Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Kintai Bridge

During our trip to Iwakuni for the girls swim meet, we also planned to go visit a few neat place near by. Our first stop was at the Kintai Bridge. The Kintai Bridge is a historic bridge in Iwakuni, that was built in 1673 and spans the Nishiki River in 5 wooden arches. It is also at the base of Mt, Yokoyama. At the top of Mt. Yokoyama sits the Iwakuni Castle. You can see it here in this picture, if you look through the bridge up at the top of the mountain.

Apparently the bridge was originally built completely out of wood, but it was destroyed several times, by floods and typhoons.  Finally they rebuilt it on these pillars and used nails to bind the wood together, instead of fitting together the pieces of wood together like puzzle pieces, as they had previously. Here are a  few other views of the bridge..

Along the side of the shore I spotted some cool little wooden boats with roofs. I wanted to photograph them, but I couldn't get a good angle. So instead I took the picture from this angle. Still pretty neat I think, but not what I was going for. They remind me of little party boats with the table in the center, but I'm not exactly sure what they are used for. 

While we strolled back towards the bridge checking out little shops, one of which was a stone doll shop. Legend tells that two young girls were sacrificed before the building of the bridge, to ask the "Gods" for ease in building it. The dolls, called Ishi ningyo, have been said to be the incarnations of the souls of the girls who died.  The "dolls" are found in the river bed and are sold as souvenirs. 
We also ran into a very sweet Japanese lady who was very interested in Elliot! She was enamored with her blue eyes and light hair. This was a quick snapshot, but it was so cute to see this woman so excited to see a little blonde American.

Hi Ho, Hi Ho, Off Exploring Japan We Go!

This past weekend, our family took a trip up to Iwakuni, which is about five hours north east of Sasebo and on Honshu Island, which is considered mainland Japan. The main reason for the trip is that the girls had a swim meet against the MCAS Iwakuni swim team. We only swim against them, because that base is the closest to us and also the only team that speaks English. So on Friday, we packed up the rental car, borrowed our friends GPS and off we went! Why did we rent a car, you ask? Well, Japanese toll roads are out of the world expensive and it actually costs less to rent a car and get the toll tickets paid for, (as part of the rental) than it is to drive your own car and pay the tolls yourself. How much is a toll you ask?? Well, we paid about 6000 yen, which is $78.15 for just one toll!!
     So we arrived in Iwakuni on Friday evening, checked into our room and then went to get some dinner. Everyone here always talks about how there's a Pizza Hut in their food court, so we were bee lining it for the Pizza Hut! I know people think we're crazy saying that we were so excited about Pizza Hut, but you have to understand that the only pizza we get is called Alexanders Pizza and it's NOT very good. We can't go out for an American Pizza in Japan. Well, at least I haven't found a place to go yet. Most "pizza's" out in town have very interesting things on top.. Like mayonnaise!! Who eats mayonnaise pizza?!?!?
   So, Saturday was the girls swim meet. We arrived at the pool at 12 and the meet started at 1. The girls changed up and started their warm ups, and I started playing around with my new camera!! Josh bought me a new camera and lens for Christmas and a friend of our who was a professional photographer, offered to help me learn how to use it NOT on auto mode. So, I decided to play around a bit with different techniques. My first was to try and freeze motion. So while Hannah was taking a short rest I had her splash water up in the air.. This is what I got...

                        I also couldn't resist taking a photo of my sweet girls loving on each other!

Fun was had by all at the meet, the girls were exhausted by the time it was over and were ready for bed by 6:30! We went and had some dinner and then chilled at the hotel for the rest of the night to prepare for our exciting day visiting Miyajima and the Kintai Bridge!!