Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Oh Wow...

So, I DO have two blogs. Sorry about that.

There is news in the land of the Rising Jim...Lots of it. Maybe I should write it down...

Perhaps the biggest news is, my wife and I are rather spontaneously moving. As in, we are moving because my wife decided she wanted to live in the place she randomly found on the internet. Yeah. That kind of spontaneous.

To be perfectly fair, the place she randomly found on the internet is fantastic...4 bedrooms (one with full tatami matting), a huge living/dining/kitchen, walk in closets and a real live HALLWAY...all for less than $200 more than we're paying for our current matchbox. It also has a balcony overlooking the beach...So yeah, can't really complain. Except for the whole, packing up all our belongings and taking them across the street (did I mention the new place is across the street?).

We've found movers, so I don't have to carry our big-ass refrigerator down 4 flights of stairs and up another 4, which is good. It'll be nice when it's over, and we have our new sofa and kotatsu and TV all set up...And I have my own room with PC and razor workshop (my wife doesn't know about that one...).

Thngs will be good, I think.

In other news, my wife is becoming more and more domestic...she's baking bread now.


I love it. Fresh baked bread filling the house with its homey scent...Man, feels like Kansas!

And, of course, there's the economic crisis that is threatening my work, but hey--let's stay positive!
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Sunday, January 4, 2009

Hot Lava!

So I'm back from my vacation in Aso, Kumamoto Prefecture, on Kysuhu Island. Aso is a volcanic area, nestled in grasslands ripe for farming. And it's VOLCANIC!

We drove down in the new car, with my Mother-in-law, Brother-in-law and his daughter; it was a nice drive, made nicer by the car. Damn, I'm glad we bought that.

It only took a couple of hours, really to get in the area, and it is beautiful. Grasslands leading up to very dramatic mountains.
Here's the plain around the mountain:

It's dotted with cattle and sheep farms, and Aso Jersey Milk products are famous--got some great caramel!

Then there was the volcano. Aso mountain is an active volcano--not as in lava spewing around, but it tremors frequently and there is always steam boiling up from the caldera lake. Like this:

The water, when it was visible through the steam, was a brilliant blue-green. I wish we could have seen more, but the other three crater viewing areas were closed due to dangerous levels of volcanic gases. Sweet!

After the volcano, we spent the night at a very cool onsen. ON top of the classic hotsprings and Japanese style rooms, they had free Karaoke, free carnival events for the kids, massage chairs, gourmet dinners and wireless internet. Fabulous place...

And on the next day, we went to"Cuddly Dominion."

Yes, "Cuddly Dominion". Not "Cuddly Kingdom", oh no, that would make sense. Oh well. Japan.

So anyway, this place is a zoo famous for it's star Chimpanzee, Pan-kun, and his bulldog buddy James. They're on TV, and they really are quite clever. We watched their show, and the ladies played with some cats, and we watched a miniature pig race, then after an overpriced lunch we went home.

Oh, and we saw BEARS!

Enough bears to choke a moose...and tear its head off. These bears are cute, though, begging for food. And of course, this being Japan, the zoo capitalized on the cuteness of feeding bears and sells whole frozen chickens for people to toss to the begging bears...
Isn't that just so CUDDLY???

Also, for some reason, there's a fantastic temple in the middle of the zoo.

Inexplicable, but awesome.
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