Archive for the ‘Wildlife’ Category

Taylor’s New Glasses

July 5, 2010


Yesterday, we drove to Aomori City to get Taylor some new glasses.

What do you think?


Oh wait, here’s the real thing:





July 5, 2010


A few weeks back I saw some junior high students using a stick to poke at what looked to be an albino bat.  Upon closer inspection, it was actually an enormous moon moth.



Its wingspan was longer than the distance between the tip of my middle finger and my wrist.


January 1, 2010


On our third day we traveled an hour by train to a town located in the foothills of some mountains Southeast of Nagano City.  From there we took a 15 minute car ride up a mountain and walked one a half kilometers through a forest (and up the mountain a little further) before finally reaching a hot spring full of snow monkeys.  Pictures and videos below.

This one had a toy it was protecting.

Galloping on three paws to keep it safe from a thief.

I watched him roll the ball in fresh snow to make it bigger.

At first I thought he was doing some sort of balancing trick but after a few moments it became apparent that he was marking his toy.

"My precious."


More photos and videos here.

Happy Halloween?

October 13, 2009


I know it’s a little early, but I thought I’d share this photo of a spider I took outside after a (wonderful) classical guitar concert we went to.  If you look close you’ll see a few other spiders hanging out along the side of the web.  You might think those are baby spiders, but they’re actually males and the large one is the female.  There’s some interesting Japanese folklore associated with this spider that you can read about hereJorogumo is its name in Japanese.

Alright, so maybe that’s a little creepy.  Here’s a nice antidote for the jorogumo.

Chestnuts and Frogs

October 13, 2009


Over the weekend (is our blog finally up to date now?  weird), Julie and I ventured into the woods of Shichinohe to harvest chestnuts with her coworkers.  Afterwards we ate cake and drank tea at a secluded retreat located a little further into the heart of the Blue Forest.

We also befriended some frogs.

Pond outside the cabin where we ate cake.

View from Cake Cabin window.

To give you some perspective on the size of the frog, the person holding it is four years old.

More photos here.

Mt. Eboshi 2009

October 13, 2009


My entire school climbed a nearby mountain a few weeks ago.  We did this last year too but this time I was able to climb with the students up to the top and back down again.  The hike, to and from the school, was 24 km.

Mt. Eboshi in the distance

At the summit. Mutsu Bay, Noheji Town, and Yokohama Town in the background.

More Mutsu Bay, Hiranai Town, and Natsudomari Peninsula

Most of Aomori Prefecture looks like this. When the lighting is just right, you can see why they call it the "blue forest."

Awkwardly smiling in the wind.

As you can see, at the summit we were treated to a glorious view of Noheji Town, Mutstu Bay, Shimokita Peninsula, Natsudomari Peninsula, and our neighboring towns of Hiranai, Shichinohe, and Yokohama.  To see all the places where we spend the vast majority of our time all at once was breathtaking to say the least and made each kilometer on the hike worth it.

As for wildlife, no frogs this year.  However I did get a few photos of some large grazing mammals.

Summer Break, Britni’s visit: Kyoto

September 13, 2009

It took 7 hours to travel from Noheji to Kyoto by train.  Our $3 coffee (!) and novels made the time fly by quickly.  We left early enough to leave time to start exploring Kyoto on the day we arrived.

On the train

Kyoto City

Our first day, we managed to see Toji Temple, featuring the tallest pagoda in Japan, and the Fushimi Inari Shrine, featuring all of the bright orange Shinto gates framing a path through the mountainside.  We also managed to eat some yummy sushi and then bus to our hostel.


Fushimi Inari Shrine

Fushimi Inari Shrine

The next day, we rented bikes from the hostel; only $1 for the whole day!  We were delayed by a punctured tire, but still managed to visit Ryoanji (rock garden), Kinkakuji (aka the Golden Pavillion), Kyoto Imperial Palace, Kyoto National Museum, and the Kiyomizu (pure water) temple.  Whew!  This was my favorite day of the whole trip, because of the bikes.  It was sooo hot, so the breeze felt really nice and we were making really good time (better than the busses we passed).



Kyoto Imperial Palace

Kyoto National Museum

Kiyomisu "Pure Water" Temple

View from Kiyomisu

On our third and last day in Kyoto, we went to Arashiyama to visit a famous bridge and a monkey park.  So cute!

Togetsukyo Bridge

We took a train to Tokyo that afternoon.

Summer Break, Britni’s visit: Tokyo

September 13, 2009


After arriving at Tokyo Station, we were able to navigate to our hostel train stop just fine, but we wandered for a good hour longer than we needed to before finally arriving at the actual hostel.  We actually walked right by it once, failing to notice the tiny sign in the window across the street from where we were walking.  After our third round of asking for directions, we found it!

Keeping with the trend, we decided to explore the area without a map or destination in mind.  We ended up stumbing upon not only a vending machine with HUGE cans of soda, but also a very polite waiter of a fancy bistro who gave us directions to a cheap yet delicious sushi place.  We found our way back with minimal confusion.

The next 5 days went like this: Disney Sea, shopping Harajuku and Shibuya, Ueno Park and Zoo, baseball at Tokyo Dome, and saying farewell at Tokyo Station.

Disney train

Disney Sea

Disney Sea

Disney Sea

red panda, Ueno Zoo



Ueno Park Fountain

Tokyo Dome

Hanshin Tigers vs. Yomiuri Giants

Tiger fans cheered their team to victory!

Thunder Dolphin, roller coaster near Tokyo Dome.

We did this at night! The view from the top was beautiful and the ride was crazy!

Thanks for visiting, Britni! :o)

Gone Fishin’

August 24, 2009


As you may recall, my friend Bryan and I went hunting in June.  By “hunting” I mean stumbling around in the woods in the morning looking for animals with no intention of harming them.  A few weeks back we decided we should also go fishing.  But it was agreed that needed to make our equipment.

After going on a few reconnaissance missions to our local river, I discovered that the preferred way to fish involved using a telescopic rod without a reel to catch the tiny, inch long fish swimming up and downstream.  Instead of buying a fancy telescopic rod, we purchased bamboo poles about fifteen feet in length and duct taped fishing line on at the end.  For bait we used some flies and mosquitoes that died in our stairwell the night before.

Although we didn’t catch any fish, and some ants carried off most of our bait while we weren’t looking, it was a huge success.  Highlights included spotting a river crab (!), locating a small school of fish just out of reach of our gear, snagging a newspaper and possibly some sort of worm-like creature, identifying birds, and enjoying what might have been the best weather we’ve had all summer.

Bryan snagged an unidentified decomposing invertebrate.

Snagged some twigs. Earlier I caught newspaper.

Julie trying to coax a crab out of hiding.

More photos here.  We’re planning on going fishing again in the fall when the local trout return to Noheji River.

Aomori Rock Festival

July 21, 2009


Over the weekend Julie and I drove to Tsugaru City on the Western side of the prefecture for an all day rock festival.

We mostly wanted to go because one of our favorite bands from Japan was scheduled to play in the afternoon:  Eastern Youth.  Eastern Youth strike a nice balance between noise and melody.  Their music is cathartic but very listenable.

They played a great set — a nice mix of old and new material.  The highlight for me was “Into the Sandstorm,” which was the first Eastern Youth song I’d ever heard and is still one of my favorites.

The other bands we saw were also fun to watch and listen to.

Interesting enka/rockabilly/storytelling solo act.

The Beaches. They played a fun set of reggae dance rock.

Neatbeats. 60s style garage rock.

Mari, the lead singer from Tsushimamire. They probably gave our favorite performance of the day.

Not pictured:  the King Brothers.  During the last song of their set, the lead guitarist climbed the scaffolding of the stage, about twenty feet off the ground.  He then jumped off, not into the crowd, but back onto the stage, did a ninja safety roll, and immediately picked up his guitar and began playing music again.