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
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.
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.