As usual, the weekends go by way too fast. This weekend brought warm weather which made it a lot easier to spend time in the great outdoors. On Saturday, I did some spring cleaning (trying to get a jump start on the bug season) and then headed to Gifu City and met up with some other ALTs. First stop was a mall (Malera) which is one of the largest malls I’ve ever been to. My favorite part of the mall is it has Starbucks and a foreign food store. At Starbucks, it’s cherry blossom season, so of course I’ve had to have a cherry blossom latte (Grande $5.75).
Welcome to Tanigumi
After the mall, we headed to Tanigumi. I’m not 100% positive on the story, but this place is the 33rd (and final) stop on a certain kind of Buddha Shrine Tour. We took pictures with the famous Buddha that everyone comes to see. We even participated in the “find the buddha in the dark course”, we paid 100 yen and walked into complete darkness and by using your hands, you had to find the Buddha. If you found him (which we did) it is supposed to bring you enlightenment. Although it was cool to find enlightenment, I was not a big fan of the dark (it was creepy). After laughing our way through the Buddha course, we went to a statue that is supposed to heal certain body parts.
First: clean the hands/body. Second: place the piece of paper on the location that needs healing
After walking through the Shrine, we started hiking towards the top of the mountain. The hike was fairly nice; however the way down was not nice to my shoes…Since I’m from the NW, I’m spoiled with nice green areas to hike. When comparing it to Multnomah Falls, it doesn’t really compare. But, nonetheless it was a good workout and it provided great views.
View from the Top-ish
Once hiking was over, we went to a fellow ALTs home and we got cooking. On the menu was Thai food! We made Pad Thai and Thai Green Curry, all with tofu, so delicious. The food was wonderful and it was a great change from Japanese food. We played some board games and thanks to the 100 yen store ($1 store), I had all the supplies for an old college game I played, called Beer Pong. Some of you may know what I’m talking about, but if you don’t, it’s a game where you shoot ping pong balls into plastic cups…(That’s all the explanation I can give, but you could always look it up on google).
Awhile later, the sleep gods called for us…It was just a normal night until at 5:41am, I got an early wakeup call from the Earthquake Gods. I didn’t know this, but Japan gets about 400 earthquakes per DAY! This earthquake was centered just north of us in our prefecture and it was fairly large since it could be felt around Japan for over 100 miles. After about 10-15 seconds later (it was a longer than normal earthquake), my heart started to calm down and went back to sleep. When we got up this morning, we found out the details of the earthquake and on Japan’s earthquake scale, not the Richter that it was a Lower 5 (from 0 to Higher 7, there are 10 levels). I’m not sure how it compares to the normal scale, but it provided plenty of aftershocks for our friends up north. Sunday morning was completed with breakfast at the local (and only) café in lovely Neo (pronounced Nay-O). For about $5, you order a drink and get breakfast with it…I love morning sets!
Finally it was time to head back to my part of the prefecture. 45 minutes in a car, 80 minutes in a train, and 10 minutes walking and I was home. Sunday afternoon was filled with cleaning, cleaning, and more cleaning.