2005_japan73 Our next stop was Kujiranami (map) where I went to school. But first we stopped at an extensive fish market. We picked up a few for dinner.

2005_japan74 We drove into Kujiranami village to go across the bridge over the highway. Our place was just on the other side.

The bridge is memorable, because when the roads were still dirt it was the smoothest place to ride our bikes.

2005_japan75 Here there is a 5 acre campus that is the location of the Niigata Bible Institute and a summer camp. (Remember this building for later.) It was also the location of my elementary school.

2005_japan76 This was our school building. My Dad built it. Now it is used as a camp facility, but the old sign was tucked in the rafters of the entrance.

2005_japan77 Inside, the camp kitchen can be seen in the background.

2005_japan78 This old photo looks into the same room from about the location of my desk. Marilyn is on her way back to her desk.

2005_japan79 I even found the bell that our teacher would ring to call us back in after recess. A few times I was the one that rang it. Out of everything, this one object made one of the strongest connections to the past for me.

2005_japan80 We went into town to this department store. Notice the covered sidewalk that protects shoppers from snow in the winter. The girls were delighted with the 100 yen department on the 5th floor. It was a perfect source of gifts.

2005_japan81 We found this decorated bag. It so happens that the decoration is English words. Since Japanese grammar is so different from English, very funny results can occur if the English does not come from a native English speaker. This kind of humor is not rare.

2005_japan82 The next day we walked through the hostel where I stayed while in school. My folks were dorm parents the last three years there. This was the dining room.

2005_japan83 This was a birthday dinner from back then. I am the tallest head on the right, Lisa is in red below me, and Marilyn is in blue at the back.

2005_japan84 This was a living room. Lisa is in the middle.

2005_japan85 This was evening play from back then. Lisa is in the lower middle.

2005_japan86 That day was rainy, so Art suggested we ride the train in the direction us kids would go home on weekends when we were boarding at the hostel. We went as far as Naoetsu and came back. This is the Kashiwazaki city train station.

2005_japan87 The views of the Japan Sea, the sound of the train, the track noise and the RR crossing bells were very nostalgic! They sounded like home.

2005_japan88 At Naoetsu we bought a standard train station lunch and ate it on the way back. It was actually very good. Notice the smoked salmon top-right for instance.

2005_japan89 We were all eating with chopsticks on this trip.

2005_japan90 After the train ride, the girls set out for the beach from home (about 15 minutes walk). They went over the bridge at the entrance to the property (map). The view of the Japan Sea is approximately Northwest.

2005_japan91 This beach is just to the right of the view from the bridge (map). This cove is typical of the Japan Sea coast in this area: stretches of sand separated by volcanic rock. To get to the next beach, climb around the rocks.

2005_japan92 The next beach was larger with breakwaters (map). They found quite a few shells.

2005_japan93 To the right, at the end of the beach is a cave. Notice the idol in an alcove inside.

2005_japan94 And these tunnels are just to the right of the beach cave. Kujiranami means "whale waves" in English. The Japanese have a good sense of humor illustrated in the tunnel entrance whale motifs.

2005_japan95 I had actually gotten off the train early at Kujiranami village so that I could explore more. I climbed a hill.

2005_japan96 This is a detail view back toward where we were staying. See the Bible Institute building on the top-right? See the blue whale at the lower-left? Notice the highway between them?

2005_japan97 Here is the full picture. This view is from above the Kujiranami station back toward where we were staying. The left side of the picture goes toward Kashiwazaki city.

2005_japan98 In this old picture, the Bible Institute building is visible along the line of the highway. Also, see the truck at the bottom and then the intersection corner above it? That is where the blue whale was put.

This picture illustrates the most significant change to me between now and then - the trees. Japan had stripped the land during WWII. So there were no old trees when I was a child.

2005_japan99 Looking to the right is the view of the main Kujiranami beach. For the summer months, the locals build temporary beach pavilions on the sand. Kujiranami is a popular summer beach location for Japanese vacationers. This view is from the hill above the beach cave.

2005_japan100 Farther right looks over the beach the girls ended up at. The nearest green hill is a beautiful little park.

2005_japan101 At that park are stone benches for enjoying the view. I was enchanted to re-discover the rugged beauty of this area.

2005_japan102 Melanie & I walked back a different route from the others. Remember the blue whale? It is the entrance to a pedestrian underpass. This is probably the funniest whale motif. Did you also notice that it is spouting?

2005_japan103 The valley behind the Kujiranami property used to be terraced rice paddies.

2005_japan104 Surprisingly, those paddies are not worked any more.

2005_japan105 The road into the Kujiranami property continues on up the mountain. I used to enjoy hiking it for views of the area. My walk that day turned into dusk. This is overlooking Kujiranami village.

2005_japan106 We drove up up the mountain road the next morning to the good viewpoint I had found. This is Kujiranami village in the day. You can see the left beach breakwater and the beach cave at the right.

2005_japan107 The same view from a wide angle. It looks North, and hourglass-shaped Sado island would be visible if the view were clearer. The coastline on the right is beyond Kashiwazaki city.

2005_japan108 On a hot day many years ago, we had hiked up that mountain road. These large leaves we found made funny hat substitutes. The same Kashiwazaki coastline is visible in the back.

2005_japan109 So we found some large leaves for a commemorative re-creation. However, the trees obscured the view in the same direction.

Unfortunately you can also see Mom's arm was in a cast. She slipped, fell and broke an arm bone while we were all exploring a path the day before.