't show the movie)

Shinkansen

We left Beppu and took the Nozomi Shinkansen to Ôsaka, Nozomi being the fastest train service going to Ôsaka and ultimately to Tôkyou.



And we really travelled with 300 km/h:


Thursday, October 18, 2007

Mount Takasaki

Takasaki-yama is just a 10-min bus ride from Beppu, so we went there to watch the more than 1500 wild Japanese monkeys:


There are a lot of Dos and Don'ts about the monkeys



But in general they were well behaved:



Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Kitsune Shrine

In the 9-hells-of-Beppu area is also a small Kitsune shrine (Fox shrine).




Kitsune are believed to possess superior intelligence, long life, and magical powers. Unlike the tales in China and Korea foxes are highly regarded spirits, and portrayed as faithful guardians, friends, lovers, and wives. The negative aspect of being a trickster is a later folcloristic addition coming from China and Korea resp.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Beppu

Our next stop was Beppu, one of Japan's most famous hot springs (onsen) areas. Some hot springs, however, are only for viewing. They are called the 'nine hells of Beppu' (jigoku):

Kamado jigoku, the "cooking pot hell" features several boiling ponds and a flashy demon statue as cook.:


The hot water is actually used for cooking. The basket contains eggs which are lowered into the steaming hot water:


This pudding, a kind of crème brulée cooked by means of hot steam is famous, too:

Umi jigoku, the "sea hell" features a pond of hot, blue water:




Chinoike Jigoku , the "blood pond hell" features a pond of hot, red water:


Be careful, don't wake up the devil who is sleeping and snoring here, exhaling hot breath with every snore:





Shiraike jigoku, the "white pond hell" got its name from its milky white water.





Oniishibozu jigoku is named after the mud bubbles, which emerge from boiling mud pools and look like the shaven heads of monks:





In oniyama jigoku crocodiles and alligators are bred and kept , hence it name 'monster mountain hell':







Tatsumaki jigoku, the "spout hell" features a boiling hot geyser, which erupts every 25-30 minutes for a couple of minutes:



Saturday, October 13, 2007

Kumamoto Castle

This is Kumamoto-jô, the landmark of Kumamoto. It was built in 1607 by the Kato Clan. It was nearly totally destroyed after a 53-day siege but reconstructed in last centuries' 70s. Still some of the wooden constructions are original. However, all the concrete thingses are, of course, the reconstruction.



Detailed view:

Entrance to the castle innerds:

And a rare photo of myself:



Friday, October 12, 2007

Kumamoto

This pic we took on our way back from Mount Aso, so you can see the surroundings:




And this is a car-elevator, a really nice invention :)




Kumamoto is Heidelberg's twin town and they have a lot in common. Both towns have a lovely castle, hoards of tourists and a nice museum. In contrast to Heidelberg you were allowed to take pictures freely. Here you can see a dogu, a Jomon-period clay figure:




Also very fascinating in this time period are shell masks:




and the habit of pulling the canines of some high-ranking individuals:

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Mount Aso

While in Kumamoto we went to Mount Aso, which is Japan's largest active volcanoe:


Signs warn you in 'plain English' of any health risks you might encounter:


Some offerings to the Gods:


And yes, it is still active, smoking and puffing:


Sulphur from the volcanoe is sold on site:



Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Fukuoka City Archaeological Centre

At my last weekend in Fukuoka I went to the Fukuoka City Archaeological Centre. Part of the Universtity, it offers a small but very interesting exhibition with lots of information about excavations in the Fukuoka area and the restauration of the finds thereof.


Just to show you some nice pottery (I know you are desparate to see all the Jomon and Yayoi pottery pics, but M. fell asleep when I showed him my pictures, therefore I will spare you the whole bunch of them). But have a look at the little bird, engraved in the neck of a vessel:




Pretty, huh? And these cylindrical haniwa from the Kofun period are a must-see, too:


At the hands-on corner, you could experience how Jomon people made different impressions into the still soft clay of the pottery. Fun for kids, who can use different shells, bamboo stamps, etc. for their artistic expression.


On my way home I stumbled over this old wooden house with a vending machine at the front. Vending machines for drinks are everywhere in Japan and I don't know what I would have done without them. There is nothing more wonderful than a cold green tea when it's really hot.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

How tu use a Japanese Toilet

Don't ask me ;) I haven't tried all features so far. This is one of the more simple toilets (nothing is easy in Japan *sigh*):






Monday, October 01, 2007

Dazaifu - again

Jeeeeez. It's been too long. But since I left Fukuoka I had no free internet anymore and internet cafés are rare and expensive. But do not fear I will keep you informed about what happened during the last couple of weeks in Japan.
I went to Daizaifu - again. And I couldn't resist the mochi - again. Although I'm not very fond of sweets, you just have to eat at least one mochi rice cake, filled with adzuki bean paste. Yes, it's awfully sweet, but then, hey, that nun baked them all the time for that scholar I told you last time, Michizane. Mochi bakeries and souvenir shops line both sides of the boulevard leading to the shrine:


And here you can admire the omnipresent Koi in Japan's ponds:


Saturday, September 01, 2007

Noh play

At the Kyushu National Museum there was a demonstration of Noh today. Noh is a play with masks and strange music with drums and monotonous singing. The example we saw was about a demon that fought against some priests and was finally destroyed by them.
This is a mask similar to the one the demon was wearing:

And this is the expert who explained everything to us. In the background the different Kimonos used for the play and in front of him different masks that are utilized during the show:

Hanabi in Ohori Park, Fukuoka


Today are the last hanabi (fireworks), which means the official end of the summer. since I don't have a video camera, have a look at last year's hanabi from Ohori Park in Fukuoka.
It marks also my last day at school. I finished my language course yesterday und we had a farewell party in the evening, whitch ended at a karaoke bar. With enough o-sake it is really fun. But don't try it sober :)

Fukuoka

I love these tiny shrines in the midst of busy streets:




A shopping arcade in Hakata-shi:

And a 'Wohnung' (sorry only funny for German speakers):