Sunday, August 30, 2009

Chaos and Creation in the Backyard

While we know that most our posts aren't particularly structured, this one will be even more chaotic because that is exactly how our week (and most of our time in Japan for that matter) has been.

First of all, this is a picture that serves as an excellent representation of any store in Japan. Be it a small shop around the corner or a bigger department store in a mall, it is all fairly chaotic and filled to the max. Indeed, every possible space is occupied by some sort of trinket, snack, dirty comic book, odd imported good, or one of the few standard products that you can find in any Japanese store.

Lets talk Trolls. Honestly, one of the best things that we've seen in Japan since our arrival has been there dedication to the outdated. For example, just yesterday we found the first complete season of Alf in a store that came with a complimentary t-shirt for $130. We then found an array of Rat Fink memorabilia (hats, shirts, posters, action figures, etc.) all selling for no less than $30. And last but not least, we were fortunate to also stumble upon a huge display of Troll Dolls, and when we say Troll Dolls we are not just talking about a few dolls here, we're talking at least 50 different types of Trolls. Sure, you can still find this stuff in America, but here in Japan it's everywhere.

So, we don't know about you, but we never actually knew how rice grows. We would never have assumed that it's similar to wheat from all the pictures of those murky rice patties, but here's the proof. It's just like wheat, except for the fact that it thrives in swampy mush.

Peter just inherited a bike. It's old and it's rusty, kind of like him. We couldn't be more happy to have it. We went for our first bike ride together in our new and fancier city Takamatsu. It was a blast!

This is me. I know I look sleepy, but this is actually what I look like when I am really hungry. I'm just lounging on a bench at our favorite Indian restaurant "Khana Peena", were we've eaten three times in the past two weeks. A little embarrassing, but we'll do anything to avoid the Japanese cuisine and besides, Peter's got me convinced that the owner likes our business.

Finally, we've got to introduce you to someone. Out of the utmost respect and awe we have dubbed him "The Dude". His stomping grounds are our old city, Sakaide, and he will be missed dearly by both members of the Dangerford family. Anyway, after four months and five repeated drives around the same block (in twenty minutes mind you) I, Lacy Dangerford, finally mustered up the courage to capture this man's soul in one and a half photographs.

"The Dude" can be seen at any time of the day wandering the streets of Sakaide with an umbrella and at least one bag in his hands. He will always be wearing this sharp, yet casual, outfit and always looking this cool. Goodbye Dude, you will certainly be missed.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Monkey Mountain Mayhem!

Our ferry ride to Shodoshima this past weekend was something you can get over really fast here in Japan... everyone wants a picture with Americans. This is one of the many groups of kids that hesitantly approached us in hopes to use some of the English they've learned in school and take our picture while we were relaxing on the ferry.
Of course you have to do the peace sign, right?
Here is the first monkey we saw on Monkey Mountain. His red face really through me for a loop. Honestly, I was buggin' out from the very beginning.
So, it turns out that the monkeys get really wild when you feed them. They are constantly fighting and pinching to get at the food in your hand. This monkey was being particularly rude, which should be clear by the wild look in his eye. Needless to say, I refused to feed him on principle.
This picture was just too cute for me to pass up, even though it took me forever to get a good shot. They warn you not to look the monkeys directly in the eye, and so it becomes pretty hard to get a good photo when your eyes are glued to the ground.
That's Peter inside the cage feeding the monkeys. It seemed pretty bizarre that they had you get in a cage to feed them, but otherwise you were just walking among the monkeys. However, the reasoning behind that became very clear when the monkeys began freaking out about the food. I ended up leaving the cage because they were just too loud and I thought one of them was going to grab my ankles. There are tons of monkeys behind those boards on the ground and they were all fighting with each other. It was seriously nature at its worst.
Once we climbed to the top of Monkey Mountain we decided to hike to this huge Buddhist statue on a trail that was obviously rarely used. We didn't really know what we were doing, but everyone in the group was game and so it turned into a most excellent adventure.
Here is Peter hiking up Monkey Mountain as we began our journey to the statue. Oddly enough the vegetation on the island was different from anything we've seen thus far in Japan. It was strange, it almost had an Arizona feel to it. I loved it.
After a few scrapes and falls in the thick trees we were having to navigate through, we finally made it to the road.
Here are Peter and Kristen looking really tough and tired. We were all very proud of ourselves for conquering that trail.
Once we got to the statue we found out that it is in fact a fully functional shrine and that you are actually able to climb up into it. This is its necklace that we are poking our heads out of. I am not sure we were allowed to open the windows or climb out for that matter, but that is one of the reasons I have refused to learn Japanese. The Japanese are very hesitant to approach foreigners no matter how bizarre our behavior may be. It's a perk.
Meditation is the Dangerford's thing! Japan has really changed us into a new sort of people.
Shelly that last comment was for you I hope you caught it.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Camping in the Canyon!

So I know these pictures are not in any sort of order but I was just so excited to finally figure out how to post more than four photos that I had to do it. Anyway this is a snippet of our Obon weekend.
This is me trying to steal a bit of Peter's potato, tofu, and unknown gelatin on a stick. Of the three choices I went with the potato, a decision I immediately regretted. And not because the others were better, but rather because the whole thing was sick. Peter wasn't too satisfied with the purchase himself, but he is trying to be more adventurous with the foods he eats. I'm still sticking with what I know. Japanese food grosses me out.
This is a photo of the canyon we camped in.
Thank you Courtney for not forgetting your camera. Camping by the river brought back a flood of Montana memories, the good and the bad. For what it's worth, the scenery was breathtaking.
This is a picture of us up on the so-called "vine bridge" which, I will tell you, is not really a vine bridge but a cleverly disguised cable bridge. We were all a little disappointed by that, but it was still very scary to walk across. For me anyways.
Can you see the fear in my face? I was seriously terrified to be on that bridge. The gaps were so big I promise I could have easily fallen through.

This was a little swimming hole close to where we were camping. The water was so blue and refreshing. It was really nice to get into after everything with Happy Raft was all said and done.

Here is Peter with his grilling face on... you know the furrowed brow, where he kinda looks angry. Rie and Katsumi are next to him eating some dinner after a long day on the river. Rafting seemed like a bit of a shock to both of them, but they were really fun to have around.
Me at an early morning duck feeding. I was later joined by an old man that seemed to do this every morning. The experience as a whole was pretty cathartic. Although I will never know how those ducks were withstanding that current. That river is pretty intense.
More pictures to come of our weekend in Saijo, rafting and canyoneering.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

I Get It I'm Out of Shape!

Just wanted to post this really "hot" picture of me after a great run, which I plan on never doing again for the following reasons:

-my shoes give me blisters
-its all up hill
-my "keep me cool" necktie doesn't "keep me cool" long enough
-my running coach is too cute and i get distracted
-all the sidewalks slant towards the road
-i get angry when im hot
-i look like this afterwards

Monday, August 3, 2009

A Night In Turns Into A Night Out

After spending the entire morning, afternoon and evening inside reading, watching Beverly Hills 90210 (the older years), and making egg rolls I needed a treat before we started our bedtime movie, "The Watchmen".  So Peter walked me to Circle K, but on our way we were stopped by a big party in the streets of Sakaide of all places.  It was wild!  Drums were pounding, people were dancing, and of course venders were selling a bunch of crap. If Japan has one thing goign for it it's the great sense of communal unity, there is always a party.  

Here is Peter pre-party making delicious egg rolls.
Thank goodness I had already had dinner:(  Squid on a stick anyone? I'll take a hot dog please!
The kids catch eels in a shallow tank with a hook on a stick.  One kid just shoved his hook through its gills. I got real pukey! Eels kinda scare me too, they are very suspicious looking.

There were about 10 of these float-like things lined up next to each other. I think it was some sort of float battle.


Although our day inside was amazing, getting out is always nice too.