Voting & Fuji Lakes

November 2006

November 22nd there were elections for the Dutch Parliament. Dutch inhabitants get a voting card sent home automatically, but to be able to vote I had to register with the "voting registration office" in The Hague, which I did in the spring of this year. In July it was decided that that there would be elections, so I received a set of forms to officially apply for being allowed to vote from a foreign country.

When applying, I had the option either to vote via the internet (which was a first time try-out) or to "vote by mail" traditionally. I decided to vore by mail as I had always voted using a voting machine in the Netherlands (just pressing 2 buttons on a specialized computer) and never voted with a red pencil (coloring the circle in front of the name of the person you want to vote for) like usual before the introduction of the voting machines.

This meant that I got a huge list of names and that I had to buy a red pencil and a pencil sharpener... Well, now I know that besides cars and banking, Mitsubishi is also in the color-pencil-business...

I had to sign the yellow letter to state that I filled out the voting paper personally. The voting paper then had to be put in the white envelope, which had to be put in the orange envelope together with the yellow letter. It is a big mystery to me why the address on the orange envelope sais "PAYS-BAS", which is the french name for Holland, instead of the more internationally recognised "The Netherlands".

In the end I had to send my vote by express mail to make sure it would arrive in time. It took some money, but its a small offer for democracy. In the end my vote may even have made the difference (as it may always do ofcourse), as the official final score was slightly changed after couting the "votes from overseas".

Sunrise over Shibuya. I had to get up early (6:30) because I would take a 2 hour busride with Tobi & Mae Rose to the 5 Fuji lakes. I took the opportunity to capture this sunrise over tokyo, something I normally don't find important enough to wake up for.

We started out at the lake furthest away, Lake Motosu (Motosuko).

On google earth I had seen that someone marked a certain position and wrote "The view printed in Japanese Yen note". After having visited the Byodo-in close to Kyoto (depicted on the 10yen coin), I thought it would be nice to go here as well. This place was on the north-west side of Motosuko.

As for the rest of the Japanese money, only the very rare 2000 yen note still contains a picture to try and find in real life. I should check for it when I plan a trip for Okinawa (southern island group). For the rest there are some people (whose graves I might find at the very best), twigs, flowers, cereals...

I think many people dont know what is depicted on the money they use every day. In the Netherlands we had money with nice pictures that everybody could recognise and most people knew (and probably still know) what was on the 10, 25, 50, 100 and 250 guilder notes. Now there are Euros, there are a lot of gates and bridges that actually nobody knows.

The right answers in the "what was on the guilders notes"-quiz: Frans Hals (=painter)/kingfisher bird(ijsvogel), robin bird (roodborstje), sunflowers(zonnebloemen), snipe bird(snip)/owl(steenuil), lighthouse(vuurtoren), although some of the pictures were only in the watermark, the notes were still known by this feature. See some pictures.

When trying to get away from Motosuko, we (after waiting quite some time) found out that there were no busses going there in winter (we had a special highway bus to there). Tobi managed to hitch us a ride at the parking lot next to the restaurants/souvenir shops at the lakeside. That brought us (upon our request) to lake Sai (Saiko). The man who drove us said he liked Motosuko and Saiko most of the 5 lakes, so apparently we had made a good choice.

Close to Saiko is a lava cave where bats are supposed to live. Surely not at daytime at the places open to the public. However it was nice to see the lava cave and crawl through the tunnels, that were even too low for japanese people, which increased the fun of course.

When asking leaving we asked someone whether the bus schedule was still accurate and what a note attached to it meant. Everyting should be fine this time (the place was on a touristic loop-bus line around 2 or 3 of the 5 lakes, and probably more touristic anyway). However a minute later when they left, they stopped and offered a ride to the station, how nice!