Vancouver Rocks

I had a trip to the beautiful city of Vancouver, Canada this week.
It was sunny, but cool and dry - very nice break away from HOT and HUMID weather of Tokyo.

Although we're only two weeks away from Beijing Summer Olympics, Vancouver is very busy getting ready for their 2010 Winter Olympics. I had a couple of days of stay and had great run around the city.

This rock statue is the Olympics symbol. It is fenced up to protect from vandals. There already is a spray paint graffiti on it - very sad.

Stanley Park is an excellent place to run. I jogged all the way around the peripheral road around it.

These rocks did not look quite natural. It must have taken much care to make them.

This is the statue of "Girl in Wetsuit" in Stanley Park - not the Mermaid of Copenhagen.

The Olympic Village is under construction at a formerly industrial area - adjacent to the Expo 86 site.


Flowers in Tochigi

Friday morning, I could enjoy a relaxing morning run in Tochigi. It was raining a bit that day, but roadside flowers made me feel good. I love running in countryside.

I first thought this was a dandelion, but it is actually a cat's ear - false dandelion.

Although of unusual colors, I presume these are cosmos.

Crinum zeylanicum - I learned that this originally came from India.

Daisy fleabanes are very common in Japan at this time of the year.

Evening primrose.

Golden-rayed lilies are large flowers.

Morning glories - these were in front of a restaurant in a flowerpot. The name of the flower in Japanese is "Asagao" - "morning face."

Trumpet creepers from someone's home garden.

This one looks a bit like a morning glory, but actually is a bindweed flower. In Japanese, it is called "Hirugao" - means "Noon Face."

I looked and looked in the web to find the name of this one, but could not find it anywhere. Can someone help me? Maybe it is a type of orchid or even lily.


Aomori and Akita

Last Tuesday - Wednesday, I had a trip to Aomori and Akita - two further most northern prefectures in Honshu Island. I got there by taking Shinkansen (our high speed rail system) for 3 hours. I expected a cool weather for when I visited Onogawa (where it is a bit more south) the week before, it was indeed so, however as I stepped out of the train, I was hit by 33 degrees celsius (approx. 91 deg Farenheit) air.

I stayed overnight at Hachinohe, a port city in Aomori facing the Pacific Ocean.

During my morning jog, I found this machine at a used car lot - I think this one is approx. 1970 Honda N360. This one is a tiny 4-seater car with a 354cc engine - Honda's come a long way since the time of this car!

From Hachinohe, we drove about two hours to an mountainous area in Akita. Above is an old railroad that is no longer in use. I was told that it was used to haul some sort of chemical that was produced in the area.

This is a picture of silvervine (Actinidia polygama) flowers. It is called "matatabi" in Japanese. It is well known that when cats smell this plant, they act as if they were drunk. Here's a video I found on Youtube that shows the effects.


Onogawa Onsen

Thursday to Friday, I stayed in a little town of Onogawa Onsen.

"Onsen" means hot springs. Onogawa is named after Ono no Komachi, a legendary woman poet from 1200 years ago famous for her rare beauty.

Aside from the wonderful onsen which I could enjoy in the hotel I stayed, the town is in the mountains and I really enjoyed the run in the area. In the early morning, still misty with cool air and leaves covered with dews, I the jog on trails was a pure joy for me.

The night before, my friend took me to see where fireflies were. In Tokyo, they are very very rare and come to think of it, I cannot even recall the last time I've seen them. They were flying around with faint yellow-green florescent lights. The scene was very peaceful and stress relieving.

This is the only picture that worked out that shows the actual light of a firefly.

There also was a very interesting "exhibit" - which was called "rice field art". There was a viewing deck on a hill for a rice field. The locals use different colored rice to draw pictures.

Above is the design of what it really looks like from directly above the field. They drew it so it can look perfect from the vewing deck.

It is very clever and looks like they make it a fun event for everybody when they harvest it. This shows the fun day they had in September of last year.



I live and work in Tokyo - one of the largest cities in the world.
Approximately 12.8 million people live here.
If the surrounding area is included - Greater Tokyo Area has over 34 million people living within 70 km (approx. 43 mi) radius area.

I took a photo of some of the tall buildings in Tokyo - this is NOT Manhattan.

We are very lucky to have a very extensive metro system.