Friday, October 7, 2011

Orientation Trip: Day Two

I am going to just jump right into day two, as I have a lot of photos to post coming up and want to get a move on.  So let’s go!

After a not-so-restful sleep, it was day two of our orientation trip.  We tidied up our rooms and then were given breakfast which consisted of a bit of cabbage salad, fried egg, tiny fishies, miso soup, rice, and a nori (seaweed) snack.  I was adventurous and tried everything.  Although I didn’t eat the fishy heads, their bodies were pretty tasty!  Not sure if it is my new favourite breakfast food, but maybe an addition to lunch? 

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After cleaning up and getting our bags together we headed back to the bus for the return trip, and some more wonderful sightseeing on the way home. 

Our first stop was Daikambo Observation Point.  This was part of Aso Kuju National Park.  This observation point looks over a giant crater area within the mountains.  Again, the photos don’t fully express how stunning it was, but here are a select few that I hope illustrate it well enough.

The sign for Aso Kuju National Park.

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Proof that I’m actually in Japan seeing all these things and not just stealing images off the Internet…

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On the walk back from the observation point I noticed these tiny shrine statue type things.  I don’t really know what they are, only that there were coins placed at the bases of them.  If anyone knows please comment below!

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I liked this guy’s cape and coin hat.  Very handsome.

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Then it was back on the bus and off to find lunch.  We were treated to my favourite lunch since coming to Japan, shabu shabu.  This is Japanese hot pot, and it is fantastic!  Interestingly enough hot pot was also my favourite thing to eat in China, perhaps I just have a thing for cooking things in boiling liquid.  Strange.

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And in case you weren’t sure (as I wasn’t when I sat down…) the green fruit top left is actually a mandarin orange, not a lime.  I have since tracked them down at the grocery store.  Yum!

We all had our own personal hot pot bowls avec burning base thinger that lasted the exact amount of time it took to cook and eat the meal.  How precise, Japan.

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Upon finishing this delicious meal, we headed back onto the bus yet again!  This time we were off to our final destination before heading home, Kumamoto Castle.  Just the name got me excited as I have some sort of wild fascination with historical architecture, especially castle-y architecture. 

A bit of information about Kumamoto Castle.  It was built in the mid 15th century.  It was a housing place for the local daimyo (lord) and was very well fortified against invading enemies.  The castle was partially burned down in 1877.  It was then somewhat reconstructed in 1960, and then full restorations began in 1998.

The entrance into the castle grounds.

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A couple having wedding photos taken.  I am still just speechless at how beautiful these outfits are…I expect I’ll probably take photos of them every time I see them.  Jealous.

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Below is one of the defence towers.  We were able to go inside and see the turret holes and the openings where they would drop giant rocks and hot oil down the walls to defend against enemies.  We were even able to climb all the way to the top of the tower on the right side of the photo.

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We then walked to the main castle grounds, through this amazing entrance hall.

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The main castle grounds had a few fun things to take in.  Like this jaunty fellow.

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We were then directed to another area to watch a ninja climb a wall.  It was certainly hyped up to be an unforgettable moment, but I have to admit it was somewhat less than thrilling.  I did like his outfit though.

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We then had fun taking silly photos of ourselves.  Check out my great hat.

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This was my favourite historical guy wandering the grounds.  He made excellent grumpy angry faces.

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And finally, the main building of Kumamoto Castle.  Gorgeous.

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We had a nice group photo taken in front.  Can you find me?

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And finally, something quirky, because I just can’t post a blog update without something silly in it somewhere.  I thoroughly enjoyed this beverage vending machine.  Once selecting your drink it was available through the mechanically opened door under the selection buttons.  My favourite choices were melon soda and the “Blendy” coffee selection.  I did not sample either, but I’m sure they were equally delicious.  I really should have tried that Oreo drink.  Too bad.

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And this concludes our orientation trip!

I have some photos of other random things to post, and will get around to it eventually.  But at this moment in time I am hungry so off I go to prepare dinner.  I have finally purchased a kettle (no pots/pans or knives just yet) so my dinners now consist mainly of instant miso soup and cup noodles.  I promise to broaden my eating horizons as soon as I get around to purchasing something more substantial to cook with.  Call it laziness, or perhaps cheapness…hah.

Hope everyone is doing well, and take care!


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