Fulfilled in Jesus

Our pilgrimage with our Beloved in Japan -- Yoko & Ramone on the journey with Jesus!

Thursday, November 11, 2004


On Wednesday, my wife and I returned from our four day escape to Tottori. It was our first time staying at a pension, but it definitely won't be our last! We had a great time.

Yoko and I needed to escape from Osaka city for a bit. We've been working solid for several months and haven't had time to get away. Too much city can kill ya, you know! We missed nature and actually being able to see the horizon! We weren't sure where we could go. My friend Kevin suggested a cute little place near Lake Biwa, but we didn't know enough about it and were afraid of getting bored, especially without a car. Yoko thought we could go to an island in Okinawa, but I wasn't in the mood for hot weather or the beach after this super long summer we've had! (Yes, global warming is REAL! We've had 23 typhoons this year! It's crazy!)

So around the time we were clashing and stressing about where to escape to, we prayed and God gave us a place! We were looking through a magazine and this pension in Tottori prefecture called "Cookie Circus" jumped out at Yoko. We plotted and schemed excitedly, and when the time came, we took a bus three and a half hours up to Yonago city and then rented a car to drive to the pension, which is run by a very nice elderly couple. Here's a picture of them from their homepage:

And now I'll take you on our cellphone picture tour...

Somehow, I had no idea that we were going to be near this giant mountain. It was quite a surprise to find out we'd be staying right next to this Fuji look-alike called "Daisen" (which literally means "Big mountain"). Later on we'd go closer to it and ride a ski lift up it a little ways before walking down. The second picture is Yoko emerging from ---no, not a cabin--- a restroom. We figured it would be wise to empty ourselves before stranding ourselves on the mountain for a few hours, haha.

The first thing you'll notice is that we had fun with the pets at the pension, and they had plenty of them! Before even going inside and meeting the couple who run the pension, we already met Buna and Chii-chan (left) and Taro (right).

And we quickly made friends with them! Yoko is giving Buna a massage, Fugu a chin scratch, and the shy Non-chan is sunbathing in the street.

The food was impressive! The chef is the couple's son who went to cooking school at the famed Tsuji school here in Osaka. His food combinations were amazing and genious! (Example, salmon and applesauce---sounds strange, but it was perfectly balanced!) And when the seasons get colder around the ocean areas like Tottori, it's CRAB time! We had crab every day of our three night stay there! (But they cooked it different for us each time... we never had the same thing twice!)

In fact, we were stuffed! The individual dishes looked small, but they kept coming, and coming, and coming, and we couldn't move the rest of the night! Well, we felt like we couldn't. But an hour later we went to their outdoor ofuro (Japanese bath) around the back of the house, which was veeeeeery nice! Sorry, no pictures of us in that! Ha! But they did have these cool wood carvings!

(The ofuro woodcarving pictures are from their homepage, as is the dining room picture below).

After bathing we went back to the dining area for coffee and tea with the couple and other guests...

...And of course, the animals! Yoko is holding Chii-chan on the left, and a guest's long-haired chihuahua in the middle (guests can bring their pets if they like!). The owner (we called him "otou-san", meaning "father") is holding their cute toothless Maltese named "Yuki" on the right.

Our maps weren't so good, so the first day we drove clumsily to a nearby dairy farm. (Sorry, we didn't take pictures there... but if you look carefully at this Daisen picture, you can see that cows really do exist at Daisen, yaay!) There at the farm we were furnished with a better xerox map, which helped us drive successfully the next day to Daisen-taki (Daisen Waterfall, pictured above). It was nice because it wasn't a difficult hike, only about 2km. Also, either because it was off-season or because a rain-induced landslide had obstructed a small part of the trail, there weren't many other tourists there at all! We basically had the forest to ourselves!

That's me spear-fishing in the river below the falls.

Haha, not really. (Did you really believe that?)

Because of the recent rains, some trees had fallen over and had to be cut up. I found a branch and stripped it into a very nice manly-sized walking stick. Hehe. I'm cleaning the tree worms out of it in the first picture. The water was coooold!

After returning to the parking area we were pleasantly surprised (rather, amazed) when we tried some yaki-niku (fried beef) at a restaurant next to the lot. It didn't even need any sauce, only salt & pepper! It amazed and surprised us so much that we were totally un-bothered by the prospect of the annoying hour-long return drive to the pension (the falls were on the other side of the mountain, and driving up & down mountains in Japan isn't as fun as it is in America, partially because of thinner roads and these steep ditches on each side of the road).

Come Wendsday morning it was time to say goodbye. Each room (ours was 202) had some notebooks where guests have been leaving notes or drawing pictures over the last seven years or I don't know how long! We both wrote in it (in Japanese and English) and then went downstairs to say bye to the pets. Buna was sunning out in the street. Seen from the rear, he looked like an "onigiri" (a triangular rice ball wrapped in seaweed). From the front, well... let's just say I wouldn't be exposing myself like that!

We found Chii-chan sleeping on a zabuton cushion in the dining room. My regular camera had run out of film (I prefer film, yes, I'm old fashioned!), so we used Yoko's cellphone to take a picture with the lady who runs the place with her husband. We called her "okaa-san" (meaning "mother").

After checking out we had some hours to kill before our bus back to Osaka. Okaa-san recommended going to the bird wildlife refuge up in Yonago, which turned out to be not far at all from our rental agency & bus stop. Sorry, you can't see the birds in the marsh on the left. But I think Yoko's cellphone did a bang-up job with these pictures, don't you? Oh, the "bird" in the other two pictures......? A freak of nature, if you ask me.

And we still had time to kill after that, so we visited the site of the old castle at Yonago. The castle itself was taken down by "someone" in the early 20th century apparently on a whim for no real reason, but the site was nice and elevated so we could see Yonago bay and the ocean. The wonderful feeling of standing atop the city on a windy hill inspired a "Shey" and the karate kid in me to resurface (and test my wife's patience)! The surfacing of my Matrix powers also enabled us to descend quicker as we made our way back down.

We arrived home Wednesday night after some annoying traffic that our bus driver skillfully and patiently took us through. Jimbezo, our pet whale shark ("jinbezame" in Japanese) was waiting for us when we got back. He had tried to sneak into our suitcase before leaving.

The end! Hope you enjoyed! We sure did! Leave a comment!


  • At November 12, 2004 1:18 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Ramone.... wonderful pictures. I really love the one of you and Yoko. Enjoying your vacation? -Scott

  • At November 13, 2004 2:01 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Very cool. That's the part of Japan I never got to see. Or rather, the part I haven't seen yet! Glad you guys had a great time.

    - les

  • At November 14, 2004 1:11 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    What FUN! I always love a chance to 'see' people I only know thru email. ;-) Your trip was great - but most of all I loved seeing the two of you. And, I gotta tell you, I had NO IDEA you guys were so good-lookin'!!!! You truly are a nifty looking couple. Thanks again, Cassie (Thompson) ;-)

  • At November 14, 2004 6:38 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Wow! Looks like you two went on another hunnymoon! Great pics! Great place! The only thing you were missing was well, um... Kibbles! M in particular. Bless you both!

  • At November 14, 2004 7:31 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Hey, absolutely wonderful pictures and surely enjoyed the comments and tour. Japan is gorgeous..can't wait to see it someday soon I hope. Was sooooo good to see you two..great couple! Was so interesting to read your thoughts and see you. Many smiles and a warmed heart you made for me! :) love you, Mom

  • At November 14, 2004 12:35 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    finally i could leave a message on your HP!! the pics were nice! i want to escape from school too. hee hee =P i want to see KOYO(red leaves) someday. did you see KOYO in Tottori?!

  • At November 14, 2004 12:36 PM, Blogger Shumi said…

    sorry, it was Mutsumi!

  • At November 15, 2004 6:21 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    very cool. thanks for sharing.


  • At November 15, 2004 6:25 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Roach, I mean Ramone, this is Amery. Those pictures are awesome. I'm glad you're enjoying yourself out there. God bless

  • At November 16, 2004 2:04 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Grrr, lucky guy. Living the good life. Well, enjoy it! All us jealous ex-SMs will live vicariously through you. Wish I was there! Take care Ramone.

    -- William

  • At November 20, 2004 10:37 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Your photos are very COOL and INTERESTING!! They helped me for escaping from boring time at my office! Thanks for sharing your great vacation! Yoichi

  • At November 20, 2004 10:57 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    We're looking at your photos again, and they're great! Happy 27th birthday Ramone!! Yoichi & Olivia

  • At December 08, 2004 12:51 PM, Blogger grace said…

    hey ramone,
    your trip looked great! and i'm so impressed by your cell phone pics. i carry my camera around everywhere i go but i'm beginning to realize how wonderful a cell phone camera can be!

    keep on taking trips like that and sharing the details with us, it sounds like a lotta fun. i'm looking forward to my few weeks of break too.

    -- kimi =)


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