Thursday, August 11, 2011

Kobe Fireworks via Sailboat

Having never experienced the Kobe fireworks extravaganza (it always falls on the same day as the Yodogawa fireworks display in Osaka every year), I thought what not a better way than to see the fireworks up close not from land but rather from sea on Saturday, August 6.  Realizing that one of my friends was planning an evening out on the open waters to enjoy the fireworks in Kobe, I jumped at the opportunity to join in on the fun on his sailboat.

Starting from Osaka Hokko Yacht Harbor (see picture 1) a little before 4:00 p.m., we departed for Kobe enjoy the cruise along the way.  After two hours of cruising, we entered into Kobe territory (see picture 2) where we enjoyed a great BBQ on my friend's sailboat as part of the pre-fireworks festivities before the main event took place from 7:30 p.m.

At the conclusion of the one hour fireworks show, one of the most interesting scenes of the night was seeing all the motor boats and sailboats that had come to enjoy the festivities just like us leave in droves at the same instant.  It was just like out of a Hollywood movie as all the boats got "out of dodge" in a matter of a few minutes.  Very entertaining to say the least.

The two hour return trip back to Osaka was quite uneventful as most of the boats that came to see the fireworks returned to other areas like Suma and Awaji Island.

Having never seen the fireworks so close before, it was a very worthwhile experience.  With some much more left to explore and land and sea, I am eager for the next opportunity.  As always, I'll keep you posted!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Paragliding in Hyogo? Yes, it is possible...

For those of you who are adventure seekers residing in the Kansai region, I would highly suggest that you consider making the trip to Toyooka city in the northern part of Hyogo Prefecture to experience paragliding with the professionals at ARC Paraglider School (Japanese only).  I took "the plunge" so-to-speak at the beginning of July, so yes, this blog post is a little outdated but still relevant for those of you who enjoy the great outdoors.  

The great thing about ARC if you don't have a car is that they can provide round-trip transportation for you from either Sannomiya or Akashi for an additional charge.  I took them up on their offer but just so you know, be prepared for an early start.  The pick-up time for people at Sannomiya was just after 6:30 a.m.  After 2.5 hours, we arrived at ARC and jumped right into learning the basics for about one hour before trekking up the ski resort to a higher elevation for the real deal.  

Regretfully we did not have a strong wind on our flying day but we still made the most of it.  I was told that technique is only 10% while a good wind makes up for the remaining 90% to successfully paraglide.  Just my luck with only a faint breeze being felt with high humidity that you could cut through with a steak knife!  

However, I did not let the poor paragliding conditions get me down.  As you can see in the video above, I was able to paraglide after all.  One important thing to remember is to just keep running down the hill and not pull your parachute but rather let it rise up naturally.  If done right, you will be lifted off the ground in no time with your feet dangling in the air.  Once you get the hang of it, it is like riding a bike, you will not forget.

After most of the participants successfully flew through the air, we headed back down the resort to the lounge for lunch.  Unfortunately it started to rain very heavily during lunch which prevented us from going back up the mountain to do some more paragliding runs in the afternoon.

The day was cut short due to the weather but all-in-all, it was an enjoyable experience.  With two locations for paragliding in the vicinity, why not experience something different while enjoying the great outdoors in the countryside of Hyogo Prefecture.  Plus, a visit to the local hot spring spa will make for the perfect ending to a fun-filled one day adventure.