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Sunday, June 26, 2011

Summer Begins


In the last week or so, the rainy season has morphed into full-blown summer, and every day feels like a sticky, stifling sauna. But even though the summer heat in Japan still takes me by surprise, there are so many things happening that it's hard not to get excited.
Earlier in the week, we were discussing a possible trip to the beach to make up for a trip several weeks earlier that had been canceled due to rain. This time, again the weather report was calling for rain, along with possible thunderstorms and an approaching typhoon. We decided to take our chances.
The week progressed, our lives stayed busy, and we failed to make any definite plans, until late Friday afternoon, the topic of fireflies came up. I'd seen them once before in Kochi and also remembered reading somewhere that June is the month to see them. Realizing we only had one week of June left, I hopped on Google and soon had a trip to ホタル見公園" planned out.
We left around midday and drove north to Miyoshi on the Chuugoku expressway. It took us around an hour and 1900 yen to get there. The first order of business after arriving was to get some food. I drove all over the place looking for a supermarket, but apparently people in Miyoshi don't need groceries all that much. I finally found a co-op and grabbed something from the meager fare. From there we had a look on the map, and decided to go to 尾関山公園 "Ozeki Yama Park," where we feasted on our lunch, and the mosquitos feasted on us.
As the day started to grow late, we decided to go find our fireflies and again set out on the road.

Driving north on route 54 (then 62 and eventually 39) took us past incredible views of newly planted rice fields bordered by lush walls of vegetation. Every inch of usable land along valley floors has, I'm sure, but cultivated for centuries, until now, the areas all look very flat, with mountains suddenly shoot straight up towards the sky. The brilliant green of the new rice plants combined with the densely forested mountains creates a truly stunning view. Living in the city, it's easy to forget just how beautiful Japan can be.
We finally got to the general vicinity of where the firefly park was supposed to be, but I hadn't seen any signs. Passing an onsen, I decided to stop and ask. I inquired at the reception desk with a bored-looking who seemed happy for the distraction. She told me how to get to the park, but then said "The park is just about ten minutes away, but in fact, if you go up this road here, Kimita town is having their firefly festival tonight. I recommend that over the park. "
It goes without saying that we headed off toward the firefly festival.


Sunday, June 19, 2011

A Father's Day Duck


For whatever reason, Father's Day always seems to catch me by surprise. Last week I realized it was already mid-June and the day must be fast-approaching. I checked the calendar, and sure enough, I had only a few days to go.
Feeling inspired by the raccoon I recently did, I decided that I would get out my prisma-colors and draw up one of Dad's favorite fine-feathered friends. I settled on a wood duck, googled it, and, finding a decent picture, got to work.
Thinking on it now, I'm not sure why I always seem to associate wood ducks with my dad. As a bird-watcher, I think he is actually more interested in song birds. Maybe it is I who thinks wood ducks are impressive and somewhere concluded that as a bird-lover, Dad must also like them. At any rate, the picture I chose was quite beautiful, and I'm happy with they way my drawing came out.
For the moment, I have just this cell-phone picture of it half-completed, but I hope to have a proper scan up soon as well.