Sunday, July 31, 2005

Summer Vacation Part 5 of 5

Shirahama Energy Land is a solar energy driven theme park (I think). Not a big theme park - only one coaster ride (the Paradise Coaster) and a few movie mixed with moving seats and animatronics (Jurassic Tour and Ultraman - The Ride).
This unusual water fountain (体重噴水) is designed as a device to measure weight between 10 kg to 80 kg.
Shirahama Energyland was quite boring and a waste of time and money (1800 yen per entry). However, we did enjoy the Trick Art House (at least for some nice pictures).
The original picture was rotated to the right, 90-degree.
Left to right; Tatsuhara-san, Oita-san and Yazaki-san.
More pictures taken inside the Trick Art House.
More information of Shirahama Energy Land, click here : (in japanese)
Saruta-san was still suffering the ill effects of too much sake the night before. And longing for close friend, Kobayashi-san. Well, I miss her too.
Before heading back to Kyoto, we stopped by at the Tore Tore Ichiba for late lunch. This time I ordered kaisen don (海鮮丼)
More information on Wakayama Prefecture, click here :

Summer Vacation Part 4 of 5

Everyone had only a little bit of sleep and we had to drag ourselves out of bed for breakfast.
Saruta-san apparently drank too much sake the night before and woke up with a bad hangover.
The Senjojiki with some unique rock formation and the word senjojiki roughly translates to 'one thousand tatami mats'.
The M2 students (Left to right; Tanabe-san, Yamauchi-san, Sugawara-san, Kimura-san and Saruta-san). Strong winds due to typhoon No. 7 approaching central Japan.
Sandanbeki, situated on the south shore of Senjojiki, is a breath-taking cliff with a height of 50 m. A long time ago, the cliff was used as a look-out point from which fishermen watched for passing ships and shoals of fish.
There is a cave complex underneath that's rumored to have been used by the inland sea pirates. Sea caves are formed by thousands of years of ocean waves pounding against and break directly on a rock cliff (weak zones) and are formed by mechanical erosion.
The building at the top offers an elevator to the bottom (costs 1000 yen), down inside the cliff.
Water dripping from the cave roof, chilling air and moist inside the cave. Waves rushing in and rushing out of the sea cave.
Another picture of the semi-submerged sea cave of sandanbeki.
There is a shrine located inside the cave - some sort of a hidden treasure from ancient times.
During the great sea battle between two powerful clans, the Genji and Heike (the so-called Heiji War), japanese warriors have lived and used the underground cave as observation post and hiding place.
One of my sempai (senior). Mori-san (D3) pictured here in a japanese warrior costume (battle dress).

Saturday, July 30, 2005

Summer Vacation Part 3 of 5

We checked into a quite luxury hotel, the Shirahama Seaside Hotel.
At 6.30 pm, dinner was served. The professor made his speech (thanking the organisers, M2 students) and at the end of his speech, everyone raised their glass and the kampai (cheers) toast was offered.
Kanno-san (B4) and Kimoto-san (secretary to associate professor).
Saruta-san (M2) and Naka-san (B4)
Tanabe-san (M2) and Sugawara-san (M2)
We gathered after dinner for some card games (also snacking and drinking sake). We do this every annual trips. We played the dai fugo and dai hinmin card game. The aim of this game is to get rid of your cards as quick as possible.
The cards rank, from high to low : 2 A K Q J 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3. Jokers are wild. Each player in turn either pass or play face up a card or set of cards which beats the previous play. A single card is beaten by any higher single card. A set of cards can only be beaten by a higher set containing the same number of cards. The first player who is out of cards is dubbed the dai fugo, or very rich man. The last person is known as the dai hinmin, or very poor man.
Public bathhouses are called sento, meanwhile onsen are outdoor baths, natural-looking pools usually fed by natural hot springs. In japanese-style hotels, you will most likely end up in a public or semi-public bathing situation. In the hotel room, you will find geta (wooden clogs) and yukata (light, summer kimono). You are expected to wear these things to and from the bath.
Inside the bathhouse. Nice setting of the bath tub (ofuro). I wanted to snap more pictures but the room was condensed with hot humid air - didn't want the lens to get fogged up.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Summer Vacation Part 2 of 5

After a fine meal at the Tore Tore Ichiba, we headed off to the Shirahama Adventure World. When was the last time you went to the zoo ?
Adventure World features a theme park and a wildlife park for one admission price (3,500 yen). Some sort of an open zoo and leisure park, it offers a great variety of entertainment for everyone - encounter with friendly dolphins, exciting safari drive, roller coaster rides and up close and personal with african widllife.
Click here :
There are five main sections - Safari World, Marine World, Enjoy World, Penguin and Sea Animal Kingdom and Panda Land. Safari World, a combination of both carnivorous and herbivorous safari, the best in my opinion. Oita-san and Yazaki-san were excited to ride on the Kenya train.
It was difficult to take good shot during the train tour. Only managed one with the tiger sleeping (probably after a big meal). We decided to do the walking tour as well.
The african elephant wasn't too pleased by our presence without any food.
During the elephant's feeding schedule (1.10 pm - 3.10 pm), Yazaki-san was seen here feeding bananas to the elephant.
My first experience with a dancing ostrich. I was standing around the corner and there it stood (a confused ostrich), dancing - as though displaying courtship behaviour. Hey, wait a minute, me no ostrich !
Each zebra has their own unique pattern of strips (like human fingerprints). A male zebra was seen here. Male zebras keep themselves separated from the female group. Some stallions become territorial and are temporarily visited by female groups in their territory. Well, as in the zoo, I am not sure about their territories.
Not sure why this zebra suddenly had a penile erection. Oh god, don't tell me another courtship behaviour.
It was also my first time seeing a giraffe up so close, munching on leaves. The Giraffe Watching Terrace is opened from 1.15 pm till 3.25 pm.
The giraffe was confused. More leaves for the giraffe or I shall eat your fingers !
We missed the lion feeding session. But most of the lions looked unhealthy - lazing behind the secure fence.
We had a great time and enjoyed the Safari World. Oita-san and Yazaki-san posed as though attacked by the bear.
Three hours wasn't enough to see everything in the park. We decided to skip several (play zones in the Enjoy World) and headed off to the Panda Land.
We were on time for Splash Dolphin Live Show. Dolphins are social animals. Dolphin training is based on the concept of positive reinforcement. For a reward to be effective in training, the trainer must be able to deliver it at the exact moment when a dolphin is doing what he/she is looking for.
Because of their high capacity for learning, humans have employed dolphins to perform in front of an audience. The military too has employed dolphins for various purposes from finding mines to rescuing lost or trapped persons.
Dolphins often leap above the water surface, sometimes performing acrobatic figures. This and other behavior is interpreted as playing.
It was a long time ago since I last visited the zoo. We were all tired after spending several hours and were ready to head back to the hotel for a good dinner treat (Part 3/5).

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Summer Vacation Part 1 of 5

Time flies. Yeah, no kidding. I am now in my fourth year studying in Kyoto University. They say time flies, especially when you are having fun. And it seems that all good holiday trips are never long enough. Every summer, our laboratory goes on school trips.
Year 1 : Toba Bay and Ise-shima.
Year 2 : Nagashima Spa Land.
Year 3 : Kinosaki Marine World and Amano Hashidate.
This year we headed off to Shirahama of Wakayama Prefecture. It was not my first time to Shirahama but the itinerary was somewhat different from the previous one.
Shirahama is a resort town on the south coast of the Wakayama Prefecture (part of the Kii Peninsula on Honshu Island), approximately 3 hours drive from Kyoto. The japanese swimming season is from mid-July through the end of August, during which the beach is crowded. Although we were scheduled to head to the beach, the plan had to be canceled because of the approaching typhoon No. 7.
The gloomy sky did not dampen our holiday spirit. Tore Tore Ichiba was the first stop of our summer vacation. 170-7084_IMG
Like a fresh market, one can shop for fresh seafood. There are a wide variety of fishes, fresh oysters, shrimp, scallops, crabs, etc at reasonable prices (although some are really expensive).
We were hungry. If you love fresh seafood (sashimi), you will absolutely love this place. (Left to right, Tatsuhara-san, Yazaki-san, Yamauchi-san and Uchida-san; front, Sugawara-san)
I ordered fresh salmon and red caviar (ikura) served over rice. These eggs explode and crunch in the mouth.
According to japanese thinking, the best way to cook a fish is not to. Therefore, raw seafood is served chilled and sliced and elegantly arranged. But if you are not a big fan of sashimi, there is a wide range of cooked food as well.
Next, we tried scallops. Plump and juicy scallops grilled with melted butter - it was so good.
A man is seen here cutting fish into fillets. Next to this counter, you may find the taraba gani (king crab).
After a good meal, we headed off to the Shirahama Adventure World (Part 2/5).