Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Japan - Nagoya Castle

My trip to the Nagoya Castle was interesting. Turns out, the actualy castle was burned down after we bombed it in WWII. But it was rebuilt to look like the original on the outside, and the inside was turned into a museum to show some of the culture of Nagoya. But before I begin this tour, I have to fill you in on something else... the bugs.

The sound wasn't exactly what I was hopeing for in this video, but you can still hear it a little. When you are under the trees though, it's hard to hear the person talking next to you the bugs are so loud. When I first heard it, I thought (hoped) it was the electrical lines running through the trees, and I was able to believe it for awhile. That is until, I saw the bugs.

Ther are actually two bugs in this picture, but with the ground, it's hard to tell. It's also hard the tell the size. That is due to the fact that there was no way I was going close enough to these things to give you a reference point. If Steve would have been there, I'm sure he would've, but alas, it was just me. But I can tell you, these two, were both bigger than my big toe, much bigger. ewe.

But back to the castle.

Here is it. There is a moat surounding the whole thing, but now that it's not a functioning castle, the moat is dried up. The walls were built slanted like that to deter people climbing over them, and if they made it up those walls, there were swords sticking out of the top to deter them from actually making it onto the grounds. Kind of like our modern day barbed wire.

You can see the swords sticking out here, just below the eaves.

They call this a dolphin. There is one on the top two corners of the castle. You can just barely see one in the picture above.

This gun was so long I couldn't get it in the shot from the side. So I came up with this creative angle. Steve liked it at least. :) I would love to tell you why it was so long, but most of the signs where in Japanese, so I wasn't really sure what I was looking at half the time.

And finally, I know it can be boring to look at other people's photos if they are not in them. So here is my attempt at a self potrait with the castle in the background. Not too bad I'd say.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Japan - Nagoya Zoo

Steve got the weekend off so we decided to go to the Nagoya Zoo and Botanical Gardens. I think we picked one of the hottest days of the year to go which was good and bad. Good: Nobody was there. Bad: It was hard to find a lot of the animals in their cages who were also trying to stay out of the sun. We also ran out of energy due to the heat and didn't get a chance to see the botanical gardens which I hear are amazing.

But either way, we braved the heat as long as we could and visited with the animals. Here are a few of our favorites.

This baby elephant was really cute. As you can see, he is splashing and blowing bubbles in his water bowl. At one point, he sunk his trunk into the water for quite a while making naive Steve and naive Val think he was drinking. Little do we know about animals it seems. Turns out, he was using his trunk as a transport to move the water to his mouth. Good thing we don't own pets.

Good example of a sign not to post at the San Francisco Zoo. At first we were a little confused as to why they would ask us to touch a large cats whiskers, but then realized, they had taped whiskers to the sign for us to feel. Good thing we didn't attempt the other first.

So they had these contraptions posted at all of the animal exhbits. Since we haven't quite figured out all of the Japanese characters yet, we can only guess that these gadgets are meant to be used to yell at the animals. Hopefully to get there attention, but who really knows.

Kangaroos! In Japan! Notice the one in the background. Good times.

There we are, in the kangaroo house.

Sloth bear, 'nough said.

Hungry hungry hippo anyone?

After leaving for another attraction and then coming back we found the hungry hippo out of the water. The thing is hugemungous!

Before leaving the park we were fortunate enough to see the rare and incedibly beautiful teotortoise. Notice the fierce glare he gives me when I get to close.

I did dare a close up and as you can see, the rare teotortoise retreats back into his shell and sticks out his tongue in the famous get away pose. Amazing.

This concludes our tour of the Nagoya Zoo and Botanical Gardens. But the show was not over yet. This facinating creature was awaiteding us on the outside. There are just no words...

Friday, July 25, 2008

Japan - random

This my first time editing this blog, so please bare with me.

I thought it was about time to share some pics with everyone with what we have been doing here in Japan. Well, truthfully, we haven't done much. But here are some of the random pics I have from our stay here.
This is the hotel we are staying at. The Marriott Nagoya Associa. It is one of the two tallest buildings in the city at 52 floors. The building across the street is the other tallest building. Steve and I have yet to find out which of the two buildings actually is the tallest.

This twisty building is next to ours as well. Not really sure what it's for, but we thought it was picture worthy considering we've never seen a building quite like it.

Turns out I'm not the tallest woman in Japan after all.
For those of you who did not believe me, they really have developed a square watermelon.

And to end this segment, the most random experience thus far. They really know how to celebrate a Birthday in Japan. While at the Hard Rock Cafe in Nagoya, the rock music was all of a sudden interrupted for a birthday celebration. It started out in the normal embarrassing tradition of the whole wait staff coming to your table to sing to you while the whole restaurant looks on glad it's not their own birthday. But it didn't stop there... the staff then proceeded to lead the embarrassed patrons up onto the dance stage in the middle of the restaurant, where they were forced to sing, I fear to say, the YMCA song. Oh yes, it's true. We do have video if anyone is interested.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Jumping out of a perfectly good airplane...

Val took me skydiving down in Monterey for our 3rd anniversary last month. I don't have Val's pictures handy and I was unable to get the video to upload, but here are some of my pictures for your amusement.

I thought it was pretty cool that they put a warning on the back of your harness telling you how dangerous it is to go skydiving. Kind of defeats the purpose.

This picture is neat.

I guess this is about how I'd look if I didn't wear a helmet on my motorcycle. It's probably best for everyone if I do.

It was pretty weird that for the couple seconds it takes the chute to open, it felt like we were falling. Yes I understand we were falling the whole time, but after the initial bit when you leave the plane, the next minute is just like looking at a pretty landscape with a big fan blowing in your face. You don't feel like you're falling anymore because you've already hit terminal velocity; until the chute opens and you apparently speed up until it catches. Weird. But fun weird.