26 January 2014


I visited the city of Arima, which is near Kobe, primarily to enjoy the onsen there.  Since one does not wear clothes in the onsen, I have not pictures from there.  However, the city, especially the river, was also quite beautiful.

Nunobiki Falls

Under the train tracks of Shin-Kobe station, where the "bullet train" stops in Kobe, is a tunnel. It looks like any underpass in an industrialized city, but it leads to a scene of beauty amazing in itself and because you can walk to it from this station: Nunobiki Falls.

13 January 2014

Kobe Beef

Cats in Arima!

12 January 2014

Adventures in Japan: Flying There

When we took off from Minneapolis, the sun was in the afternoon sky. Since we were heading west, we were essentially chasing the sunset. We flew north over Alaska and the Bering Sea. As we went north, I think the sun appeared to sink lower and the land looked like it was facing a sunset ahead of us. As we came south again, it looked like morning was breaking as the sun rose higher.

We flew over the Canadian rockies. Hugh white mountains passed beneath us. Some of them formed valleys that looked like they were full of clouds. Sometimes, the snow was pink with the light of the sunset. Over the sea, we saw plates of ice with dark water slivers between them. Some of the views out the window were echoes of scenes in The Great Divorce, which I was listenting to as an audio book.

10 January 2014

Gratitude, Part 21 (Jan. 4-10, 2014)

  1. Beautiful mountains poking through the clouds
  2. The device I came here to commission is now working, and I am getting useful data
  3. Keeping in touch with Kelly via internet text and voice
  4. Riding a cable car
  5. The Kobe Nunobiki Herb Gardens http://www.japan-ryokan.net/kobeherb/en/index1.html
  6. Hot foot bath overlooking Kobe at the Herb Gardens
  7. Watching Thor, which was surprisingly good, on the plane to Japan
  8. Being invited to dinner to celebrate one of the students at Kobe submitting his doctoral thesis
  9. Eating, drinking, and conversing with my colleagues
  10. The frequent, punctual, and effective bus system in Kobe.
  11. The frequent, punctual, and effective train systems in Kobe
  12. Finding a good dinner, chocolate, and apple cider vinegar in a Japanese grocery store
  13. Finding laundry detergent in a convenience store (Family Mart).
  14. Giving a seminar on NOvA at Kobe University
  15. Being the guest of honor at dinner after my seminar
  16. Yakitori
  17. The hotel has a coin washer and dryer so I can do laundry
  18. The hotel staff quickly resolved a misunderstanding about whether breakfast was included in my room charge
  19. Attending an English-speaking church on my first Sunday in Kobe (Jan. 5, 2014)
  20. A comfortable and functional temporary desk at the university
  21. Hands-on experience with the radon monitor I am here to study
  22. My computer coding skills
  23. My English is easy for my Japanese colleagues to understand
  24. Lunches at the Kobe University cafeteria
  25. After getting off the bus on my first trip to Kobe University, I was able to follow a group of students to the university.
  26. Since the University is at the top of a steep hill, I am still getting exercise in Japan
  27. After begin lost due to getting off the bus at the wrong stop on my second trip to Kobe University, I managed to find me way (via the same bus) to my destination.
  28. Help from one of my colleagues with buying a prepaid bus card
  29. Buying a prepaid bus card
  30. Though some of my clothes were still wet after drying them last night, I was able to finish drying them this morning (Jan. 9, 2014).
  31. The ATM two blocks from my hotel that accepts my US ATM card
  32. My hotel is very affordable.
  33. Successfully riding the bus back from the university (Jan. 9, 2014). Previous return trips were by train
  34. Finding Thang Cafe on my second try
  35. Free hot spring role from Thang Cafe.
  36. The food at Thang was as good as the reviews suggested
  37. Listening to SDPB online all the way from Japan
  38. Time to rest and think for the first time since Sunday evening (Jan. 9, 2014)
  39. Six convenience stores (2 x Lawson Station, 2 x Family Mart, 2 x 7-11) within walking distance of my hotel
  40. Two train stations (Sannomiya and Shin-Kobe) within walking distance of my hotel
  41. A grocery story (Ikari) within walking distance of my hotel
  42. I remembered to pack the electrical connector that also works as a 3 to 2-prong adapter
  43. The ability to walk from the subway station through two shopping malls without ever going above ground
  44. The invaluable help of Google Maps in navigating here
  45. Sharing Royal Mints with my colleagues
  46. Photographing the experimental apparatus here
  47. Comfortable bed in the hotel
  48. Good water pressure in the shower

08 January 2014

Gratitude, Part 20 (Dec. 28, 2013 - Jan. 3, 2014)

  1. Productive and fun meeting about outreach at SDSM&T
  2. Helped my wife finish installing new light fixture in the basement
  3. Playing Settlers of Catan with new friends
  4. Starting the new year with my wife in our new home
  5. My wife turned in the official paperwork to accept her new job
  6. My wife took me to the airport (Jan. 2, 2014)
  7. Arrived on time for my flight
  8. Safe flight from Rapid City to MSP
  9. No need to go through security again at MSP
  10. Safe and punctual flight from MSP to Tokyo (Jan. 2-3, 2014)
  11. The Canadian rockies were beautiful scenery outside of the plane window
  12. I had a window seat
  13. Listening to the audio book of The Great Divorce by C. S. Lewis
  14. Finishing reading The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving
  15. Cleared immigration and customs in Japan without trouble
  16. People at the tourist information stand at Narita who told me where to buy tickets from Narita to Tokyo
  17. Safe, punctual and efficient travel from Narita to Tokyo Shinagawa station
  18. Navigating Shinagawa
  19. Riding the Shinkansen (a.k.a. the bullet train)
  20. The view of Mt. Fuji from the Shinkansen
  21. Safe, punctual and efficient travel from Tokto to Kobe
  22. Successfully finding my hotel in Kobe
  23. Friendly staff at the hotel
  24. My room has everything I need
  25. Despite the extremely small bathroom, I fit in the shower with about 2 inches to spare


03 January 2014

Gratitude, Part 19 (Dec. 21 - 27, 2013)

  1. Safely arriving at our anniversary getaway (Dec. 21, 2013)
  2. Friendly owner of our anniversary getaway cabin
  3. The roads outside of the city are actually plowed!
  4. Gas fireplace to keep us warm in the cabin
  5. Reading Little House on The Prairie in an actual log cabin
  6. Cooking spaghetti and meatballs with my wife
  7. Old-fashiond claw-foot bathtub in the cabin
  8. Christmas cards from friends and family
  9. Strawberry Moscato wine
  10. Finishing Season 9 and starting Season 10 of M*A*S*H
  11. Reading Don't be Such a Scientist.
  12. New mobile phones, which work well so far
  13. Our new phones have infa-red transmitters, so they can be used as universal remotes
  14. Seeing deer in the snowy meadow out our cabin's front window.
  15. Beautiful stars and moon in a clear sky one night of our stay
  16. The silver-blue light of the moon on the snow.
  17. The financial blessings necessary for a getaway like this
  18. The time and trust for honest conversations with my wife
  19. Finished watching all of our Futurama DVDs
  20. My wife receiving a letter back from Sen. John Thune about human trafficking
  21. Our phones allow us to access the internet without a wireless internet connection
  22. Our laptop allows us to watch DVDs without a television in the cabin
  23. Beautiful snow outside our cabin window
  24. Safe and beautiful trip home from our cabin getaway
  25. Finding useful bus stops near our home
  26. Weather warm enough to start melting the ice from the roads and sidewalks
  27. Walking to the library and dinner together
  28. Finding good books at the library
  29. Walking to dinner (Dec. 26, 2013)
  30. Helping a stranger in need by calling his mother on my cell phone
  31. 33 years of life (as of Dec. 20, 2013)
  32. Christmas presents from family
  33. Delicious birthday cake my wife made me
  34. The amazing love of God whose incarnation we celebrate at Christmas
  35. I am not the only person who thinks the Gregorian calendar could use reform

Total: 610