Exploring Gorgeous Iki

This last Sunday I went on an expedition around the island to take pictures and go to places that aren’t anywhere near my house.  Although “anywhere near” is sort-of a perspective issue; almost anywhere I want to go on the island is within a half-hour drive, which would be considered pretty close in Arizona/Spokane.  I drove up north (I’m in the Southwest) to Hatsumoto, then turned East to Ashibe and came back home. 

My goals going out (none of which I accomplished, by the way):

  • 1. Find the Vagina Shrine (there’s a Shinto Shrine for women which celebrates fertility and has a statue of a giant vagina. Near my house there’s also a Penis shrine with a huge Penis. Have not been there yet. But hey, I’m all for increasing my fertility, as long as I can choose when said fertility strikes.)
  • 2. Find the Monkey Shrine (there’s a shrine filled with dozens of statues of monkeys all cool-looking with moss growing all over it and such. Found a number of signs talking about the Monkey Statues, but was alas a failure.)
  • 3. Find the faster way to Ashibe Port from my home (right now it’s a fifteen minute drive, but I spied a road that would cut that time about in half. Next time I have to go to Daiei, the supermarket where I get my cereal, I’ll try to find my way there again.)

Nonetheless, I present the fruits of my labor-or at least a smattering of said fruits, as I think there are way too many pictures to show every one. 

            First, the insects!

A baby Huntsman.

A baby Huntsman.

This was actually taken in the stairs to Yuka’s apartment.  The Kit Kat is there for perspective.  This is a baby huntsman.  They get to be about the size of dinner plates.  I have not yet seen any even remotely this large near my house, but maybe they’re just hiding.  It is one of my greatest fears that one will somehow creep its way inside.  I don’t care that they’re not poisonous.  It’s scary.

A colorful one.  Notice its sweet web.

A colorful one. Notice its sweet web.

This fine specimen was hanging out by a tiny Buddhist statue.  If you look closely, you can see those claw-y fang things.  I love the colors, especially when I use my zoom lens so I have to stand at least three feet away in order to be able to focus.  (I look.  I don’t touch.  No way in hell I would ever get within a foot of this crazy monster.) 

            Including legs, it was about the length of my index finger.  Its body was probably about the size of my thumbnail.

The picture is actually rotated--it was sideways on the wall.

The picture is actually rotated--it was sideways on the wall.

Found this SWEET praying mantis (I think it’s a praying mantis) hanging out at a “Peace Shrine.”   There were horse statues there as well, but not nearly as interesting as this bright green insect as long as my palm.  So cool. 

            Speaking of bright green insects, when I was gardening these bugs that looked exactly like leaves kept jumping around.  It was really odd.  Their camouflage = phenomenal. 

            Took some videos, but I can’t figure out how to upload it since the computer I’m using won’t go to the US youtube site–just Japan.  If I ever figure it out, I’ll put ’em up.

            Next, Shrines and the Like.

Taken with the lensbaby.

Taken with the lensbaby.

            Discovered this quaint place up in Hatsumoto.  I don’t even remember the name of the shrine (though if I took some effort I could read it, as it’s written in the center of the gate).  Offered a spectacular view of Hatsumoto port and the ocean beyond.

            Something about this shrine had to do with the good-luck cats, as there were (more refined) statues of it inside.  In addition to statues, someone had also thoughtfully offered a 3 oz. Asahi can of beer to the Gods.  Hey, even divine beings need a drink every-once-in-awhile.  I know I sure do.

One of these is the grave of a famous poet.  I think.

One of these is the grave of a famous poet. I think.

Graves (all cremation, I believe) are scattered throughout Iki, ranging from the very old to the very new and shiny.  They are well taken care of by their family members and offer an interesting perspective on the continuing importance of family worship, I believe.  Though we’ll see what happens when my generation comes into their own. 

            I didn’t get a picture of it, not sure how I could, but there’s an elementary school up in Hatsumoto that is absolutely surrounded by these sort of graveyards.  On almost all sides.  Leading up.  Going down.  Heading to the left or right.  It was cool, in a morbid sort of way, and very picturesque, surprisingly enough.

The last shrine of the day.

The last shrine of the day.

            This is the last one, guys.  (I can hear your “huzzah!”s from here.)  I loved the trees on the right-the way they’re either bending with the wind or cut that way or even just grow that way. 

            I discovered this bright red path-no, I have no idea why it’s red-whilst attempting to find the Vagina Shrine.  I kept seeing the kanji for “Woman” and “Shinto Shrine,” so I figured it couldn’t hurt.  And it didn’t.  As the scenery was amazing.  This is actually part of a “Lover’s park” or maybe a “Children’s Park”?  I know, seems like two completely different words, but all I could read were the kanji for “male” and “female.” 

            This, by the way, was the result from traveling through the “tree tunnel.”

Overall, a fun adventure.  There’s still plenty of places for me to go-see goals above-so I’ve got a lot to do before the weather turns on me.  Ah well, what’s life if not polluting the environment as I travel around the virtual rainforest that is Iki? 

            I really want that 180 Macro now (? Ok, not quite sure on the mm length).  Although I bet by the time I get it I’ll be all, “Psh, insects, who wants to take pictures of them?  Been there, done that.”

            Bad self.  Need self control.  First on the agenda is to send money to mom and dad to start paying off loans/credit card.  That comes before shiny new lens.