Kacho-En Bird Park, Kakegawa Castle, and Dragon Rock Cave

7:18 AM

I have a ton of pictures to share with you today! On Sunday, the kiddos and I went on a tour with friends of ours, and we had so much fun!  We visited a bird park (with lots of hands-on exhibits and rooms), a Japanese castle, and finally a cave, which the kids were super thrilled about since they are gaga about rocks.  It has been a while since we've been on a tour, and this trip inspired me to start taking more since we have less than a year left here!

P.S..... I just recently noticed how many pictures of Lance I put up compared to Alex.  For the record, she's not too fond of the camera, whereas Lance is a natural ham.  I show no favoritism :P

Lance and his friend Kevin, bright eyed and bushy tailed at 6:30 a.m. waiting on the bus.

Here is a great pic I snapped of Fuji-San (the Japanese call Mt. Fuji "Hooji-San") from the bus.

Japanese kids wear stuff like this hat all the time!  All he needs is the schoolboy uniform and he's good to go :)

Petting penguins for the first time.  I've never even pet a penguin!

The Alexes petting penguins (yes, that made it fun for us moms to call for our daughters)

In this room, there were these psycho parrot-things that were completely unafraid of people and were overzealous with food-toting visitors.  Alex FREAKED out when the birds kept trying to use her as a perch, so she retreated to the pond and fed fish instead.  Little did she know that they weren't shy either and would jump out of the water to get food! 

Look at these lily pads! Have you ever seen anything like this? 

The Americans on the tour would walk by these things, chanting "Feeeeed me, Seymour..."

One of those weird lily pads were used as a target for coins.  We each donated 10¥ :)

Gorgeous flowers

Parrots at the outdoor bird show

Gotta love the high-speed shutter setting!

As we were leaving the room with the tropical birds, this little fella got onto the sidewalk we were on and stopped right in front of my friend Inge.  He just stared at her expectantly for food, and we were just stupefied over his brazenness, lol.

I love this picture!!

The birdy was climbing around his neck and got onto the part where his skin was exposed, clawing and startling Lance.  He thought the bird was trying to eat him!

This shrine was on the way to the Kakegawa castle.  Apparently the shrine is dedicated to the fox, and if you are seeking success in business, you come here to receive your blessing.

The kids and their "ugly donkey face."  The Japanese people started surrounding us and laughing at them, snapping away with their cameras.  See the castle in the background?

This castle was built in the mid 1400s.  Actually, the beautiful tall structure you see here technically isn't the "castle" part, its the dungeon.  It was created that way to lure enemies there and trap them.  The "castle" part where the feudal lord (as well as high ranking officers) stayed was a one story structure close by.  

Samurai armor

Lance posing with a "monster" head used in parades.  Back then, there were no lions in Japan, therefore the Japanese had no idea what a lion was.  Interestingly, these imaginary monsters closely resemble lions, and today that is what they are called.

On our way out of the castle, a ninja was passing out origami ninja stars.  How cool is that?!

Finally, here we are at the Dragon Rock Cave.  Several parts inside the cave were labeled with dragon parts, such as "Dragon's Heart" and things like that.  

Can't say you weren't warned...

I thought this was gorgeous

Forgive the center picture - I couldn't get a clear picture with the lighting and with a crowd of people behind me.  Anyways, as the first picture says, this is the "Fountain of Longevity."  However, there is a warning posted on the last picture, saying something along the lines "But if you drink too much, your life will be shortened."  Again, can't say you weren't warned :)

And finally for your viewing pleasure, the very last stalagmite before the exit of the cave.  Now if that doesn't make you blush, then I don't know what will!

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