Monday, March 1, 2021

Destination - Odawara & Yugawara!

 It was time for an overnight trip and I had read about the Odawara Enoura Observatory in the newspaper so there it was! We were going to visit Odawara and we decided to spend the night at the hot-spring resort town of Yugawara that is nearby. let's go!

We arrived in Odawara and per our plan we visited the Odawara castle first. Yes, that's me hamming it up at the castle compound entrance.

Some of the trees around the castle grounds are so old they have supports to keep the up.

Behold the castle.

The castle itself is closed to the public because of the big "C".

Me again pretending to take a picture. We were returning to Odawars train station because the Enoura Observatory is two stops down the line.

A couple of shots inside Odawara train station.

This is a big train station.

We arrived at Nebukawa train station where we'll catch a shuttle bus to the Enoura Observatory.
By-the-way, the Nebukawa station is the least used station on this train line.

The shuttle bus ride was very scenic and after about 10 minutes we arrived at the Observatory.
Visiting the Observatory is by reservation only and they have strict anti-virus protocals in place.

The Enoura Observatory is a big sprawling complex place. Some parts are indoors and others outdoors.

A view of the ocean. from the end of the corridor pictured above..

More ocean views.

Show me a nice view and I'll show you a person taking a selfie.

One part of the complex is a bamboo forest.

It's very peaceful here.

I'll take your picture if...
…you take mine.

A wall made from old roof tiles stacked on top of each other.

The gravel garden.

I'm not sure what this stage is for but it's got a great backdrop. It's called "Optical Glass Stage with Amphitheater" (I'm sitting in the amphitheater to take this picture).

Circles in the gravel.

The observatory is high up on a hill overlooking the Izu peninsula.

Mustard greens in bloom.

Time to go. Our shuttle bus is waiting to take us back to the train station.

This is the entrance to the little used Nebukawa train station. If you miss the shuttle bus you're screwed. Taxis don't come here and it's to far to walk to the Observatory from here. Always plan your trip and be on time.

Our train is pulling into the station. From here we're off the coastal town of Atami for lunch.

In Atami there is an old (over 60 years old) café called. Bonnet. The owner is over 80 years old but he still serves the food with a smile and likes to share stories of when he was a younger man. We enjoyed our lunch.

After lunch we walked around Atami for awhile and then we took the train to Yugawara and checked into our hotel. We stopped at a 7-11 store on our way to the hotel and picked up some drinks and snacks to enjoy in the room.

Next morning - I took this picture from our room window. Our hotel was fairly modern but we were surrounded by older Japanese Inns.

After breakfast we checked out and followed the river back to the train station. It's a long walk. 

The town is built  to conform with the twits and turns of the river and the surrounding hills.


Why did I take this picture of the benches on the Yugawara train station platform?  Because all the seats have nice cushions/pillows on them. Nice clean cloth covered cushions. I've never seen that at any other train station in Japan. 

Making a short stop at good old Nebukawa station to pick up a passenger.

The train follows the coast and there are plenty of nice ocean views from the train window on our way back to Odawara.

Next question: Why did we go back to Odawara instead of going straight home? Because we wanted to buy a specialized fishcake that is only made in Odawara. This is the place!

And, this is the fishcake. It's made with fishcake, a special kind of mountain potato root and it's incredibly delicious.

It has a black pepper taste to it as well. Fantastic!

Last shot of the trip: we ate the fishcake outside under a brilliant red umbrella. 

Thanks for stopping by!
Mike




Thursday, February 25, 2021

Goofing around Yokohama with the Sigma 24mm f3.5 DG DN lens

 I picked up the Sigma 24mm f3.5 DG DN "Contemporary" lens in Sony E-mount and I spent a couple days in Yokohama with it on my Sony A7III camera.

Day 1: It's a wide angle lens.

How wide is it? It's this wide.

Wide enough to get the whole bus in the frame.

I'm actually have a lot of fun with this lens.


Whenever a get a new lens I check it out on the Haikawa Maru.

The inner courtyard of the Yokohama Grand Hotel.

One big advantage of a 24mm wide angle lens is that if one is in a tight little backstreet one can still fit the entire car in the frame.

A view from the Italian Garden park.

And, another view from the Italian Garden.

I sat down next to this fountain in the Garden to get a close up shot when a strong gust of wind blew water all over me.

An old church just down the road from the Italian Garden.

A lot of rich people live in this area. I'm not one of them.

China Town!

Nothing beats a wide angle lens in China Town.


The driver of this bus took the corner like he was Mario Andretti! 

Some of the bars in Isezaki-cho are open 24X7.

End of day 1: Emi reads a magazine on the train ride home.

Day 2: Back at the stadium for a different point of view.

One of the stadium gates.

A classic Corvette pared on Nihon Odori boulevard. 


Where is everyone?

Another classic car coming 'round the bend.

One and a half men.

I'm back in China Town!





The furry thing is a dog.


Taking the mask seriously - as it should be!

Not taking the mask seriously. Public smoking is not allowed here in Isezaki-cho but many ignor the rule.

Last shot of the day: Saying goodbye to the train.

Thanks for stopping by!
Mike