Saturday, August 11, 2012

A little bit old

Kawagoe- A quaint little town that was once a castle town.  This town survived the great Kanto earthquake of 1923 and the storehouses supplied the city of Tokyo during the disaster.  It is often referred to as "Little Edo" as it depicts what life would have been like in the capitol city during this time.  The buildings that remain here are very different in that they were built to withstand disaster but still have the ambiance of Japanese beauty engrained in them.  We had a lovely afternoon strolling the streets enjoying some of the delicacies a day out can provide in this country. 

Now that is a lot of sake

This is a shell replica of what a festival float would look like.  These particular ones are on wheels and are pulled by heavy ropes through the city on festival day. 

These were originally used as storehouses.

The belltower used to warn of impending danger.  Made all of wood.  Funny thing is, this tower has burned down multiple times and is always rebuilt with wood. 

 Rickshaws are still used throughout many of the old cities, although mainly just as tourist attractions.  The men that pull these rickshaws are very in-shape and able to pull the not only heavy rickshaw but some pretty heavy tourists that we have witnessed. 

 My boys enjoying the day.  It was a very warm day in August, so we were all very careful to remain hydrated and stay in the shade as much as possible.  Evan was a trooper this trip and even managed to catch a short nap as we parked him in an aircon'd building. 
I believe these houses are made of concrete with wood on the bottom.  They look like they have actually resisted fire with their black color and tile roofs.  There are heavy metal shutters that cover the windows.

 This is a sign out front of a tavern.  I would have been willing to waste away a few hours inside but the smoke (cigarette smoke) coming out of the windows changed my mind.  As you can imagine, smoking in Japan is still very popular making our outings to small taverns, restaurants pretty non-existent with my smoke allergies.  Oh well, wouldn't want to earn a nickname of "Tipsy Tonia" to follow me around.

This was the top of one of the storehouse buildings.  not sure what it was about, but very interesting and eye-catching.

Rusutsu Resort

 Tom and I visited Sapporo 20 years ago and enjoyed the winter skiing Sapporo has to offer.  We skied for a day at Rusutsu and were excited to return there with the kids.  This time it was summertime and the hillside amusement park provided a different kind of entertainment.  It was just the right size to entertain Peasley children of three different ages and we spent two enjoyable afternoons riding kiddy rides and some not so kiddy rides.  This one that Tom and Evan rode was quite funny.  It was a "Safari" hunting ride that encouraged shooting of a mounted gun shooting moose, bear, giraffes, chipmunks, apes and deer.  Not sure these animals are exactly on a Safari hunt, maybe more on the "endangered list."

Enjoying shaved ice, an amusement park staple next to grilled corn and red bean paste pancakes.

One of those "not so kiddy" rides. 

Aaron is my no fear child, unless we are talking about spiders.  He will ride anything and be proud of the headache he gets afterward.  He always provides lots of photo opportunities for the other chicken Peasleys in the family.

Of course no amusement park visit is complete without duck racing.

Miranda dressed up as one of the "One Piece" Japanese characters.
My brave boy, the only rider.  We were at Rusutsu during the off-season so the park was fairly empty.

Love this carousel.  I remember this carousel from our visit many years ago and I was thrilled it was still in use.  It is a double-decker carousel and the history dates back to before World War 1.  It is located inside the hotel and rides are free.

Sometimes it is hard to tell who is having more fun when the kids all play together.

The google bicycle rider surveying the park.  It was funny watching him ride through every nook and cranny.  We will check google earth in a few weeks to find pictures of ourselves.

Yep, it is a spinner...not my cup of tea.

Always laughing at the Japanese sense of safety.  Evan wasn't allowed on the bouncy houses because he was younger than 4, but the log ride was ok.  Evan is as fearless as Aaron though, so no worries.

Takino Suzuran Hillside National Park

Spent the afternoon at this amazing park.  They have a great hillside area where they have free, large redballs that you can play with.  Evan decided it was fun to lay down and have the ball rolled over him.  I'm sure we looked like an abusive family in doing so but he laughed uncontrollably. 
These are helmets to use for the tile slide.  I admit it was quite a dangerous slide, so having the helmets for use was an excellent idea.  Never would have thought to bring "helmets" to a park.

This net play area was the bomb.  Miranda, Aaron and Evan spent an hour climbing around in here.  They got a good workout at the same time.

What do an Amusement Park, Cemetary and Circus have in common....

A vacation of course.  I always seek to take the kids to at least one "odd" adventure on each vacation.  I accomplished this quite easily this time around.

We spent 5 days in Hokkaido, the northernmost island of Japan, July 21-25th.  It was much cooler in Hokkaido making for a pleasant vacation.  We flew into Chitose Airport, just south of the capitol of Sapporo.  Tom and I were in Sapporo together twenty years ago and I can honestly say, I actually remember a large part of it (once again the long term memory trumps short term memory)  We stayed two nights at the APA Hotel which included a magnificent breakfast as well as onsens.

Our first day was spent traveling around Furano, home of the lovely flowers.  The colors were magnificent although Aaron seems to have captured the better pictures this time around.  Lavender ice cream was tried by all, and the smell of lavender surrounded us.

Lavender ice cream....not one of my favorites I'm afraid.

Lavender colored scooters are the mode of transport for landscapers.

 Visitors from miles away come to see the flowers in full bloom, mid-July through the first of August.  There is even a temporary train station erected during this time to make transportation easy.  The lavender fields cover about 15 miles as well as many other varieties of flowers.  Once again, since I have always had a brown thumb, viewing these beautiful flowers always makes me think of the many hours spent by SOMEONE to make them grow like this.

Day 2-Makomonai Takino Cemetery (真駒内滝内霊園Makomanai Takino Reien) 

Remember I mentioned the weird, odd adventure I always try to find.  This time I found a gem.  The Makomanai Takino Cemetary has a website that states that Makomanai Takino Cemetery was established in 1982. It covers 1,800,473㎡, and is open all year round.  Ok, just the land space alone is enough to make you stop and think about all the souls resting here, but the park architecture that includes Easter Island Moai, Stonehenge and a cafeteria that sells the "set menu" to dine with your ancestors is one that might make you willing to fork over the exuberant burial fee to rest for eternity (that is if you are a believer in that thing.)

I love this picture with the lantern and Moai.  Talk about saving money on traveling.  Can't believe you can see Stonehenge, Easter Island and Japanese relics all in one place.  Did I mention lunch with the the ancestors as well.....

Still running.  Evan ran around Stonehenge 7 times total.  Want to guess how quiet our car ride was to the next location.