Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Monkeying around the Izu

On one October morning, we woke up early and headed down into the Izu for some research adventure. Chu and I have decided to go exploring as much as possible in order to research awesome places when people come to visit, as well as refine our adventure skills.

The theme of our day trip was "MELLO YELLOW", the name of a citrus-y soda, which I found in a vending machine that morning.

The weather was quite nice, and I enjoyed the scenery along the ride without seeing any "Must Stop and Sees", which are attention-grabbing things that appear on signboards in easy kanji, hiragana or English. When I see something awesome, I jump around in the passenger seat and say "let's stop here, let's stop here." Our first stop was at this point in the map.

There was a sign on the side of the road that read "Hot Spring shoots water 30 meters into the air". Behind the gates and main building, I could see billowing clouds of steam rising from an unknown source. The sign, combined with this mysterious steam spurred one of those "let's stop here" moments.

Breakfast and Hot Spring Foot Bath

We were able to enter without having to pay any fee, which pleased me greatly. I approached a wooden structure where the steam seemed to be coming from, and read how almost 80 years ago, workers had found some hot spring water while digging. They built a long pump down into the earth, and used it to get to the source of the hot spring water. Every couple of hours, the pressure releases and shoots into the air. They've got it all calculated as to when it'll blow, to where there are even buses that arrive 30 mins before, allowing a foot bath and an onsen egg in preparation.

Here you can buy 2 raw eggs for 100 yen and put them into the hot onsen water, where they become hard-boiled.

Through some kind of inky magic, the eggs don't lose their stamp after 15 minutes in the hot spring water.

Yum yum, what a delicious breakfast, cooked by nature.

After getting back into the car, we drove down to Shimoda, where we found the Perry Museum, which chronicals the events of when Matthew Perry visited Japan with Monica and Joey.
Hah, just playin'. The other Matthew Perry was some bitchy American dude who came looking for a base to rest and stock up on food and supplies while whaling in the Pacific waters. He and his crew strong-armed Japan into opening up their ports to foreign traders. Personally, I don't recommend this museum as a tourist site. You'd be much happier spending your time staring at beautiful beaches. The museum is old, cheesy, and I strongly doubt that any of the artifacts on display are authentic. If you don't believe me, feel free to spend 1000 yen and see for yourself.

The Perry Museum

There were a few things that caught my interest. For example, this is what Perry looked like.

And here are some Japanese renditions of him by artists of the day. Awww, how sweet!

Though I'm 90% sure these are in no way authentic, I thought about how cool it would actually be to flip through a self-made English to Japanese dictionary of the first foreigners to come to Japan. I'd love to check out that kind of artifact.

Have you ever wondered who that dude on the 10,000 yen bill is? It's this guy, Mr. Fukazawa.
He was one of the first Japanese to go overseas and study about the outside world. He brought back a lot of technology to Japan.

This book fascinated me. I'd love to "borrow" the book from the case. It's Perry's journal of what he encountered during his time here. The book was close enough to the glass display case to read the page it was opened to. It described how the Japanese were extremely secretive about describing their ways and customs to him, and blamed the governmental rule at the time, that it was a crime to disclose any personal or cultural information. Perry goes on to say that despite this, many people were constantly asking questions about what the world was like outside of Japan, and demanded answers about everything. Close to the end of the page, he says that the locals were much friendly and easier to get along with than the officials that he dealt with more regularly.

This is a painting of a tsunami that hit Shimoda during that time. Scarrrrry! Beware of the Tokai!

And finally, the awaiting destination, THE MONKEYS

Here are the prices.

Here's a close-up of some groomin'. This park is pretty special in that it's not quite a zoo. In fact, these monkeys are not fenced in at all. Around 50 years ago, the local inhabitants of the beach began feeding the monkeys, and they liked the area, formed a community and have stayed ever since. After my initial excitement of being around hundreds of monkeys subsided, I realized how relaxed the atmosphere is. The monkeys don't seem phased by human visitors and they just go on with their normal schedule, and pretty much ignore you....

....Well, that is until they get hungry. Monkeys of ever generation will eventually make their way to the feeding area, which is a barred wall which houses the main office and building in the monkey park. Monkeys aren't allowed inside, and the visitors are encouraged to do any feeding through these bars. The monkeys may become aggressive if you're holding food outside of the feeding area.

Chu getting personal with one of the monkeys. She began to bond with the monkeys as she helped them search for seeds on the grounds after feeding time. When a monkey catches a glimpse of Chu on the floor, they quickly come and see what she's looking at.

They live on a beautiful beach! This is the view from their playground.

This little guy came to see if I had any peanuts for him.

The monkeys have a boss, and here's a news article about when one of the monkey bosses was overthrown by a more popular monkey.

As I was trying to get a close up of one of the bigger adult male monkeys, he startled me by yelling at me to quit taking his picture. However, I had already accidentally pressed the capture button, and came away with this picture.

The sunset


This restaurant has a beautiful balcony overlooking the sea, and serves seafood that has just been taken out from the aquarium.

The servers bring out all the ingredients, pieces of fish, vegetables, shrimp, squid, and you cook it yourself on a little hibachi wood-burning stove at your table.

The ebi were HUGE, and creepy to watch as they went from gray to pink.

Here's the bird's eye view of the the dinner we had to end our day trip around the Izu.
Can't wait for the next one, I feel like there's so much more to see and explore!

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