June 18, 2008

I Will Have Nightmares Tonight

This morning, I saw this giant spider as I was washing my hair. Our bath sorta juts out into a garden area and the glass is next to the wall of our living room. This spider found her happy zone there. It's warm, flat, protected and she can see any prey/predators coming from below. I thought she killed a bug and was wrapping it up for later but after googling up a storm I learned the truth.

She's got babies! Those are Matt's sausage palms to show you how big the spider is but I think it's a bad angle. Honestly, this spider is at LEAST six inches in diameter! She's got a flat disc of 200 little babies wrapped up in there. Yuck! I hate spiders that have long legs and especially ones that are big enough that I can make out details like hair, spots, feelers, EYES--freaking gross!
If you are interested in the topic, here are some nice links. They made me gag and vomit but hey--go for it: Wikipedia's Page and Another Scary Photo
Oh, and in case you're wondering: she's been there for at least 16 hours now. I guess she'll be there until she has her babies.
~for Brandon!~

UPDATE: Matt heroically got the mama spider into a cooler and transported her to a hill near our house. Safe at last...

June 10, 2008

"Nice" Pachinko Ruins
Nirasaki, Yamanashi Prefecture
I had to Photoshop this photo (equalizer to bring out the foreground) since I use a digital camera and no knowledge of how to use it. I love taking photos but I'm a lazy photographer. My enjoyment comes from the experience of wandering around alone and blogging. One of these days, I'll buy an expensive camera and learn to take the photos that I know I have inside me.

This is the foyer of the Pachinko parlor. Unfortunately, the place was locked up tight:( There were rows of pachinko machines inside and this cool, pink retro phone too!
This giant parking lot overlooks a statue store and not much else...
A bunch of local birds have turned this small shack into their home. It sat in the back of the parking lot so I'm guessing it's either for cashing in your pachinko balls or getting your parking validated. Translation anyone??? Dave? Yumi? Can you comment if you know?

June 8, 2008

Trials Comp Nirasaki...
Muddy and Mucky!
It's hot, extremely humid and there is NOTHING around save a tiny convenience store. We drove through torrents of rain at 0530 in the a.m. to have the rain stop literally 5 minutes before the comp began. Lucky? Perhaps. It meant that for the next six hours, we'd sweat while squishing our way though mud and puddles while trekking from each course to the next.
A judge takes a time out on a large stone, part of an old castle that stood in this location hundreds of years ago. The comp utilized the ruins in some comp sections.
The castle ruins sit in a small valley flanked by lush mountains, filled with rice patties with a view of Mount Fuji which we didn't see until the next day.

This small town/village is in Yamanashi prefecture and is famous for delicious fruits and so-so wine. There were all sorts of fruit trees but the only thing bearing fruit were the plum trees and chestnut trees. That's a chestnut above--Yeeowch!
Rice Seedlings and Bird

Again...lotsa rice patties....

Oh yeah, this post is about Matt's comp! Here's a photo of him navigating a slippery slope and rock obstacle. He didn't come in dead last this time which means he's getting better! :) (Nirasaki, Yamanashi Prefecture, Japan)

June 7, 2008

Neighborhood Matsuri (Street Fair)
Since I had to work today for a few hours, we couldn't stray too far from home. We checked out a small matsuri near Yokosuka base and brought the dogs to stretch our legs. Here's a view of some locals carrying their mikoshi, portable shrine, and "blessing" different businesses. Behind them is a smaller version for the kids. Cute! (Shiori Station, Yokosuka)

Matsuri food is a lot like carnival or fair food in the states. You can't help but gorge but even as you swallow, you know you'll regret it. I always approach street fairs with gusto but abandon my purchases after a few dissatisfied bites. The one thing I always finish is the shaved ice. My tastebuds were honed in this country,and this is the only place that gets the flavors right!
Modern Matsuri Gear
These cuties were sipping beverages while managing traffic.

Octopus? Octopi? Octopusses?
Hundreds of baby octopus/octopi/octopusses gave their lives in the ultimate sacrifice: Takoyaki!
I think of this stuff as ultimate matsuri food. Slathered in mayo, dried bonito fish flakes, sweet pickled ginger and maybe some seaweed seasoning, it's total street fair food: fatty, sweet, bloat-inducing and awesome. Besides, it makes people back in the states cringe in horror. Okay, fine! You win! That's the real reason I eat it!
Foreground: The main ingredient
Middle: The finished product
Background: Work in progress