Concerning the Rain Dragon

Location: Uryu, Hokkaido, Japan

Monday, December 11, 2006


What can I say about Shibuya-san? She is the lovliest, most helpful, and caring lady in the world, and she is a major part of what made my time in Japan so special. She helped me with everything, from taking me to the doctor to showing me how to wash rice to helping me sell my car. But not only did she help me with my day to day life, she was a wonderful friend.

This picture was taken on Culture Day at the Board of Education. The lady on the left performed a tea ceremony, and the lady on the right is Shibuya-san.

Kyoko and Yuri

Kyoko and Yuri are the daughter and son of Junko and Mitsuri, a family that was so nice to invite me over to their house several times for dinner. Getting to know this family was such a special experience. Mitsuri speaks excellent English, and is eager for his children to speak good English and travel as well. In the picture with Kyoko and Yuri and me is Sherry, the big black dog.

Monday, September 04, 2006


This is a picture of my Eikaiwa, or adult English, class. Going in a circle clockwise from me is Yumiko, Nobuko, Mariko, Shigeji, Shibuya-san, Hiroko, and Hiroko's little boy. I taught a series of adult classes in November, and then in March and April. It was one of the most special experiences I had working in Japan.

Friday, August 11, 2006

My friends at the BOE

Monday, August 07, 2006

Uryu Numa again

More Uryu Numa

Uryu Numa

Uryu Numa is a large marshland that was carved out of a mountain by an ancient glacier. Sugoi desu ne?!!! It is what my lovely town of Uryu is famouse for. I have been many places in Hokkaido, but I must say without a trace of bias, that Uryu Numa is the most spactacular and beautiful place that I have been. The small ponds that dot the landscape are pristine. There are no fish living in the ponds, and all the water in them is rain and ground water. When I went, the flowers were just starting to bloom. The geology geek in me was thrilled with how cool it was to be standing where a glacier once was, thousands of years ago.

Hiking up to Uryu Numa

Jen, Dave, and I hiked up to Uryu Numa on July 16. I was very lucky to get to go, because the day after we went there was a big storm and the road to Uryu Numa was closed by a rock slide. Now, before I went to Uryu Numa, I thought, "what is all this fussyness, closing roads?" I thought it must just be some unnessesary Japanese precautions. Well, while we were driving there, and seeing the actual condition of the "road", okay, okay, so maybe they were right. It was essentially a one-lane, unpaved gravel road that I thought a bit cramped for Sweetums. Often too narrow for two cars, so if there's an on-coming car, one car either has to drive off the cliff or back up. A bit unnerving, but quite an adventure. What really amazes me is that massive tour buses use that road. That's just crazy. Most of the guard rales and mirrors along the road were smashed and bent. I think I know why.

But back to the climb. The climb up to Uryu Numa, which is a marshland carved out of the mountain by an extinct glacier, was extremely challenging. The humidity itself was close to unbearable. It felt like walking through a rainforest. Very steep, very wet, and extremely treacherous. But it was well worth it.

White Dragon Waterfall

That's the name of the waterfall, written on the sign. I saw this waterfall hiking up to Uryu Numa on July 16. It was the most difficult hike I've ever done, but I must say one of the best. What I think is really cool about the mountain is that it was formed volcanically. Look at the cobblestone effect on the cliff face. You don't see cliffs like that in Colorado. Kokuii!!!

Monday, July 24, 2006

Furano Lavender

On July 15th, my friend Asami took me to Furano to see the beautiful lavender fields. Her mom and aunt came with us. In Furano, I ate lavender ice-cream, which was very strange but rather good at the same time. Sitting in a field of lavender being inundated by the smell of lavender, I couldn't really tell if I was actually tasting the lavender in the ice-cream or just smelling the lavender around me. No doubt, it was a lot of both. Mom would have been in heaven.

Kyoko's Gift

Sweet little Kyoko made this doll display for me for Girl's Day a few months ago. I cannot take the box back to America with me, so I have taken all the paper dolls out and I will reconstruct it when I get home. The diorama is of a wedding party. The top two dolls are the bride and groom.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

In the month of July, Milk is your friend!!!

I just thought I'd translate that now while I still can.

Sunday, July 02, 2006


Daisetsuzan is the largest national park in Hokkaido, and probably one of the largest, if not the largest, in Japan. I drove through the northern tip of it briefly on my way to Kitami last October. While Mom was here, I wanted to go see it again and maybe do a little hiking. Unfortunately, this is not so easy a thing to do. There is no official park entrance where you stop and pay, get a map of the area, that kind of thing. Apparently, you can find maps somewhere in nearby Asahikawa. The Lonely Planet book for Japan is utterly worthless. It could not tell me anything about where to go for hiking trails, or even how to get to some pretty drives. Most Japanese people, it seems, go there for the onsens, but Mom and I were not particularly interested in taking a bath, as we had already showered that morning thank you very much. So my trip to Daisetsuzan was looking rather bleak. I did not know where to go, it was rainy and very foggy. But then, what is that up ahead? Oh my goodness, it's a little wet fox running along the side of the road. KAWAII!!!!! What's this? A German restaurant with amazing food and a lady who speaks English? What luck!!! Driving back from the restaurant, who should we see again, but the little wet fox!! And he even stopped to let us take his picture. Well, I guess the day turned out to be wonderful afterall.

This is an absolutely spactacular view of the mountains, I know it.

German Restaurant

Mom and I stopped and had lunch here on our trip to Daisetsuzan. It turned out to be a German restaurant, and the lady who ran it spoke excellent English.

Driving home from Sohya

Here is some more of the beautiful scenery along the western coast of Hokkaido.


So, I knew that off the north-western tip of Hokkaido there are two islands, Rebun and Rishiri. I vaguely knew that there is a volcano on Rishiri. I had no idea that the volcano on Rishir was comparable to the size of Fuji!

While Mom and I were driving back from Sohya, we kept seeing this shadowy mountain off in the distance. At first, I thought that it was just some strange clouds. But time past, and it was still there, and actually getting clearer. We were a few miles from the coast, so I could not imagine that what we were seeing was an island. It was really starting to freak us out, so we pulled off the road to look at a map to determine what it was. Turns out Rishiri-dake is extremely large and impressive. This mountain was several miles away, perhaps as much as sixty or seventy miles away, and yet it appeared very prominantly on the horizon. Very Cool.

Think Together - a wise and profound suggestion

Mom had me stop along the side of the road so we could take pictures of these adorable cow signs. We missed the one with the cow riding the bycicle, but I think these two sigsn are pretty cute. Northern Hokkaido is cow country. We took these on the way back from Sohya.

The tippy-top of Japan

Well, here we are at Sohya, the northern-most extremity of Japan. From this point, on a clear day (clearer than this day apparently) you can see Russia. It was one of my best days here in Japan, made infinately more special because Mom was with me.

The Hills are Alive...

Absolutely breathtaking view on the way to Sohya, the top of Japan.

On the way to Wakanai

Mom and I drove up the Western coast of Hokkaido to the northern-most point of Japan. Here is some of the beautiful scenery we saw on the way.

Beautiful Takikawa

While Mom was here, I took her to see the beautiful fields of flowers in Takikawa.