Sunday, May 02, 2010

Golden Week GO!

Its golden week in Japan, and the entire country has taken off work. For those unaware, golden week is basically a string of holidays that happen to fall within a week of each other. This year they happened to fall around a weekend, so we got a nice 5 day weekend, plus the Thursday before off. Too bad we couldn't have gotten Friday off too and pushed it into a week long... weekend. Yea that's my kind of weekend. We need more of those.

Anyways, as I've been busy finding an apartment for the last few weeks, I didn't really have any time to make plans. By a stroke of luck though, my GW filled up at the last minute. Here's how it's going...

Thursday - Enoshima w/Kana
Saturday - BBQ w/Ishikawa-san, family, and friends
Mon-Wed - Trip to Niigata w/Ishikawa-san and family

So first off, on Thursday I went to Enoshima with Kana. Enoshima is a kind of special place to me, as it was one of the first areas I visited the first time I came to Japan. A friend of mine who studied abroad at my high school lives in Fujisawa (just south of Ebina, and Enoshima is just off the coast of Fujisawa), and I stayed with her family for a week 5 or 6 years ago over New Years.

Unbeknown to me at the time, New Years is one of the biggest and most important holidays in the Japanese calendar. One of the activities you do on the first day of the new year is hatsumode, the first visit to a shrine where you can register your family and such. On Enoshima (an island btw) there is one large shrine where we went for hatsumode. Then when I studied abroad 2 years later I made the same 'pilgrimage' back to Enoshima Jinja (the shrine on Enoshima) on New Years Day. So its kind of special.

Of the times I'd been to Enoshima before however, I didn't quite have as much freedom to really explore. This time Kana and I spent practically the entire day there, so I was really able to take in the whole island, from the shops at the base and up into the narrow, steep streets and paths up the island, to the lighthouse, observation deck, and all the way to the protruding seaside walkway and caves on the other side of the island. We were even fortunate enough to have a window seat overlooking the ocean in the restaurant we ate lunch at. As much as I loved this place before, I think I've fallen in love with it even more. It was bigger and had more fun places to visit than I remembered. I just never remembered it being so windy though...

Unfortunately I'll have to hold off on the pictures for now as they're still on Kana's camera. The map above should at least give you an idea of where things are (I translated the important stuff). And here's a google maps link to give you an idea of where everything is around here.

Well then on Saturday (yesterday), Ishikawa-san was nice enough to invite me to a barbecue that he was having with a couple friends and his two younger kids next to a nearby river. We met at Shake station and biked from there to the river. Man it was a beautiful day. I think I got a little sunburned.

Japanese BBQ can sure give American BBQs a run for their money though! Wow it was delicious. We had clam, octopus, pork, fish, bamboo shoots, salmon, cabbage, sausages, yakisoba (lo mein), kimchi bean sprouts, snacks and beer and such. It started to make me think American BBQs are boring since its basically brats or burgers, and the occasional ribs, haha. Sometime I'll have to do American brats and burgers for them if I ever get the chance. I'm sure I can find the ground beef, but I'm not sure about the brats...

More pictures of the BBQ here.

And finally, as nice as Ishikawa-san was for inviting me to their BBQ, he outdid his generosity by further inviting me to come along with him to Niigata!! He even called ahead to his friend that they're going to stay with to make sure it was fine if some weird super tall foreigner tagged along. I keep getting done in by the generous Japanese culture, haha.

We're going to try and get a head start on traffic, as GW is unbelievably insane as far as it comes to traffic, so its a midnight start for us tonight. I've got everything packed and ready to go, so once Ishikawa-san comes to pick me up, we're off. This time I'll be bringing my own camera (I bought some batteries finally) so I'll be sure to give updates and post some pictures.

Hopefully the traffic won't be too bad...


Anonymous Erik said...

Are the bikers there allowed/encouraged to ride the lines in between cars? That picture seems to suggest so. Incredibly dangerous to do, so I was curious.

5/03/2010 2:57 AM  
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