Subscribe to RSS feed subscribe by email twitter stumble this page  
Great Escapes Fukushima
(Entered Jan. 04, 2007)
  Recent Great Escapes:

Fukushima city in Northern Japan is where I spent New Year's in 2006. Why? Well there's nothing really special about Fukushima, but it happens to be where Kumi's family lives so off we went to hang out with them over the most important of holidays on the Japanese calendar. Fukushima translates to 'happy island' but it's not an island nor seemingly happier than any other city in Japan I've been to.


In the West, Christmas is the day you usually spend with your family and New Year's Eve is meant for drinking and partying with your friends and/or significant other. In Japan it's the opposite. Christmas is not really a big deal over here, it's not even a holiday. A lot of Japanese parents don't even give their kids a present! Instead couples go have a nice dinner and families might get a cake or something. However over the New Year's holidays, almost all Japanese people spend time with their parents. If you happen to be in Tokyo during this time, you'll notice that the city seems almost empty as about half of the population heads back to the smaller towns where they were born.
Anyway, after a 2 hour bullet train ride we arrived in Fukushima, and then on to Kumi's parents house out in the countryside. Kumi's mother is a hairdresser and the shop is connected to their surprisingly huge house with a large backyard and garden. Even in Canada it would be considered big. Once you get out of Tokyo real estate prices go down quite a bit.


Fukushima was a lot colder than Tokyo though and Japanese houses don't have a central heating system like the ones in Canada do. As well, the older ones, like the one above, have thin walls. The result is that it gets as cold indoors as it does outdoors. With temperatures approaching zero, this becomes a problem, especially if you're not used to it. Wearing slippers inside becomes mandatory. You start to fear things that involve removing any of your clothes, like showering, using the washroom, going to bed, etc. This isn't to say that there is no heat at all inside, of course there are little electric or gas floor heaters, but they tend to heat up only a small space. On the first night, I kept waking up because my head and face were freezing. I ended up trying to sleep completely under the covers but then of course I had trouble breathing.
So what do people do in Fukushima for fun? Kumi warned me that Fukushima is extremely boring but I didn't believe her until experiencing it firsthand. We spent the first day walking around some rural area where the most exciting place to go was the grocery store. Kumi's parents didn't own a computer, and not only that, they didn't even have a VCR! In one evening, I watched more Japanese TV than I usually do in a year, and as usual, none of it was even remotely interesting.
Fukushima has to be famous for something though right? And as it turns out there is something. It's famous for crepes. This is the home of Romando Roll crepes, featured on TV and famous all over Japan. Of course we tried one and yep, they were pretty darn good.


The next day provided a little more entertainment. This river (forget the name), is where thousands of swans and ducks stop on their annual migration route. We spent a nice couple of hours feeding and admiring the swans, which really are quite beautiful birds.


Here's a swan streching it's neck out for a crust of bread. Sometimes they would eat right out of your hand! I don't think I've ever seen a swan close up before, I had to admire their pure whiteness, and intelligent looking faces.


Everyone in Kumi's family was very hospitable and kind to me, not to mention feeding me tons of food constantly. Here are her father, mother, sister, brother in law, niece and nephew. On January 2nd, the whole group went all the way to Sendai, another major city, which is a good hour and a half drive from Fukushima, just to visit a temple. Hardcore.


Kumi's parents also had pets all over the place. Two dogs and one cat in total. Here's their extremely shy cat 'Tora' taking a power nap in a warm spot. Besides eating, sleeping seemed to be all he did. I never could get close enough to pet him, but he was a beautiful cat though.


The last day was probably the most fun. The kids came over and we did things like play 2 on 2 basketball, plus various board games, then went for a hike up Mt. Shinobu. Happy 2007 Everyone!






Hakodate - Day 3
Hakodate - Day 2
Hakodate - Day 1
Cherry Picking
Hiking Mt. Kumotori
Nikko - Winter Hike
New Year's Sunrise 2010
Fuji Five Lakes Winter Hike
Hiking Mt. Jinba
Hiking Oze National Park
The Grapes Shall be Plucked
Sapporo - Down on the Farm
Our Man in Yakushima
Hiking Mt. Kawanori
Hiking Mt. Oyama
Hiking Mitousan
All Entries

Tripbase Blog Awards 2009
Tripbase Blog Awards 2009


Recent Comments...

Recent Artwork:
winter beauty

Blogroll - Friends:
Michael John Grist
Comicrocosmos by SZLIN
Jason Collin Photography
Philbuchan's Weblog
The Itinerant American

Blogroll - Japan:
Alive in Kyoto
An Englishman in Osaka
As I See Japan... From L.A.
Gaijin Tonic
i, cjw
Japan Probe
Japan Sugoi
Tokyo Times

Blogroll - Elsewhere:
Buy Absinthe
The Daily Kimchi
Travel Photo Blogging

Great Art Sites:
Red Bubble
Deviant Art



Blender Poll  
  Mike's Facts
sheep on the hunt