Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Amanohashidate “The Bridge to the Heavens” : Take 2

This post starts with a story. Almost 10 years ago, I visited Japan for the second time with the Japanese Magnet Program. One of the day trips we took was to a place called Amanohashidate, on the Sea of Japan’s coast. I fondly remembered my trip there and ever since living in Japan I’ve wanted to return. So, this past weekend I got the chance to go back.

Friday night I took the “slow” trains down to Kyoto (only 3 hours and 2500 yen or $35). On Saturday, I got up really early (6am, woo) to catch a train to Amanohashidate. It took 3 hours on the train, so just before 10am, I arrived to a tourist-free sight. I guess 10am is a little too early to sightsee... The area is famous for it’s 2 mile (or so) sandbar/dirt road that connects two sides of a bay.

I rented a bicycle and rode to the other side, where I then took a chair lift to one scenic point. I had the option of taking a bus even higher up, so I did. I stopped by a temple, and it was famous for a bell that was and never will be rung. The story is that during the construction of the bell, a new mother was carrying her baby to see the construction process. She accidentally dropped the baby into the melted iron (or whatever it is made out of). The story says that the bell was rung once and that people could hear a baby’s cry. And that is why the bell will never be rung again.

After the temple, I hiked up to the “panorama” view of Amanohashidate. It was a little over a half of a mile hike to the top and it was a nice little workout. When I got to the top I stopped and had lunch, overlooking the gorgeous ocean. On my way back down I did some shopping and then left in the afternoon.
View from the top

Once back in Kyoto, I had some dinner and struck up a long conversation with a nice gentleman from London, who I met at the hostel I was staying at. Sunday morning came and I was off to Kinkaku-ji or the Golden Pavilion. It is covered in gold and a true sight. I got there early and there were still tons of visitors. After the pavilion I decided to make a detour to look at an MBA campus in Kyoto called Doshisha University. It’s relavtivily new, but I had heard great things about the program. I will say it has a gorgeous campus (it’s also right across the street from the Kyoto Imperial Palace). A few more hours of wandering and sightseeing I found my way back to the train station. Sunday afternoon I took the train back and that was the end of my adventure in Kyoto/Amanohashidate.

However, Sunday evening was another adventure, let’s call it “Amanda takes on Japanese dust mites”. Yes, Japan has some crazy bugs. These little devils are mites that live in tatami and bite you when you sleep. Sounds awesome right? At first I thought it was spiders or perhaps bed bugs, but then a teacher asked me if the bites are in pairs (a tell-tale sign of the dreaded “dani” (dah-knee)). So Sunday, I sprayed the inside of my tatami mates, threw all of my bedding into the dryers at the laundromat (well except the bed, too bad because I wish I could zap it with some high heat). My goal is that by next week I will have no new bites (roughly 30 or so right now on my legs and feet). Yes, Japan never ceases to amaze me. I’m thankful that I will never have to suffer the mites of tatami mats ever again, well, in America at least.
Well, that’s my update for now. Tomorrow is a National Holiday! Culture Day! And my birthday is on Saturday, for which I plan on having dinner in Nagoya with some ALT friends at the one and only Outback Steakhouse!

PS. Note to self.....Don't let bamboo grow through your house....