Saturday, June 14, 2008

Golden Week in Kyushu - Part 2:

As I was saying, this theme park "Huis Ten Bosch" seems to be having a bit of an identity crisis. It started as a recreation of a Dutch village -- which seems odd enough unless you know that the Dutch were at one point in time the only foreigners allowed in Japan, and had small port communities set up for trading; however they didn't hold equal status with (the xenophobic)Japanese people, and were isolated to their small port communities -- featuring traditional crafts and architecture, but after going bankrupt seems to have tried to modernize with an array of museums, mirror mazes, and 3D movies with vague connections to MC Escher. Above, Tara and I pose with Tuli-chan, the tulipish mascott of the park.

Tired of all those flashy, high-class frozen foods? Sick of putting on a black tie and jacket every time you open your freezer??? Don't worry folks, I have just the thing for you! Try our new CASUAL FROZEN FOODS, available 24 hours a day from this vending machine outisde the train station. Yes you can now enjoy all the glam of frozen foods, without the usually associated expectations and social pressures. Fast, easy, non-commital frozen foods at the touch of a button, try them today!

A memorial for war victims decorated with thousands upon thousands of paper cranes. Each colourful paper streamer is composed of tiny folded paper cranes.
Nagasaki has emerged from a checkered past with inspiringly bright hopes for the future. Throughout the city, and particularly in the Peace Park, are various memorials to victims of war, apologies for atrocities of war, and sculptures from countries around the world dedicated to a peaceful future.

Fat Man's ground zero from August 9th, 1945. The atomic bomb exploded approximately 550m above the point of this pilar.

Japanese business hotels. Not great only for their low room rates which often includes your choice of Western or Japanese style breakfast, but also because they always give you a nice little house coat which you are free to use to found a small cult.

However the best place we stayed was a traditional Japanese inn in a small village embedded in the mountains. Up in the volcanic hillside we were able to enjoy private natural hot spring baths for as long as we pleased. The private baths were set by peaceful Japanese gardens, and were open from early morning to around 1am. I recommend midnight hot spring bathing by moonlight to everyone.
As if this wasn't enough to satisfy, the inn was stocked with virtually anything else you might need to relax or enjoy your vacation: pool tables, karaoke rooms, a small private movie theatre (with a selection of recent films), a bar, massage chairs, and best of all events where we won multiple prizes (BINGO and rock-scissors-paper contests). A highlight for me: coming in second place in the karaoke contest!

Hiking in the mountain the following days Tara and I demonstrate our complete lack of competence with posing for pictures.

Frustrated with the weak telephone connections I've been getting over here. Hope everyone is doing well.
- Ian

Monday, June 09, 2008

Golden Week in Kyushu

A couple days after Ali flew out of Japan at the end of April, Tara and I caught the bullet train down to Kyushu (3rd largest of the 4 main islands) where we spent our golden week holiday.

The first stop was Huis Ten Bosch, a Dutch theme park with a bizarre array of attractions. I later learned from my students that the park actually went bankrupt a few years ago... this perhaps explains the odd contrast of traditional dutch architecture, arts and crafts, etc. with newer looking 3D movie theatres, mirror mazes, and other intriguingly interactive galleries.

Why Huis Ten Bosch has a teddy bear museum was never clearly explained, but Tara seemed to have fun with these guys regardless of their mysterious origins.

The following pictures are of us posing in front of wall murals. Don't worry, there's little real danger involved!

The colour matching here was sheer coincidence!

Alice? What have you eaten now?

Sooo....there's really not much to say about Huis Ten Bosch, it was just a strange but entertaining place. I'll try to post more details of our trip soon, so please check in again later this week.