Thursday, November 26, 2009

Mamá, tú no mires

Around two months ago I made a post about the interview that a Spanish TV channel (Antena 3 NEOX) did to me. It was for a TV show, called ¡Mamá tú no mires!, about Spanish people studying abroad. For that post, I used very nice pictures taken by Maria. Yesterday, the interview finally appeared on the TV and thanks to a colleague from my previous laboratory, Juan Maria Rivas (thank you!), who recorded the video, I could just put it on-line:

If you are interested in watching the other interviews in Japan and other countries, check the Antena 3 videos website, where they are uploading them.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Hiking near Gero city (下呂市)

I went for yet another hike with the CHIC hiking club to a mountain near Gero.

Gero, located in Gifu prefecture, is a city famous for its onsens (hot springs).

We used the JR Takayama train, which crosses the central Japan, giving access to very beautiful natural places. The train cooling system was quite interesting hehe.

From Gero we took a taxi to the entrance of the route to climb the Gero-Gozen mountain.

We had very good luck with the weather. The sky was blue and I could take clear photos of the nature and the other club members.

We could already see how the arrival of Autumn was turning the leaves red. A very popular phenomenom in Japan that is commonly known as momiji or kouyou. Some of the trees were already without any leaves at all as well.

I found a nice decorative toy in the bushes and I put it near to a budha statue that was in the middle of the mountain.

We arrived to the top without any difficulties. I checked with my watch the altitude, which was around 1400 meters. I received this watch from my colleagues in my previous laboratory at the University of Cantabria (thanks!).

The views from the top where quite nice and we could see the Mt Ontake which already had some snow on the top.

After getting down we went to Gassho-mura and entered to a museum with traditional Japanese houses. Gassho refers to the position of the hands when praying and the roof of this houses, which resemble this position, are known as Gasshotsukuri.

Inside the open-air museum there were special onsens for the feet, called ashiyu.

After the visit to the traditional houses museum we went to enjoy a bath in Gero-Onsen. This place is one of the three most famous ones to go to onsens in Japan. To complete our great day we finished it by tasting some delicious Hida raw meat.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Playing soccer in Japan

Although I don't like watching soccer very much, I really love playing it since I was a child when I used to play with my friends Denis Arconada and Francho in San Sebastian.

When I moved to Cantabria at the age of 10, I went on playing almost everyday at the school's breaks (Sagrados Corazones, Argomilla de Cayon). Soon I entered to a local soccer team, the Ayron de Vargas. For many years, I had such a good time traveling with my team Ayron around Cantabria, playing matches every weekend, having dinners. I feel very grateful to all the people at the Ayron club.

I managed to play in the 3rd Spanish league which sounds quite cool when I say it here in Japan, but in reality it was not that hard I think. Unfortunately, when I entered the University I didn't have time for playing anymore. I just played occasionally with friends, and especially with my previous laboratory colleagues.

Note: thanks to Hara-san for her photos of the matches

I got my ankle twisted just a month before coming to Japan, which was really a shame. I have been waiting to play again for several months because I wanted it to fix correctly. Finally, a few weeks ago I played soccer with my current laboratory colleagues in Japan. We played a small league against other laboratories in the University. Although I felt that I needed to practice more to recover my normal level I really enjoyed playing again! :D

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Magome - Tsumago trail

My second trip with the Chubu International Hiking Club (CHIC) after visiting Iwayadou park, was to the Magome-Tsumago trail.

This trail is part of the Nakasendō (中山道 means centre-mountain-road, check the Kanjis in the picture above) route, which was one of the five main routes of the Edo period. It connected Tokyo (known as Edo in the past) to Kyoto.

From Nagoya station, we took the JR Chuo line and got off at Nakatsugawa station. From there we took a bus to Magome, where we started the route to Tsumago. For coming back, we took a bus to JR Nagiso station and then a train back to Nagoya.

We started the route by tasting some delicious goheimochi (五平餅). It is made of rice and grilled with a tasty sauce based on soy sauce and walnut.

From Magome we could see the Mt. Ena (恵那山). Maybe another hike.. :)

During the trail we could already see the first colored leaves indicating the Autumn. In Japan, this season is very popular and the phenomenon is known as kouyou (紅葉).

The trail crosses a very rural Japan. People living a quiet live, agriculture and even fish crops.

Along the trail, you can see lots of different versions of pottery statues of Tanuki.

There are also lots of waterwheels (suisha 水車 in Japanese).

The trail goes through a beautiful natural environment. There were also some waterfalls which were called Man-Waterfall (男の滝) and Woman-Waterfall (女の滝), although I could not figure out the reason hehe.

Tsumago, the end of the trail, was a very nice village with traditional houses that hosted souvenir shops. Although it is quite a touristic place I think it was worth walking through its main streets.

Finally, we went to eat Soba. I had Bukkake Tororo Soba, which had a quail egg (in Japanese uzura).

Note: sorry for the bad quality of the pics, I forgot the camera and took them with my mobile phone :)

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Ayaya concert あややのコンサート

On the 3rd of October, I went to Tokyo with my friend Raul to see a concert by Aya Matsuura (松浦 亜弥), also known as Ayaya.

He has been her fan since before coming to Japan. As he belongs to her fan club, he got some special tickets near the stage.

Ayaya is a very famous Japanese singer (J-pop) originally from Himeji, as she mentioned during the concert. Before going I was expecting lots of young noisy Japanese teenagers at the concert, but it was completely different. In reality the average fan was a man of around 35 years old completely equipped with lights, Ayaya t-shirts and bracelets!! The concert was full of Otakus that knew all the movements and dances, and when to use the lights!And most of the concert was actually based on this interaction between the idol and the fans. She talked to them quite a few times and listened to their requests about songs to perform.

The concert was held in the Sun plaza hotel at Nakano (around 10 minutes from Shinjuku), which includes a very good hall for this kind of events.

The trip was quite tiring because I used night buses for going and returning. Still it was worth it, because it was a very unique Japanese experience :).

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Early morning pictures in Nagoya

Sometimes I like going to walk or run by a river near my house.

View Riverside walk in Nagoya in a larger map

In the map above, you can see the path I usually take. In case you live in Nagoya, you might want to take a look at it.

There is nothing touristic along the path (apart from the football stadium) but you can contemplate real Japanese life there.

There is one place I like in particular, which is the train intersection (see the mark point in the map).

I took all these pictures one day that I woke up very early in the morning and couldn't fall asleep again so I decided to go around the path by bike to take some pictures.