Thursday, September 27, 2007

Mount Tsukuba & Science Square

This is actually a long over-due entry, which supposed to be posted much earlier. But, as I was away for almost 2 weeks for my Hokkaido trip, I can only blog on this now. So, lets get going.
AUGUST 23, 2007
As a sequel from the previous day, today we were taken around to a few places. But to start off the morning, we had a buffet breakfast at the hotel we were staying.


We later took a bus to 筑波山 (Mount Tsukuba). It is said to be among the top 100 mountains in Japan. After taking a bus for an hour plus, we reached there and all were busy camwhoring with the shrine there.
Since it was raining early that morning, it wasn't a surprise to see some familiar droplets of water.
It was actually a pathway, heading to a jinja (shrine).
I have been to lots of shrines throughout my journey so far that I found all of them having almost the same look.
Here is how the front of the Tsukubasan Jinja looks.
Later was kind of performance (but I guess I will say it is more to like an auction a.k.a. lelong thing promoting his traditional medicine) by one old guy. But he claim he is still very much younger than he look.
Fine, enough said.
Apparently, this guy was promoting ガマの油 (frog ointment). He was telling a tale about a frog in Mount Tsukuba but it was not a Japanese version of the Frog Prince tale. But, I did not really got the clear idea about the frog in Mount Tsukuba. Anyway, I got to know that the cream made from the frog can be use as a remedy for quite a number of sickness and diseases.
However, of course there are some sickness that could not be cured with this cream. Love sick being on of them. But before he started the main show, he took out his sword and used it to cut a piece of paper.
He claimed that the sword can cut a piece of normal sized paper into 128 small pieces; and also will never leave any marks on his arm if that cream is spreaded on the blade of the sword and use it to cut his arm.
First, he applied the cream onto his sword.
And he started to cut his arm;
Using as much energy he got in himself.
He even tried on his palm.
The only thing left on his arm after the attempt were just some marks. He later wiped the cream away from the blade and this time, he tried cutting his arm again.
Instantly, blood flowed out from his arm.
He made himself almost like collapsing. But after applying that cream on the cut, the blood stopped.
Talking about that blood, it was pinkish red. Looked kinda fake to me. At least, when you want to make a performances in front of a group of future engineers, he should have use a better version of blood. Chicken blood for instance. By the way, the sword he used was a fake one. That is what I heard.
Before we left, I took a picture with the frog master.
Nevertheless, it was an interesting show to get us ready to conquere Mount Tsukuba. When I said conquere, I did not mean that we climb the mountain. Instaed, we took this to the top.
It looked like a rope-way to me, but they called it a cable car.
The moment we reach the top, it was so foggy that we could not see anything except white clouds. That was just at the 男体山. Translating it would be Male Body Mountain.
Male Body Mountain is 871 meters high.
We later went to another higher peak - 女体山 (877m) which was about 15 minutes walk along the track from Male Body Mountain. I was wondering, why they named the longer taller peak as female, but not male.
Along the way, we came across this large stone that resembled a frog. They call it ガマ (Gamaishi).
It wasn't that tough trekking along the path as it is made up of stones.
At the second peak, the was a tiny shrine there.
But that wasn't what we are looking for. Instead, we were looking for this.


They said on a clear day, we can even see Mount Fuji from there. I wonder, if the white spot thing on the right of the photo above is Mount Fuji. Actually, I did not realised about that white spot, and only noticed about it when I came back and was editing the photo. Did I actually see Mount Fuji for the first time in my life?
The mood the were just perfect which made me posing;
And hoping.


I spotted a small dragonfly on a stone there;
But having no idea what is it doing so high up the mountain. We spent almost an hour there camwhoring around until it was about time to get down. This time, we hopped onto the real cable car.
The weather was not too bad, but the fog kept the visibility range under minimal distance.
It looks like it is already almost dusk, but actually the photos looked like that because I was taking the photos from inside the cable car which had tinted glass window.
We were later taken to have our dinner and what else is much better than having a gorilla to greet us at the entrance of the restaurant.
The lunch was a typical Japanese set of lunch.
There was only one thing that I saw for the first time. The white soup-like thing in the middle, which was rather sticky. They told us it is made of wheat. Some of them did not even dare to try it. But I finished mine and it wasn't as bad as it look.
And there was also a bowl of soba for us.
After we were done with our lunch, we went to the next stop - Science Square Tsukuba.
Here, we were taken around by a chun guide. She explained most of the stuff inside the center. There were machines that will detect whether you are in a normal or abnormal state, a tester on your level of English pronounciation and some other interactive stuffs.
When you are in a science center in Japan, robots should not be something alien to you.
It is controlled through a computer and it will do almost everything you can think of. Sit, stand, exercise and many more. Just take a look at this video.
As for this one, it can arrange plates and bowls on the table.
It will arrange them according to their sizes and suitability - for example, wide and big plates on the bottom, and the smaller ones stacked on top.
Really advanced. We were later taken to watch a short 3D movie. But of all the things there, this must be my favourite.
A seal-like robot called Paro which was developed especially for therapy. Paro have been applied as substitution of real animals to therapy at pediatric wards, day service centers and nursing homes. Moods of children and elderly were improved by interaction with Paro. Paro has tactile, vision, audition and posture sensors, and 7 actuators beneath its soft white artificial anti-biotic fur. It also has behavior generation system that generates behaviors like a real animal.
Thinking about owning a Paro yourself? Not until you are ready to fork out RM 300,000 first. The part I like most is that it will purr whenever I pat it softly. Damn cute, I tell you. Just take a look at this video.
After we were done at the science center, we went to 大洗 (Ooarai) to have our dinner. There was a beach and a port there, and we thought we might get the chance to watch the sunset there. But it did not turned out like that. I did not went to the port nor the beach as it was getting dark already by the time we finished our dinner. I just did some window shopping around in the factory outlets nearby with a few of friends.
Talking about my dinner, here is among the stuff we had. Get yourself ready to drool.
Firstly, ebi tempura.
Sashimi. I know you love it a lot ^.-

Ebi and hotate (scallop).
Some mixed vegetables.
Of to top it off, kanishiru (crab miso soup).
And let me point it out here that this trip was fully paid by Ibaraki Kosen. What else better can you ask for when you got to eat all those stuff?
And still, there were people who chose not to join this trip.


k0k s3n w4i said...

That diagonally-inclined red car. They use the same thing at Bukit Bendera, Penang. Funicular train, or something like that.

Awesome pics, man.

Eehui said...

i remember paro will vibrate right? the one i saw in robot museum was really dirty lol

the dragonfly looks gigantic with the background of relatively small mountains =p this is the 1st dragonfly vs beatiful high mountain pic i ever saw!

and i absolutely love the pic titled 'hoping'! kudos to the cameraman!

Eric Sng said...

First of all, like the breakfast.
- Maybe u should try to be the Frog Master
- Buy me a Paro...
- Bring back Tempura and Sashimi for me..haha

calvin said...

@ kok:
i have been to penang so often that i can consider it my second hometown, but i have only taken the funicular train once. it was almost the same as this one.

and by the way, thanks ^.-

calvin said...

@ lasilasi:
yea, paro will purr when you cuddle with it. it was so cute until i was thinking to take one back =P

i never noticed about the dragonfly thing until you mentioned it.

yea, two thumbs-up to my friend who took that shot for me ^.^

calvin said...

@ ricky:
- i guess i'm suck when it comes to deceiving people.
- send me the cash and i get you one.
- (same as #2)

Eric Sng said...

lol, no money, btw, i forgot to put this is the last comment...i love ur photograpy...itz looks awesome