Monday, June 6, 2011

Day Trips and Weekend Get-a-Ways

Since Chris is getting ready to leave again for his summer tour aboard the USS ESSEX, we have been busy taking day and weekend trips.  It has been so much fun to sightsee around Kyushu (the island in Japan we live on).

Our first day trip was to Nagasaki.  It is about an hour away, so one Sunday after church we headed out.  We walked around the Peace Park (the sight where the atomic bomb hit) and we toured the Atomic Bomb Museum, which was very sad, but full of history.  

The entrance to the park. We think it says, "Peace Park."

These origami paper cranes are on both sides of the statues. Cranes represent peace in Japan.

An up-close picture of the cranes... there were thousands of them!

In front of the "Peace Statue." The right hand points to the threat of nuclear weapons while the extended left hand symbolizes eternal peace.

These smaller statues were all around the park, they were donated by other countries.  I liked the kids on this statue.

I think this statue was donated by Turkey. The seven bodies represent the seven continents.

Then on Memorial Day weekend we drove to Fukuoka.  It is the largest city on our island.  Chris surprised me by booking us rooms at an amazing hotel right in the middle of the largest mall.  It was so fun!  My favorite part was of course the shopping, but his favorite part was the amazing food.  His favorite meal was at a restaurant called "China," where we ate delicious dim sum.  

Our hotel... on the left is the hotel, on the right is the mall!

Crab and lobster dim sum... yum!

But the highlight of our trip was the baseball game. We have been hearing about these super exciting baseball games ever since we got here, so we just had to go!  The rules are pretty much the same, but throughout the whole game they are doing chants with hand motions specific for each batter. It was very loud, but we had a great time learning the chants!  First our seats were right in front of the huge drum, but after the first inning we decided to move so we didn't lose our hearing... then we had great seats and were able to enjoy the rest of the game!
Of course he had to wear his Mariners jersey... the Japanese love Chris' team! He is thrilled the games are on TV!

Our first seat... I'm making this face because the drums were so incredibly loud!

Each inning, there were chant leaders.  They would say the name of the batter, then start the chant and the crowd would take over.  We would stand the entire time our team was up to bat.

The excited fans.

Chris trying to figure out the chant and hand motions!

Of course there were cheer leaders!

I loved the score board.  It is in complete kanji.
Then, the following weekend, we had a date night to a restaurant and onsen called, Lorelei.  It was viking meal (what we call "all you can eat") of salad bar, crab legs, and steak.  It was by far our favorite meal so far in Japan.  Everything was delicious and the staff was incredible!
Our meal of crab legs and steak... we were in heaven!

After our meal, it was a beautiful night!

After our meal we went to our onsen. These are Japanese bathing areas, that are like private hot tubs.  All of them are different, so they are fun to try!  This one was covered, but with a view of the outside.  
Inside the onsen... hot tub with a view of the city.

Outside our onsen.
On Saturday morning, we got up early and headed to Hirado.  This town is about an hour away, so after we stopped for pastries and coffee, we were on our way! Hirado is an island and the only way to get there is to cross this red bridge which they call the "Mini Golden Gate Bridge."
The Mini Golden Gate Bridge

First, we hiked up to the castle... it was incredible and the first castle we have seen in Japan. We are blown away that this castle is an hour from our house!

Hirado Castle

A view of the castle from the port.
Then we were off to find the pagoda.  This was my favorite!  On our way up to the pagoda, I was busy taking fun pictures so Chris was entertained by a trail of ants. When I asked Chris what he was doing, he simply said, "I'm building a barricade to confuse them!"

These statues were on the path leading up to the pagoda.  And while I was taking pictures, Chris was...

...playing with the ants.  The leaves were the "barricade."

We finally made it to the Pagoda!

And finally, last night was our last trip... we drove to a town called Imari to see the fire flies.  These fire flies only come out for about three weeks in June and they are only in specific places.  This was Chris' first time to see fire flies and he was looking forward to catching them.  We also took two kids with us from church, Molly and Jackson, so they could experience this incredible sight! There were hundreds of them!! God's creation just amazes me! Sorry, the pictures didn't capture them too well, but I tried!

Chris catching the fire flies and showing them to the kids.

We caught a fire fly and waved it around in a container, and this is what the picture looked like!  Pretty cool, but I bet that was one dizzy fire fly when we released him!

Just as the sun went down, they started to come out. Sorry you can barely see them!

Here's a few of them that showed up in the picture...

And a few more!

We have had a wonderful time exploring this amazing country we are living in. I'm so glad Chris was here to experience these sights with me!