This is the log house where my uncle and grandmother live. This is where mom and I stayed for the majority of our trip. It's pretty small, pretty cozy, AND HAS NO HEATING. So every morning we would have to light the stove and stuff, huddle around it until the house warms up, etc. It also gets onsen water in the bath at certain times of the day. 8D So within a couple of days, my hands which had been very dry, cracked and bleeding, in the States- HEALED! Yes, that is the power of Japan's water. It's just different.
And you see that car? That HUGE car (which really is huge, but even more so when compared to the majority of Japanese cars) which made me constantly nervous when driving down the mountain because the roads are VERY narrow? That huge, very TECHNOLOGICALLY ADVANCED car?? It practically has everything in a little screen next to the steering wheel. You can play CDs, DVDs, listen to the radio, watch TV, burn CDs and MP3s, and it has a navigation system, which my mom christened "Nabiko-san" because it speaks to us in a woman's voice. "700 meters ahead, turn left" and etc. It seemed to read our minds too, because we could just be driving on the street and then suddenly it starts giving us directions home!!!
Mom: "WHY DO YOU CHOOSE OUR DESTINATION FOR US?!!?!!! >O"
Nabiko-san also told us how to get to Odawara Castle and the Toro Ruins. You just type in where you want to go in hiragana and it shows you. 8D
Note: The last time I came and stayed at this house, there was no extra car. That means I was stuck. In the house. For most of the summer. WITH NO AIR CONDITIONING. That was the summer where I gained the most weight; before that, I was skinny as a twig. Basically because the only thing I did was lie around the house, only getting up to go buy ice cream at the local store. It was too hot to do anything else. DX So THANK YOU CAR. THANK YOU NABIKO-SAN.
Close up!! See that dog house? It belonged to Nana-chan. :( Apparently she was just fine a few days before we came, but suddenly she became sick and couldn't stand up, so they sent her to the vet. The day we arrived, Nana was supposed to come home, but she didn't make it to that day... My grandmother was in shock and she kept saying she couldn't have handled it unless we'd come so suddenly and kept her busy. And since my uncle is a cop and always busy, and we've come back to America...yeah, a little worried for her.
We were looking forward to seeing Nana again too. :( They think that maybe she ate some chemical fertilizer or pesticides, but since obaa-chan doesn't use any of that stuff, the culprit is still unknown.
Inside of the house!!
View from the loft!! This was the warmest part of the house. :O There was a kotatsu and heated carpet too, so if you stay up there for too long with everything turned on, it gets HOT.
The room where mom and I slept~!
View from the veranda. As you can see, we are very deep in the mountains. :O
My grandmother in her vegetable garden out back. XD;
My Uncle Masashi.
I did not participate in this eating of seafood; I had yakitori instead. :O And this picture and the one before it come from after New Years. I spent my Japanese New Years Eve watching the Countdown to Kouhaku special, eating, then watching Kouhaku. That's about it, really. New Years day, everyone was
ready to spend the day just hanging around the house, but I didn't want to because that was basically what I did the other day and I was BORED and wanted to go outside, go to a book store, do SOMETHING.
So we drove down the mountain to town. First we were thinking about going to watch a movie- so there we were at the cinema, which was VERY noisy because there are pachinko machines firing away at both sides and there's very little space where the movie times are written and there are people coming out of the elevators right next to it because holy crap Japan is SMALL. We considered watching King Kong, and mom and I got into an argument over whether to watch it dubbed in Japanese or subtitled (Me: "I don't want to watch it dubbed!" Mom: "But think about your grandma and uncle!" Me: "People in America watch subtitles, why can't they!" Mom: "But your grandmother is OLD! >O"
So then we ended up choosing not to watch a movie after all. But that was okay because instead, we went to a KARAOKE PARLOR! :D OMG SO MUCH FUN!!!! I have never sung that freely in front of other people in my life. This wasn't like the karaoke at Otakon, where you stand in front of crowds of people alone on a stage, with only water to quench your thirst. NO! We ate okonomiyaki and yakisoba between songs, and drank cream soda, and there were SO MANY anime songs available. I sang "RETURNABLE MEMORIES"!!! I've always wanted to sing that!! I couldn't sing everything I wanted before time ran out, they had so many songs. Yep, next time I go to Japan, I am definetly doing that again, and I'll go with Yumi-chan because she said she loves karaoke. :D
FUJI-SAN~! This was taken during our ride to Odawara. It wasn't very far away, as our house is located in the Izu area. The whole drive was through the mountains, and when we got to a certain point, we could see ocean on either side of us and it was so beautiful.
The Japan Alps.
PRETTY~! I love the susuki plant, omg. D: You see them everywhere and I love them; along with bamboo and cherry blossoms, that's the plant that reminds me of Japan the most.
Also, there was this kind of grassy shrub everywhere as we got deeper in the mountains, and when I asked what it was, my grandmother replied that it was bamboo. o_o And I went WTF because it looked too thin and scrawny to be bamboo, and like I said it was EVERYWHERE, tangled together like the heather I saw at Dartmoor in England. I kept asking "That's bamboo? That? Really? Bamboo? REALLY?" But yes, it was bamboo. It seems there are different kinds.
GASP. It's a picture of me (and mom). And it's a RECENT one! OMGWTF THE WORLD IS ENDING.
My grandmother, me, and my uncle at Odawara. THEY HAD SO MANY PEACOCKS THERE. I want a pet peacock!!!! D:
Odawara-jou. There was a whole museum inside with artifacts from the Edo era, with samurai armor, weapons, kunais, arrows, katanas; everything. Several floors of this. The highest floor had the gift shop, and we got to walk around the top of the castle and see a good view of the city.
But actually, my favorite part of that whole trip to Odawara was the ride back home, because Nabiko-san took us along another route than before, and it got darker and we were driving on the mountains right at the edge of the sea. Beautiful. And we drove through many small towns, very cramped together on the side of the mountains, and I said to myself, "Hmm. Though I may have never been to Kyoto or Osaka, I bet not many regular tourists get to see sights like this." And my uncle added that this is the real Japan, because over 70% of it is mountain.
And that made me happy. :)
More to come....later!!