Thursday, July 17, 2008

Parents Visit Japan '08

There have been two major events in the last...well, three months that both rightly deserve their own posts. My parents trip to visit us here in Japan and my crazy fast trip back home for the union of two very close friends of mine. Since my parents visited back in April/May chronologically speaking their post will come first. In a undetermined about of time I will follow up with my adventures back in Missoula. Hopefully by then I will have more pictures to share. Being a groomsman I could only shoot a limited amount of pictures at the wedding.

Back in April, 2008 my parents came to visit Risa and I in Kuroishi. We traveled around Aomori prefecture visiting onsens, temples, and giant Bhuddas!

My parents were lucky enough to have landed just at the end of the cherry blossom season. We have tons of photos of cherry blossoms. I think by the end of their stay we were all pretty tired of pink flowers.

Next stop sake! There is a traditional sake brewing house on the main street of Kuroishi. I think they regret offering The Couch/Alexander crew a free taste testing. We managed to try every flavor twice I think. We also got a free tour of their garden behind the brewery. A very traditional Japanese garden complete with 700 year old trees and Buddha statues. (I will have to sort through my photos at home and see if I can dig up a good picture of this amazing garden.)

Sake Goggles.

This was on our drive up to the onsen. We stopped at a bridge to snap a few pics and Dad almost lost his favorite hat!

Here is the entry to the onsen. It claims to be able to fit 1000 people into the bath at the same time. It's a mixed bath house (both sexes can get in!) but it was kind of a let down. They have the baths divided so I couldn't even sit with my girl without being harassed by an attendant. Not to mention all the Japanese guys who would ogle the ladies side without even trying to make it conspicuous.

She just had to have ice cream.

Where are we again?

Next was an amazing temple at the base of Mt. Iwaki. A huge volcano that dominates this whole region of japan. It really looks like Mt. Fuji sometimes in late spring! We are pretty far from it at our house so it's hard to get a good picture of it.

One of my favorite pictures. I liked it so much that I had to have a little fun.

And my favorite!

This is all that is left of Hirosaki Castle. We took a lot of cherry blossom photos here but most are from my Dad's camera.

We had a lot of luck encounters on this trip. There are two major festivals in this region throughout the year but we didn't time either of them for the trip. Instead, I heard about this festival that was a miniature presentation (practice maybe) of the big festivals combined into one parade. My supervisor took us to it in Hirosaki and then treated us to munchies and beer at a local bar.

This is the largest outdoor Buddha statue in Japan. It stands at something like 25 meters tall. It's located kind of out in the middle of nowhere in Aomori and when we visited we saw maybe three other visitors. This was during a popular vacation period too!

If you look closely you can see a very rare Red Tipped Trout spawning upstream!

The sushi chef told my mom if she could drink a pint in 10 seconds it would be free. Boy did he learn his lesson!

The donckey rider! Boy did that last a long time. Right up there with Snarezzercise!

Even with his newly purchased Oji-san hat (old dude hat) my Dad still placed second in the "Funny Hat Contest'! This was up at Lake Towada. A huge crater lake resort where we stayed one night at a hostel. It was a busy weekend and in customary Seamus fashion I didn't try to make reservations at a real hotel until a few days before. Above the lake we explored the Oirase Gorge. It was a beautiful walk with many great waterfalls to view.

We strive to impress.

Since we took over 2000 pictures between us all I better stop here. I need to go through all the pictures because I know there are some real gems in there. Maybe a follow up post with the best of the best photos will come later.

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