Maintenance Tunnels – Life as a Semi-Solitary Worker Ant

July 22, 2009

(Originally Published 07/10/2007)

Jenshin came over Thursday and we had an adventure!  We dropped by the bakery and grabbed some adventuring food and then struck off into a neighborhood I had never explored.  I had suggested going this way because I saw a clump of trees off in the distance and it looked like a good place to go.  Well, we got there pretty soon and there was a cool temple there!  A bunch of workers were lying around in the shade having lunch and taking naps.  We continued on and found a HUGE praying mantis on some cool bushes.  There are lots of cool bushes and animals here in Japan.  Some giant bees flew by also and I was reminded of the first time I came to Japan and saw the sign, “Hachi ni gochuui kudasai” which was so ticklingly translated as “Beware of the bee!”More... Seriously though, you should beware of these bees.  They’re HUGE!  Bees here are the size of bumblebees in the US and I’m afraid to see what bumblebees look like here.  Jen saw some but I always looked too late.  We also saw some huge yellow and black spiders with crazy designs on their bodies.  They were just hanging around in big sticky webs and seemed to be doing a pretty good job cleaning up the local fly population.

We walked around for two-and-a-half hours and I was actually late for meeting some other friends because we got totally lost.  First we found ourselves in the neighborhood of the crazy pink love hotel and explored around the neighborhood for a bit.  We would set goals of reaching stands of trees and whenever we got there it would be a small park or a temple.  We turned around before we’d used up half our time but decided to take a slightly different way back to see different things.  We walked and walked and walked and eventually figured out we weren’t going the right way.  First we went through a cool neighborhood with lots of little hills to climb and many dilapidated houses made of straw and earth crumbling apart all around us.  Then we found ourselves in a neighborhood of schools.  Everywhere we looked there were schools.  We walked down a road between two schools and little children waved and yelled at us from high up in a noisy classroom.  “Hello!  My name is (mumble mumble, mutter, grumble).  Hello!  Hello!”  We laughed and called back and then students from another classroom in the school across the road began yelling at us too.  After that we found ourselves in the factory district.  We passed all sorts of crazy factories full of noisy machines and bad smells.  One factory was completely purple.  All the pipes and towers and smokestacks screamed “PURPLE!” and all the cement trucks lined up under the pipes were purple too.  I finally spotted some towers that looked familiar to me because I’ve seen them from the ceramics classroom.  Anyway, it got really hot and we finally found our way back to school and I was only half an hour late to meet my other friends.

Later that night I walked down to Hirakata-shi and poked around a bit at the Yodogawa park and then walked back to Makino along the railroad tracks.  I saw a couple of tanuki poking around in the gutter!  After awhile I passed Gotenyama and then found a HUGE rice paddy near the river.  I followed a little dirt path through the center of it and wound up in a pretty dark place surrounded by tall rice plants.  I crossed a little bridge and a sign said, “Beware of the snake!”  Woah, snakes!  All I saw was some crazy red spiky flowers.  There are some crazy flowers here I need to take pictures of sometime.  I found a golf course along the river in Makino and discovered another city on the other side of the river.  I can’t read the kanji for its name (Taka something or other shi) but I saw a really long, fast train tearing through in the darkness.  It was cool.

I’ve been exploring other neighborhoods around Hirakata too and I’m really enjoying discovering quiet places and residential parks.  I walked to Kuzuha tonight with Willy while we talked about our respective weekends.  And now, I need to start a new post with information about what I did this weekend.


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