I recently took a trip from Osaka to Awajishima. The trip was awesome, thanks to the board member who suggested it! Also thanks to my 4 year-no-see-old-school-Nanzan-friend who hosted us! Awajishima is an island about, I would say no more than two hours from Osaka. First we took a train to Sannomiya, and then grabbed a long distance bus for about an hour and a half. The last stop on the bus is a town called Fukura, which is where one of my old school gaijin friends is living now.

Awajishima is famous for these whirlpools…

We arrived late Friday night so we would have Saturday and Sunday to enjoy. Due to the unbelievable whirlwind of activities that we did on Saturday, I think I can say that we did almost everything Awajishima has to offer. Here’s a summary of our tour.

#1 Nushima
Nushima (沼島) is a small island about a 10 minute ferry ride from Nandan-cho, Nada. Nushima has a rock… Kamitachigamiiwa. 上立神岩。

It also has this cool area with hundreds of continuous Torii gates. Apparently they give luck to the many fishermen in the area.

Also, here’s some trivia for ya. Apparently in Nushima there is a story that explains how the island, and he rest of Japan were created. When god was creating Japan, he jabbed a sword into the earth. When he was pulling up the sword, some of the stuff that was clinging to it dripped off. That first drip is Nushima. Oh yeah, and that rock, that’s the spot where the sword stuck. The other drips were Awajishima and Japan… So Nushima came first. Apparently there is a similar story in Awajishima with the names reversed. The ferry’s don’t leave the island back to Awajishima so often, so be sure to watch the time carefully. If not, you might have to run down and up and down the hills of the island at break neck speeds to avoid screwing up the rest of your day. Then your muscles will be sore… Not that… it… happened to us or anything…

#2 Monkey Park (モンキーパーク)

After Nushima we went to Monkey Park in Awajishima. Monkey Park is probably the second most famous thing in Awajishima next to the Uzushio (渦潮).

The park is cool because the monkeys are just kinda walking around. There is a designated spot for feeding where the customers go behind a fence, and give them peanuts. This is so the monkeys understand that random people are only going to give them food when they are behind the fence… so they don’t ask for food other times. This was strange. Once you go behind the fence, the monkeys reach their arms though… Just like beggars… It was kinda creepy.

#3 Nazo no Paradise

ナゾのパラダイス is this like… erotic museum. It was freakin strange. Apparently the place tries to remain reasonably legit by keeping old school Japanese erotic prints. You know what I mean. They also though had strange statues… I’m not even sure if it’s okay to post this on the web… here’s a link. Heh. Crazy.

#4 Farm Park (England no Oka, イングランドの丘)

Farm park was surprisingly like Mother Farm which I wrote about last year. We could pick our own Strawberries and eat them though. Yum.

#5 Awaji Ningyou Jyoururi (人形浄瑠璃)

That Kanji is mofo difficult. It wouldn’t even come up on my keitai on first try.

These dolls are famous down here. It takes three people to control one doll. The right arm and head are controlled by one person, the left arm by another, and the feet by the last person. the dolls hands can move, eyes can blink, head can turn, and all the arm joints move freely. During the performance, there was a two Japanese ladies on the side, one on Shamisen, and one singing/reading the lyrics. I’m usually not so into traditional Japanese things, but this was really cool. It’s amazing how they all work together to bring the dolls to live. Pictures were not allowed during the performance, but, the guys controlling the dollars wear all black and black hoods as to not distract from the action of the dolls.

After the dolls we went to the beach to catch a sunset, then went to an Onsen, and ate dinner. The Onsen was usual, except I was able to get into an electric one. There was like, electricity flowing through the water. I guess it’s kinda like what would happen if you dropped a hair drier into the bathtub, but like, one that wouldn’t kill you…


On the last day, we finished up some things we missed like a farm place where they have all you can drink… milk…. And we also went to do shiohigari, which is “clamming”. You go down to the beach when the tide is back, and dig for clams (“kai”). Then you take them home and eat them up. Fun for the whole family!

Company Dorm

Hey Guys! Finally a semi-interesting update huh? Last week I moved to the Kansai area, and am now living in a company dorm.

I was dreading it at first, because there are all kinds of crazy rules. For example, no girls, no visitors after 7pm, shared bathroom, shared toilets, room size is only about 6 tatami mats (六畳) big… However, I did have a choice. I could have chosen to be in a weekly mansion. However, the dorm only costs 5000 yen a month, while I would have to pay 20 percent of the weekly, which would have been, I dunno, more expensive. Also, when else am I going to have a chance to live in a company dorm in Japan??

After my luggage arrived, I was feeling the squeeze. It cleaned up pretty nice though after I unpacked…

Anyway, after the most insane few days of my life, I finally arrived at the dorm. I was imagining a dungeon like cell filled with life-drained salary men, but actually… it’s not so bad! There are a few ladies working there who clean up and stuff, and they’re -really- like kansai obaasan, so it’s really funny talking with them. Their accents are strong, and they’re really friendly. I was almost exceptionally late to work one time because one of the ladies kept going on and on about when the best time was to get hot water out of the the bathroom upstairs. The hot water can take a while to get going in the morning, cause apparently the boiler is in the basement. Anyway…

The place is interesting. You have to take your shoes off when you enter the main facility, and put them into a box labeled with your room number. You can get dinner out of the kitchen as well, for 550 yen! But, I tried it the first night, and it was pretty bad. They prepare it early, and you have to microwave it to heat it up again. Lame. The only really good thing is the rice and the miso soup… The rest of it is like half-effort home made stuff. The next day I had dinner at KFC, hehe.

I was most surprised with the bathroom. The place literally looks like one of those indoor onsen places! I’m sure the water in the ofuro is just like regular water and not quality onsen stuff, but still, it’s huge. The room is all steamy… they have like 4 standup showers, 8 sit down showers, and the giant ofuro. We have lockers (well, cubby holes, no door, no key) down there to keep our bath stuff in. No worries though. It’s Japan. Hah. I’ll borrow the others soap when I run out ;-)

The room also isn’t bad, it’s -very- clean, I was surprised. Also, even though it’s only like 6 tatami mats big, or maybe 8… There is tons of storage space. Nooo problem.

I am not living in the city though, technically, my address is in Nara! But go under a mountain every morning on the train to work in girigiri Osaka. Heh. The work environment is alright… No partitions, so everyone can see everyone else all day, that’s kinda strange. It’s loud with everyone talking so I drown out the noise with headphones in the afternoon. Also people stay at work for freakin ever. They usually arrive at like 10 or 11am though, which is late for me, then leave at like 11pm. I think I’ll adjust to them and start coming in late, while waking up early to get my private stuff done. I won’t stay at the office past 8pm though. No way.

I still don’t have a permanent place to be online all the time though… Grr….. No ADSL in apartment, dial up available but it’s 33k and like 10 yen a minute… there is wireless all around the train station I use, but it’s too cold to sit out there just yet. I’ll figure it out eventually.