Originally I was going to climb a mountainand get some nature, but I’ve had the striking misfortune of being sick all week (this is actually the second time I’ve been sick in less than a month, wtf?!) so I figured that probably wasn’t the wisest idea in the world. And with the temperatures being what they were, I wasn’t sure venturing somewhere outside of Tokyo would be a good idea either, so instead I opted to stop by the Nishi-Roku Tire Park in Kamata.
The actual place itself is obviously not on any maps; even the road which were described as being markers by which to orient yourself had long ago been subsumed into the ground, buried in a landslide after an earthquake decades ago, and replaced by a new, similarly-named road which ran in a different, misleading direction. As a result, it took us a while to actually find the place, involving a lot of driving back and forth through a narrow cliffside highway, and even a brief trepidatious detour down what was seriously the scariest tunnel I have ever been in in my entire life – pitch black, barred with fencing on one end, broken glass and debris everywhere, water (or something) dripping from the ceilings, a cave-in on the other side with only a single wavering shaft of thin fading light illuminating the end…. we half expected zombies or crazed murderers to come flying out of there at any point!
So just like last year, it’s time again for a wrap-up “year in photos” post. I had a hard time paring everything down into a manageable selection of photos for a single post, despite blogging less this year than last year. I’d like to think that it’s because my photos are improving slightly, but honestly speaking it’s probably that my editing skills are just getting worse haha. (though I did update the Photo of the Day section a lot more this year).
One last day at the beach this summer… You can tell autumn is on its way… the water was colder, the skies a little darker, the sunshine a bit more chill than last time
Our photowalk took us through what used to be the old Sanya neighborhood in Tokyo, over towards Asakusa and the location of the new Tokyo Sky Tree. It’s about as urban as things get in Tokyo, with lots of wonderfully textured concrete, steel, power cables, shuttered buildings and what not, and the fact that we could see the Sky Tree poking up intermittently through the clouds and gaps in the stormy skyline (as if some foreboding Tower of Mordor or whatever) (I may have screwed that name up, but I’m talking about the bad guy’s tower in The Lord of the Rings) only made it that much better.
I suppose, however, that an update is long overdue, so here then, are a few pictures from my recent visit to the Ichihara Zo no Kuni (“Elephant Kingdom”). Now you may recall that I trekked off to the remote countryside of Saitama prefecture just last month for some Capybara Onsen adventures. So what brings me to the remote countryside of Chiba prefecture? Well, if you guessed Capybaras, then, my friend, you would be just about right
So anyway, that’s how I found myself in a minivan rolling across the urban expanses of the greater Tokyo area with two friends, two kids and Ne-Yo music videos (don’t ask) playing on the monitor, headed over to the Saitama Children’s Animal Nature Park to check out their recently built capybara onsen. I’ll tell you what, whoever came up with the idea of building that onsen ought to have their salary doubled, because from what I can tell, that park went from being just another one of the thousands non-descript pseudo-zoos scattered across the country to being quite famous throughout Japan. I mean, I normally couldn’t give a crap about some random fake-zoo, but here I am, traipsing across the land with an entire domestic retinue in tow just to check out some gigantic bathing mice. (The fact that this time I was doing it accompanied by two children this time made me suddenly have uncomfortable visions of what my mid-40s suburban existence might end up as if I’m not careful)
It was beautiful weather last weekend (rare, given how freezing it’s been this winter) and to take advantage of the opportunity mother nature had seen fit to bless us with, a friend and I grabbed our cameras and headed over to the Tamachi neighborhood of Tokyo to snap a few shops of some skater boys doing their thing at the local skateboard park.
The problem with being Japan’s most awesome roller coaster park is that in general, Fuji-Q is expensive and crowded. So you know, that kind of sucks. The thing about that though, is this is Japan. And people like to do things according to the “seasons.” “Roller coaster season” is usually considered to be summer for some reason which means that if you’re us and just wanna ride coasters whenever you damn well feel like it, current season not withstanding, things can work out very nicely indeed. Or, to put it another way, Fuji-Q in the summer = crowded and expensive. Fuji-Q in the winter, however, = empty and cheap. (admission is discounted in the winter). Guess what season we’re currently in? Oh yeah. Buckle your seat belts.
My mind ended up turning to thoughts about my blog, life and future these days (not necessarily in that order, mind you). It’s been almost 7 years since I moved to Japan and I thought that by now I’d know what I want to do with my life. Sadly, this does not appear to be the case. I think the core issue is that I’m a fickle panda: this is a blessing in that I have many and multi-varied interests, but also a curse because I tire of things quickly. Every time I think I have found something I want to do with my life, three weeks later I decide it’s not really for me and I stop working towards it.