Feature story “The Delusional Australia Trip” Part 1
Fulfill your heart’s desire to go to Australia in Yamaguchi Prefecture!?
This is a bit abrupt, but do you all like soccer? I love soccer! Being the soccer lover that I am, the fact that there were the London Olympics, the EUFA Euro 2012, AND the World Cup finals held this year, my excitement went through the roof! By the time this article is posted, it’ll be the first peak of the final match away in Australia. Of course anyone would want to go! But… The match takes place on a weekday in June. It’s practically impossible for someone who works. “The venue will be at Suncorp Stadium. Hmmm… It’ll be held here, huh? The recommended tourist attraction in the vicinity is the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Ooooh, I’ve seen pictures of this before!” and thoughts of that sort went through my mind as all I could do was enjoy looking at the map. While I did that, I realized something. That was…
“Yamaguchi Prefecture and Australia look similar!”
So that will be today’s feature story.
If you can’t take a trip to the Land Down Under, come enjoy the Australia-like Yamaguchi Prefecture!
For those soccer lovers out there, first stop is to the stadium!
There is the match venue, Suncorp Stadium! The stadium is located in a town called Brisbane in the eastern part of Australia.Now If you’re talking about some type of facility located in the eastern part of Yamaguchi Prefecture, there is Hachigamine Park!
Well then, let’s jump into the place called Hachigamine Park!
You can spot little kids playing ball on the park’s open lawn. After all, natural grass is necessary if you want to play soccer!
On top of a hill on the open lawn, you can take a gander at the 360 degree panoramic view in the middle of the park. You can enjoy a picnic on top of the soothing feel of grass.
There is also a ferris wheel, areas for the athletic, a rose garden, and other fun facilities. It’s a park with animals, rides, and playgrounds that can consume a whole day.
Admission is free to enter the park, but there are some facilities requiring an entry fee, limited time facilities and experiences available. I recommend you look into it before going.
- Adventure Forest
- Take a leap into an adventure in the middle of nature. There are 26 athletic points in which you can enjoy with the kids.
- Ferris Wheel
- With a height of 32.65 meters (107 feet) and a duration of about 7 minutes to go around, the ferris wheel boasts a superb view of distant islands in the Seto Inland Sea and a walk in the clouds. *Operation hours are Saturday, Sunday, public holidays, and the spring and winter breaks of elementary and middle school students. Operation is also possible on weekdays for groups of 20 or more.
- Rose Garden
- Boasting 3,700 flowers of 170 species, this is Yamaguchi Prefecture’s biggest rose garden. The best time to view the first bloom at its peak is in the middle of May to the beginning of June, followed by the peak of the second bloom at the end of June, third bloom at the end of August, and autumn flowers beginning to bloom in the beginning of October.
- Mini SL (Steam Locomotive)
- A fairytale-like pointed blue hat is the roof of the station. The train, “Number Hacchi” has 3 cars which can seat 42 people and runs on a long track measuring 743 meters (2,437 feet) long.
- Tennis Courts
- There are four green grass courts perfect for all types of weathers and two clay courts available.
- Donated from our sister city, Eniwa City, Hokkaido, the cute ponies are popular among the children.
And now on to traveling!
Since you’ve come all this way to Austr--- oh I mean, Yamaguchi Prefecture, you’ve gotta go sightseeing!
Let’s travel ‘round the tourist spots in our lightning fast tour. First is the beautiful arched bridge!
A little bit south of the match venue Suncorp Stadium, there is one of Australia’s symbols, the Sydney Harbour Bridge. And a little bit south of Hachigamine Park, there is one of Yamaguchi Prefecture’s symbols, the Kintaikyo Bridge.
the Sydney Harbour Bridge
the Kintaikyo Bridge
The soft serve battlegrounds. Both stores have long waiting lines.
This soft serve has quite a lot of volume. It’s a crowd pleaser for folks with a sweet tooth.
The crispiness of the lotus root never stops!
Beautiful whenever you look at it!
Sydney Harbour Bridge and Kintaikyo Bridge are both symbols of Australia and Yamaguchi Prefecture respectively.
Luckily, we visited on U.S.-Japan Friendship Day conducted by the U.S. military base in Iwakuni, meaning that we can see Blue Impulse (the aerobatic demonstration team of the Japan Air Self-Defense Force) from Kintaikyo Bridge.
When you cross Kintaikyo Bridge towards Iwakuni Castle, you immediately come across the soft serve shop that we’ve mentioned in our special feature on “The Two Ends of Yamaguchi”.
There are two soft serve stores named after the two people from the famous duel at Ganryujima (island located between Honshu and Kyushu) with one store located just outside Kintaikyo Bridge and the other on the next street over.On a daily basis, they have heated competitions to see which store serves the most customers.
Hidden behind this soft serve battle, there is the quiet battle among croquette stores.
There are grilled meat croquettes and oyster cream croquettes among the selection, but the best would most likely be the one showcasing Iwakuni’s specialty food, the lotus root croquette.
Lotus roots from Iwakuni have one hole more than other regions’ lotus roots and are said to mean good prospects and luck. Besides croquettes, Iwakunizushi, or pressed sushi, and chips are popular among the crowds.
Feel and experience the nature!
The beautiful rocks birthed from Mother Nature herself!
Australia’s Uluru and Yamaguchi Prefecture’s Akiyoshidai are located almost in the center of their respective areas.
If Uluru is called “the navel of the world”, Akiyoshidai can be called “the navel of Yamaguchi”.
In the past, it was said that Akiyoshidai used to be in the middle of water, but the stratum was reversed and pushed upwards due to diastrophism. The proof lies within the fact that the plateau is scattered with a bunch of limestone rocks and many fossils have been discovered.
In short, you can collect fossils at the naval of Yamaguchi Prefecture!
At Mine City where Akiyoshidai is located, you can try your hand at collecting fossils. The Mine City Museum of History and Folklore is accepting spots, so we’ll head over there now.
It opens early in the morning, and I was the first person there.
First, there was a lecture from the employees about the precautions when collecting fossils, and then there was a 10-minute car ride to the fossil collecting site.
Palaeoloxodon naumanni Fossil
Once you know the location of where to collect, it’s crazy how fast fossils pop up one after the other. For the suddenly reenergized me who just had to wave my hammer at that spot, fossils sprung up. However, what sprung up for me weren’t cool insect fossils but just fossils of vegetables. Apparently, insect fossils are small so employees suggested to look for them using a magnify glass, but I couldn’t find any.
In the end, I spent over an hour repeatedly breaking rocks, but there were none to be found. This time, I let go of my dreams of finding an insect fossil and returned to the Museum of History and Folklore to return my collecting license.
When I returned to the museum, there were about 2 groups of families with their elementary school kids lined up at the fossil collecting reception desk. The children were staring at the bag I carried with great interest so I showed them what I had gathered. “Whoa! Oh!” sounds came from the dads. “Okay, let’s do our best!” “I’ll get an ammonite!” said the excited dads who paid no attention to their children.
The fruits of my labor showed for working hard in the hour plus. I received envious looks from the dads and left feeling like a hero.
I didn’t borrow any collecting tools, so for the hammer used for crushing rocks, the magnify glass used for looking closely at the broken rocks, and the goggles used to protect my eyes (these are not required gear for being at the Mine City Fossil Gathering Site, but they recommend participants to wear googles) had to be prepared beforehand. For more information, click here for The Mine City Museum of History and Folklore homepage.
“The Delusional Australia Trip” (Published 2012)