Sunday, November 11, 2012

FHI Glider Competition

FHI was having a glider competition and asked if I would join. I thought making the glider was going to be super easy so I left it to the morning of to make it, but apparently it is harder, you have to actually cut things and measure and glue etc... My glider didnt turn out so good, I could only get it to fly for 10 seconds max and it kept trying to do loops, but I got a stronger rubber band and it was able to fly for 40 seconds and didnt do the loop. The expert fliers told us the key was more power, I guess they were right.
My glider... note the "splice" on the wing, because I didnt measure like I was supposed to the wing paper didnt fit right and I had to add a little more

Seki san flying his glider.
Me and my glider, before it headed into a loop.

Flying the gliders was a lot more fun than I expected. Interesting trying to get them to fly well.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Hiking Nantaisan round 2

Had a nice weekend this weekend, Hiked Nantai san for the 2nd time, although from the 4th station about halfway up. Miyagi san, the leader of the FHI hiking club, took us up this construction route, which im pretty sure was illegal, but the gate wasnt locked so we just moved it and drove on through. Legs are a bit sore even from the 4th station, but no where near as sore as the last time hiking from the bottom. Here is a picture of a sign at the base at the shrine that says the hiking route is closed.
It was quite cold at the top.
The point of the hike was to see a bit of the fall colors, but most had already fallen off at this elevation.
We did get a good view of Mt. Fuji though in the distance.
They were doing some kind of construction and were using this lift to get equipment up the mountain, sort of interesting I thought.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Robot Restaurant

A couple of my coworkers are heading back to the US so we went out in Tokyo as a kind of last hurrah. I happened to see this robot theme restaurant on TV a few days before which was famous for having these huge robot women. You were able to control their faces and eyes etc... including making their boobs bounce up and down.
My coworker Jason was lucky enough to jump up on one.
This is one of the costumes the ladies wore while operating the huge robot women.
They also rode a motorcycle back and forth. Maybe not the best idea as it was in the bottom of a not so well ventilated restaurant, but anything in Japan.
The general theme was kind of war like or a battle, here are a tank and an airplane full of girls in bikinis... of course this restaurant gets 2 thumbs up.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Motorcycle riding with FHI boys

Went on an awesome motorcycle ride with a few guys from FHI this weekend. It was great mostly because I didnt have to plan anything and they all have things like navigation so all I had to do was show up. First stop was a ropeway in Nikko that I have been to a few times, but it was a beautiful day.

We headed to a restaurant the specialized in game type animals where they served Bear and Deer, but they also served Salamander so we had to try it once.
The salamander was ok, kinda didnt really have much taste but you eat the whole thing.

Anyone who happens to read this who lives near Tochigi and like to ride motorcycles the route we rode on was from Nikko on 169 to 23 west, then back on 23 towards Yunishigawa Onsen, then to 121 and up to Hunter mountain on the Nichien Toll Road (400 yen for bikes) towards Shiobara I have ridden the opposite way on this road before, and this way is a better ride, I think we took 400 down to 56 then back to Utsunomiya.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Hiking Mt. Asamayama

This weekend was the annual all FHI hike. We piled on the FHI bus at 5:30am to drive to the most active volcano in Japan.

The last eruption was in April of 1982, and I was assured the volcano is at level 1 the lowest level of danger, so hiking is ok right now. We saw a few of those little creates on the board, apparently they are a species of antelope, but not like any antelope I had seen before.

There were some really beautiful views as usual on these hikes.

A big group of people came this year (27), here is everyone passing through the tori gate.

A view of the former caldera, and the current peak of the mountain.

Peak marker along with the new caldera forming in the background.

This is Isaka san and a yama (mountain) girl (Seiwa san). Yamagirls are girls who are dressed to the T in the best mountain gear, usually in bright colors. I think the clothing is the only requirement for this title, but she seemed to know about the berries and such as we were climbing so she might not be the superficial yamagirl, hard for me to tell since i didnt talk to her much, as she was the only young girl on the hike so she got a lot of attention from the older guys.

There was a shelter on the top just in case the volcano erupted again.

This ladies sole came off of her shoe, the same thing happened to an older gentleman last year on the FHI hike.

Here is everyone taking a break at the free rest station near the top of the forested area.

At the base of the volcano was an onsen called tengu onsen, the most red onsen in Japan due to all the iron/rust in the water. I guess its ok to bath in that? Tengu is kind of a mythical demon thing, hence the association with red.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Mt. Fuji

One of the things on the list to do in Japan is hike Mt. Fuji. Mt. Fuji is really accessible, and kind of an easy hike because most people start at the 5th station about halfway up the mountain, and there is a lot of support along the way. There is generally a ton of people too so you are forced to go pretty slow. I wanted to climb the whole mountain so I started at the 1st station adding on a few kilometers to the total hike. Misato and I left Utsunomiya on Thursday night and stayed in Fujiyoshida city. The next morning I started at about 7:30am thinking it would take a while to get to the 5th station where I was meeting Misato.

The bottom half of the hike is actually much nicer than the hike most people do, its actually more natural and in the woods. The photo below is one of the old huts along the hike before the road up to the 5th station was open. No one hikes from the bottom anymore so there is no need for these huts anymore.

I met Misato at the 5th station, I arrived about 10am,but Misato couldnt get to the mountain until 12, since that was the first bus up, and we started up the mountain from there together after buying our little walking sticks.

The fuji trail from the 5th station is really busy, there are about 300,000 people who hike the mountain in only 2 months, so the trail has been manipulated quite a bit with this big steel/rock/concrete barriers to prevent erosion. I think its a bit strange the sacred mountain of Japan has been manipulated/exploited so much, hence why I thought the bottom half of the hike was better.

There were some beautiful views though of course.

Here are our sticks with a few branded in stamps from the yamagoya on the way up. Each stamp is 200yen so we didnt get all of them and unfortunately didnt get the one from the very top either.

Here you can see all the people at one of the support stations/huts on the way up.

Misato and I stayed at the highest hut, 8.5, the huts are called yamagoya in Japanese. We arrived about 4:30, and had the dinner that they prepared for us and we fell asleep or at least in the bed area by about 6 or 7pm. The yamagoya are kind of expensive, about 8,000 yen ($100) each for as youll see below not much of a "hotel". Although they do provide dinner and breakfast and a place to rest for the night so maybe it was worth it.

Not much room in there, you hang your bags at your feet and literally sleep shoulder to shoulder with strangers.

I thought it was funny that at this altitude people are still smoking. some people even bring little bottles of oxygen to supplement in the high altitude, but i guess when you gotta smoke you gotta smoke.

After getting a little bit of sleep i woke up feeling hung over, even though i didnt drink. I found out later it was due to the altitude and the fact that there are so many people packed into a little room sharing the little oxygen at that altitude and your breathing slows when you are asleep you are not taking in as much air as usual. It was a little strange though because when we arrived at the yamagoya i felt fine and once we started hiking I was ok as well. We left the yamagoya about 3:30am and it took us 2hrs to make it up the last 500m or so to the top because of all the people. Luckily there were a lot of clouds so the sunrise was delayed a bit.

Here are a few more pics from the top, including our breakfast from the yamagoya.

The way down is a big dusty road, the same road they use to get supplies up to the yamagoya.

I hiked all the way down back to the 1st station and then on to the main Fuji shrine and finally back to the Fujiyoshida city train station. I arrived at the station around 12, and was starving. I met a guy who had worked at the yamagoya for the summer, 2 months with only 1 shower allowed per month, but he said it was a great experience and as we walked out together from the 1st station to the train station which is about 13 more kilometers I had a good chance to practice my Japanese. He had quit his job to do this for the summer, made me envious!

We stayed in an odd but very cheap ryokan in kawaguchiko on Saturaday night so we didnt have to go back to Utsunomiya and the next day saw Mt. Fuji peaking out of the clouds behind the station.