Wednesday, July 28, 2010

rocks and culture weekend part II

Right on the banks of the river where we were studying our geology, was another wonder, of the cultural variety: a fully-functioning craft village. Similar to the villages we visited in Takayama, these structures had thatched roofs and various old-timey tools. But this village also had...
...a real working waterwheel...
...a blacksmith forging knives in front of us... 

...and chickens!

In one of the structures they were actually raising live silk worms. This batch is chomping away on their favorite leaves. At some point, maybe when they are big enough and tired of eating, the worms are put in little cubicles, inside of which they spin their silk webs. The building also displayed looms and stuff that the craftspeople use to make silk fabric. 

This artisan uses the handmade silk fabric to decorate the traditional umbrellas.

With a little more time to kill before the train ride home, we stopped off at the Toyohashi Nonhoi Park Zoo and Botanical Garden, which is surprisingly vast. There are amusement rides, huge indoor botanical gardens, as well as outdoor flower gardens, a zoo, refreshment stalls and, most importantly, a great natural history museum. The only things the park didn't have were people. Granted it was the late afternoon and it was rainy, but this huge place was a ghost town. We had it all to ourselves.

And did I mention the dinosaurs?  This place would be great to visit if you had little kids that could just run around and crawl all over these guys.

And like I said, the history museum was surprisingly well stocked with fossils and mineral samples and lots of educational displays that you can even figure out without understanding the Japanese. Really cool place. I certainly hope that the lack of visitors was just a fluke and that on sunny weekend days lots of families are taking advantage of this really fabulous (and inexpensive: only 600¥, which is ~$6) resource. 

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