Sunday, January 8, 2017

Celebrating the Different

-- Susan, Every Other Sunday

Across the world, people celebrate the new year as a beacon of hope, an opportunity for change, and a chance to be different than they were before.

Some years seem more hopeful than others, and the opportunity for real change is a slippery and difficult thing to lay a finger on (some years, more so than others) - but *different* is something I understand, and that's the direction I'm taking this initial MIE post of 2017.

For me, and I suspect for many of my co-bloggers and fellow writers, here and across the world, reading, writing, and travel attract me because they allow me to leave the "same" and explore the "different" - to learn, to celebrate, and to enjoy new things I would never have otherwise seen or imagined.

I love sharing photos from my travels, but on occasion I end up with photographs of things so different that they don't really fit in the context of other posts. Some have sufficiently detailed stories behind them that they support themselves, but others typically languish in the "loved this, but how can I share it?" file.

No longer.

Today, I'm sharing a few of the odd and unusual things I saw last October and November in Japan.

While passing through Tokyo station en route to the Japan Writers' Conference, I discovered that in Japan...bananas roar.

The Roaring Banana. Complete with Bow and Bell.

(Apparently, "Banana Roar" is a type of twinkie-like filled cake sold in Tokyo Station.)
From Tokyo, I traveled south to Shikoku, the third of Japan's four primary islands. Tokushima City, on Shikoku, was home to the 2016 Japan Writers' Conference, and Tokushima Castle Park, home to one of the more unusual statues I've seen in my travels:

Boy Pees on Pigeons, Tokushima Castle Park, Japan
When activated, the statue of the boy pees on the pigeons. Turnabout is, indeed, fair play.

After the conference ended, I hopped a highway bus back to Kyoto to start the research portion of my trip. En route, I passed not one but three different free-standing ferris wheels. Each stood near the side of the road, with no sign of other attractions in the area.

Random Ferris Wheel Sighting.
Signs in Japan are often posted in Japanese and English - a fact that never ceases to impress me - and, at times, amuse . . . especially when the translation offers an inadvertently philosophical context as well as a practical one.

True of many things in life.

If that message seems entirely practical, just think on it for a moment.

After spending a couple of days in Kyoto, I headed south to Osaka and Mount Koya, and then north to Gifu, home of Gifu Castle and a somewhat lesser-known attraction called "Squirrel Town."

Squirrel Town.

Sadly, I arrived too late in the day to tour both the castle and the squirrel village, and responsibility won the coin toss. I'll have to investigate the squirrels more closely another time.

After three more stops, and many other adventures (more on those in another post) I found myself in Hakone, near Mt. Fuji, where visitors can ascend, cross over, and have lunch atop a live volcano. Here's my favorite shot from the ropeway car as we crossed the caldera - made even more perfect by the visitor waving to us from his car as it approached ours on the ropeway.

Hello from the volcano!

Roaring bananas, peeing on pigeons, ferris wheels, squirrels, and live volcanoes.

If that's not a "different" post . . . I've nothing more.


  1. Susan, every one a gem. Thanks for such an amusing array.

    1. Glad to give a smile! Some days, humor and good will seem difficult to find in the world, so I'm trying even harder to make them at home in my little corner of it.

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  2. Well, that's certainly better than live pigeon wheels, roaring squirrels, and peeing on ferrous volcanoes.

    I think.

    1. I concur. Also, peeing on a volcano is now something I've added to my bucket list.

    2. Susan, please tell me that on a forum to which EvKa has access, you didn't use "peeing on a volcano" and "bucket" in the same sentence!

      Frankly, I prefer the roaring banana.

    3. LOL Jeff. If EvKa can reorganize those thoughts in more interesting fashion, I confess I'm more intrigued than frightened.

      And there will always be a special place in my heart for the roaring bananas of Tokyo.

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