Sunday, November 23, 2014

white cloud mountain

my goodness- I'm a few weeks behind!  I'll do my best to catch up this week!  My parents left today - but kent still has a couple of days of paternity left and then we have the four days off for Thanksgiving!  hopefully we'll have some nice time to just sit and relax.  and blog.

two weeks ago- we went up into our favorite mountains to catch the fall colors!  fall here is different than back home (utah or ohio).  it lasts longer and is stretched out for months.  the trees all seem to peak at different times- so while the colors may not be as widespread or vibrant- we get to enjoy them for a looooong time!  and autumn is my very favorite season- so I love it.

We went to white cloud mountain and did a great hike dotted with shrines!  it was AMAZING.  we had the perfect weather and the views were gorgeous.


we drove up and up and suddenly came to a mountain covered in beautiful buildings.  
it really was such a stunning sight,
our kids were really good and loved the hike.   mack sat in the baby bjorn and was a pro.  this is the one part of my newborns that I love.  they don't do much and usually are content to be squished into a carrier and come along with us.
I am beginning to love the smell of incense burning all over Japan!!

before moving here - I had no idea Japan was so mountainous!  

this guy is at almost every shrine we visit.  We really need to figure out who he is and what he's doing!

Ike had three purple spots on his forehead from a stamp at school and the Japanese all over the mountain were intrigued by them!  everybody stopped and pointed and giggled.  Ike is a weirdo!


I'm just starting to get a hang of the fact that I have such a big family now.  I feel like adding a 4th kiddo has turned us into a bit of a circus, EVERYwhere we go the Japanese stop and stare and count my kiddos and then jabber to us!  all while holding up four fingers with looks of amazement.  or maybe it's a look of concern!












we got to climb to the head of this giant statue and look out over the mountain.
it's a fairly small lookout on top- and the tairway upa dn down is spiral and narrow!  I don't think there's a limit of people allowed in the statue because once we got to the top- ten more people piled onto the platform and squished us tight!   it was fun :)










after our hike- we went across the street to this american camp ground that was hilarious!  the sign behind metta says: "welcome to camping".  they had santa claus everywhere and ritz crackers for sale.  and a bunch of japanese families camping in tents in parking spots on the asphalt!!  I love this country.
mr mack finally woke up for a bite to eat- and then crashed again when we drove home!

here's another santa and christmas display.  
I'm excited to look through my pictures from our adventures last week and get blogging!

Sunday, November 9, 2014

'the coolest day EVER!' -ike

Sometimes getting our kids to head out to explore Japan is like pulling teeth!   they always have fun once we are out and about- but getting them there is usually a hassle.  I'm not sure if it's the drive- or just the age of our kiddos- but it drives me bonkers!    going to the limestone caves was no different.  lots of moans and groans. until we walked into the cave! and then Ike exclaimed: "this is the coolest day EVER'!

The drive to the caves was CRAZY.  Our favorite part of Japan so far is a little mountain town called 'Ome'.  the mountains are stunning.  the river is beautiful.  we love everything about it!  Kent and I decided we are not 'big city' people.  we love tokyo- and the cities surrounding it- but we really love the mountains.  no traffic, way less stress, and more space!

we drove through Ome and then alongside a VERY steep mountain to get to the caves! once we got onto the mountain- the roads were all single lane and literally clung to the side!  they were windy and pretty skinny.  there are large convex mirrors on every sharp corner that show any approaching traffic and there were several spots where we had to reverse and find little nooks and crannies to let oncoming traffic by! it was crazy. but so beautiful.

the caves are limestone and really big.  Basically a little kid's dream.  we walked in to the side of a mountain and got to explore all we wanted!


 it was a semi warm day- but the caves were pretty chilly so we all had our jackets!

 there aren't any maps- so we just let the boys choose which paths to take and where to go!  they thought that was pretty great.


 there were a lot of small tunnels and really steep staircase and ladders to climb- but there was one HUGE open area.  it was really big and really cool.


 the further you get into the mountains and away from the big cities- the less english you find!   the far left sign says 'exit'.   it was the most important sign to follow once you get deep into the caves!
 there were a few spots that were REALLY steep.  the stairs go up and up and eventually turned into ladders in a few spots!  it was a tight squeeze for my preggo belly and my legs were even a little sore the following day from the climbing!

 once outside- metta had to use the bathroom and this was her face when all we could find were squatter hole toilets.  I had to hold her over the hole so she could pee!



after the caves- we checked out the accompanying shrine.  I read that there are more shrines and temples in Japan than there are homes!  and that doesn't surprise me.  Every where we go- there are shrines and temples.  Big, small, ornate, colorful, miniature, wooden, etc.  they are ubiquitous.  shrines are dedicated to the Shinto religion and the temples are Buddhist. Japan has intertwined the two religions so temples and shrines are often found together.
this is a teeny shrine we saw inside the caves.
this cool looking spider is EVERYwhere in Japan.  they are pretty big and spin elaborately huge webs!  we are a bug and spider loving family so think they are pretty neat-o.

this is one of the small towns we drove through to get to the caves.  we stopped and had a snack here and took some pictures.  all of these house are literally built into the mountainside.
mountain and landslides are a pretty serious concern for much of Japan.  with only 30% of land being habitable- and the population being so dense- they build wherever they can.


 we made a few more stops along the way home to explore some sights on the side of the road! like this rickety bridge.  It connected to a big rock wall with lots of climbers!


 the river below was beautiful.
 and our loast stop heading back home was in ome again for some snacks and to check out the shops!

 we had ramen and gyoza for lunch and some yummy little donuts for a treat!  and the kids continued wearing themselves out!  I think we all sleep very soundly here thanks to the walking and hiking and exploring we do!