Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Time flies

Wow, can it be August here already? That means I have about three weeks left of my stay here in Japan. It feels as though I have been here forever, and the time has flown by. And as the time has flown by, I feel increasingly more busy. The schedule that I have been trying to keep is ridiculous, to say the least. Here is the rundown from the 22nd til now. The 22nd I left for a collecting trip in the mountains west of Tokyo at a research forest owned by Tsukuba University. Very pretty, but the fungi just haven't been around, or maybe it is me but we'll get to that. Spent one night in the mountains up there at this place called Kinoko pension. A pension is a western style "penthouse mansion" type of bed and breakfast type of place. Kinoko is the Japanese word for mushroom. How could we not stay there? The owner has actually written a book on the fungi of Japan.

We returned from the mountains on Tuesday. Wednesday was spent dealing with the collections. Thursday, Gi-Ho and I dealt with some minor things around the lab, then ventured into Tokyo for a massive fireworks display. During the summer time there are festivals called Hanabi, where various companies play host to fireworks displays in an attempt to outdo each other for the best. All told the Hanabi we went to was supposed to have 14,000 fireworks, but I only counted 12,756 so I feel a little slighted. It was pretty cool to say the least, and best of all.... free.

After the fireworks we took the shinkansen north to the city of Sendai, which is on the Pacific coast. Got in around 12:00. The next morning it was off for some sightseeing at a little town called Matsushima (pine island). This city overlooks a bay where there are about 250 little islands all covered in pine trees. Very beautiful. The poet Basho visited here and supposedly wrote a very famous poem about the place, but I don't know what it is.

After that we continued up the coast by shinkansen to the northern most prefecture, Aomori. This is where we met Tsuyoshi (host researcher) the following day. From there we went into the woods. This is one of the most beautiful parts of the country that I have seen yet. The beech forests here are stunning, and not unlike the southern appalachians, which might be why I am so taken with them. We spent that night at an onsen resort. This is where we met the amateur cordyceps group I mentioned in an earlier post (no fish sake this time). We had an amazing feast that night, they tried yet again to drown us in sake, and then the next morning we went collecting. Again, they found more amazing fungi, which I probably completely overlooked. Now we are at Sunday. Monday, we took the shinkansen back to Tsukuba, and stayed in the lab til about 8:00pm or so dealing with all of the stuff that we found in Aormori. Tuesday we took a trip to visit some collaborators in Chiba prefecture, which is on the east side of Tokyo bay. Today is Wednesday and I don't have anywhere to go today or tomorrow, but Friday I leave for another collecting trip with the Cordyceps Group. I come back Sunday, and am going to leave on Monday for Kyoto, to meet with the southern version of the Amateur Cordyceps Group, and also do more collecting. I don't know how long I am going to stay down there, but since lodging will be free at someones guest house, I might take advantage of the opportunity to see some more of the city, which is supposed to be one of the best in all of Japan. This will put me back home (if it can be called that) the following Monday.

So, that would end up being three weeks of strait travel. Is it too much? Well, maybe a little. Do I care? Not a bit.

Now you see why there are no pictures up on any of the last couple of posts. I will try to change that in the near future. But you might just have to wait a little bit longer.

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