Sunday, November 9, 2014

'the coolest day EVER!' -ike

Sometimes getting our kids to head out to explore Japan is like pulling teeth!   they always have fun once we are out and about- but getting them there is usually a hassle.  I'm not sure if it's the drive- or just the age of our kiddos- but it drives me bonkers!    going to the limestone caves was no different.  lots of moans and groans. until we walked into the cave! and then Ike exclaimed: "this is the coolest day EVER'!

The drive to the caves was CRAZY.  Our favorite part of Japan so far is a little mountain town called 'Ome'.  the mountains are stunning.  the river is beautiful.  we love everything about it!  Kent and I decided we are not 'big city' people.  we love tokyo- and the cities surrounding it- but we really love the mountains.  no traffic, way less stress, and more space!

we drove through Ome and then alongside a VERY steep mountain to get to the caves! once we got onto the mountain- the roads were all single lane and literally clung to the side!  they were windy and pretty skinny.  there are large convex mirrors on every sharp corner that show any approaching traffic and there were several spots where we had to reverse and find little nooks and crannies to let oncoming traffic by! it was crazy. but so beautiful.

the caves are limestone and really big.  Basically a little kid's dream.  we walked in to the side of a mountain and got to explore all we wanted!

 it was a semi warm day- but the caves were pretty chilly so we all had our jackets!

 there aren't any maps- so we just let the boys choose which paths to take and where to go!  they thought that was pretty great.

 there were a lot of small tunnels and really steep staircase and ladders to climb- but there was one HUGE open area.  it was really big and really cool.

 the further you get into the mountains and away from the big cities- the less english you find!   the far left sign says 'exit'.   it was the most important sign to follow once you get deep into the caves!
 there were a few spots that were REALLY steep.  the stairs go up and up and eventually turned into ladders in a few spots!  it was a tight squeeze for my preggo belly and my legs were even a little sore the following day from the climbing!

 once outside- metta had to use the bathroom and this was her face when all we could find were squatter hole toilets.  I had to hold her over the hole so she could pee!

after the caves- we checked out the accompanying shrine.  I read that there are more shrines and temples in Japan than there are homes!  and that doesn't surprise me.  Every where we go- there are shrines and temples.  Big, small, ornate, colorful, miniature, wooden, etc.  they are ubiquitous.  shrines are dedicated to the Shinto religion and the temples are Buddhist. Japan has intertwined the two religions so temples and shrines are often found together.
this is a teeny shrine we saw inside the caves.
this cool looking spider is EVERYwhere in Japan.  they are pretty big and spin elaborately huge webs!  we are a bug and spider loving family so think they are pretty neat-o.

this is one of the small towns we drove through to get to the caves.  we stopped and had a snack here and took some pictures.  all of these house are literally built into the mountainside.
mountain and landslides are a pretty serious concern for much of Japan.  with only 30% of land being habitable- and the population being so dense- they build wherever they can.

 we made a few more stops along the way home to explore some sights on the side of the road! like this rickety bridge.  It connected to a big rock wall with lots of climbers!

 the river below was beautiful.
 and our loast stop heading back home was in ome again for some snacks and to check out the shops!

 we had ramen and gyoza for lunch and some yummy little donuts for a treat!  and the kids continued wearing themselves out!  I think we all sleep very soundly here thanks to the walking and hiking and exploring we do!


Kristi, Liezl, Quincy, Ava, Cora, and Josh said...

I love how casually you talk about the bridge that is falling apart and then show the rocky stream below. You are the best!

Pat and Brent said...

What a beautiful country! So many fun things to see and do. The kids are looking so grown up. It is happening way too fast!! Love you all.
Love Metta's disgusted look and the boys excited and adventurous faces. So cute! The spider gives me the hibigibi's! Everything is amazing.