A Travellerspoint blog

June 2006

Akame Shijuhattaki Falls

Getting our nature on

Akame - Us and Nature.jpg Akame - A and Tree.jpg

Fridays have turned into the only day we have off each week, as a result of 'paying for the camera' overtime on Thursdays. So we decided to take a friend's advice and venture to parts unknown, and seek some relief from the city heat.

We hopped a train, then another, then another, and nearly two hours later we reached the station of Akameguchi, southeast of Osaka on the border between Nara and Mie prefectures. We had no idea where we were supposed to go, but we knew there was a bus ride involved. I was hungry, so we checked out the small snack shop next to the station. We went in, bought a bag of peanut wafer cookie thingys, and then we saw the bus coming. We rode the bus through the streets of town, past huge Japanese-style homes among rice fields, then up into the hills through actual forest. We saw an eagle as we drove. Finally, some nature.

The bus ride was about 15 minutes, and we arrived at a small village with tourist traps, coffee houses, souvenir shops, and a hot spring bath. The area is part of a national nature preserve, as it is home to the Japanese giant salamander (the world's biggest, it can grow to 1.5m in length). As we were wandering around looking for the Japan Salamander Centre (which breeds the huge amphibians), Andrew said, "Look, a salamander!" I only saw the tail, so we hunted it down. It turned out to be a lizard. The first lizard I've seen in the wild. He was pretty cute!

Akame - Li..Hunting.jpg Akame - Lizard.jpg

We also found a natural spring with drinkable water. As the sign says, it was discovered by the samurai and their peasant farmers over 400 years ago. We gladly dumped our crap Osaka city water and filled our bottles with samurai water. Medicinal properties or not, it tasted pretty good.

Akame - Samurai Water.jpg Akame - Samurai.jpg Not so sure about this guy; he looks more like a ninja to me.

After playing around with the camera a bit more, we made our way to the Japan Salamander Centre. There are probably 30 different types of amphibians on display. I wondered to myself if they have an escaping newt problem too. I took pictures of just about all of them. Let me just say that the new camera is definitely worth the price: you wouldn't know that I was taking the photos through glass of animals that are underwater. Another trip to the Osaka Aquarium is warranted to further test this hypothesis...

Akame - Gi..amander.jpg

After poking around at the animals for a while, we started up the hiking trail. At one time, the area was known to have 48 waterfalls. There are not that many these days, but there were still a lot. Pictures really do not do this place justice. The trail was well constructed, either carved into the rock, or made of stones, and followed the river. There are stone stairways that climb upwards wherever there is a waterfall. Let me just say that I clung to the railways (where they were provided, that is) for dear life, because the last thing I wanted to do was slip, fall, and break something in the woods of Japan. But the views from the tops of the stairways were well worth the climb. Plus they were part of the trail itself, so if you didn't climb, you didn't get to go any further.

Akame - Co.. Nature.jpg Akame - Andrew Rock.jpg Akame - Court 2.jpg
Akame - Wa.. Blur 2.jpg Akame - Pl..im Here.JPG Akame - Andrew 2.jpg
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Look at the cool effect I can get by playing with the setting on the new camera! This thing is awesome! It's created a photographic monster!
Akame - A and Nature.jpg Akame - Nature.jpg Akame - Court Bridge.jpg

We hiked for about two hours, stopping a lot to take pictures (we have an interesting series of Andrew throwing a stick into the water and celebrating as he watched it go over the waterfall), so when we reached the third checkpoint we were considering turning back. We contemplated this over a shaved ice snack provided by the elderly couple that sell drinks at this point. We decided to turn back, but when we told the couple this, they strongly encouraged us to continue, and that the best waterfall was yet to come. We managed to understand that it was only an additional twenty minutes, so we went on. It was a pretty great waterfall.

Here's Andrew's head in front of it.

Akame - Andrew.jpg

After this we turned back, thanked the old couple, and hiked an hour out. We covered five kilometres, so we were pretty worn out and hungry, and some of us were chafed. I'll let you decide who, but it wasn't me.

As we were looking for a place to finally get something to eat, we walked past a souvenir shop. Something caught Andrew's eye, and we just had to stop and get some photographic evidence.

Akame - A and Anne.jpg What she's doing so far from Avonlea, I guess we'll never know...

By this time, my stomach was making noises that bore some resemblance to the sound bicycle tires make when braking in crushed rock, so it was time to just pick a place and eat whatever looked edible. So we had some really expensive curry and pilaf at one of the restaurants in the village. We finished eating our meal, and the lady operating the restaurant asked us if we were catching the bus. We said yes, and didn't think too much more of it. We then went to the bus stop, and discovered that we were 5 minutes early for the last bus leaving the village that day. We would have been really up a creek had we missed that bus. So as we waited the five minutes for the bus, Andrew went and got himself an extra-dry cold one in celebration of Canada Day (albeit a day early...meh). The bus came, and we said so long to the village, promising we'd be back.

The road between the village and the train station is only wide enough for one car to comfortably drive, while the other is parked waiting to pass. This proves a little frightening in a bus where everything rumbles and rattles and shakes, as you're on the last run of the day, and the driver is anxious to get home. But fortunately we made it back to the train station in one piece. Our train arrived about 10 minutes later, and we slept most of the way back to the steamy city.

Posted by agc_cwm 21:29 Archived in Japan Comments (0)

4 month Japanninversary

And the new Baby...

Today is our 4 month Japanniversary. I can't believe we have been here for 4 months already. The time has flown by so far and it only seems to be picking up speed. I'm afraid we'll be home in no time.

And, here's the new baby...

Camera - Camera 1.jpg Camera - Camera 2.jpg Camera - Camera 3.jpg

In honour of our 4 month Jappaniversary we set out yesterday to get some groceries. We went into our favourite electronics store, Yodobashi Camera to poke around and found something disastorous. The camera Courtney has been looking at for two months went on sale, ¥6,000 off (about $60) today only, combining that with our ¥5,000 Internet sign-up coupon and all the points we have saved up, (you get points depending on how much you spend, each point is worth ¥1) we took the plunge. We really wanted this before our big trip to Hokkaido and all these savings pushed us over the edge. Then once we bought everything the sales clerk gave us a ¥10,000 ($100) Mail-in-Rebate. In return, we taught him the phrase, "Mail-in-Rebate".

Side note: After working at the Future Shop for so long, I have become the easiest customer around, as long as I like the sales clerk. The sales clerk managed to "upsell" us (I mean me) on a lens filter, a protector for the LCD screen, an extra battery and a better quality memory card by asking, "Do you want a lens filter?" in his barely passable English. Courtney on the other hand is still the worst kind of customer. "How much does it cost? No."

So after all of our savings we got the camera, an extra battery, a lens filter, a 1GB Memory Card, a Memory card case and a memory card reader for less than the regular price of the camera. It was good a buy. And if only this blog was a business we could deduct it. Wait, we're trying to stay under Revenue Canada's Radar.

We spent most of last night figuring out how to work all the functions on the camera. The hardest part for Courtney was to wait for the battery to charge. (For those of you who assume this would have been the hardest part for me, I had some other toys to play with). We eventually got it turned on and took a couple pictures.

Once we got the basics down it was time to figure out what happens when you adjust the shutter speed, the F-Stop or the ISO speed or any of the other stuff. This was the rest of our evening. What would happen is Courtney would adjust something and I would be the model to see what happens. We have a lot of shots of me waving my hand up and down and lots shots of me sitting in the dark. But, out of all of them this the best set that we came up with. It is awesome if you download them and open with with a program that lets you go quickly from one picture to the next. (It's like the old flip books or an old stop motion Lego video about racism without a voice track).

Camera - AC 1.jpg Camera - AC 2.jpg Camera - AC 3.jpg Camera - AC 4.jpg Camera - AC 5.jpg Camera - AC 6.jpg

We eventually, sort of figured out what happens when you adjust the settings. Courtney will have to take a class to really learn what things do.

This morning Courtney had to go do an ECC Junior event, so I took the camera out for a test run.

There was a baseball game going next to our apartment, so I took this shot from our roof. You can actually see the baseball. I was pleased by this.

Camera - Baseball.jpg

After the roof I went down to our neighbourhood "dirt" park. There is no grass, only dirt to play with some more settings. I really wanted to take a picture of a bird in flight. The problem is there are only pigeons and little sparrows there. And, them sparrows are bastards to catch. So I have lots of pictures of pigeons. I'm told they're like Courtney's chipmunk pictures, but I can delete these ones really easily and I actually have pigeons in my pictures.

Camera - Pigeon.jpg

I also took a shot of this little dog and these Japanese men playing Go.

Camera - Go1.jpg Camera - Little Dog.jpg

After the dirt park, I went to the new temple we found to take some more shots. These are the ones I really like. By adjusting one setting I can change the focus.

Camera - Paper 1.jpg Camera - Paper 2.jpg

I also like this shot of the homeless guy sleeping in the play equipment.

Camera - Homeless.jpg

Anyways, with this new toy we will have lots and lots of pictures to post.

Posted by agc_cwm 08:56 Archived in Japan Comments (0)

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