Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Fukui, Kyoto, and Shiga

Sometimes I think the best jobs in the world belong to those who travel to many exotic places, take in the local sights, and either write, photograph, or film it (and get paid to do it). I've noticed Japanese people love to watch TV programs highlighting every nook and cranny of their country, especially with highlights of the local foods and festivals. I wish I could use my hubby and I's secret goal and make it the premise of a TV show or a travel blog. Our goal is... we want to visit every prefecture in Japan. Surely this isn't a unique goal, but it's a hefty one. Here's a map I made with blue being the prefectures I've visited and red being ones I've yet to venture to (driving through or taking a pit stop does not count as a visit.)
Japan is a small country, but the high cost of travel (shinkansen tickets or highway fees) and access to said lines of transportation makes some places more difficult than others. Not to mention time constraints may make this goal into one that won't be finished for years. My husband's map would be a lot more blue than mine, but we both have never been to the Tohoku northern region (where the quake hit the hardest). Taka likes to collect maps of the places we've been, and we've got a small guidebook collection. We really enjoy choosing a place we haven't been to, scouting for some sights to see and local food to eat, and making a plan to go. Over the weekend we had a road trip to norther coast of Kyoto to see one of the three places listed as Japan's best views, Amanohashidate. It's a sand bar that bridges two sides of a bay, and it's covered in pine trees.

The weather wasn't so great, but we were able to enjoy walking the sand bar and seeing it from the nearby mountains.

We took a chair lift to the top.
At the top, the tradition is to look upside down at it, because the sand bar should appear a bridge and the water as the heavens.

Next, we drove along the coast into the prefecture of Fukui to see some of the coastal towns. The big attraction was stopping in the city of Obama. Obama isn't a large town, but the sheer fun of the name was enough for me to want to see.

"Obama" in Obama.

Last, we headed to around lake Biwa to my old JCMU stomping grounds. We enjoyed the castle and the nice shopping in Hikone.
Hikone castle is the big attraction of the area.

An ice cream "dorayaki" that tasted a lot like an ice cream sandwich.

I also bought lots of souvenirs of Hikonyan, the mascot of Hikone and its castle. He's one of the most popular and well-known mascots in Japan.

It was a fun weekend, and summer vacation is drawing near. By the way, last week my island school had swimming classes in the ocean. It felt less like a class and more like hanging out at the beach. On another note, I haven't had any time to work on my sewing summer goal, but I did finish my sewing machine cover.

The tv in the background is for dramatic effect.

If you couldn't tell, I'm really antsy for summer vacation. I hope you're keeping cool out there!

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