Thursday, June 30, 2011

Summer Shots (and other random things)

I went out to take some new pics around town now that summer has settled in.

The trees have exploded with green and the town is filled with flowers of all shapes and sizes.

(Warning: this post is gonna have a ton of pictures)

It's strawberry season here in Mashike - we have signs and banners all over the place announcing that they're for sale.

Is there anything more lame and commonplace as a picture of a flower?

Especially with the flower in focus and the background all blurred.

In high school art class, we weren't even allowed to draw flowers in our sketchbook because they were so trite.

Street leading to the ocean.

I passed the old high school, which is no longer in use. All the students go to the neighboring city north of us. The elementary school will be moving into this building next year though, so it won't be empty for long.

you can't tell from the photo, but as I was walking by this woman, I screamed, "GET BACK IN THE HOUSE GRANDMA."

So many young people have cars like this around here.

The car is lowered big time and the wheels, yeah the WHEELS, are turned inward at like a 10 degree angle. They're called "dished wheels" or "shakotan wheels" or something, but they're EVERWHERE here.

They drive around going 10 mph so their bumpers don't fall off and their axles don't break in half.

On a classier note, it seems like everyone and their grandma has a garden outside their house (including that woman I yelled at)


last flower pic, I swear.

Then I walked down to the ocean.

The scenery by the coast is really fantastic.

This is the car I've been driving lately - I lost the pink one a while ago. She... was taken away from me.

But I love this car, it's a little slower up hills, but it's a little easier to drive in some ways.

Oh yeah, and I was in the newspaper. No biggie. I'm just kinda famous.

That drawing on the board is supposed to be the USA... I know, I'm really embarrassed about it too. Not to mention my face; check dat mug - looks like I was trying to conjugate some irregular verbs.

Tim: "Listen carefully kids. Don't ever invite the press here again. That was humiliating."

Old Stuff

Here are some random/older photos that I never got around to posting.

Starting with my first "road trip" to Sapporo (I call it a road trip because it's the longest drive I've ever done and... well, let's be honest, it's kind of a big deal. I mean... I don't want to brag, but...)

It was a 2.5 hour drive into the city. On roads similar to Folly Quarter. The entire way. Going no faster than 50 mph.

Looks like a normal Japanese city...

Except for Mark Twain's house.

Or maybe this guy lives there.

Right, that makes sense, don't take a picture of the horse man - give him your camera and get a picture of yourself, that'll make for interesting conversation.

Your friends'll just have to take your word about the horse man...

fools. But that mother and child will surely get a picture of the horse man-


Is he just a photographer to you people? You sickin' me. We have enough pictures of junior, lady, you can stop now.

But wait, that woman's getting her cellphone out to snap a picture of him-


Just the horse.

Even the horse is disgusted, just look at that expression.

Those two fellas on the top left oughta look familiar.

Park. Check that dude on the bottom left.

Calm down man and fix your hat. You're embarrassing yourself.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Shrimp Festival

Almost all towns in Japan seem to distinguish themselves by being "known for something." For instance, a town south of Mashike is "known for" it's Dorayaki - which is a small wheat pancake filled with sweet red bean paste (azuki) and it's quite good.

Dorayaki (image stolen from Wikipedia)

So were these dorayaki anything special? No, they tasted exactly like all other dorayaki I've had. So regardless of their qualifications, a town or city may pick something as their specialty whether it's special or not.

Where am I going with this? Oh right, so Mashike is different in that it has rightfully earned it's designated specialty. So much so that they've put it on a majority of their sewer caps:

(nothing says "specialty foods" like a sewer cap)

As you can see, Mashike is known for two things: shrimp and cherries. And I've had a variety of their shrimp, which is excellent. Although they are known specifically for just one - which I believe is called "Sweet Shrimp."

Here's where my story starts (long intro, right?)

I woke up this morning to find my apartment parking lot and general vicinity swarming with people - cars parked everywhere.

Look in the distance - along that road in the background - nothing but cars parked on the shoulder.

The local junior high school as well.

And the park.

Upon entering the park I discovered it was the annual Shrimp Festival! And it was PACKED with tourists. So apparently Mashike is a little better known than I thought.

Lots of people picnicking, eating various seafood, but mostly shrimp.

The landscape has really gotten green these past few days.

No one bought me any toys... kinda disappointed.

Panoramic shot of one of three main festival areas.

MOON BOUNCE. Even though I'm 26, I still get nervous when I'm driving with my parents and we pass a moon bounce. I get scared they'll stop and make me get in it.



And then they carried around the "Mikoshi" which is something of a mobile Shinto shrine for gods that don't mind small spaces and prefer traveling about.

"And that concludes our pants-wearing portion of the festival. You are now free to remove your pants if you are so inclined"

That is until "Coal Black" showed up and then everyone put their pants back on.

This little fellow was so happy. He really enjoyed his big day at the festival.

Final note: the played Britney Spears' new album on the loud speaker for most of the festival. Not a joke. I have video evidence. I will post it later.