Saturday, August 20, 2011

Solo Adventure to the Ryosendo Caves

Before I start out this blog post I'm warning you that I'm going to do some thing a little different with the pictures. I've been taking a lot of them and they are so fun, but I just can't put all of them in the blog posts anymore. So I'm going to be posting a url (blue underlined jumble of numbers for my less tech savy family members) that will lead straight to a Picasa web album, where I will write captions and comments. So all you have to do is click on the blue stuff. Alright, lets roll on with the blog post.

This weekend in a act of divine providence, I scored a couple of tickets to a cave and amber museum tour out in Iwate profecture. A couple that lives down stairs bought them but her husband got called into work on Saturday. I was super excited because I like to get out and see things on the weekend and who doesn't love a little geology. Then I found out Friday night that Ian had to work so we convinced a wife of one of Ian's coworkers to come with. We went to pick her up on Saturday morning and she was too sick to guess who went on the cave adventure of awesomeness by herself. After little pouting of course, but I pulled up my big girl panties and got on the bus.

I have to do a little shout out to the Cochrane's here. We were driving out the the caves and I noticed that there were cow signs on the side of the road that looked just like the Cochrane cow sign that is in front of the farm. The crazy thing was that all the writing was in Japanese! I was super excited and tried to get a picture of some of the other cow signs but the one that I did get a picture of was in English. Japanese dairy farms seem to just be smaller versions of the American version. I didn't actually see any cows but there were little barns and such. Note the fun Japanese style wooden sign holder thingy...
We got to the caves and let me tell you...they couldn't possibly exist in the states. I'm only 5'6'' and some times it was really difficult for me to get around in the cave. Like bent over double trying to not bang my head on rocks. Not to mention that there is a lot of climbing around on wet wooden stair cases that are really ladders in disguise. Besides all that it was really dark, really cold (kinda refreshing after not having air conditioning in sweltering august), constant danger of being dripped on or slipping in puddles. I had so much fun! They lit up the rocks with all kinds of changing colors which made for really awesome pictures. The water in the caves is crystal clear you could see almost to the bottom. Some of those pools of water are a hundred feet deep. They hung these lamps down into the water so you could see more, it's so eerily beautiful, like the water is air and not water. Another awesome thing about the caves is that there are little signs that mark out the name of certain formations in the walls that look like things. The one I took a picture of is the guardian lion. There is also this jar in the cave that was put there a couple thousand years ago that has since turned into a stalagmite. I didn't find it but I saw a picture of it on the bus. I guess in 1936 when the cave was turned into a tourist destination they put their own clay jar beneath a stalactite and it has fused it's self to the rock beneath it. Pretty darn awesome. The water is so clear and nice tasting that you can drink it. and they having it coming out of a little fountain so I filled my bottle.
They also make beer and sake out of the cave water. I bought some sake at the gift store and had one of the cave beers with lunch. It's really tasty, almost better than most micro-brews of Colorado tasty. Naturally, I brought one back for Ian.

Oh, I need to tell you about the water spirits, or Kappa. Kappa are supposed to live in the caves. They are mischievous, some times good, some times bad. Parents will sometimes tell their children to be careful or a Kappa will get them. Japanese folklore is gonna be another post I promise. If you save a Kappa then they will bring a fresh fish to your doorstep every morning. They have a soft turtle shell, four webbed fingers, a beak, and a round hard spot on top of their heads. If that spot on their heads is wet they are so strong that nothing can stop them. If it is dry they are weak. Depending on the region they eat different things such as ox blood, human blood, fish or cucumbers. That's why cucumber rolls are called Kappa maki. Here is a really cute cartoon version of a Kappa that I found in the gift shop.
After the caves we went to the amber museum in another town. We got to drive by the Pacific ocean on our way there and it was a little shocking. There were huge mounds of debris along the coast and all kinds of downed trees. I didn't see too many houses that looked they had been destroyed but it has been a few months since the tsunami. The rocks on the coast were beautiful but I just wasn't fast enough with my camera.

I guess this town with the amber mine is a sister town of a place in Lithuania that also mines amber so there was a lot of amber from the Baltics and Baltic crafts. We saw some of the most amazing pieces. The art works in the web albums are either solid pieces of amber or they are mosaics of amber. Stunning, just stunning. I was walking around drooling. They did take credit cards but I restrained myself. It was a battle of the wills. I kept telling myself that we could always come back for like an anniversary or my birthday. So, amber is really cool, besides having little bug bodies is it, it also holds a static charge, can be used for magnification, and it's super light. It also comes in a whole bunch of colors that mean different things like love and health. We also got to go into an amber mine. It was so cramped and wet in there they we found iridescent mold on the walls. and all the display cases had condensation on the inside that made it so you couldn't see what was in them. This was a trip about being in the wet and dark in an uncomfortable position.
Here is the url for the web album... Ryosendo Cave Trip

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