We left Australia just over a week ago and have dived right back into Japan. It’s good to be back with some time to explore together as previously I had work commitments. It’s also nice to be back for blossom season, when the first flowers of spring burst through the chilly air and tell us that warmer weather is on its way. Of course for us, newly flown in from an Australian summer, the start of spring isn’t such a big deal. I’ve had an almost endless summer since the end of 2004 with all my globetrotting.
Our first stop after the embassies in Tokyo and some much needed sleep was the snow monkeys of Jigokudani onsen near Nagano. We stayed in a hotel near the park where they congregate and fulfilled our fantasy of sitting in an outdoor onsen while it snowed. The only thing missing was a furry friend, we’ve seen photos of the monkeys bathing with people and there were plenty of signs of their presence (read: droppings) but none joined us for a soak. There was a bit of snow overnight (but not a blizzard by Montana standards) and in the morning when we headed to the park there were plenty of monkeys hanging around and soaking in the onsen. It’s not a park in the usual sense, there’s no fence, but they monkeys congregate around the free food and the human free onsen. And of course the humans congregate around the monkeys, sporting big lenses and multiple cameras. A a little baby curiously groomed Brett (it had to pick the person with the least hair didn’t it?!), moving his “winter coat” sleeve out of the way to get to his arm hair.
The next few nights we spent in Takebe, a small town north of Okayama. I have to admit Brett saw a lot more of it than I did. He went out wandering while I tried to get all my photos in order, up to date and backed up. Something tells me this is going to be an ongoing struggle as I try to balance experiencing places with trying to record them. Still, it was nice to have a chilled out place to take some time out. Check out the photos of the toilet, I’m glad it came with instructions! Certainly impressive use of space though Brett was a little less enamoured than I as his 6’2” legs made sitting rather a challenge in the tight space. To celebrate our 1 week of marriage we made use of the kitchen and cooked up a stir fry which turned out (surprisingly) good and bought a small bottle of plum wine. A whole week! Seems silly to celebrate but it was a good excuse to have some umeshu :o)
On the way to Hiroshima I read the personals in Metropolis magazine – the English language magazine for Tokyo – and it reminded me how many top quality dating options there are in this busy city. Or not. Actually even the fact that I’m married would pose no problem should I decide to “get a little fresh air”. Plenty of the ads mention that the person placing them are married. One man who was “married and sexless” wanted a little fun on the side. I assume his wife is also married and sexless, maybe she placed one herself? Or she could answer this one:
“cheerful Englishman, pleasant and polite, married, 40s, seeks married JF, 30s-40s for daytime friendship.”
Or this one:
“Fun, fun and more fun. Married and feeling lonely, and want to love and be loved? Look me up and you won’t be disappointed.”
A few more favourites are:
“Slim or skinny. English businessman, 42, living and working in Tokyo, would like to meet a slim, slender or skinny girl who wants to feel his strong hands around her waist…”
“Looking for romance… Romantic gentleman wanted for dinner, wine, nice chats, relaxing in spas, nice holidays etc. but lets be friends first. Me: ex-model, 32, 166cm, slim, mature and intelligent. Baby_b_gentle2me@hotmail.com”
(actually it’s mostly the email address on this one that cracks me up) And my absolute favourite: I swear this was actually printed, I’m not making these up
“Handsome man sought for my very good looking girlfriend, 30s. she is slim and very sensual. I travel very often and cannot meet her needs. Married men welcome but must be well off, handsome, fit and well groomed”
Quite a few listed mental stability along with the usual pre-requisites of drop dead gorgeous (for men seeking women) or rolling in cash and generous (for women seeking men). I guess if the Metropolis magazine was my dating scene I’d probably go a bit nuts too.
We’ve spent the last few days in Hiroshima seeing the floating tori gate on Miyajima island, walking over the 5 arched bridge in Iwakuni, listening to a survivor of the A-bomb talk about his experiences, wandering around the Peace Park, stuffing our faces with Hiroshima style okonomiyaki, requesting songs at my favourite bar and belting out some tunes at karaoke. Today we’re headed to the Iya Valley on Shikoku for a few days of wandering and hopefully a 3 day hike if the mountaintops are clear of snow.
See this week’s photos in the gallery or watch the slideshow above.
Tags: Hiroshima, Iwakuni, Jigokusani, Miyajima, Nagano, Snow Monkeys, Takebe