Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Kareigawa Walk, Part 3

Milestone time again!



Just exceeded 100,000 hits on the blog counter. Yay me!

Actually, I've probably had a lot more visitors than that since starting TSOJ in July, 2008. Initially, I didn't have a counter in place, but I wasn't showing up in the search engines for close to 2 months, so if I'd had a counter it just would have depressed me. At the time also I was using photobucket for hosting my photos, and they have an upper limit on viewing the photos if you're using a free account. And in September, 2009, I started getting warning messages saying that I was nearing the monthly 1 gig bandwidth limit, and soon visitors were going to be blocked from seeing images towards the end of the month unless I upgraded the account. (That's when I switched to mediafire.) However, I wanted to know why the photos download limit was being reached, so I added the counter from Blog Patrol, and that's when I discovered that I was getting almost 100 people daily. That was cool. The most I've gotten was 398 in one day, a couple of weeks ago.

Unfortunately, one draw back to blog patrol is that their servers crash fairly frequently, so that the counter doesn't appear on the page, or the stats pages fail to be displayed (in fact, the statistics pages haven't been collecting individual visitor data for the past 4 days). I know that the daily counters are incorrect when I go from 227 hits per day to 25, and back up to 185 hits. In any event, while I'd probably reached 100,000 unique visitors a month or 2 ago, the counter shows 100,000 now, so I'll acknowledge it now.

A brief recap -

I hit 1000 blog entries on April 7, 2011.

Figuring that this milestone announcement is 400 words, and is one of my shorter blogs, that's a minimum of 400,000, and quite probably half a million words, in 2.8 years.

I now have over 6,700 photos and scans on mediafire, and another few hundred on Photobucket (which I'm not actively using anymore). That's a lot of images. It'd take at least a week to download them all to your computer if you tried to get them all at one time, and represents about 2.5 gig of hard drive space.

Thanks to everyone for coming here, and I hope you stick around for the 3rd year anniversary in July.

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We left off with the train crossing alarm sounding again. Running up to the platform, I arrived just in time to see several older Japanese men standing with multi-thousand dollar camera rigs taking photos of the train. It's called "Hayato no Kaze" (Hayato of the Wind; Hayato is the starting station for this train line), and is part of the Hisatsu line. I'm still looking for pricing, and how you go about getting tickets. I didn't see a ticket machine on the train itself.



Unlike what I was expecting, Hayato no Kaze is not a commuter train. Instead, it's more of what's called a "romance car" - that is, a scenic route tourist attraction. It consists of 3 cars, one being just seats, the second a mix of seats and benches and the third kind of like a rolling dining room.



As I walked along the platform to take pictures, one of the train attendants stepped out with some passengers, and asked if I wanted her to take my photo, holding the memorial sign for the shot. I wasn't expecting that, but I decided, "sure, why not?" She happily took the photo and then went to the parking lot to take pictures of the other passengers in front of the station. After about 10 minutes, they all piled back into the train and left. As I was turning around to head back to the airport, I watched a bus pull out of the parking lot and roar past me. At the time, I was thinking, "hmm, there are buses here after all".








(Attendant, returning cameras to passengers in the station parking lot.)

By this time, the back of my neck was really starting to burn. The air was still a little cool (between 50 and 60 degrees in the shade), but I know how intense the sun can get in Kyushu (i.e. - second degree burns to both legs from walking in short pants for a few hours in Mount Aso back in '92). So, I kept to the shade as much as possible and set a fast pace back to Lawson's (I was hoping to find a scarf, bandanna, or at the least, sunscreen, but no luck).


(One of the most common features throughout all of Japan is the honor system produce stand. This one is in front of a farm along the side of the road. The writing on the blue box says "4 onions for 160 yen". The cabbage is 50 yen each.)

As I reached the end of the landing strip again, I noticed the signal light tower about 20 feet to my right on the other side of a fence, on the side of a hill with a gap running down through the trees. Thinking that I might be able to get an interesting photo, I pressed up against the gate, and saw the second signal light tower another 100 feet farther on, and two figures on the platform at the top of the tower staring back at me.



At first, they were motionless and I was wondering why someone would put mannequins on a tower outside of the airport. Then they started moving around, and I was wondering why two guys in maintenance coveralls would just be standing on a tower outside of the airport. I quickly took the shot, which wasn't framed well, and kept going.

I'd started this trip at 11:30 AM, and got back to the hotel around 4:30 PM. That evening, I sat down and waded through the pictures to decide which ones to use for the blog. When I got to the timetable-ish schedule, I focused on figuring out how to read it. Pretty quickly I realized that it wasn't for the Hayato no Kaze train, but for the bus. There are 5 buses that run daily from the airport out to the end of the line in Hayato, and the Kareigawa station is the first stop. By bus, it's less than 5 minutes, and only costs 200 yen. Just past the station are stops at two separate onsen (hot springs spas). I debated kicking myself for not taking the bus on the way back, especially with my neck turning really dark red now, but if I'd had, I would have missed the guys standing on the airport signal tower. So it all worked out ok. Next time, though, I'm taking the bus both ways, and save myself 2.5 hours of walking.

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