Notes from the Golden Orange
EppsNet Archive: Photos
This grinning nitwit is standing on the deck of the Stadium Club:
Jigokudani Monkey Park (Jigokudani Yaen Koen) is in Yamanouchi, Shimotakai District, Nagano Prefecture, Japan. It is part of the Joshinetsu Kogen National Park (locally known as Shigakogen), and is located in the valley of the Yokoyu-River, in the northern part of the prefecture. The name Jigokudani, meaning “Hell’s Valley”, is due to the steam and boiling water that bubbles out of small crevices in the frozen ground, surrounded by steep cliffs and formidably cold and hostile forests.
The heavy snowfalls (snow covers the ground for 4 months a year), an elevation of 850 metres, and being only accessible via a narrow two kilometre footpath through the forest, keep it uncrowded despite being relatively well-known.
It is famous for its large population of wild Japanese Macaques (Macaca fuscata), more commonly referred to as Snow Monkeys, that go to the valley during the winter, foraging elsewhere in the national park during the warmer months. Starting in 1963, the monkeys descend from the steep cliffs and forest to sit in the warm waters of the onsen (hotsprings), and return to the security of the forests in the evenings.
Today we ventured into the cold and hostile forests above Nagano to visit the legendary snow monkeys.
The monkeys aren’t friendly or unfriendly. They don’t approach you but they don’t try to stay away from you either. They might sit still for a selfie but they won’t smile.
We stayed the night at a ryokan (bed and breakfast) in nearby Yudanaka Onsen, a hot spring resort, where we enjoyed traditional accomodations, including a multi-course Japanese dinner and sleeping on the floor (on tatami mats and futons).
Our room didn’t have beds but it did have a flat-screen TV. There’s a limit to how much deprivation up with which a traveler is willing to put.
The site of Kinkaku-ji was originally a villa called Kitayama-dai, belonging to a powerful statesman, Saionji Kintsune. Kinkaku-ji’s history dates to 1397, when the villa was purchased from the Saionji family by Shogun Ashikaga Yoshimitsu, and transformed into the Kinkaku-ji complex. When Yoshimitsu died, the building was converted into a Zen temple by his son, according to his wishes.
During the Onin war, all of the buildings in the complex aside from the pavilion were burned down. On July 2, 1950, at 2:30 am, the pavilion was burned down by a 22-year-old novice monk, Hayashi Yoken, who then attempted suicide on the Daimon-ji hill behind the building. He survived, and was subsequently taken into custody. The monk was sentenced to seven years in prison, but was released because of mental illnesses (persecution complex and schizophrenia) on September 29, 1955; he died of tuberculosis shortly after in 1956.
The present pavilion structure dates from 1955, when it was rebuilt.
Nishijin Textile Center
Nishijin weaving was created in Kyoto over 1200 years ago by using many different types of colored yarns and weaving them together into decorative designs. These specialized procedures are tedious, but necessary to obtain the spectacular design needed to ensure the quality of Nishijin weaving.
What the blurb above means is that images and patterns are not dyed after the fabric has been produced, the yarn is dyed before weaving, which yields the finest quality but is much harder to create.
We participated in a traditional Japanese tea ceremony, involving the preparation and presentation of matcha, a powdered green tea.
Fun fact: You don’t enter the tea room through that big opening in the front. You sort of crawl in through a small door on the right-hand side, which you can’t see in the photo. There’s a traditional reason for this, something to do with samurai not bringing swords to the tea ceremony (they won’t fit through the little door), but in modern times, it seems a bit of an unnecessary ordeal.
We took the Shinkansen (bullet train) from Kyoto to Atami. These trains run on time. If the board says the train leaves at 3:12, it leaves at 3:12. Don’t show up at 3:13 and wonder where your train went.
In Atami, we enjoyed a traditional Japanese dinner, so traditional that our guide was unsure of what a couple of the items were. Atami is on the eastern coast and has a spectacular fireworks display that they shoot off over the bay.
Hi everybody! It’s me, Lightning!
I’m so mad! The guy behind us in the Starbucks drive-thru lane is taking pictures of himself and his dog but he’s not SHOWING the pictures to the dog!
YOU HAVE TO SHOW THE PICTURES TO THE DOG! GRRRRRRR!
Years ago, if you wanted to show your friends a picture of your food, you’d have to break out the palette and the easel and paint one. Time-consuming!
Another way life gets better and better thanks to computers . . .
EppsNet stands behind Joyce Carol Oates in this Twitstorm, in opposition to those who think that while raping women may be a bad thing, what’s really deplorable is freedom of thought and questioning theocracy. In solidarity, we publish a couple of previously unseen (because they’re terrible) photos of the two of us taken with Mark Twain in the Doe Library at UC Berkeley.
My idea of a good picture is one that’s in focus and of a famous person.
This picture was taken just after I said to Mark Twain, “The difference between the almost right word and the right word is really a large matter — it’s the difference between the lightning-bug and the lightning.”
And Twain said, “That’s a good one! I’ve got to write that down!”
Actually, the Twain statue is just inside the main entrance of Doe Library at UC Berkeley. I asked the nerdy-looking Asian girl at the front desk, “Who’s the guy on the bench?” She stared at me for a second. “Kidding,” I said.
“At first, I thought it was Albert Einstein,” she said, “so it doesn’t surprise me when people don’t know.”
We went to a comedy show at the Irvine Improv on Friday night. Gilbert Gottfried was the headliner. I happened to recognize one of the comedians, David Angelo, sitting in the back of the room before the show — I’m a fan of his work on Twitter and YouTube — and he was gracious enough to pose for a photo taken by my wife:
Now you might say that’s not a very good photo, but it is recognizable as two human beings, which is more than you could say before I spent an hour working it over in Photoshop . . .