Wednesday, December 29, 2010


Please click on the link above and vote 5 stars for me.

The stamp design was developed from an art piece I did called Unprepared In Wellies.  I switched up a few of the words and made it fit the concept; keeping in mind the fact it needs to fit onto a small stamp, titled FORECAST HOPE.

This is for mental health awareness, Canada Post stamp competition, and the more votes I get the more awareness!!!  Please send this to anyone you know and tell them to click 5 stars for my stamp design.

As most of you know mental health awareness is very close to my heart and I hope to make a difference in any way possible.  

Thank you for your time and spread the awareness:)


Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Trip To Japan 2

I am back to talk about the second half of my trip to Japan.  After arriving in Tokyo from Kyoto and Hida Takayama as per last blog post I spent a few days in Tokyo and I was off again heading towards Koiwai Nojyo (farm) to spend two nights at the Ihatov Hananosato Pension (it is like an inn).  The color of changing leaves on the mountains were beautiful and completely worth traveling in the cold wet weather.  

A picture with the couple who owns the Ihatov Hananosato Pension (Inn).  Their quaint home is on the Koiwai Nojyo (farm) property, very warm, cozy and homely.  The garden outside looked beautiful full of organic self grown vegetables, fruit, wildflowers and trees.  They have a chicken coop from which they get all of their eggs, the milk products all come from the Koiwai Nojyo, they've got a little hut for ferrel cats that want sheltering from the cold, two very well behaved and old deaf dogs (one 15 the other 17), and a whole array of wildlife (owls, bears, etc.)
The couple were very kind and friendly, the food was AMAZING and more than enough!  It is also a wonderful place to stay if anyone wants to go skiing or snowboarding in the mountains 8 minutes away during the winter. 

Mr. Nozawa who was kind enough to take us around for the whole day to tour the farm, talk about sustainable environmentally friendly operations and importance of preserving supporting and promoting wilderness, taking us on a drive to many sights including the Aoyagi Samurai Manor Museum.  Then it started to pour like mad so eventually we made it back to the Inn.  He was ever so giving I can't thank him enough.

Off again on the train, then on the Shinkansen (bullet train) to Shirakawa then onto the local Tazawako-sen train headed to Ofunato.
The long train ride to Ofunato was never ending but probably the best way to see the traditional life and scenery of Japan.  The train ride is irreplaceable, especially with the experience of local kids trying to speak in English and being totally curious.  Little things make these experiences memorable and that much better.

Then finally the ocean is visible through the mountains; oh my gosh my ears, I don't know how many tunnels we went through!  and then we arrived at Ofunato.  I got to the hotel quite exhausted from traveling all day and after going into the room I hear an extremely awful tone deaf karaoke singing guy down the hall; Hahaha, have to laugh, there was a large group party that night and they all went home no later than 12am, couldn't complain as they seemed to have had such a grand time.  

Up very early the next day to get a taste of the daily catch; although I do not eat raw foods, I like seeing all the different species of fish and ocean wildlife.  What an experience, completely overwhelmed with early sun light, clean air, smell of the ocean, and the sound of sea gulls; I can't ask for anything better!!!  Hahaha.  I just wish I could've worn my wellies, the ones I got in England! 

So many FISH, we eat so much fish it's not even funny!  Aww poor little fishies.  
Anyways, I decided to go eat breakfast where all the fishermen usually stop to fill their bellies and caffein levels... for some reason seeing all those fish I felt like having more of a western style breakfast with toast and tea the the like but due to misunderstanding and translation error I ended up with a very traditional Japanese breakfast; miso soup with a fish head poking out and staring back at me, two whole boiled plain squid, a plate of completely raw squid, katsu-don (a japanese dish with fried pork cutlet and onions in egg on top of rice), and the works.  I couldn't stop laughing inside and had a great time trying the fresh breakfast special.  I was full and although I still do not eat raw food to this day, it was delicious.   I mean how much more fresh can it get!?

This was like a day out of my kind of ideal day just pottering along the water looking at all the sea creatures and life just happening.  The schools of tiny little fish shawling in the inner harbor was fascinating!!!  I have never seen so many fish!  Then all of a sudden this larger fish comes out of the crevices of rock and chomps on one of the smaller fish, little flashes of scale glitter down to the ocean bottom; predation!!!  Okay, enough said, I will not bore you with my love and enthusiasm for wildlife.

I walked through the town and had a great day pottering around.  Later on I met up with those who live in Ofunato and went around seeing the sights.

Then I left to go back to Tokyo the next morning.
I couldn't have asked for a better time, I had so much fun and these memories will last forever!