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Sunday, April 27, 2014

Week 64 April 21 - 27, 2014

Preparation day included another attempt to climb Tatsudayama Ryokuchi Park, a hill on the other side of the Shirakawa river, where the Kumamoto Ward will have a picnic on this coming Tuesday.  The final approach to the top was blocked by a gate.

However at the base of the hill was the Tatsuda Nature Park, so we took a look at that first.

It is always interesting to see all the things made out of bamboo.

This nature preserve is in a beautiful bamboo grove.

Here are the graves talked about on the entry sign.

This is a very mosey area and it covers everything.

I believe this is the shrine area.

Want a drink out of the community cup?

These are bamboo shoots, according to some u-tube videos I watched these seem too large to harvest form making bamboo shoots to eat.

They are all over.

A very mosey trail.

Even the rocks were covered.

After this we continued up the hill and near the area we were gated out we saw this huge azalea bush.

I mean really huge.

With beautiful flowers.

We continue to see carp/koi flags all over town.

Luetta and I continue our training program entitled "Couch" I assume they mean the potato style to 5K running program.  Here I am on a 22 minute straight run.  No real problem yet.

On Saturday we went to the Fukuoka Temple and enjoyed serving there.  Afterwards we went to Costco for our replenishment of American foods.  This time we tried a non-american dragon fruit.

We tried it out and it is rather bland, I think we will try the ideas on the package of putting it in a salad.

On Sunday we enjoy attending most of two wards and one missionary coordination meeting.  During the Nagamine Ward meeting I was given an assignment to talk in Sacrament meeting about tithing on the 18th.  That will be fun.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Week 63 April 14 - 20, 2014

Spring is here and many days are beautiful.  Last preparation day we bike up a nearby hill called Tatsudayama Ryokuchi Park.  The Kumamoto ward will have a picnic here on the 29th (a national holiday in Japan, the previous emperors birthday.

It was a very pleasant day for a bike ride.  Notice the car coming in the mirror.  These mirrors are key to avoiding accidents on the many blind intersections in Japan.

On the hill side there was a cemetery.  Many cemetery's in Japan are on hills.

I started down an apparent hiking trail, but some official looking men came by and told me Dame (which isn't a swear word, but means don't do it) so I complied.  We never made it the top from this side of the hill, apparently you can only do so on the hiking trails, which my cycling garmin said we could ride on, Oh well.

So we headed home.

Passing the Shirakawa river.

There are many beautiful blooming azaleas in Kumamoto now.

Also there are still some blooming tree varieties.

On our inspection trip to Nobeoka, we passed many Koi (carp) flags.  These are for Kodomotachi (children's) day on May 5th and are flown throughout April.  We understand that there is one fish for each son (some sources indicate daughters and parents are included).

Some time ago I was fascinated with these flags and bought a small set, them Mom became very motivated and collected a complete Koberstein Family set including parents and sons and daughters.  Can you pick your self out of the group.

Sunday was Easter and we enjoyed two Easter services (one in each of the Nagamine and Kumamoto Wards).

Click on the link below for our Easter Wish for you.

May you have a most joyous Easter celebration. We did here in Japan before America.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Week 62 April 7 - 13, 2014

After our son visiting our camera's must have got tired and I have few photos this week.

Here is Luetta gardening on our patio.

At a ward recycle event in the Kumamoto stake center various items were in the cultural hall that were available for reuse.  I really like this plate with bamboo groves on it, I have found them fascinating here in Japan and I look forward to have this as a memento of our stay in Japan

Saturaday and Sunday were our days here in Japan to listen to the delayed replay of conference to allow for the translation to be completed.

One of my favorite stories is that of President Boyd K. Packer and his youthful "need to know".

"Times of war or uncertainty have a way of sharpening our focus on things that really matter.
World War II was a time of great spiritual turmoil for me. I had left my home in Brigham City, Utah, with only embers of a testimony, and I felt the need for something more. Virtually our whole senior class in a matter of weeks was on its way to the war zone. While stationed on the island of Ie Shima, just north of Okinawa, Japan, I struggled with doubt and uncertainty. I wanted a personal testimony of the gospel. I wanted to know!
During one sleepless night, I left my tent and entered a bunker which had been formed by lining up 50-gallon fuel drums filled with sand and placed one on top of the other to form an enclosure. There was no roof, and so I crawled in, looked up at the star-filled sky, and knelt to pray.
Almost mid-sentence it happened. I could not describe to you what happened if I were determined to do so. It is beyond my power of expression, but it is as clear today as it was that night more than 65 years ago. I knew it to be a very private, very individual manifestation. At last I knew for myself. I knew for a certainty, for it had been given to me. After some time, I crawled from that bunker and walked, or floated, back to my bed. I spent the rest of the night in a feeling of joy and awe.
Far from thinking I was someone special, I thought that if such a thing came to me, that it could come to anyone. I still believe that. In the years that have followed, I have come to understand that such an experience is at once a light to follow and a burden to carry."
It reminded me of certain times in my life when things looked very bleak and I "needed to know" and I received that witness that gave me confidence in Gods reality.  It was interesting that this story happened in what is now part of the Japan Fukuoka Mission.  I pray that each member of my family, in particular, will either remember or did deep and have such an experience, it is a key to happiness.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Week 61 March 314 - April 6, 2014

This has been a busy week with our son Lynn, visiting.  Here are some highlights.

On Monday the 31st, we went to the Aso volcano.  On the way we stopped at a 400 year old cherry tree, to view to the Sakara (cherry blossoms).  They were still pretty awesome, although they are coming down from the peak.

We had squid on a stick.

Then on to the volcano.

It had been at level 2 alert (shooting rocks out, no approach beyond 1 Km.) but calmed down for our visit.  It was still quite different.  Our last visit had a large collection of blue green water with some some and sulfur dioxide fumes, but this time no water and lots of smoke.

Here is another, wider view, notice the coughing in the audio, there was a lot of that going on when the wind shifted.

There are a number of these bunkers around the volcano rim.

In case of a sudden eruption, you take shelter in them to avoid the rocks falling down, until safe evacuation is possible.

When we first entered the road up we were called back due to poisonous gases (I guess sulfur dioxide drifting over viewings areas).  We waited a while and eventually got to go up but after an hour or so, we were evacuated off the viewing area.  Mom was in the car in the parking area and Lynn and I had hided back into the old pryoclastic flow areas, but had returned just in time to have Mom pick us up on the way out off the mountain.

On the way off the mountain we took this picture of an old cinder cone in the area.

Finished off the day with dinner at a local ramen shop.

Notice the wonderful spicy paste in the spoon ready to be mixed in.

Tuesday April Mom's Birthday we took a hike up Mount Kinpu (spelling is Kinbo on the sign below, but Kinpu on Google maps) near Kumamoto.  It is a fun hill that many bikers use like Mt. Diablo and includes a hike from the parking lot to the top either by the switch back path or the straight up path, we took the straight up path up and the switch back path down.

It starts through a typical Japanese Tori or gate.

Notice the grade signs along the way, it really was that steep.

We finally got to the top.  Here is the Tori at the top.

First the view towards Kumamoto.

The Shrine on top of the mountain.

The view towards Shimabara bay and the Ferry terminal with the Shimabara peninsula in the distance and the volcano, Unzun the highest point.

We enjoyed our feathered friends at the top as we shot them with our legal cameras.

We took the switch back path back.

It has several view spots.

At the end of the day we had birthday cake for Luetta's birthday.

Wednesday we went to our Japanese class, our instructor had asked if he could take us to the Kumamoto Castle and it was fun to see it without the rain.

Here is Lynn and I with our Japanese instructor.

I enjoyed this detail of the castle, even if some scaled the stone wall with out being hit by an arrow the left part is protected by spikes pointing downward to impede their progress and on the right side there is an overhang that is very hard to scale around.

On the top of the castle and also on many of the traditional style Japanese homes your see these fish like tiles (just left of the modern lightening rod).

After our day we did our one hour English class at the International Center.  We were excited when a lady approached us and wanted to join our class, we were happy to let her join.

On the way home we stopped by some of the street vendors and bought.

I bought what I thought was chicken on a stick, but it turned out to be chicken skin, totally uneatable, so I survived on cotton candy and french fry's.

We also shared Takoyaki

and okonomoyaki

We were happy, but I was still a little hungry.

Latter that night we went to English class at the Stake Center which is always fun, and Lynn helped us.

Afterwards a person that I have met brought his telescope and we viewed the crescent moon, Jupiter and its 4 largest moons, and the beehive open cluster.  It was very enjoyable for me.

Thursday we got up early and headed over to Nagasaki via Ferry boat.  Luetta enjoyed feeding the seagulls on the way over.

We went to the bomb museum first, to make sure we saw that before they closed.  It was very interesting, but no photos were allowed.  The most striking part to me was the records of people and their experience on that day and it aftermath.  We all pray such a thing and in fact all war would never be again.

After that we went to the Peace Park and saw the main statue.

And read about is symbology.

We went out to eat for Sushi, here are some example of our menu.

Yes, that is me eating the fish head soup.

Afterwards it was eating but we drove up to Inasayama (yama is mountain) but is was raining and the top was covered with clouds.  This is one of the top three city nightviews in the world.  We rope the gondola ropeway to the bottom and back up to get some pictures.

We had to settle for photos of the mural in the observation tower to give us some idea what it would be like.

Friday we headed back to Kumamoto by way of Mt Unzen on the Shimabara Peninsula.  This is a spectacular volcano that had done major damage to Shimabara back in the 1990's.  It had pyroclastic flows over a period of 5 years that caused deaths and much damage.

We took a ropeway to the top of nearby Myokendake and view Unzendake.   This films the smoke that is continually released from the top.

After the major eruption in the 1990's this signs shows how much the mountain top was lost and how much has grown back.

Afterwards we visited a observation and museum building near one of the arms of the original pyroclastic flow.  It is amazing that they have built channels to contain the flow.

Here is a picture of what the pyroclastic flows looked like.

On Saturday we visited the Tsujunkyo Bridge with a friend that had been helping with Japanese by skype once a week.

They have these amazing reed figures at the entry area.

Here is the Bridge (via duct) in clean out mode.

And the group.

Here is a picture of the plugs they take out to let the water flow out sideways and clean out the main channel.

 If you are wondering how do they ever get these plugs back in the opening with high speed water coming out, the answer is the stop gates on the upstream side of the bridge.

This visit we added on a hike to the water falls just a ways down stream, it was beautiful.

That evening we had a wonderful meal of Yaku Niku (grilled meat).  You cook it yourself right at your table.

Sunday we had a meal after Fast Sunday meetings of typical Japanese food, the method of preparing them was taught us by Akemi.  It was fantastic.

Here is the fried tofu.

Preparation of fried tofu.

Method of chopping cabbage very narrow.

Lynn thickens the special sauce for the fried tofu.

Katsu Chicken on a bed of cabbage and tomatos.

The finished fried tofu.

Our feast is spread.


Sadly we bade Lynn farewell, here I stand in line at the airport with him.

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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