Friday, April 09, 2010

Fighting Diakon Bus Tour

April 9, 2010

May 16th and 17th, 2009

In Japan, people work hard and play hard. Since, vacations are usually limited to just two or three days, bus tour packages are very popular. Usually bus tours take people to many places and pack-in as much as possible. It’s inexpensive and everything is planned out for you. It’s a very appealing option especially with so little time for vacation.

Julian and Yumi put together a group tour to Wakayama to visit Urashima Onsen (hot spring). They reserved an entire bus and tour for two days and one night just for our 40 friends. Wakayama is the peninsula below Osaka. It’s famous for having wonderful onsens, beaches, mountains, the tallest waterfall in Japan, Japanese plums, and beautiful rural areas. Many places in Wakayama are not accessible without a car, so the bus tour made it easier for us to see a lot of places.

We met at the bus station early in the morning. Prior to the trip, Julian had to select a name for our group. Written on our bus kiosk was “だいこんファイト!" - "Daikon Fighto”. A daikon is a Japanese radish and fight-o, well that’s an English word that we often hear our Japanese friends and students yelling when they are playing sports or trying to overcome some sort of obstacle - “fighto, fighto”.

There is a story behind the fighting daikon. It’s not just some random words that Julian made up. In the little city of Aioi, which is about 20 minutes west of Himeji, there was a little baby daikon that was only a seedling. The daikon couldn’t grow, but it kept fighting to grow...fighto, fighto! Finally the daikon came up through a crack in the pavement. It fought hard and it survived! It didn’t give up! It’s an inspirational daikon. Well, that’s how our name for our tour group came to be, because our trip was about fighting to have a good vacation. If you ever visit Aioi, you will see a daikon character around city hall and other places. It’s now a symbol of their city. It also set the tone for a fun and awesome trip!

Side note, I just read on another blog that the daikon was "decapitated" and that the news of it spread throughout Japan. You can read about it by clicking on this other person's blog.

Back to our trip...our first stop was Shirasaki Ocean Park, which had beautiful white rocks and ocean views.

Next stop Shirahama and their beautiful cliff side views and a famous spot for suicide. The sign says that if you are considering jumping, please call this hot-line.

We ate Japanese plum ice cream.

Our bus was super deluxe! It was equipped with karaoke. They didn’t have many English songs, but we tried to sing as many as we could, the Carpenters, Beatles, etc. Yumi and Julian, our hosts belting out some classics.

Our next stop was a beautiful expanse of beach with lots of rocks protruding out of the ground called, Hashi Kuiiwa.

We finally made it to our hotel.

The hotel was on a little island, which was about a five minute ferry ride in this cute turtle. The reason for the turtle is because the name of the island is after a famous Japanese fairy tale called, Urashima Taro. It's about a boy who saves a turtle from getting battered by a bunch of thug kids. So, the turtle takes the boy to a magical land under the sea...if you want to read about the rest of the story, click this link.

Everything had turtles on it, including our yukatas (cotton kimonos).

The hotel was on the side of a mountain/cliff. As we walked to the onsens around the hotel, we walked through dug out tunnels and caves and had cliff views of the ocean as we relaxed in the hot water. There were 8 or 9 hot baths that we could visit.

We visited the tallest waterfall in Japan, Nachi Taki, and a shrine.

We went to a beautiful old road called, Kumanokodo (World Heritage Listed pilgrimage walk).

We also went to an ume factory (Japanese plum) factory. They had many types of pickles, snacks and plum wines, and a kamobuko (fish cake) factory.

Finally, we went to a shoyu factory (soy sauce). Below is a picture of the entire group.

1 comment:

Gwynne said...

This is all sorts of awesome. And I bet the bus driver loves the karaoke machine LOL!