Concerning the Rain Dragon

Location: Uryu, Hokkaido, Japan

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Little Snow Cave

I'm honestly not sure how impressed you all are going to be by this. This picture was taken when the snow was melting. There's not actually very much snow around my house at the time of this picture. It was a lot deeper before at the time I took the pictures in Let it Snow Part III.

Let it Snow Part III

I'm guessing the snow on the roof across from me is about four and a half feet deep. That's just a guess though. No one lives in those houses, so they aren't heated, and therefore snow is allowed to accumulate. The snow on my roof is not that impressive. I'm still not sick of the snow. In fact, at the time I'm writing this, a lot of this snow is melted, which has made me rather sad. We've had an unusually warm winter, I am told.

(By a lot of this snow, I mean about a foot.)

Let it Snow Part II

This is the view out my bedroom window. Impressive eh? Well, check out Let it Snow Part III.

Susukino Ice Sculptures

Frozen Fish!!!

Me and Hedwig.


Yuki Matsuri at Night

Sapporo or Bavaria?

Everyone sing with me... "willy wanka, willy wanka, the amazing chocolateer..." Who would have known that right in the middle of Sapporo, there is the most amazing chocolate factory with the most wonderfully delicious chocolate cake in the whole world? I had never been to a chocolate factory before, and let me just say this right now, it's way cooler than the Spaghetti or Cheesecake factories. (I didn't get attacked by a waiter with an umbrella once.)

Yuki Friends

Jen and Dave in front of the massive three-story sculpture.

Jen and Dave in front of Dave's favorite anime ice-sculpture.

Christy, Katie, Lori, and Jen dancing to the YMCA.

Jen, Dave, Christy, Lori, and Katie were really nice to come out with me for my birthday. We had a lot of fun seeing all the ice and snow sculptures, eating Italian food, and going to the Sapporo Chocolate Factory. Our last stop for the day was back to Odori Park, where they had a live band playing YMCA and trying to teach the audience the dance moves. (We needed no instructions). At night, they lit up all the sculptures. It was very beautiful, but very very cold.

Yuki Matsuri

For my birthday, I went to the Yuki Matsuri (Yuki means snow, matsuri means festival) in Sapporo. I went with my friends Jen and Dave, and met Katie, Lori, and Christy in Sapporo. The largest snow sculpture was about three stories tall. The Narnia sculpture was pretty sweet. It was about two stories tall I think. I was particularly impressed with the massive polar bears. (If you look in the Narnia picture, you can see Lucy going through the door on the top left of the sculpture). The Taiko drummers were also a lot of fun to see. They must have been freezing!!

This one's made of ice, not snow.

This one's based on the Narnia movie poster.

Taiko drummers.

Me and a friend.

"Ahh. Dasubeda."


Sunday, February 19, 2006

Beautiful Kyoto

I'm the one in the middle.

Kiomizudera, the most famous temple in Kyoto.

More pretty pictures of Kyoto

A politician I can believe in

Now here is a man who's got it all together. He knows what he's doing.

How to use a salt shaker

Before you read this, yes I know, we are 13. But here's the thing. Katie very clearly asked our waitress for pepper. ("peppa" in Japanese). But the frustrating thing is that a lot of times, Japanese people are so shocked to hear a foreigner speak Japanese, that they assume you are speaking gibberish, and do not even try to understand. The waitress assumed Katie was a 3-year-old, and was confused about how to use the salt shaker. This situation was so thoroughly absurd that we just had to take to following sequence of pictures.

hmmm. How does this work?

Wait. I know!


Help me, Tom Bombadil

The Vortex

This one's for you, Kandi.

Never a dull moment with Katie

Katie was really excited to be having lunch.

How? What?

Coming down the mountain

Thoughtful Katie

Katie thinking some very deep and meaningful thoughts.

The center of the daimonji

At the top of the daimanji mountain. A very pretty and impressive view of Kyoto and Osaka in the distance.

We met these very nice people at the top. They lived for a time in Chicago actually, and they gave us some really good cookies that tasted like gingerbread.

On the way to the daimonji

We visited many beautiful temples, which I somehow did not feel moved to take a picture of, and then Katie and I hiked up one of the mountains surrounding Kyoto, on which there is a giant kanji, oki, which they set on fire in the summer. It must be very impressive. (Katie seemed to think it would be even more impressive than the school initials kids used to burn and paint onto the side of the Cherry Creek Dam, along I225. I don't know though. Those were pretty wicked too). Anway, these are some pictures I took on the way up. It was a rather treacherous hike in the snow in my old sneakers. A bit cold at times too.


They have a very sweet deal here in Japan. In the month of your birthday, you can fly anywhere in Japan for a seriously low price. Katie and I took advantage of this deal, and flew to Kyoto for the weekend. We stayed in the Higashiyama area of Kyoto, where all the major temples and shrines are. Here are some pictures I took around where our hostel was.

Takikawa English Camp

Right after getting back from Thailand, I was off to the Takikawa English Camp. I was not thrilled about going, and I was coming down with a cold, but the camp actually turned out to be pretty fun. The kids were really cute anyway, and I was so impressed with how much English they were able to speak. My team's name was called the "bad rabbys", a name inspired by the sweatshirt of one the team members. On her shirt she had a picture of an evil, "satanic", rabby (rabbit). A very amusing and rather scary sweatshirt that I suspect she did not fully understand the meaning of. (Perhaps the rabbit took a little trip down to Thailand and had some EVIL drinking water.)