Friday, April 13, 2012

Welcome Trip, Version 2.0!

Well it’s back to school for me.  The vacation is officially over, classes have begun.  And what does that mean?  Going on a trip with my classmates!  Working hard already, you say?  Of course not!

Our group of 52 lost some students who were only signed up for half the year.  But for all that left, we gained another!  In order to acclimate the newbies into our group of goof-offs we went on a trip to Beppu.  Some of you might recall this from Hugh’s blog as we ventured there for a few days of relaxation. 

And with that said, let’s begin!


As always, the traditional food shot.  The meals this trip seemed much more fantastic than any of the others.  Perhaps it is because I’m now more used to Japanese food?  Or perhaps because I really don’t eat this way on a normal day (peanut butter and jelly isn’t Japanese food?!) so these big traditional meals were really great to eat again.  My favourite was the wasabi mushrooms (far right).  OOooOoh delicious!


Our first stop was at Usa Shrine.  It was a huge area, and apparently one of the biggest and most important shrines around.  So much so that is receives financial support from the government.  I had a much better description of the situation told to me, which I have now unfortunately forgotten, but it was something along those lines.


Enter, humans….


These smaller shrine houses are apparently to attract and house various kamisama (gods) around the shrine.  The grounds had tons of them scattered all over.




As you’ve seen many times by now, the entrance to the main part of the shrine, complete with water to purify with.


There was moss everywhere!  It really made things look eerily beautiful.  The photos don’t do it must justice though…



This was probably my favourite, and the first one I’ve seen in pink!  It even had beautifully contrasting white stones all around it.  Fantastic!





This gianormous tree growing between the buildings was just amazing!


Although, this one was even more gianormous-er.



Luckily I was able to only walk down, and not up, these stairs!


Too cute.  But would you expect any less from Japan?  Of course not!


Our next stop was in Beppu, where we visited the Beppu Jigoku (Hells) which are very famous hot springs that come in various temperatures and compositions.  We were only able to visit one, and my group chose Umi Jigoku (Sea Hell) which is apparently the most beautiful hell.  Who ever told you hell couldn’t be beautiful? 


Off to a good start…


This was a lovely sulphur hot spring, and boy did it smell fantastic!  Boiled eggs, anyone? 






I don’t think I need to explain anything about this greenhouse.  Pretty clear, no?


It was really lovely inside.  And luckily the sulphur smell was hardly there.  Phew.




Hell emitting gas use greenhouse banana, anyone?




These were the biggest orchids I’ve ever seen.  Unfortunately I wasn’t smart enough at the time to put in something to show scale…but trust me, the petals were massive!  Two or three times the normal size. 


And here it is, in all its blue glory.  Umi Jigoku. 


As you can see, they boil eggs in the water and then sell them.  Apparently you gain 4 or 5 year upon eating an egg?  I decided to eat only one, as anything else that looked, smelled, or tasted like a boiled egg at this point might have made me pass out.

Team Egg 2012

The eggs came in bags of five so we had to recruit some fellow students to join in the eating splendour.



Finally after taking in as much hell and egg as possible, we headed to our hotel for the night.


This is a photo of our ryokan (Japanese style) hotel, which was right on the beach.  And it also had a rooftop onsen (hot spring bath).  Talk about fancy pants!  A few of us attempted a sunrise onsen at 6am, but unfortunately we missed sunrise by about 20 minutes and couldn’t actually see the beach from the roof.  Oh well, it was…uh… an early morning.  Hah.


Just a shot of nearby mountains, from the beach out front of the hotel.


Dinner was alright, but they did serve these three small pieces of corned beef, or something related to that?  Nothing to write home about.  Oh wait…didn’t I just..? 

The next day we stayed in Beppu and visited the Monkey Park (also in Hugh’s blog) and the aquarium.  The monkeys were still cute, but the highlight for me was the aquarium.  Because as if I’m not nerdy about enough things in life, I loooooooove a good aquarium.  And boy was it ever!  Depressing, yes, but still good.  All you aquarium haters our there just shush it for the next few minutes, or go somewhere else on the Internet, because I’m about to enjoy some awesome fishies and you can’t stop me.


This little guy was telling us which way to find monkeys.  We listened, and were glad we did.  Although I wasn’t quite sure if he is supposed to look like he’s got some sort of head gear on?  Super Monkey, or poorly sculpted?  You be the judge.

I will spare you from ten million pictures of cute monkeys.  Although if you really want to see more, yet again I advise you to visit Hugh’s blog.  I think he has some cute  monkey videos kickin’ around too.  Instead, here are just a few of my favourites.




And now it’s aquarium time!  (Leave now or be silent.)

I can’t remember what these were called, but boy were they weird!  They were these little tiny snake-looking guys that just went up and down, and up and down, and up and down.  Boring?  Of course not!  Cute?  Sort of!  Creepy?  Definitely!


I actually didn’t take that many photos in the aquarium, as I was too busy buzzing around like a six year old.  Oops.


Somebody wants to say hello….


OH HAI.  And now I bite your face off with my vicious teeth!!  CHOMP.


Herro. :3


We received a lot of hellos.  A lot of really cute hellos.


And some not so cute…


Well, that’s it.  The animal misery is over, yes.  I managed to refrain from purchasing one of the many stuffed cutesy animal things from the gift shop.  I feel like I’ve accumulated such a gross number of stuffed “cute” things since I’ve lived here.  I now have so many more than I ever did as a child, that I just couldn’t do it.  It actually was hard not to buy something cute though, sadly.

This past weekend we celebrated the wonderful season of Hanami.  For those who many not know, this involves having outdoor picnic/drinking parties while sitting under and “viewing” the sakura (cherry blossom) trees.  It ended up being a two-day affair, and did not disappoint thanks to some fantastic friends!  Hopefully I’ll have those photos up sooner than later, but again, no promises.  Luckily today was rainy and cold out, hence my motivation to finally post these. 

As always, I hope everyone is staying happy and healthy, and is only getting in just the right amount of trouble.  Save the big trouble for when I’m back, okay?

So long, folks!