Thursday, September 30, 2010
We woke to another beautiful day greeted by flowering Hibiscus outside our room and once we had enjoyed breakfast at the place we were staying, we decided to hit the surf again.
Today we did the walk around and long paddle out to Tacos point. The locals said it was better the day before but it was an amazing location and the waves were still fun. Apparently in double overhead typhoon surf it really comes to life and is the jewel in the crown of the local surf points. I was fortunate enough to see a decent size Sea Turtle (about 1m long) swim in front of me on the paddle out which was cool. Then it was back to town to satisfy the appetite all that paddling developed.
Lunch: The Kimchee Fried Squid and Shima Zushi (uses Japanese mustard instead of wasabi) were especially good.
After lunch we explored Hachijojima's Visitor Center. On display are a selection of the tropical plants that grow naturally and that are farmed on the island as well as an educational center which shows informative videos giving an insight into the marine life living in the surrounding waters as well as displays presented by local school children.
Here's me checking out some of the sea Turtles at the Visitor Center. They're about the same size as the one I saw while surfing Tacos in the morning.
Hanaka and me.
Birds of Paradise are abundant.On our walk through the gardens we stumbled across this 'Island Cockroach'. He looks indestructible and ready for battle.
After the visitor Center we took a quick drive around Mt.HachijoFuji on a scouting mission for Day 3. On the way we came across this Monstera growing wild on the roadside and in the forest which fetches a good price in Tokyo. Maybe I should have tried to harvest some and sell it to pay for the trip!
Stay tuned for the next installment...
Tuesday, September 28, 2010
Not one to waste an opportunity, my wife set about exploring options, given that we had organized time off. We looked at options in Okinawa, but that too was basically sold out. And then we remembered our friend, Fumie, living on Hachijo Island! A few phone calls later and things soon fell into place and we were off!
An early start to pack bags was greeted with a lovely sunrise in Kamogawa.
There were a couple of firsts, one was flying ANA (great service) another was flying out of Haneda Airport (a piece of cake to navigate) and the third was going to a Japanese Island!!! Very exciting!!!!Me at the departure gate...Hachijojima, here we come, surfboards, snorkels and all!
The first sight of Hachijo, a rugged, rocky shoreline with pristine water. A diver and fisherman's paradise!
These red Hibiscus line the streets around the island giving it a very tropical, almost Hawaiian feel to it.
Driving out around 'diamond head' (as some locals refer to it) to the south coast where the surf points await.
Aiko and Fumie checking the surf as waterfalls cascade down the cliff behind them in the afternoon sun.
Fumie and I making our way across the rocks to paddle out (nice and slippery on the way in on a higher tide!)
Me enjoying the super clean fun waves at Kaisers point on what the locals were calling one of the best days of the year to date. How lucky were we!
Sunset on what was a very beautiful first day in paradise.
Stay tuned for more....
Yesterday was pumping and only a handful of guys out! This shot was on the Nonkey Surf Report and if you look really close that's me riding my Grace Surfboards DY hp50 longboard (the "ninjin daikon") shaped by Taro Taniuchi for Dave Yamaya Pro. (check the Grace surfboards and Dave's blog links on the side)
Friday, September 17, 2010
Brodie and the boys would be dusting off their guns for this 50 year storm about to pound NZ. Unfortunately the forecast is for strong onshore winds making it unsurfable, washed out chaos for most of the west coast. Batten down the hatches fellas, you're in for a rough (and cold) ride!
In Japan, festivals are usually sponsored by a local shrines or temples (a focal point for many communities). The Kamogawa festival is one such festival where several of the local shrines (each located in a local suburb) combine to celebrate together.
There are no specific matsuri days for all of Japan; dates vary from area to area, and even within a specific area, but Kamogawa's festival is usually held mid-September. Almost every locale has at least one matsuri in late summer/early autumn, and is usually related to the rice harvest.
Notable matsuri often feature processions which may include elaborate floats called yatai or dashi. Preparation for these processions is usually organized at the level of neighborhoods, or machi. Prior to these, the local kami (gods) may be ritually installed in mikoshi (portable shrines carried on the shoulders) and paraded through the streets. These mikoshi are often very heavy and taxing to carry leaving those involved with badly bruised shoulders and aching bodies. Parading them is not as straight forward as it sounds either, as the mikoshi are shaken and tossed in the air at regular intervals to show appreciation to local donors and spectators for their support. In Kamogawa their is one rare mikoshi that has 4 drummers actually seated on it playing traditional taiko drums which play continuously, even when the mikoshi is suddenly accidentally dropped. Of course it is a dangerous practice, but one that has been going for many, many years and brings great excitement.
I was involved this year with the float and was given the rare opportunity and responsibility of assisting to steer the float through the narrow streets while people pulled it along using long ropes attached to the front. The floats are manned by a team of drummers, usually kids and teenagers from the local suburb who spend weeks practicing each evening under the watchful eye of elders. They are accompanied by flutists and a kind of small hand held gong, all of which makes a very entertaining sight and sound. In Kamogawa, the floats all gather in front of the station on the Sunday and play in friendly rivalry, which attracts many onlookers, photographers and TV cameras. It's also the perfect opportunity to see old friends and make new ones as you share the camaraderie of the day.
One can always find in the vicinity of a matsuri, booths selling souvenirs and food such as takoyaki, and games.
Favorite elements of the bigger, more famous matsuri, are often broadcast on television for the entire nation to enjoy. Chiba TV covers the Kamogawa festival and usually has a program featuring it in late September or October sometime.
I'll post some random photos soon...
Got to say a big THANKS to a friend for hooking me up. Can't wait to hit the slopes this winter! The forecasters are predicting a cold one so with any luck we should be able to score some epic powder days somewhere along the line. (I won't be cold, that's for sure!)
Tuesday, September 14, 2010
Lots of photos to wade thru from the Matsuri Festival held over the weekend and I just couldn't be bothered just yet. Still recovering. But they will come....promise. Here's a teaser...
Yesterday I had to go up to Mobara. Aiko had a meeting from 1pm and I was free until 5pm, after which, I joined a small 'otsukare' (job well done) party for the WinBe Summer camp of 2010. (I still have photos to post of that, too! I'm falling behind! Here's one of the bus as we ready to depart with the Kamogawa contingent)On the way up we drove through the hills and came across a field of flowers, Aiko asked me to pullover, so we did and took a couple of photos.
After I dropped her off it shot down to Ichinomiya for a quick surf. The sun was out and the water was warm, which was nice. However the waves were small and the water was brown. it felt like I was swimming around in a big pot of Barley Tea! It made me appreciate the water in Kamogawa all the more.The dinner party went well, lots of food and I was the designated driver (as I drank my fair share the previous day at Matsuri). On the drive home there was a huge electrical storm providing a very vivid version of mother nature's fireworks. It was non-stop for well over an hour and lit up the sky over the mountains. When we got home I took this picture from the balcony although it doesn't really do the whole thing justice. I guess you had to see it firsthand.
I hope everybody/thing was OK. There were a few planes flying around as they lined up their approaches to Narita and Haneda airports.
Sunday, September 12, 2010
I know this is Japan and that people are generally far more respectful of others property, but this is just stupid!
I don't know whose boards and wetties these were, but they drove nice cars with plates from Yokohama. They left all there stuff (about 15 boards & 10 wetsuit vests) out on the main beach boulevard, in the middle of Matsuri, when everyone is drunk (and opportunistic) on a Saturday night in summer.....and it looks like they got away with it!
I saw all the stuff when I came back last night about 10pm and took this photo about 5:30am this morning!
If it were anywhere else, you'd assume it was an insurance scam as without doubt someone would have found a nice 5 finger discount to put in their quiver and nobody in their right mind would be so foolish.
More money than sense!
Thanks Toshizou-san (BLOG LINK HERE)
Saturday, September 11, 2010
Kamogawa's Matsuri Festival kicks off today. Unfortunately I work Saturdays but I'll be doing my part from tomorrow. It's going to be a long day in the heat, but it's always lots of fun and a great interaction with the local community, young and old. Stay tuned for photos after as I'll try to post and give a little more info. If you track back to Sept 2009 on my blog you can see some pics and have a read about it. (this a pic from 2009 to give you a taste of what is to come)
Friday, September 10, 2010
Good friend and colleague Dave was on hand with his new camera and snapped this pic today. (stolen from his blog)
Just wanted to say thanks for the picture as I was feeling pretty bad after my board got loose and ran him over earlier. Still feeling like a bit of a kook...but everything was OK, thank goodness. No dings to boards or bodies. Sorry!
Check out his BLOG HERE and see some of the cool photos he's been taking recently with his new camera and water housing, allowing him to take photos from in the water giving a really up close and unique perspective.
Feel free to leave a comment of support as he ventures into a long held dream, the realm of professional surf photography.
Wednesday, September 8, 2010
They say a picture tells a thousand words, but they don't capture the scent. We are fortunate enough to have so many flowers now the lovely tropical scent fills the living room.
Fingers crossed they survive the strong winds expected tonight as a typhoon crosses the country.
Tuesday, September 7, 2010
Well, it's been an eventful time of late and when I woke on Saturday morning to discover a serious earthquake had occurred in NZ, I was caught off guard, just like the many residents in the greater Canterbury region.
As I'm from NZ, a lot of local people here in Japan have been asking about the welfare of my family and friends. With the high frequency of earthquakes here and terrible destruction in Kobe still fresh in many people's minds, they can sympathize with what must be happening in NZ.
I too was somewhat concerned as I have a grandmother, aged 99, living in Christchurch and an uncle there as well, very close to where a lot of the reported damage occurred.
Thankfully both were physically OK. Just a little shaken. I haven't heard much from friends in the area, but I imagine they have their hands full coping with what has happened, especially to their houses and businesses.
I heard from my father yesterday who was down that way and was able to check firsthand which gave me some piece of mind.
Tons of buildings were damaged, many beyond repair including a raft of historical homesteads, churches and the main shopping center leaving a lot of people wondering how it all happened, as scientists revealed that the fault line that ruptured hadn't done so for 16,000 years!
Obviously there is still some fear that there are more to come and that this first one may trigger a series of violent earthquakes in the very near future.
This is an excerpt taken from one of the NZ news agencies;
Residents are being advised to continue boiling drinking water for three minutes and maintain personal hygiene to stop spread of water-borne diseases.
As the clean-up continues from Saturday's magnitude 7.1 quake, residents awoke shaken for a third day in a row.
The aftershocks included one with a magnitude of 5.2 shortly before 11.30pm last night which shook almost continuously for 15 minutes. There was another one of 5.4 soon after, and another of 5.4 around 3.30am today.
They left teetering buildings on the brink and locals on edge. For some it meant another night cleaning up.Apparently my grandmother and uncle were without electricity and telecommunications for quite some time and many water pipes throughout the city are damaged leaving residents without water completely or with contaminated drinking water which is beginning to cause health related problems of its own.
Christchurch was obviously not alone in suffering from this earthquake. It also affected areas surrounding the city, notably Kaiapoi, and around the Canterbury plains.
Spare a thought for those who have lost everything and send prayers for a safe and quick recovery.
Friday, September 3, 2010
And this is today!
I love it when our plumeria blooms. Last year it didn't so we were especially looking forward to it this year. We bought this plumeria as a small cutting and it has grown and grown and now stands almost as tall as me. Hopefully it is strong and hardy enough to endure the winter outside as it's getting a little too big to bring inside. They usually require a minimum temperature of 15 degrees, so we'll see....