As some of you know, I really don't like spiders. But, Monday was absolutely beautiful and Craig had the day off in honor of Health and Sports Day. Yes, there is a national holiday dedicated to doing something healthy. The US should take notice since most of our holidays seem to revolve around food. Anyway, since we were supposed to do something healthy and the weather was cooperating, we decided to go for a hike - after Craig promised to be my spider spotter/blocker.
Do you see how big that spider is? Mister Spiders-are-so-beautiful, Spiders-are-so-amazing was unwilling to get close enough to the spider for his hand to establish scale. The photo is blurry because I was holding the camera with one hand as far away from my body as I could and then pushed the button as fast as possible.
Here we are happily waiting for a group of old people to clear off the trail so we could walk at a healthy pace. Since it was Health and Sports Day Mt Rokko was also crawling with people. Interesting little tidbit, Japanese people really like neon colored hiking clothes. When we started out we had a vague idea where some trail heads were but couldn't find any. We decided to just follow the first person wearing neon and carrying walking sticks and they lead us right to one. Walking sticks are also really common. The eighty-years-olds, there were quite a few of them, were not the only ones sporting them either. Accessorizing is a sport here so it does make sense that you need the perfect walking stick to make your neon hiking outfit pop. We don't stick out just because of our blue eyes, white skin, and non-black hair, we stick out because I wore an old t-shirt and baggy jeans and Craig wore well-used cargo shorts and a t-shirt.
Here is a stone-paved hiking trail. A lot of the trails are really, really nice. In Japan nothing is done half-way. There is an attention to detail that you don't usually see in America. We also went to an India Festival this weekend. I'll write more later, but I noticed that the tents all had white boxes around them. The weights used to weigh done the tents were covered up by white boxes just to make the whole thing that much neater.
This is a photo of a reservoir up in the mountains. In America I'm used to reservoirs also being used for recreation but this one had a fence around it so you couldn't get to the water and signs in Japanese and English asking people to stay out because it was a reservoir. The dam was very scenic.
I actually asked someone, in Japanese, to take our picture!
This is tough to see but it is a picture of a spider web. It reaches from the ground to up in the tree, it is taller than I am. They were everywhere. This one is near the ground, but I could not look up because a lot of them were spanning branches above me. It was not a windy day and so many people were around I just kept telling myself that if a spider was going to fall chances are it would fall on someone else. Craig hiked in front and would say "web on your right" or "spider to your left" so I knew in advance how to avoid them. He probably said that about every 5-10min.
This waterfall was about 20min into our hike so it was a very crowded scenic overlook.
There were no accidental spider encounters, we hiked at a healthy pace for about 5 hours, saw some beautiful scenery and then headed home to get cleaned up before heading to the India Festival - a very good Monday.
Here Craig is modeling his new man-purse (it actually loops onto his belt). Just about every man here carries some kind of bag. Some of the bags are really feminine, this is far into the rugged end of the spectrum - it's what you got to do when you've got beautiful, blond, curly hair and a slender waist.
Here is a hint for anyone planning on going to the Kobe India Mela next year. Show up on the last day about an hour before it is scheduled to end. All the food vendors were cutting their prices by 50% or more. Kobe's India Festival (Mela) put Osaka's Mexican Festival to shame. Of course there are probably an order of magnitude more Indians living in Kobe then Mexicans living in all of Japan. There were tons of food vendors, both prepared and packaged. Craig bought a giant can of gulab jamum - the little fried dough balls soaked in syrup. The food was delicious. I was so deprived living in Montana for three years I may be too generous with my praise of our local restaurant because the food at the festival was just as good and a lot cheaper, even before the prices were cut. There was also a big stage full of dancers. We also went on Saturday night and it was hopping then, too.
Both nights we experienced what I can only describe as a Bollywood Japanese flash mob. The dancers on stage were performing Bollywood inspired numbers and a group of people in front would dance along. They weren't also performers, just Japanese people who knew all the steps. We suspect Indian culture is really big here right now. If you look closely, most of the women on stage in saris are actually Japanese. I tried to capture the experience - you can see the crowd in front mirroring the dancers on stage.