After years of talking about it on my blog, I've decided to post some pictures of the place. (I went there today to gorge myself...! )
|The place is up on a big mountain in Yamaguchi Prefecture, and it has its own altar. It also has a nice shrine and several stone statues of Buddha, although I have no idea why the small ones wear red hats and bibs.
|When I first saw it, I thought maybe it was a baby Buddha and needed some extra...er...help to keep clean or something. Occasionally you see one yen or five yen coin offerings around the mini-Buddhas, but this time I didn't see any. Must be the recession.
|This is a water outlet near the Shrine of Vending Machines. It has a huge Buddha surrounded by baby Buddhas wearing red bibs. Again, I'm not sure why the big one isn't wearing a red bib except that maybe it's because he's their father and thus needs to look dignified...?
There are three spotlights around him as well, so that he can be lit at night. I've never been up at the Mountain Bandit Shack past four PM, so I have no idea if people worship him or pray to him or anything like that. I'm sure people do pray for good luck at the shrine though (the real one, not the one of Vending Machines).
|Now, this is just a thing of awesomeness: the Shrine of Vending Machines. It's a little hard to see, but it's there in the background under the roof. Ever seen one anywhere else? No? Me either. It's near the parking lot, with seven separate vending machines that sell everything from Coke to cold chocolate to hot chocolate to ice cream. One thing it doesn't have is a beer vending machine. Not that the Mountain Bandit Shack doesn't have one of those, too -- it does -- but it's far from the Buddhas and the shrines.
Maybe to show some respect?
|Not that you have to go that far. Respect or no, the place has a beer vending machine. How can any hot spot in Japan be complete without one? Beer vending machines are everywhere you want them to be, except maybe at some somber war memorial or something.
|And here's me looking around for a table. Guests get to sit wherever they want, so it's important to find a good spot -- not too sunny but not too chilly. I look serious in the picture because it's a serious business.
And the picture on the right is me wondering, "Is that ours?" every time a waitress walked by with food.
|This is our waitress, doing double-duty at the gift stand. (Check out her uniform. Everyone there wears that funky head thing and a black shirt & pants.)|
Finally, we get fed! Just look at all the food! My favorite steamed fried rice with veggies and meat and so on, my favorite saucy chicken on a stick and my favorite gyoza! Everything at the Mountain Bandit Shack is extra delicious.
Nom nom nom.
Oh...and we had a visitor. I think he was hoping for some scraps, but alas, there was nothing left for him.
Gomen ne, neko-chan!
I got a chance to have dinner with treasure hunters. They're absolutely wonderful and fantastic to talk to. And they have a great sense of humor about everything. I was somewhat disappointed that treasure hunting isn't as glamorous as it's made out to be in Hollywood movies, but oh well. You can't win everything, huh?
According to them, you have about a 1% chance of finding something valuable. Of course that means you hope that what you find after ninety-nine failed attempts is so big that you can recoup your cost and have some money left over to live off of or fund your next venture. You also need to know a lot of people, know your history, culture, etc. A lot of the stuff you haul from the ocean is from shipwrecks. Some of the examples the treasure hunters quoted were the big Spanish ships that had been taking silver from South America to Spain but somehow never made it to their final destination. And you also have Japanese ships that took gold from China, the Philippines, etc. during the last world war.
I soooooo wanna go treasure hunting...! (On the 100th and finally successful attempt, of course. )
status: I'm almost done with the first major turning point in my story. W00t.
Over at Romance Divas, LaurenBethany posed an interesting question: Are you a drifter or a rower?
In other words, do you go with the flow or plan your writing career?
I've always been a rower. I've always set goals and went for them. But this year I've lost track of that. I've drifted, letting the currents take me where they may for months.
The biggest part of it was numerous disappointments I've had. They cut me deeper than the rejections I've received during my initial agent hunting phase. Perhaps I've had unrealistic expectations. Perhaps I've failed to insulate myself properly. These things have taken toll on my creativity. It's harder to write, harder to think and harder to stay focused. The more I obsess about the past disappointments, the more impossible it is to do what I needed to do.
If I don't row my boat, it's going to go wherever the currents go. Unfortunately the currents don't care about me. I do.
Now I'm focusing on small things that I can control. I'm learning how to control my pain (physical and mental), how to insulate myself to protect my Muse, yet at the same time how to relax and laugh at myself and have fun. Life is too short to wallow in misery. Though I've wasted a lot of time drifting, I want to grow tougher and prepare myself for whatever insanity life may throw at me in the future. Isn't that all anyone can do?
My left ankle has been bugging me ever since July. The pain kept fading in and out, and it's worst when I wear flats rather than high heels! (Talk about weird, huh?)
On Wednesday I felt the most horrible pain shooting from from my left foot and ankle. It's gotten progressively worse even though I haven't been using it much. I limped my way to the rehab clinic today, which is only two blocks away from my apartment (thank God!). My divine therapist asked me if I'd ever injured my left ankle, to which I answered negative. Guess he thought maybe I didn't rehab it correctly or something. He seemed confused since I don't do any special exercises or anything that could've hurt my foot and ankle. He examine them then massaged and tape them. When I mentioned it to Hero Material, he told me that maybe I have a slight stress fracture.
The only problem is I have no idea what I could've done to cause it. Remember how I said it started in July? Well, the only thing I did a lot in July was shopping. How can shopping cause stress fracture? (Okay, I did walk around for six hours one day at an outlet mall...) Since returning to Japan, I haven't walked much or anything. How can the pain get worse?
If it doesn't get any better soon, I need to see the doctor. I'm kind of dreading it. Not because he's not a nice person; he's fantastic. It's just that every time I see him, I get bad news. Oi.
I'm back in Japan. The flight was long but relatively painless (thanks to JAL's incredibly dedicated and uber-friendly agents and cabin attendants!), and Hero Material and I arrived home a little after 10:00 p.m. yesterday.
Hero Material's secretary had come by before our arrival and turned on the air conditioner. :wub: We were grateful since it was ridiculously hot and humid. She also left our hamsters in our living room. So we got to greet our little critters. Yay!
But bad thing is...my cell phone is more or less useless now. Well, I get my calls and stuff -- I think -- but for whatever reason, its memory went bad, and I lost my contact list. That means I can't call anyone because I don't know their number. Argh! (Hero Material tells me that back before they had cell phones people actually used to remember their friends' phone numbers, but I don't believe it.)
This morning I got woken up by a sound car blasting some candidate's names over and over again: "Vote for me! Don't forget my name XYZ! Vote for me! Don't forget my name XYZ!" Believe it or not, creating ungodly amount of noise pollution from 8:00 a.m. on Saturday (and every other day of the week) is how they conduct political campaigns in Japan.
Now I know I'm truly back.