Our friend Lynn came to visit us again here in Japan. It had been a few years since we last saw Lynn, when she and Teresa's brother came to visit us up in Misawa.
Here we are in Showa Kinen Park, which is located right across the street from where we live. The park is pretty big, over 750 acres. It is broken down into areas, each of which have a different theme or purpose. Here is a Tea House, set in the Japanese Garden area.
There is a very cool Japanese Tea House and Garden complex in the park. Here is a shot me standing in front of one of the pond areas.
Lynn and Teresa pose along the stone path that people can pass over to see the different areas of the Japanese Garden. There is also a Bansai Tree area, with some trees on display that are several hundred years old.
Duplicate photo
Lynn and I pose for the camera.
Another shot of the Bonsai garden building, and the Tea House as well.
A self shot of the three of us with a wooden bridge behind us.
The Tea House in the background, with an island and turtles in the foreground.
A bamboo fountain
A replica of an ancient Japanese Boat House/Cover
Teresa and I pose under the cherry blossoms. Lynn picked an excellent time to come out, as the two weeks she was here turned out to be the peak blossom time for the year.
One of the areas in Showa Park is called the "Childrens Forest". One area of this is filled with large stone dragons. Nearby are caves, aztec temples, bouncy hills and food areas.
Here is the Aztec Temple.
Here are some of the "bouncy hills". They are very durable inflatable bubbles. You can get quite a spring out of them. I have seen people do summersaults in the air. There is metal springs, and if you fall off, you roll into soft sand at the base. They are pretty popular.
Not all the flowers had come out to bloom yet, but a decent amount had. It was cool, and the cherry blossoms were still reaching their peak.
A nice shot with the reflection of trees and flowers in the still waters.
The tulips were fully out at least, and I took quite a few shots of different breeds and arrangments of the tulip flowers.
This is looking down one of the drainage canals in the park. The sides are lined with the blossoming cherry trees.
Looking back at the entrance to Showa Kenan Park from the Tachikawa City side.
The next day we took a Base Tour, riding in a bus up along Mout Fuji. Here is a shot of Mount Fuji from the bus. It was a little hazy, and the mountain blended in with the snow and the sky.
Here is a shot of the local map for the Shiuoka Waterfalls area.
Walking down a path and into a canyon, here is a shot of the waterfalls coming down.
The walls alongside the waterfall also were flowing with quite a bit of water. Above this rock was a hard cap of lava, so any cracks on the surface caused a flow of water along this seem, which came out here.
Here is a panoramic shot of the waterfalls
Lynn, Sean and Teresa
I get Lynn to pose in front of the waterfall.
Lynn takes our picture.
Another shot of the waterfall from alongside the lunch house near the base.
Another panaramic shot.
I strike a pose up at the top near another waterfall.
We then took the bus to a nearby summer resort town for lunch. The lunch wasn't that good, but it was filling. We then walked along the lake. It was pretty cold, but fun.
In the summer, this area, known as the "Fuji Five Lakes" is packed with people. It is one of the most popular summer vacation spots in Japan.
But right now, it's pretty much deserted, and the three of us have the beach area to ourselves.
There were quite a few hard-core fishermen out tho.
It was on the cold side of course. Next we went to an old village that had several natural springs pouring out of hte ground. Old style houses were still there, as well as lots of fish living in these scared pools of water.
This was an actual working mill, where the water wheel turns a hammer system that grinds the rice and wheat. I took some good video of it on the inside.
There were many shops and resturaunts around the streams and pools. It was quite busy for a cold and slightly rainy week day.
We especially liked this one shop that sold carved wood items. There was a photo of President Carter fishing for trout taken nearby, with the owner of the shop. The owner was still in the shop, eating lunch with about a dozen of his family members, and we talked to him and his family for a while. (sort of). It was pretty cool...and fun.
Here is a local house from the springs village. This was not part of the touristy area, but it was pretty cool, with the rice straw thatched roof and all.
You don't see these thatched roof structures much anymore, especially not in a house of this size.
Another shot of the front plaza in front of the wood carvers house.
There were sacred and blessed water springs here, with dragon fountain heads. You take a cup of the water, and you wash your hands and such with it, I don't think you are susposed to drink it tho.
Here is another shot of the village area.
This was a park we didn't go into. We ran out of time, but this park area was set up to reflect a small country manor during the Edo period, about 1600AD
The next day started out with the traditional bike ride to Tachikawa City, which takes about 20 minutes by bike to reach from our house.
This day was better. A bit windy, but the sun was out. This is a corner shot of the Imperial Castle grounds.
This is one of the entrances. It is only used by maintainance workers and such however.
Across from the grounds, in all directions is tall skyscrapers.
Outside the main gate complex is the Japanese Government Center, with their congress and other national government buildings.
At one time, during the late 1700's the entire area was filled with castles and moats. All that is left is a few fragments here and there in Tokyo, and of course the Imperial Castle.
Here is a very scenic view of an inner bridge and royal residence area.
This area is off limits to tourists, and is part of the inner private dwelling area of the Emperor and his family.
Lynn and Teresa pose in front of a main gate that leads from the Imperial Castle area to the National Diet Building, which is their Congress building.
A shot of me standing in the outer plaza, with some new high rises in the background.
Lynn and Teresa pose in one of the inner courtyards, where the people visiting the Imperial Government would stop and be inspected.
This is the "House of a Hundred Samurai", where 100 warriors from high ranking noble families would work, inspecting nobles and high class citizens as they would enter the Imperial Grounds.
One of the few remaining Guard Towers that used to line the Imperial Grounds, overlooking a deep and wide moat.
I pose on the ruined foundations of a tower, in the Imperial Gardens area.
The cherry trees were in full blossom, and I got the ladies to stop and pose in front of this one.
This is an old tea house, used by the imperial family. It got moved, piece by piece from it's original location elsewhere in the grounds to this location in the Gardens overlooking one of the most scenic pond areas in the whole complex.
Teresa and Lynn posing by one of the ponds. There is a small waterfall to the left, and lots of coi fish in the water.
Lynn poses in the Japanese Imperial Gardens.