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Sunday, March 16, 2014

Week 58 March 10 - 16, 2014

Last preparation day we took a fun bike ride to the Hanaoka Yama shrine.  Yama means hill our mountain and it is on a small hill that was a fun climb and gave some great views.  We didn't have a location on a map, we just knew it was visible as a bright white structure on the hill's behind the Kumamoto Castle so we just set off to find it thinking it would be very easy to spot.  It is easy from far a way but in the urban canyons it quickly disappears from view.  I had to use a bit of dead reckoning navigation to find it.  We first went to Kumamoto Castle grounds and couldn't see it so we continued the direction we thought it would be and a person weeding the rock walls, typical of the castle structure.  It was interesting to see how he inserted a steel rod into the cracks and worked his way up and down the wall while working.

So if your ever storming a Japanese castle remember this method.  He was dressed in white and I wondered if he was associated with a shire and sure enough about 20 meters further we came across it.  We were not sure if we would find our main goal so we stopped and got a shrine signature.

Painted Konji is a work of art and very interesting.

Here I am at the gate.

It must have something to do with a horse, however it is the Chinese Lunar year of the horse.

Our search continued for the Hanaoka Yama shrine.  After some twists and turns we finally saw it off in the distance.  The dome topped structure.

A little closer.

A little walking.

Through bamboo groves.

The road is beautiful.

A few more twists and turns and a few switch back roads up the hill

Great vistas even before the top.

More switch backs

and we got to the meeting hall and ........

We got there.

Here is the view of Kumamoto from the top, with the cherry tree buds full ready to burst.

Here you can see the Kumamoto castle just lower left of center.

A close of the train station where we often take missionaries to and from during transfers.  It also is the Kumamoto stop for the bullet train.

Here is the sign describing this location.

Here are photos of and around the Stupa.

 This is probably Kato Kiyomasa.

There is a sitting Buddha on East and the West sides.

Guarded by golden lions.

With reliefs from the life of Buddha all around the perimeter.

Here is a photo of a large wardrobe we bought for the Kumamoto/Nagamine Sister Missionaries.  There are four is a small apartment and closet space is very lacking.  We found this at a 2nd hand store and with the help of a members truck was able to move it in.

All for the low price of 3900 yen (or about 40$).

I was very excited this week when it was clear enough that I was able to photograph for the first time a full constellation from our apartment balcony.  The huge gradient of blue demonstrates the huge bright light dome over Kumamoto.

You can clearly see the belt of Orion and the sword, visually I could even make out the nebulosity of the Orion nebula.  You can see Orions shield in the front (right) and his faithful dog sirius in the back (left).

On Saturday we were asked to help with transportation almost to Oso to visit a wonderful lady who takes care of the flowers at our church.  She is wonderful friend to ward members, she showed us her wonderful flower garden

and served us a what appears to be a variation of grapefruit call Pomelo (Citrus Grandis).  It was wonderful, not as sour as white grapefruit but not sweet like an orange either.

It was delicious and I plan on buying more when we find them in the stores.

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I have worked 30 years at Del Monte Foods in Walnut Creek CA, 5 years at Ralston Purina in San Diego CA, 7 years at Carnation in Oconomowoc WI