My Vietnamese friend, who is now studying in England, was attacked in Italy 4 days ago. She lost everything including her VISA, passport, money, credit card, and cell phone. Surprisingly, no one helped her even police men/women. She asked a police woman to make a phone call, but the police woman scolded her and said that here is a police station, not a telephone station. The police did not try to catch the robber at all. She went to Vietnamese embassy next day (she spent a night in a station) and asked to reissue her VISA and passport. She is now waiting for it in Italy. She said that she stayed three hotels in this four days. First two hotels were terrible, there is no hot water nor an air conditioner. In the third hotel, she finally had hot shower. When she left the second hotel, the hotel asked her to pay 950 euros (\100,000) as a telephone fee, although she used their telephone just for 10 min. Thus, she called police, but the hotel and police threaten her together to put her in a jail, if she doesn't pay the fee. Italian police is not trustful at all. Her friend, who can speak Spanish, in England run to the hotel, and helped her by paying 100 euros. The police tried to increase the money to 500 euros, although the hotel agreed 100 euros. Italian police real sucks. When I heard a news that Japanese travelers were asked huge amount of fee for wines or something in Italian restaurants, actually I did not believe it (sorry). But it can happen in Italy. You can't trust police at all. You can't expect peoples' help. My friend is in a relatively safe hotel now, and waiting for her new VISA and passport. I pray for her safe escape from the country. If you are planning to go to the country, please be aware of the situation in the county. After I heard the terrible story, I myself probably won't go to the country never ever. 1/8/2011: She finally went back to her apartment in England. I'm so happy to hear the news.
There is a bridge to go to an central island in the pond at Ohori Koen.Black-headed gulls were sitting on its parapet. Some of them were sitting on poles, and some of them were sitting between poles. Can you see it? So it looks like these gulls are living in a two-story apartment.
There were many cormorants in Ohhori Koen. I'm not sure whether these birds are common cormorants, which mainly live around ponds and lakes, or Japanese cormorants, which mainly live at seasides, because Hakata bay is very close from here. Because weather here has been so bad, these birds might have evacuated from dangerous seasides temporary.
I found a black bird among many black headed gulls. Name of this bird is coot. Japanese name of this bird is Ooban. This bird stays all over Japan during summer, but disappears from Hokkaiddo in winter to avoid cold weather. But it's pretty cold in Fukuoka too. We have been having snow and hail storms for few days. I wonder that the bird had better to go to pacific side of Japan.
It snowed this morning. I did not want to go out for a walk, so I went to my lab to do some experiment. Today, I purified some proteins using a column. I collected the proteins' solution dripped from a tip of the column to tubes. When I was watching drops from the tip, I found interesting patterns in them. Aren't these pattens beautiful? Unusual in usual. Small finding on quiet Saturday afternoon.
The end-year party at last night was held in Tanjin (Daimyou), I used Tenjin station and walked to the restaurant. During the way, I walked through Shinten-cho. I took the above photo at the Shinten-cho. When I passed by, I saw artificial snowfall. Small kids were excited by the snow :-)
Last night, I had a time to see illumination at Ohori Koen before I went to an end-year party. This time, I was able to take a picture of the main tree from the best spot (Last time, the main tree light was turned off before I reached the spot). This event is supported by so many local governments, Fukuoka art museum, schools, TV companies, news paper publishers, and even by Fukuoka prefecture and Fukuoka city. I really appreciate their efforts. Reflections of trees on the water was so beautiful.
From tonight, Christmas illumination at Ohori Koen started. Since this event started this year, I'm so lucky to see it. This event will be held from today to 26th, 18:00-22:00. Tonight, I went back to my apartment at 21:40 and was able to see it little bit. But I was not able to reach the best spot to see it. Although I won't be able to see it tomorrow because of an year-end party, I'll try to take more beautiful pictures by 26th. It was snowing day before yesterday and yesterday. Since I don't like cold weather, I had been little bit depressed. But this illumination made me cheer up a bit :-)
This is a clock with trick named Toki-no-taiko, which locates along to the Ni-no-mon hori. This was built in 1992 based on a map of Karatsu in Edo era. I was not able to see the trick unfortunately. You need to come here on the hour. I was there at 3:30 pm, so I missed it.
The central island in the above photo is Takashima. There were many yachts sailing around the Takashima. These yachts are probably using Saga yacht harbor. According to Wikipedia, there are 400 people living in the island. Last name of most of them is Nozaki, because Tsunatoshi Nozaki, who was a samurai, saved people in the island from pirates. It is surprising that there is still such an island.
Although Karatsu city is not so big, the city has so many important cultural properties. This building was a bank that was made by Minoru Tanaka in 1912 who is a student of an architecture, Kingo Tatsuno, who designed the Tokyo station.
The view from the top of the Karatsu castle was just so spectacular. Right side of the photo is Niji-no-matsubara, which means forest of pine trees like rainbow. This is an artificial forest made in the early 17th century by Hirotaka Terasawa, who is the builder of the Karatsu castle.
After I visited the Hikiyama exhibition hall, I walked north more. There is a small beautiful path called Ishigaki-no-sanpo-michi, along to the sea. Ishigaki means fence made of rocks. The Ishigaki separated inside and outside of the Karatsu castle. There is a Takatori house, which is designated as a cultural asset of national importance, along to the path. Because taking picture is prohibited, I don't have pictures to introduce the beautiful house. Mr. Takatori (1850~1927) made his fortune in the coalpit industry and built this gorgeous house. Design of his house is basically Japanese, but affected by art nouveau in France. It has a huge Noh stage. Noh is the oldest dramatic art in Japan, having originally developed in the 14th century. Only this house has a private Noh stage in Japan.
There is a Hikiyama exhibition hall next to Karatsu shrine. Hikiyama is used for a festival called Karatsu Kunchi. These Hikiyamas are just so gorgeous. Their color is very vivid, probably affected by Chinese culture. The oldest Hikiyama was made in 1819. These Hikiyamas are made of papers and Japanese lacquer. If you want to make it, it probably cost 1~2 hundred million yen ($1~2 million). The festival is designated as important cultural property.
If you go up to north through the central shopping avenue, you see a gate of Karatsu shrine. It is said that this building was built in 755. Desine of Chozu-sya, which is a place to wash hands in shrine, was nice ship shape.
Today, I visited Karatsu city in Saga prefecture. It took only 1 hour from Fukuoka to Karatsu using subway Kuko line. I felt that there are very few people walking. I checked density and found that density of the city is only 261人/km². Density of my current resident area is 11,680人/km², and my home town, Ohtaku Tokyo, is 11,510人/km². Thus, Karatsu is a very small and relaxed city. When I got off the subway, I dropped by a travel counter and obtained a city map. I bought a ticket for visiting the most popular three places, Hiki-yama exhibition hall, Takatori house, and Karatsu castle, in the town. It costed 1000 yen. It was 200 yen discount compared with obtaining three tickets separately.
Last Sunday, a tour guide told me a interesting technique to take photos. He put his camera on the ground and took pictures. His photos are very beautiful. So today, I mimicked his technique and took above photo. Isn't it beautiful?
There is a spring water called Reisen Tsuru-no-ido in Kushida shrine. The sine said "please drink the water by hoping your health during the first sip, family's health during the second sip, and relatives' health during the third sip. I was not able to drink the water, because it did not look like clean. My Fukuoka tourist book says that the water is salty. If you have a courage, please try at your own risk.
There are many big rocks in Kushida shrine. Long time ago, Sumo wrestlers lifted rocks to show their power. These rocks are called Chikara ishi. This shrine has many "Chikara ishis", which was lifted by famous Sumo wrestlers such as Chiyo-no-fuji, Asa-sho-ryu, Taka-no-hana, and Waka-no-hana. I tried to lift these, but I was not able to move it even a little. Sumo wrestlers are really strong.