As my friend Shinya put it "Nagaokakyo is definitely a bike city, it's compact enough to get everywhere by bike and it's not so densely populated that you have to dodge so much foot traffic". I have to agree with him after being here for a while now, bike has become my main mode of transport (except on rainy days when I walk instead, need to invest in some good wet weather gear). Actually when I was in Australia I used to ride a mountain bike sometimes with 18 gears, here I'm happy with a 3 speed as long as it's got two baskets on it (plenty of carrying capacity for the daily shopping and carrying resources to our English classes). The other good things about riding bikes is it reduces greenhouse gas and keeps you healthy. I've lost 15kgs (30 pounds) since I came here in November. The only thing is with all of the bikes here some times with all of the bikes here some times it's hard to find a place to park it at the shopping centres even though there's more space allocated to bike parking than car parking! Then they make you pay a 150yen to park your bicycle at the train stations! In Australia I've never had to pay to park a bicycle, should be encouraging people to use them, not make them pay to use them I think.
This shot was taken of some bikes in the bike park of an apartment block only about 100 metres from my house.
Hiking once again
We went out for only our second hike since we've arrived. Would have liked to have gone more often, but things kept occurring on hiking days so it wasn't possible to go. This time Ritsuko came along with me and also another Aussie who lives in Nagaokakyo. There were a few good English speakers amongst the Japanese who came along this time too. So, I didn't really get the chance to practice Japanese like I did on the previous hike. The route of this hike was different than the last, rather than going right into mountains, we went along the front face of the range and passing a few expensive houses along the way. The area covered has so much history, we learnt about battles, rulers, religious orders and legends. This time we ended the hike in Yamazaki and we had to catch the train back to Nagaokakyo.
If you're wanting to come along on one of these hikes all you have to do is to meet at the start point, I've geotagged it to this photo (click on view map). On Tuesday mornings at 10:00 (for a 3 hour hike) or Friday afternoons at 14:00 (for a 2 hour hike). The start point is very close to Hankyu Nagaoka Tenjin Station. The hikes are free. Good hiking shoes/boots recommend, dress suitably according to season: Bring: jacket, water/drink bottle, snacks (with enough to share), hiking pole. Note the mountain trails can be quite steep and rugged in places.
I can't guarantee I can always be there due to church, home, and work responsibilities. However if you want to know if will be there on a particular date you're welcome to send me a PM.
BIC Camera Revisited
Went back to BIC Camera in Kyoto, but this time it wasn't for any camera gear unfortunately. The purpose of the visit was to buy a wireless router, because the phone/internet is finally getting connected after two months of waiting! Unfortunately because we came here with no credit rating in Japan, they took their own sweet time in connecting us. Probably wanted to see we weren't going to run away first, before they trusted us enough to connect us. They don't bother checking in to our credit rating in Australia because of the language difference. So we really feel like we are starting from scratch all over again. If you come to Japan with a company bringing you here you won't have all of these problems, you'll be treated as a honoured guest. Anyway didn't want to come here tied to any company, so we paid the price, but the way things have worked out now, I'm glad we took the hard road... I definitely can see The Hand of God at work...
A bit more snow
Well, it snowed a bit more on the afternoon/evening of the 10th of January than the previous snow fall on the 26th of December. So this photo was taken early in the morning on the 11th, which was the day we had our first Sunday Service for Shining Lights Church ( http://www.shininglightschurch.org
After all that we had been through with the separation from the church we had joined when we first came to Japan. I felt God had given us the green light for the new venture when in my devotion time just before our first service I read the following:-
"For thou, O God, hast proved us: thou hast tried us, as silver is tried. Thou broughtest us into the net; thou laidst affliction upon our loins. Thou hast caused men to ride over our heads; we went through fire and through water: but thou broughtest us out into a wealthy [place]." - Psalm 66:10-12 (KJV)
P.S. Check out our church website if you want to hear my Aussie accent.
P.P.S for some of you this snow may very little, but since I come from Perth where it has never snowed (in all the time I lived there), I was very happy to see this.