My first weekend back from San Francisco, which you may realize was a few weeks ago from today, Ryan and I decided to go visit Aomori City. We live in the Aomori Prefecture, but we are about 90 minutes from the city of Aomori. Now, it is closer than what you might imagine for 90 minutes, but you really can't drive fast on many parts of the road out there because they are more like back country roads. In fact, at one point you drive through tunnels in mountains, one of which is quite long and seems to go on forever. So the drive itself is 90 minutes, but it doesn't really seem that long.
Since it was 90 minutes, we did make a few stops for the bathroom and some beverages. These pictures were taken at a Circle K along the way. I just liked the mountain view in the background. Of course these pictures don't really capture the beauty so well, but it was a great view.
We arrived at the Big Buddha just as it was starting to rain. Good thing they have umbrellas there for you to borrow.
This area is a Buddhist Temple and of course the Big Buddha, which is a short hike from the parking lot. I believe this picture is the main hall.
This is another building on the property.
I liked this dragon.
This is the 5 story pagoda.
Here we are by the pagoda. You can tell based on our size that this is quite big.
Relaxing atmosphere all along the path you walk to see the sights.
Here is the Big Buddha.
If you are curious how big he is, look over the left and see there is a couple looking at some displays. This will give you something to compare the Buddha with.
You can actually go inside the Buddha and see some displays, one of which I have pictured here.
I loved the way the sun was shining down on the Buddha after the rain had stopped.
This is a pond, with significance for a Buddhist teacher and it contains sand from 88 temples that he is associated with, or at least that is my understanding from the English translated material we were given.
These windmills are placed to honor the unborn children.
After seeing the Buddha, we headed into Aomori City and found a Halloween festival set up.
We walked out to the water. This is Aomori Bay, which is the interior of Mutsu Bay. From here you can get to the next island above us, which is Hokkaido. In fact, they have a train that goes from here under the water, or you can take an overnight ferry.
Aomori is a key producer of apples in Japan and they are really apple crazy up here, which is of course a good thing.
They had all kinds of food vendors selling goodies, both unusual and normal things.
These pears are actually a lot larger than you can imagine based on this picture. Trust me, they were huge.
Crab leg on a stick anyone?
Happy Halloween! Don't ask, I really have no idea what this is.
Now this I can tell you is a pumpkin pie. It was hot and fresh, and very yummy. Basically this was a flaky crust with fresh pumpkin inside. I should also mention that pumpkins in Japan are very different from what we know as a pumpkin. But I can tell you that many of you are familiar with a Japanese pumpkin. It's a kabocha!
This was too funny that I could not resist taking a photo. This is a soy joy vending machine.
Lunch was at CoCo's Curry House because it was an off hour and most places close between lunch and dinner. Ryan had his usually curry.
We had some naan.
Now, for my lunch I had to get creative. I always get a salad here, but I wanted to try something different. Using my Japanese written statement of my dietary preferences and looking at the menu of sides, I was able to order what I wanted and have the Japanese speaking only server understand what I wanted.
This is breaded shrimp over rice.
Then I ordered a soft boiled egg and used this as a sauce. I mixed it all together and it was so good.
I was really glad she understood what I wanted. Basically I ordered the base for the curry dish and the toppings, but not the curry itself since there is pork in there.
After lunch, on the way back to the car, we found that the Halloween kids parade started so we stuck around to watch the festivities. They are very in to Halloween here, but not in the same way we do in the US with scary things. This was a lot more fun and focused more on the kids.
Ok, this person was going for the scary look.
So that was it for our big adventure to Aomori. Right after this Ryan became very sick (as in within hours we were in the ER). It was a heck of a 2 weeks, but I am happy to say he is feeling much better now. He had meningitis. Yes, you heard me right, he had meningitis. Thankfully it was viral and not bacterial, but he was in excruciating pain and had a very high fever for days. Like I said, he is much better now and I am so happy for that.
QUESTIONS: Have you ever studied about Buddhism? Does your town have a Halloween parade? Do you know anyone who has had meningitis, or have you?