The Day After The Day With Yaetsu

Aka. “Our Day at New Zealand Village”

(As per the norm pictures are over at Amanda’s photoblog, under the incomprehensible title “New Zealand Village – June 17”)

Open the link and follow along (in posting this, I note that Amanda didn’t do her usual explanatory comments for the pictures, so here we go).

As I’ve probably never mentioned here, our boss took us to a restaurant and bowling to celebrate Amanda’s birthday.

To celebrate my birthday, they took us to a place called New Zealand Village.

I should probably mention who we went with, which will explain a few of the pictures. We went with our boss, Maggie; her husband, Tadashi (also our boss); their two kids, Luke and Leah (ages 7 and 15); our fellow teacher, Andrew; a nice Japanese lady who will hopefully be my private Japanese teacher soon, Yasuo; the head teacher from Maggie’s kindergarten (and fellow Canadian), Joyce; and her tall American military boyfriend, Tom (who really stands out in most of the pictures).

Before anyone asks, no, I don’t know why the place is called that. It has some sheep and some buildings that may or may not be out of place in New Zealand, but then, said buildings would likely not be out of place in upstate Maine or in most of Eastern Canada.

That’s about all I can figure out about the name.

Q: What do you do at New Zealand Village?

A: You pay too much to get in, then pay outrageous prices to go on mostly mediocre rides.

I am, of course, being too harsh.

We had a lot of fun. There were crazy shaped peddle boats designed for small people that I’m fairly certain were distinctly unlike anything that you would find in New Zealand (we were in a panda, naturally). We actually went in one with the boss’s son (it was cheaper that way). We let him peddle if we got too tired, which sounds cruel, except for the fact that he really wanted to. He too was quickly tired out and both he and Amanda stopped peddling and it was left to me.

Oh, and did I mention that the boats were designed for small people? Well, I was sitting on the back of the bench thing in order to reach the peddles without my knees hitting my chin.

Now, at this point you may or may not be thinking, “but J, aren’t the Japanese a shorter people, generally, then us Westerners?”

The answer, my friends, is a simple “No, not really.” Not here at any rate. Most of the men around here are about my height. I’ve actually met several grade six boys who were my height and taller. A couple of girls, too.

The pictures of us in the peddle-boat were taken by Joyce, who was in another boat with Tom, and I cannot imagine how he was able to peddle the thing.

So we did that, and it was fun.

After, we meandered about a bit. The place’s location was truly beautiful, with some lovely views of its valley that our pictures do not do justice.

Oh, the statues!

Right, we went to this place the day after watching the Dr. Who episode “Blink,” which I’ve previously mentioned as one of the creepiest things I’ve ever seen and probably the best episode of this past season (here’s a wikipedia summary that explains the significance of that, for those who don’t know what I’m talking about).

The next place we went was this neat slide thing. Very neat slide thing.

While a little pricey, the slide was good fun. You get on this little blue wheeled sled thing, and you go down a cement bobsled type track. Essentially, the sled thing is nothing but a seat, wheels, brakes, and a handle for the brakes. You go faster or slower based on whether you push or pull the handle. I’m sure some of you have been on something similar (I have this vague recollection of something similar outside Ottawa many years ago, and I think there’s footage of one in the Sesame Street intro).

Anyways, you can actually get up to some pretty good speeds, to the point where you feel danger from the concrete in some of the corners.

Now, once you’ve allowed the force of gravity to bring you down a sizable hill, the question becomes “how do you get back up?”

The answer, “Take the chairlift, of course.” Which is a pleasant, leisurely way of getting up the hill, and it doubles as a way for the ride attendants to send the sled things back up, too.

There’s a picture of Amanda on a big fuzzy dog thing (rabbit thing?). We didn’t do it, but you know those little ride things outside grocery stores where you put the money in and it rocks the kid a bit? Yeah, well, this was one of those, except free roaming. That’s right, you put money in the coin-slot and the thing walks around (I think there was a steering wheel). With enough coins, you could take that puppy to Mexico (pun intended).

After that, we went and looked at go-cart things and decided not to go on them (no speed). Instead, we tried our hand at archery.

Well, Amanda did. I had a long chat with my prospective teacher. That one photo of Amanda’s arm could be taken as the reason not to wear short sleeves while using a bow. After that, I too tried my hand with the bow.

Now, Amanda had prior experience with the bow from her time in camp as a kid. I, on the other hand, had never previously used a bow. Ever. So what we have there are literally the first moments of me with a bow.

I won’t tell you how well I did. Suffice it to say, Amanda was much better.

This next bit has no photos, as we sort of went different directions for a little while. Tom wanted to do the slide thing again, and so did I, but we were the only ones.

We had planned to go on the sled thing one more time. We both ended up going twice.

Tom’s a really good guy, he had joined us previously on a few outings, and I knew he was a computer guy (both at the technical and gaming ends), but I learned something new and exciting while we were hanging out. See, we were chatting about movies, and LotR came up. He made a comment about how the dwarves were underrepressented. I heard that and I think half my audience knows where this is going.

RPG gamer. The first that I have met (and known about) since coming to Japan (though I have seen and thought about buying some Japanese D&D books, just on principle).

Anyways, we finished up there and caught up with the others. From there we went to lunch (mine looked a lot like what I had at the Rainforest Cafe while we were in Tokyo back in May, but was half the price).

I will now comment on the glass of green liquid.

Melon soda.

Melon soda is a wonderful, wonderful beverage that I’m very glad to say we discovered early in our stay here because it is amazing.

We have commented, on many occasions, that we already know that if there was anything we would miss about Japan, melon soda would be near the top of the list. Melon soda. It’s good. It’s amazingly good.

After lunch we all went down to the gift shop, from which we would be going to see the animals. Joyce and Tom begged off, both having severe animal allergies.

This is where I have to be sad for a moment, as this was the last time I ever saw (and likely ever will see) Tom.

Shortly following this day, he had some medical problems that I won’t go into, except to say that the military shipped him back to the States. He’s still very much in contact with Joyce, but we’ll never see him again.

Where was I?

Right. The animals.

For some reason there was a nice Japanese garden in New Zealand Village on the walk from the restaurant to where the animals were. I don’t really understand it, but we took some pictures, and it was pretty.

Next, we saw the sheep, which I suspect are a key reason for the place’s name. They were cute, they were fuzzy, they could be fed. So we did.

There’s a picture on the site of Amanda petting a lamb. What you can’t see in the small photo (but which is visible in the huge full version our camera takes) is the fact that this lamb is peeing, possibly from fear.

So, yes, you can wander in among the sheep. As soon as you give some food to one, you get a swarm. Evidence is in the picture of that guy we don’t know with the swarm around him. This happened to Amanda as well, with a couple of sheep jumping up on her.

After the sheep, we went over to a rabbit area. To my knowledge, we don’t actually have any pictures of that area. I kid you not.

No, seriously. See, there were two rabbit areas. One for the healthy middle aged bunnies, and one for the young and elderly bunnies. That second area has a mass of pictures, but I don’t think I actually took any pictures of the others. Go figure.

Cute bunnies. Many cute bunnies.

There’s not much more to tell, really.

We saw a horse that was hanging around for kids to ride, and we took a few more pictures of the scenery and whatnot.

The last couple pictures were taken outside a very expensive and nice-looking hotel, which there are no actual pictures of. The building on the top of the hill is, we are told, a museum of some sort.

And that rather-longer-than-expected-post tells you most of what you need to know about our trip to New Zealand Village.

And yes, the sausages that were the major part of my lunch were made on site, how did you guess?

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~ by truth9 on August 25, 2007.

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