Saturday, June 27, 2009

Laura in Sumbawa

If you're in Bali, you can take a boat to Lombok, its rural and less templed neighbour. After a 2 hour drive across Lombok, you can take a ferry to Sumbawa, where vast remoteness awaits.
From Sumbawa, you can take a pontoon Cessna back to Bali, which yields window-blurred photos of islands like so.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Shintoism and the Water Torii

Though we've been back from Japan for over a month, the pictures provide blog material for much longer. Today we explore Shintoism, Japan's religion, which involves photogenic shrines. The best one of these is the Sea Torii near Hiroshima, shown above with its friendly local deer and pagoda, because Barb painted me a picture of that one. Below is the Golden pavilion, along with several other pavilions or shrines whose names long elude me.
Rope, along with nature, is important in Shintoism. The picture below shows rope made with human hair in the construction or operation of one temple. Imagine how much baldness was caused.
There are numerous deities involved in Shintoism, including the God of Bows and Arrows shown below.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Japan's Mysteries

Many aspects of Japanese society confused us. This busty badger, present in numerous restaurants, apparently also confuses the locals as to his intentions. We also did not understand what occasions merit kimono-wearing, nor why we couldn't find more geishas.
Also elusive was the slot-like game called pachinko, which is played in loud, smoke-filled rooms everywhere. You buy ball bearings, put them into pachinko machine and watch them bounce around, and then lose them. Then, even if you only use about half of the balls you buy, you hand them in and they give you a couple of pens, which are your prize. The merits of this system were incomprehensible to us, and I normally like slot machines just as much as the next putz.
More fun was sumo, where you try to push your oponnent out of a ring after sprinkling salt around. Logical, that.Which brings us to sake, which we visited at its brewery. Sake's merits as a delicious beverage bring us joy, while its lack of worldwide popularity are yet another one of Japan's mysteries.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

The Mystery of Japanese food

Japanese food remains a mystery to much of the world due to the mainstream deliciousness of sushi. Basically, these raw fishes have bullied away the rest of the Japanese delights. However, the other Japanese food is also tasty, and often ridiculously pretty. Be mindful, though, that what looks like dessert is sometimes pickled fish, and that the tastiest foods are often not the prettiest ones. The market in Kyoto, below, sells fish bits and seemingly large proportion of the world's pickles. I recommend you do not, however, try to bring these fermenting monsters home in your suitcase as I did, because explosives are not recommended for air travel.It also sells the less yummy felt sushi replicas, whose purpose eludes tourists like me.Oh, and the sushi and sashimi was amazing too, shown here from Nobu restaurant Hiroshima. Ya, we were there, just like Britney and Lindsay.Finally, once you're done with all that eating, you can use one of Japan's special toilets with controls, heated seats, and music or flushing sounds to hide those oh-so-embarrassing noises. With basic pictogram literacy, you can figure out how to clean your lady or man bits, which, I suppose, is not for everyone.