Monday, July 10, 2006

To quote Scotty: "It's a good life... isn't it?"

It sure is Scotty, it sure is.

The end of another most excellent weekend is upon us, and work is looming large in the backs of our minds, but right now, we still have a few precious hours of freedom.

What a great weekend this had been. It all started out with a party at the Suda household to celebrate Stacy's return to Utsunomiya as well as Motoki's birthday. As is tradition at the Suda's, the plate must never be empty until one is satisfied, and the glass must never be empty until.... well, the glass must never be empty. Tonight, I even spotted Hirofumi, Mieko's husband, notifying Isao when my glass was empty, at which point it was immediately refilled. As a small gesture to show my appreciation for the Suda's hospitality, as well as that of Aiichirou and Fumi, I'll be having a BBQ on my rooftop some time after Obon for them. As we were leaving their place after 1AM, we got caught in a downpour and got soaked on the bike ride home. It was great to get caught out in the rain and not really care at all, and it wasn't just the wine that made it fun, it was quite liberating after a hard week at work.

Yoshiko and I hooked up with Matt and Wasim on Sunday and headed out to the Utsunomiya Museum of Art, with which I was quite impressed. They have a really nice exhibit on at the moment, mostly photography based modern-art. Some of it beautiful, some of it disturbing, definitely worth the visit. UMoA's claim to fame are two paintings by world-renowned artists, namely René Magritte's "La Grande Famille" as well as one painting from Marc Chagall. It is a very nice museum, set in a lovely park, definitely worth the visit for anyone in Utsunomiya. After getting some ramen and gyoza we parted ways and then Yoshiko and I spent the evening chilling out in front of a DVD.

Today, I hooked up again with Matt and Wasim (Montrealer currently teaching in Oyama), and Saki (one of our students who transfered from Oyama not too long ago) and then we headed out to Oya, where Yoshiko and I went last November. It is a really nice area to walk around, and Matt and I plan to head out there by bicycle some time in November, it's an uphill ride, but the return trip will be easy. For the record, it's just a quick 30 minute\440 Yen trip on bus number 45 which leaves Utsunomiya Eki from stop number 6.

The first thing one sees when one gets off the bus is this eerie looking building looming over the town. It's the type of place right out of a horror movie where some kid dares another to go inside and then they encounter the blood-thirsty patients of an abandoned insane asylum. I had noticed it from a distance when Yoshiko and I first went there, very spooky place. Anybody have any idea what it was by any chance? Do you know someone who has lived in the area and could find out? We're curious....

After checking out the spooky building, we headed to Oyaji temple, which was founded in 810AD. As you can clearly see, the temple building is not original, but is interesting nonetheless since it is recessed into the rock face and protects some ancient carvings. When the area was fully excavated in the 1960s, archaeologists made a surprising discovery. They unearthed human remains dating back 11,000 years, which are on display on the grounds of the temple.

We then explored the temple grounds and gardens a bit, had an interesting encounter with some hungry fish and saw some more interesting carvings.

Following our temple tour, we walked over to the Oya Stone Museum, which incidentally if googled, brings up my blog as the second listing. Unfortunately, the artwork which dotted the mine when I last visited has been mostly removed and the remaining works are not illuminated. The whole mine was, however, filled with mist from the recent rains and it made for an interesting setting. We found this cool spot to play with shaddows too.

After quickly checking out the Oya Kannon, which you can no longer walk up to due to construction, we headed back to the bus stop, where Matt had an interesting encounter with a mangy old dog. Apparently smelling the cookies Matt was carrying, and no doubt used to people feeding him, he wouldn't leave Matt alone for the longest time. He was cute, but desperately in need of a bath, not unlike the old pervert who started talking with Yoshiko last time we went to Oya... his dog maybe?

After losing the mutt, we hopped on a bus and headed to Al Noor for some of their yummy curry. However, since they had yet to open for dinner, we headed to a nearby temple to see those funky statues and I also got a look at the big old cherry tree, now fully covered in leaves. Unfortunately, I never got a good look at it in full bloom, only before and now after....

We finally did get into Al Noor and enjoyed a great dinner before parting ways and heading on home. After stopping by 7-11 for some refreshments, I headed up to the roof to dry off and snapped this nice shot of the moon over Utsunomiya.

Quite the lovely weekend, lots of walking, lots of talking and great company, what more could one ask for? I even got 2 pictures for my 26 things -July2003 project... I got "empty" and "construction", which means 2 down, 24 to go!

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Anonymous Anonymous said...



8:41 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

if you like my hiragana song, can you blog about it on your cute blog? thanks

danny in taiwan

8:43 AM  

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