- Day 1 of our trip to Osaka: bullet trains, snow crabs, a flowery bicycle, and a suds creature. New blog post:
http://t.co/W0BzVty1U6 22:41:07, 2014-10-18
- New blog post: Osaka day 2: The Universal Studios Theme Park. Some great pics of everyone dressed up for Halloween.
http://t.co/9OGKqQHk4k 19:21:38, 2014-10-20
In 2007 we took the boys to Tokyo Disney, and visiting the Universal Studios theme park in Osaka last week was a similar experience. Both are replicas of their US counterparts, except of course everything is in Japanese. It’s great going to theme parks here, as they are in or near major cities, and are easy to get to by subway. So you can visit them without it having to be the major family expedition required for traveling to them in US.
The heart of the Universal Studios theme park is a fake city block that’s a replica of an American neighborhood. It actually triggered some mild reverse culture shock for me, since I’ve been away from the US for months now, and because of all the attention to detail, right down to the stop signs and ADA compliant curbs (wheelchair access is not well planned in most of Japan).
We went on a weekday, and it was still really crowded. But it was a fun crowd – they’re having a month-long Halloween celebration, and a lot of people came in costume.
In going through the park, it struck me that Universal Studios has a really mixed bag of movie properties, and almost all the attractions are based on movies from the 80s (Harry Potter being the only more recent one). There are attractions for some big hits, like Terminator, Jurassic Park, Jaws, and Back to the Future. But then there’s Water World and Chucky. I was happy to see that Woody Woodpecker is still alive and well in Japan though!
The boys were on Fall break from school last week, and we had plans to take a vacation in Okinawa, but Super Typhoon Vongfong made sure that didn’t happen. So we went to Osaka for a few days instead, after the typhoon had finally passed through Japan. The boys had their first Shinkansen (bullet train) ride: we traveled the roughy 380 miles from Fukuoka to Osaka in 2 and half hours. To give you a US comparison, it’s about 310 miles from Boston to Philadelphia, and Amtrak can get you there in about 5 hours and 40 minutes.
We visited the Osaka aquarium in the afternoon, and then spent the evening in the Dōtonbori shopping area. We splashed out on a couple nights at the very posh Osaka Marriott Miyako Hotel.
I’ll let the pictures tell you the rest…
- Jellyfish, a sandcastle competition, a BBQ, OCD lifeguards, beer, and sea spirits
- We’re planning to go to Okinawa in 2 days, for the boys’ Fall break… that might not be happening http://t.co/k7yPD4av5U 20:12:38, 2014-10-08
- .@speno After my tweet I decided to write a little about the Super Typhoon http://t.co/98uTbFHAhk in reply to speno 22:58:11, 2014-10-08
- @dremeda @williamsba @webdevstudios @maintainn So when will you be acquiring http://t.co/vOvanAR4Zi? in reply to dremeda 23:00:43, 2014-10-08
- RT @ignu: The longer I write software the more amazed I am that anything ever works ever. 01:14:20, 2014-10-10
- You have to watch out for the cops here in Fukuoka. Some of them are tough characters. http://t.co/KBrp34sp8R 21:51:06, 2014-10-10
- A great photojournalism piece on some beautiful traditions in northern Japan that are all but lost http://t.co/MU5Z3i6Sjb 18:33:19, 2014-10-12
I took this picture as Eidan and I were walking by the police station near his school. His school is near another elementary school, so they were probably going there to give a safety presentation.
The eye of Super Typhoon Vongfong is due to hit Okinawa right around the time our flight is scheduled to land there on Saturday. It’s the strongest storm so far this year:
Typhoon Vongfong is the strongest tropical cyclone since last year’s Typhoon Haiyan, which had winds of 315 km/h (195 mph) which devastated parts of the Philippines, leaving over 6,000 dead and more than 1,800 missing.
Currently over open water, the storm, which is classed as a Super Typhoon, is heading north towards the Japanese island prefecture of Okinawa, according to the Hawaii-based Joint Typhoon Warning Center (JTWC).
The outermost edge of the storm has already reached Okinawa. We were planning to go there for the boys’ Fall break. It’s a category 5 storm right now, but it’s supposed to weaken considerably by the time it gets to Okinawa, so hopefully it won’t cause many injuries or too much damage. We’ll figure out our travel plans tomorrow, after we see how the storm progresses in the next 24 hours.
This is a little bit too reminiscent of my flight to Fukuoka with the boys in July.
Interestingly, the news in Japan never refers to the typhoons by name. This is typhoon 19.
- Fukuoka festival fail: fireworks, tainted chicken, huge crowds, and an awesome motorcycle… New blog post: http://t.co/4A1lXJEgjg 07:04:58, 2014-10-02
- My new best friend http://t.co/x6ropdFxNF 05:05:26, 2014-10-03
- @hiteak It’s a person in a costume. There was someone to help guide him (or her) around. I don’t think they could see much. in reply to hiteak 08:54:27, 2014-10-03
- Here’s a video I recorded, walking from our place in Daimyo to Tenjin station, during the Music City Tenjin Festival http://t.co/5LmBfli4MI 02:01:42, 2014-10-05
- This blog post has a bunch of pictures to go with the video in my last tweet. Walking through Music City Tenjin:
http://t.co/luT8OwzOXH 06:10:07, 2014-10-05
- A troupe of Marios at yesterday’s race in Ohori Park (they don’t have numbers, so they’re just there for fun) http://t.co/rPfby5nZts 06:04:28, 2014-10-06
Before we get too far into the Fall, I need to catch up on my summer blogging! Shingu beach was our favorite destination when the weather was warm. It was about a 30 minute train ride, and the Shingu station is just a 5 minute walk from the beach, making it one of the easiest beaches to reach without a car. Its main attraction, as far as the boys as I are concerned, is that the water is very shallow, even at around 50 yards from the shore. This means it’s also quite warm for ocean water. There are man made barriers that keep out the ocean waves.
We went 3 times this summer. The first time, we were invited to the Rainbow Bridges school summer BBQ, by way of someone I met online. Before we came to Fukuoka, I was searching for co-working spaces here, and found a relevant post in a discussion forum by an American living here, so I sent him an email. We met in person after I got here, and he’s friends with the people who run the school. It’s an English language school, so it was nice to have conversations with some new people, without being limited by my pidgin Japanese.
The last time we went was on a Saturday in late August, and we stumbled into preparations for a sandcastle competition the next day. It was a beautiful day, but there was hardly anyone there. Maria explained to me that we were there after the Obon festival, and the Japanese traditionally don’t go swimming after Obon. One reason is that the spirits are believed to move through the water after Obon, and its best not to disturb them. If you don’t believe in that sort of thing, the other reason is that the jellyfish come out. Kai and I both got stung a couple times, but the stings were very mild and didn’t bother us too much.
One thing that really struck me was how attentive the life guards were. Since there weren’t many people there that day, one of them was almost always standing right near the water, keeping a close eye on the boys.
The beach hut has a concession stand with simple, hot meals for sale, like yakisoba. And since this is Japan, and not the US, it’s no problem to buy a beer at the beach. They have a seating area with rows of low tables, so you sit on the floor (the tables were temporarily moved out of the way in my picture below).
The Fall weather is here now – it’s still sunny, but too cool for the beach. We’re headed south next week for the boys’ Fall break. We’ll be in Okinawa, where it’s still warm, so we’re not quite done with the beaches yet this year!
I was passed by a troupe of jogging Marios while passing through Ohori Park yesterday, on the way to my Japanese lesson. There was a big race going on, but the Marios weren’t wearing any numbers. It either wasn’t their time to start yet (as people were being called by name to the starting line) or they were there just for fun. I couldn’t find any information about the race, so I’m not sure what the distance was. It wasn’t the Fukuoka marathon – that’s next month.
Walking to Tenjin station during Music City Tenjin, by way of the ACROS center and the Tenjin Chikagai
I had a request from a friend to make a video showing the walk from our apartment in Daimyo to the nearby Tenjin subway station. I did it last week, during the Music City Tenjin festival. There were 24 stages set up all around Tenjin (mostly small ones), with performances going day and night throughout the weekend, so you get to see and hear snippets of some performances along the way. I also took a brief detour to the ACROS center. It has a step-shaped roof on one side, with a garden across the entire surface, and you can actually walk up. I climbed to the top, so I could record the view of the city. For the return trip, I went underground, so you also get to see the sprawling Tenjin Chikagai underground shopping center.
The video is a bit long at 10 minutes. I edited it down as much as I could, but there were a lot of interesting things to see and hear, so it’s worth the time!