Pandas at play…

no more games

Work has been piling up at a frantic rate, but I decided I really needed to do something to relax. Tennis in tow, I headed up north to
visit my good friend KC (yeah, I just threw you a myspace link. Sorry. Normally I’d
never do that, but hey, it’s a friend so…). Arriving in the deep inaka, we watched a bit of Kids in the Hall (ahh, the things you start
to miss after you’ve been out of the country for a few years), listened to what is quite possibly href="http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/B0000027FW/qid=1125321537/sr=8-9/ref=pd_bbs_9/002-4289170-9810464?
v=glance&s=music&n=507846">the worst New Kids on the Block remix album ever made – granted the starting matter is subject to
some debate to begin with, but there is no call for Donnie Wahlberg’s vocals to ever – and I mean EVER be laid over reggae beats
(themselves of a dubious nature) and drank some fruit juice.

As exciting as that is, I knew that the inaka had much more to offer, and so when KC piped up “hey, I know this great park close by,
like it has all these dangerous wooden and metal things you can climb and play around on. Do you wanna go?” my interest was instantly
piqued.

“Dangerous, you say?”

Her eyes light up. “Yeah, totally! You could NEVER have something like this in America – people would be sueing all the time, like
there’s no safe guards, there’s all sorts of stuff you could fall down from, hard concrete and rusting metal everywhere. It’s so
awesome!”

“Dude, what are we waiting for!?” I snatch up my keys and we’re out the door.

I’m sorry this is basically just another picture post and perhaps not too comprehensible at that. I’m really sleepy today but just had
to get something up ASAP.

You know the drill. Click on a picture to pop up a larger image.

sunday fun day

Tennis and KC look of into the distance a little kids climb over – and under – the netting we were relaxing on. Monkah like behavior
all around – us laying around in what little sun was out, the kids clamboring and swinging from the ropes.

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MACRO FROGGAHH!!! A frog hopping by a nearby table caught our eye and of course I had to take a psuedo-macro shot of it. I say
“pseudo-macro” because that’s the one I elected to put up – I took a macro shot as well, but it had the unfortunate side effect of
hilighting all the bumps on his little froggah bum, which was sorta gross. I figure if I had a bunch of froggah bumps on my bum, I
wouldn’t want some fool taking a macro close up shot of it and then posting it on the internet for all to see.

Hey, froggahs have feelings too you know.

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Did you ever wonder what the deep inaka Japanese countryside looked like? Sort of like this. You can see the humidity in this
picture, though this particular day wasn’t so bad. The thing about Japan is that no matter where you look, you can always see mountains
in the background.

Pardon me while I geek out for a second, but the feeling is oddly reminiscent of playing those old-school first person shooter games
like Quake or Doom, (the latter of which actually has a live action moving coming out starring The Rock. From href="http://www.apple.com/trailers/universal/doom/">the look of the trailer, there’s probably better things you could spend your $8
bucks on (or $20 bucks if you’re in Japan). The Transporter 2, for
example) where, due to the limitations of technology at the time, they couldn’t render “realistic” outdoor scenes, so anytime you ever
walked “outside”, the world always looked like a big fake cube with bitmaps of mountains on the walls to make it look like you could “see
into the distance”. But it always looked fake and limited, like the world was always “bounded” and there was only ever so far you could
go in one direction before you hit those mountains/wall. Japan is sort of like that, you always feel “bounded” and restricted by
mountains on all sides. I never realized how expansive America was until I came here – it’s a rare spot in Japan where you can actually
look as far as the “horizon”.

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The sky wreaking havoc with the white balance on my camera. Looks ominous!!

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Stumbling my way across this pathway comprised of logs suspended from chains, I realized that those swinging vine bridges you sometimes
see in Indiana Jones-like movies must really be a pain in the ass to try and cross. I almost died three times on this little course, and
it was only 2 feet off the ground! No Harrison Ford action for this panda!

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Getting ready to roll Tennis in a wooden barrel suspended between some log rails. KC cautions – “make sure you keep your arms inside or
else they’ll get cut off! There’s no safe guards here!” Yikes. Japan has a real way with embracing Darwinism in its playgrounds (and
general civil construction)

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Tennis looking a bit the worse for the wear after being tumbled around dozens of times in the barrel. In case any of you should ever find
yourselves in a wooden barrel in the future, I would advise you to brace your head against the barrel wall before it starts tumbling, lest
you bang it painfully when you start falling upside down!

That, my friends, is us putting ourselves out there on the line for your benefit. Learn from our pain people. Learn from our
pain.

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KC takes a turn rolling in the barrel…

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Rocking the Indiana Jones tip. Though I look like I’m getting ready to scale a steep mountain wall the way I’m hurling that rope out
there, in reality this thing is only like 6 feet off the ground…

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Tennis absailing down the wall.

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“My name is Specialist 1st class Michael Panda – and I am an Army of One” – Panda rocking it all G.I.Panda Basic Training style.

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In this awesome multilevel wooden bridge thing with all sorts of obstacles and netting inside of it. I’m stuck in some tiny crawl space
(definitely sized for Japanese children as opposed to American Pandas) and literally had to claw and drag my flattened self through it to
this bizarre trapazoidal opening, lest I get stuck (there were some close moments!) and suffocate to death. My goodness, all this “play”
tinged with “brushes with fatality” is exhausting!

You can see the rest of our adventures in the full entry by clicking the link below.

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KC, Tennis and Panda rocking the group shot. (^_^)v

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Another happy group shot, this time inside of a hamster-like den portion of the multilevel play bridge.

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Tennis experiencing friction issues which impede her ability to enjoy the “Giganto Slide” to the fullest.

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Pandar, on the other hand, slides down just fine.

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Upon reaching the end of the zip line (and smacking rather violently into rigid netting at the end with my ribcage) I thought it’d be
funny to let go of the rope and plop to the ground. That was before I realized “the ground” was actually “sand on top of a concrete
plate”, which seems like a really smart thing to put in the pit underlying the terminus of a zip line that starts about three stories off
the ground. Needless to say, had I know this ahead of time, I probably would’ve tried to cradle my head a bit more.

My disorientation resulting from a borderline concussion, on the other hand, makes for a great picture.

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Frolicking on the swings. The girls wimped out though, and wouldn’t let me push them to fullest of my abilities. Remember back in grade
school when you’d try and see who could get up the highest in the air? And you were secretely afraid that you might go so high you’d wrap
around the pole at the top and die? Or worse yet, get flung up at the apex by all the g-forces and thrown onto the school roof (which was
invariably comprised of that ubiquitous black school tarp with a bunch of sharp rocks thrown on top of it – what the hell was up with
that!? Every school I’ve ever gone to had that same bizarre “roof”…)

Ahh, I may not remember much from physics class, but at least I know that I won’t be wrapping around the pole at the top of a swing
anytime soon. It allows me to enjoy my playground experiences so much more nowadays, I think. And they say math isn’t good for
anything…

(actually nobody I know says that, but it made for a nice paragraph conclusion, so I left it)

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The girls trying to see who could jump the highest. In a suprising twist, this 90kg+ panda managed to lift his bulk off the ground the
highest and beat them all. See? Pandas may be big, but we’re also incredibly spritely. Beware our wrath *(o.O)*/

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KC miming a sign.

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KC wiping ice cream from her mouth. She’s such a slob.

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Ice cream in the nose, or brain freeze? Either way, Baskin Robbins can be a dangerous proposition if you’re not careful…

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Tennis is exhausted from the day and collapses in her ice cream sundae.

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Rope swinging!! At one point, part of the wooden structure I was standing on to take this picture collapsed (it was rotting, apparently)
and almost sent me tumbling to my death. I decided soon afterward to abandon my photo journalistic aspirations and get down with the
quickness.

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Tennis trying to work up the courage to let go of the rope. The fact that there was a 6 foot deep concrete ditch only a few feet away
made the decision that much more difficult.

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KC trying to climb onto a waterwheel which clearly says “do not use” (the sign is cut off in the picture). As you might expect, this
situation did not end very sucessfully.

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A cute kid snoring away on a makeshift hammock.

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Some more cute kids sharing the multilevel adventuarrrrr bridge with us. This little girl took better photos with our cameras than we
could! *sigh*

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More kids, this time popping their heads in from above like little monkahs (^_^)/o~

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KC doesn’t seem so sure about this zip line idea…

And that’s our random adventures in the deep inaka. I’m off to Tokyo on Wednesday, Monkah in tow, of course. He’s so excited he even
went out and got new clothes for our trip – sort of an urban-camouflage theme, which is unusual, but I’m sure I’ll get used to it. The
first couple of days are work, but Friday I’m off to Ueno with a fellow panda-loving friend to visit the pandas in the zoo! Hooray!

Also, sometime in the next month or so, I’d like to get a new site redesign off the ground. Stay tuned!

Now listening to: “Sade – By your side”
Thanks J-Wo!

7 Reactions

  1. AMELIE

    i just had so much fun reading/looking at your strange adventure! i want some highly unsafe jungle gym stuff to play on in STL…
    LUCKY!

  2. AMELIE

    aah, and the frog does have weird bumps on its rump. thanks for not posting the super macro photo of that!

  3. momolo

    BEST PLAYGROUND EVER.
    frogah bum warts…eh, not so attractive.

  4. kc

    SWEET! nice entry panda. i liked that girl in the yellow shirt myself. she seems like a winner.
    you keep calling “strangers with candy” “kids in the hall” instead…is this wishful thinking on your part? ;)
    have fun in tokyo you lucky…panda. hope to see you soon!

  5. Mistress Ki-T

    wow, that playground looks amazingly like the obsticle course I was forced to do during my brief stint in the Air Force (orientation…)

  6. kc again

    panda i just started to reread my own comment (see above) and i got all excited that somebody was a big fan of me, no kidding. but then i realized that it was my own comment. all within a span of about 15 seconds, while sitting alone in my apartment. my life is very very sad.