Via Ars, a science photo contest, elaborated on by yours truly. The National Geographic page has some great photos, one of my favorites being this wildlife shot. Nikon has some also.
I've been a tad bummed out lately. The changing weather has given me a sore throat and clogged sinuses, and on top of that, I've just been feeling rather lonely with a touch of homesickness. I don't usually get homesick, and when I do, it's nothing to do with missing home, it's more about something that happens here. But yesterday I chatted with my old roommate Molly, which cheered me up. I also decided to do something new and went to see the goddess of mercy, Kannon, in Ofuna. There's this giant bust statue that sticks up above the trees on top of this hill by the train station. It's visible from the train windows, so I see it often, but I've never been. Turns out that temple is commonly visited by foreigners, especially Asians, when they feel homesick, since Kannon is a ubiquitous symbol in countries with a Buddhist tradition, which is most of Asia.
Today I went to a festival in Oiso, the town just west (away from Tokyo) of Hiratsuka. It was a celebration of the Shubuku, or post station in the town on the old Tokaido road that ran from Tokyo to Osaka during the Edo period. Now it's been replaced by a highway and rail corridor, but some of the old wooden buildings remain. It was a typical festival, with the usual carnival foods and games and such. One interesting thing was stage which had different performers. When I first arrived, there was a Japanese guy in a Mexican getup playing mariachi music. I bought an onsen towel with a map of the 53 waystations on the Tokaido road. I was tempted by a really cool miniature garden about 5 inches long by 3 inches wide with tiny trees and mosses and a little tanuki in the middle. But I resisted temptation. Maybe some other day I'll get one.
Now it's started raining and it's cold, so I have no desire to go outside anymore, so I'll stay in the rest of the evening and talk to my roommate Tracey, who just returned from her trip to Thailand. She got me a couple souvenirs, the best being a carved elephant to go alongside my silver water buffalo from Vietnam.