Kitaguchi Hongu Fuji Sengen Shrine

After our visit to the Fujisan Museum, we had a few moments to stop at the Kitaguchi Hongu Fuji Sengen Shrine. Situated in Goshinboku (sacred grove) of old forest, the shrine is one is related to the Shinto animistic worship of volcanoes and Sengen branch shrines that encircle Mt Fuji. This is considered the beginning of a traditional climb to the summit of Mt Fuji.

The shrine itself is considered the ‘head shrine’ of some 1300 other shrines that proliferate the region. Konohanasakuya-hime-no-mikoto as the main god that is considered to be enshrined here – she is attended by her husband, Ninigi-no-mikoto, and her father, Ohyamazumi-no-kami who together protect the marital relations and the family. The goddess of Mt. Fuji, she is prayed to for the safe delivery of children and was considered to be ‘incredibly beautiful’ so she is also worshiped as a goddess of beauty, art and entertainment. 

While this shrine has traditionally been the beginning point of a pilgrimage to the summit to Mt Fuji, most climbers in the modern era tend to take a bus to the fifth station and start their hike from there, foregoing visiting this shrine altogether. However it is still considered the spiritual gateway onto the sacred mountain and as such it remains central to the yearly celebrations when the climbing season draws to an end at the end of each August – the Yoshida Fire Festival that we read about at the museum. It is good to see so many water sources so close to the shrine and the forest – some of these tress are 23m in girth and are known to be 1000 years old, as an Australian… holding an annual fire festival at the end of a sweltering summer seems to be tempting fate somewhat, in my humble opinion! Not for the first time, I find myself wishing I could read Japanese to see what prayers and wishes people have written on the votive wooden plaques they have left for the goddess.

These shrines and temples are such peaceful places; a complete contrast to visiting St Paul’s Cathedral or St Peter’s in Rome – the latter feel more like shopping centres in comparison (complete with rope lines, bossy security and cash registers!). I hope Japan never goes this way with it’s religious sites.

From here we had a bit of a drive to Kamisuwa Onsen on Lake Kamisuwa… which was thankfully uneventful! We don’t need anymore time consuming traffic violations, thank you very much. Spotted as we left town:

I forgot how much I love Japanese convenience stores… saké in juice boxes for only 100JPY! Brilliant. 🙂

I have no idea what the koalas are signifying but they seem to be quite a populace motif on confectionery..?

I took a picture of this curry bowl due to its alarmingly plastic/perfect looking egg on top… surely that can’t be an actual food object?

But then I saw this, shrugged my shoulders and thought, ‘Meh? Japan!’ 🙂

Harvey Norman Carindale are useless fuckers

So, the situation with my couches continues.  In January 2011, a friend’s house flooded -along with half of his suburb – and he lost all his possessions.  While many of our friends rallied around to help with the clean up effort, me and my lack of physical capacity for such things, decided to donate to the cause – some couches for them to use until they got back on their feet.  It was a 10 year old corner suite, but in very good condition and I loved that couch.  Obviously this meant, we found ourselves purchasing new ones… a little sooner than we would have liked, but we were happy to help.

And what a cluster fuck that has turned out to be… our old couch was fantastic, these new ones have been dreadful.  They came with eight cushions, which almost immediately began to fray and have threads pull on them in an unsightly manner –  I ended up putting half of them away in the cupboard so I could pull them out when we had guests and they would look nice and not bedraggled.  Then one of the arms of one of the sofas seemed to collapse in on itself and the rest of them have became soggy.  Then, the final straw, which set this process in motion, a broken beam protruding from UNDER one of the sofas, resulting in a collapse under the seat.  Additionally, we had noticed, that that the fabric had been pilling somewhat, so I purchased some nice throw rugs to put on the seats to protect the fabric.  However, over time this does not seem to have helped, and the threadbare/pilled sections now have torn and ripped threads in them.  It seems we have bought couches that are probably meant to be purely decorative… as Harvey Norman have told us that the fabric is not covered under the warranty we purchased if you are OLD OR FAT.  Yes, you read that right.  Read on to see how the saga is playing out… this is the latest in a string of emails, tweets and attempts to contact Hardly Normal head office to have this issue resolved.  🙁

“Dear Jenni Franz,

I am following up on the couch warranty claim that I put in process with you on 27th of April. A representative from Action Upholstery did come and see the couches in question on 8th May, and I feel that more than two weeks is sufficiently long enough for a course of action to be undertaken, or at the very least for your department to have advised me on what is to occur.

To recap, the sofas were purchased at Harvey Norman Carindale for $2,847.00 (Invoice no: 698515), on 30/07/2011 and were delivered in September of 2011. One of the sofas has a beam that has collapsed from underneath it, and has an arm which has likewise suffered a loss of structural integrity. Additionally all four arms of both sofas have become ‘spongy’ and feel as though the sofa arms are going to sink in. Further the fabric on the seats, and to a lesser extent the arms and backs of the sofas are ripped and torn even though they couches have been in use for only 3 years and 8 months and have a 5 year fabric warranty.

You have assured me the structural failure of the frame of the sofas is covered under warranty, however you previously advised that that the fabric will NOT likely be covered. According to your previous email, if the users of the couches are considered ‘elderly or larger sized’ and therefore not agile enough to use the couches in an appropriate manner – then the fabric warranty will be considered VOID, due to persons of this type, ‘shuffling forward in the seat to get out of it’ causing pilling and subsequent tearing and ripping of the fabric. It seems the expected lifespan for this fabric is considerably less than the warranty your company was prepared to sell it with – but particularly if users are considered OLD or FAT. I was aghast at your preparedness to even think this of your customers, let alone put it in writing, as below – and your representative from Action Upholstery was likewise nonplussed at this assertion.

Further, the upholsterer agreed that a consumer should be able to reasonably expect that a fabric, used under normal wear and tear conditions, should reasonably be expected to outlive the warranty period with which it was sold. At no time during the sales process and subsequent purchase transaction, did anyone from your sales team advise that this fabric was not considered dependable for regular domestic use, nor was any indication given that it was not sturdy enough for persons who might arbitrarily be considered OLD or FAT! I am astounded that you would treat your customers in such an ill-considered discriminatory manner.

This entire situation is completely unacceptable. From the lack of communication during this warranty claim process, to your refusal to pass on the name of the manufacturer of these items – I am fairly confident that had I bought a vacuum cleaner at Harvey Norman – you would want nothing to do with the warranty process at all and would be fobbing me off to a manufacturer with all haste.

I have previously lodged my concerns with Harvey Norman Head Office an was advised that the Franchisee and a Regional Manager would be in contact with me regarding this matter – however since those assurances took place at the end of April and I have heard nothing from ANYONE at Harvey Norman, either locally or regionally, I now have as little faith in those assertions as I have in your own store’s customer service capacity.

Please be advised that my expectations are as follows: that these couches will be collected within the week, that the structural damage on each couch will be rectified, that the couches will be recovered in a fabric that is more durable for regular domestic use which might reasonably be expected to last five years regardless of whether OLD, INFIRM or OVERWEIGHT persons might be using the products. Alternatively, I would be amenable to them to being returned for a full refund of the original purchase price as I am completely appalled at this situation and the diffident treatment I have received thus far.

if this situation is not completely resolved in the next four weeks to my satisfaction, I will be taking this matter further on advice that I have already taken from the ACCC.


So pray remember, if any of you are going to purchase anything from Harvey Norman that they have the worst possible post-sale customer service in the business.  The ACCC told me they hear problems about them ALL the time and are constantly trying to advise customers of what to do – however it would seem many customers don’t have the time, inclination or wherewithal to see complaints through.  Well, HN have picked a fight with the wrong girl… I have nothing BUT time, motivation and the wherewithal to turn this into a complete social media shit fight. and as you all know, once I have the bit between my teeth – I never give up.

Oh and do feel free to retweet this ridiculous tale – no one should be discriminated against like this (especially seeing the representatives in question have never seen us, nor have they seen the immaculate state of my OCD like home!)
I would strongly recommend people avoid shopping at Harvey Norman at all costs!


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There’s very little you can’t solve with determination and a credit card.

OMFG.  What a bloody saga and a half.  Late last year, I had the Small Child’s passport replaced – passports for kids only last five years and so he’s onto his third one already (well travelled, spoiled brat of a kid that he is). The bureaucratic hoops that need to be navigated to renew a child’s passport in Australia make you go through the whole kit and kaboodle… effectively filling out an entire ‘new application’ form complete with endorsed photographs and a guarantor and proof of existence from scratch.

So this week, I go to get my passport renewed too. I get online, fill out the online form and print it out (Only two pages?! Immediately worry that I’ve missed something) check the list of shit that I need to take to Australia Post to lodge a passport application – old passport: check… printed form: check… two unsmiling photos, one signed by a guarantor: check.  Rock up to the Post Office just this Tuesday gone, and stand in line for a little bit, thankfully they’re not too busy, but get to the front of the queue with my form and my photos and my passport and get told, “You don’t need a guarantor for an adult passport renewal”.  “Oh I read the checklist for lodging passport applications and it said you did need endorsed photos” (It’s the same checklist for all applications on the Australia Post website btw), but thanks for letting me know.” … “No, these photos are no good, we need ones that aren’t signed on the back”… “You’re kidding right?  I got my Small Child’s passport renewed only two months ago and he needed a guarantor, so why does this application not have this requirement?  And if endorsed photos are considered superior and actually harder to obtain, why then, are these being rejected?”… somewhat sheepishly the customer service lady, Donna, said, “They just don’t want signatures on adult renewals.  Sorry.”

Grrrr!  Is it too much to ask for a bit of bloody consistency? Will have to go home, get some more photos (foolish me for only bringing the 2 with me that I thought I needed instead of all 8 they gave me when I had them taken!) and go later in the week.  What a waste of time.  Le sigh.  :/

Fast forward to today, Friday, and back I go again.  Same lady, Donna, behind the counter.  I hand over my unendorsed photos, my passport and my application form and then watch as she puts some template thing over my photos and says, “These photos are too small, and they have a red tinge to them. They’re not acceptable.”

Hold on a minute, lady.  At this point (after a bad day of poor legal advice and BDM Registry bullshit), I was in no mood for more bureaucratic bullshit and certainly not from Australia Bloody Post.  Unfortunately Donna had just put herself squarely in the firing line! “Excuse me, these are the exact same photos that you rejected on Tuesday because they were inadvertently endorsed, and on Tuesday you said nothing about them being too small or having a reddish tint to them. Is it too much to ask that if the application was going to be rejected, that the ENTIRE application be checked to ensure there is not more than one problem with it?  Why did you not tell me that these photos did not meet the photographic requirements on Tuesday?!  What the fuck, sort of Mickey Mouse operation are you lot running here?!?  To which Donna replies, “I’m sorry, I didn’t check them on Tuesday, I only looked and saw they were endorsed and they shouldn’t be.  Would you like me to take some new photos of you now?” … “You didn’t check them on Tuesday which is going to necessitate me coming back for a third time!  No one has time for crap like that.  And NO!  Look at me?  I’ve been doing housework all morning, my hair is not neat,  I’m not wearing any make up, I’m an absolute mess – and you want to take a washed out ghost of a photo for a document that I have to live with for the next TEN BLOODY YEARS?!  I don’t think so.  So that’s a NO. I don’t want you to take my photo right now, but thanks for wasting my time!” And I stormed out.  Very. Fucking. Pissed. Off.

Grrrr, Grrr and fucking grrr, some more.  Abso-fucking-lutely furious and ready to fucking explode at anyone who looks at me sidewards.  ARRRGGGHH!

Whinge at Mr K and yale that the cunts at Australia Post are completely incompetent and then finally calm enough to switch into problem solving mode.  I am NOT wasting more time coming back for a third attempt to lodge my passport renewal. What to do, what to do.  Spy a discount pharmacy!  That’s a good start.  Walk in, find the Revlon counter, grab a tester of Colourstay Natural Light Ivory and a mirror.  NEVER in my life have I tested make up on my face (too much of a germaphobe for that sort of thing), but desperate times call for desperate measures.  I start liberally applying foundation in the itty bitty mirror when a sales clerk comes past and says ‘Can I hel…” she gets a look from me that very much say, “What of it?” and moves on past me rather quickly.  Next, some eyebrows… have a hunt for some suitable eyeshadow… done and done.  Look at the eyeliner testers and think ‘No way, not now, not ever!’ (my inner germaphobe obviously has limits and was absolutely not going to let me stick a tester eyeliner anywhere near my eyes!). So I grab a nice brown eyeliner off the shelf, and a Maybeline ‘Blackest Black’ mascara.  Sprint to another aisle and pick up some cheap hair combs and head to the register and out with the fantastic plastic to buy some make up I didn’t really want to buy today!

Quickly found the nearest shopping centre ladies room, and finished off my hastily started make up job and combed my hair.   Sigh.  Need to calm down for a minute and let the boiling fury dissipate until my face regained it’s more accustomed non-rage fuelled complexion.  Breathe.  Just breathe.

Back I go to the Australia Post office, I’m sort of hoping I get the same chick at this point… but I didn’t.  One of her colleagues took some more photos for me, and then the damn application, that I was truly sick of the sight of, was lodged within about ten minutes flat.  Now the stupid thing was out of my hands, I realised that I had *maybe* over-reacted towards poor Donna, who kinda also bore the brunt of the fact that I’ve been getting bad info from some lawyers, the Births, Deaths and Marriages Registry and Monash University this week, and was completely over all types of bureaucratic administrivia bullshit for one week.  I admit that I did go a bit over the top in asking Donna to self assess if she was completely incompetent, and decided to apologise to the poor lady for my reaction to the bad advice she gave me earlier in the week.  Yes, I know. It was a sort of backhanded apology… she gave me bad info, but she certainly didn’t deserve the both barrels of foul temper which I blasted her with earlier.  She seemed relieved after I spoke with her, and I hope she didn’t go home saying to her family ‘Customer are fuckers’… which is what I would have done if I had made a mistake like that, and then copped it big time from said fucker/customer type.

Le sigh.  When did we all become so inflexible.  It’s not like the photo isn’t going to be scanned into a computer then scaled to exact preferred size anyway?  Harumph.  Too many fucking rules governing every little thing we do… or can’t do.  🙁

My anger at the passport renewal cock ups did take away from the usual tinge of melancholy that sometimes occurs whenever I’ve renewed a passport – all those stamps in my passport going into the memories and not still alive and well in my current travel history.  This passport took me to New Zealand (six times), Vanuatu, New Caledonia, UAE, all over Turkey, Pakistan, Canada, and all four corners of the US (Alaska, San Diego, Florida and Maine!).  One thing I won’t miss though is the Pakistani Visa that was front and centre in my passport causing me to be held up by Homeland Security each and every time I went through an airport in the US… oh dear lord did that thing get me some funny looks and a lot of furious tapping at computer terminals by every customs agent and TSA officer I encountered…

Visa Pakistani Islamic Republic of Pakistan



Below the waterline.

I’ve been toying with the idea of buying a new camera lately – yes, I know, another one… but one that can be used underwater when snorkelling or sailing etc.  Mostly I am keen to acquire one because I missed some great opportunities for beautiful photographs when I was up in the Whitsundays recently… but what is putting me off is that the underwater digital camera feels like the waffle iron of the photographic world – the single use appliance that will rarely get used, which, when weighed up against the cost, turns out to be a rather poor consumer decision.  Then I saw all these gorgeous photos on Distractify (No, I will not link to it – ridiculous, bullshit click bait website that it is!) and it is rapidly stiffening my resolve to acquire my own waterproof camera…


Underwater fishes off Sipadan Island, MalaysiaUnderwater Sipadan Island Malaysia Underwater in IcelandUnderwater Iceland Underwater in CubaUnderwater Cuba Underwater in the Caribbean Sea, off MexicoUnderwater Caribean Mexico Underwater in the Flores Sea, IndonesiaUnderwater Flores Sea Indonesia Underwater ice in SwitzerlandUnderwater Switzerland Underwater in BrazilUnderwater Brazil Underwater diver off the coast of SpainUnderwater Spain Underwater at the Palawan Islands, PhilippinesUnderwater Palawan Islands Philipines Underwater in the Blue Grotto, Isle of Capri, ItalyUnderwater Blue Grotto Capri Italy Underwater at Pig Beach, BahamasUnderwater Pig Beach Bahamas Underwater in Green Lake, AustriaUnderwater Green Lake Aust Underwater in The Everglades, FloridaUnderwater Everglades Florida Underwater in Bora Bora, TahitiUnderwater Bora Bora Underwater bathing elephants in Andaman Islands, IndiaUnderwater Andaman Is India Underwater Mystery?Underwater Mystery2 Underwater seal in the Magdalen Islands, CanadaUnderwater Magalen Islands Canada Underwater trout in the Smalblaar River, South AfricaUnderwater Smalblaar Rv Sth Africa Underwater diver in FijiUnderwater Fiji Underwater fishes at Raja Ampat, IndonesiaUnderwater Raja Ampat Indonesia Underwater at Crystal River, FloridaUnderwater Crystal River Florida Underwater Mystery Underwater in Zanzibar, TanzaniaUnderwater Zanzibar TanzaniaUnderwater in Mare, New CaledoniaUnderwater Mare New Caledonia Underwater off a jetty at Nuweiba, Egypt.Underwater Neweba Egypt Underwater off Eilat, IsraelUnderwater Eilat Israel

Underwater in ArgentinaUnderwater Argentina

Underwater at Laguna de los Burros, MexicoUnderwater Laguna de los Burros Mexico Underwater in the Mediterranean Sea, FranceUnderwater Mediterranean France Underwater in Jellyfish Lake in PalauUnderwater Jellyfish Lake Palau Underwater off Danko Island, AntarcticaUnderwater Danko Island Antarctica Underwater in a French LakeUnderwater France Underwater sharks off South AfricaUnderwater South Africa Underwater in Papua New GuineaUnderwater Papua New Guinea

As someone who travels as much as they can (see tag: ‘twavel’ on the right) I think that maybe I might be able to get some good use out of it after all.  I’m off to New Zealand at the end of this year and hopefully off to Japan in the middle of next year… so maybe it would be a good time to buy a photographic waffle iron.

Birthday Bait and Switch

Last week, the Small Child thought he’d make himself some Mac ‘n’ Cheese.  You know, the horrid microwave kind, which passes itself off as food and has very doubtful nutritional properties.  It’s stupidly easy to make, full of MSG goodness and the kid loves it, (though god knows why), all you have to do is tip the sachet of macaroni into a bowl, add water, heat for three minutes on high and then stir through the pretend reconstituted cheesy stuff.  Simple right?

Unless of course you miss a vital step, like oh… I don’t know – adding water.

Then what you get, instead of Mac ‘n’ Cheese, is a house full of acrid black smoke, a useless microwave with burnt plastic walls, which now is only suitable for use as a temporary garden ornament until next kerbside pick up day.  I really wasn’t planning on replacing the microwave any time soon… but can not go putting fabric wheat packs in the (vaguely still functioning) machine twice a day, because they’ll end up reeking of charred acrid smoke and shortly after, so too, will the couch.  Yuk.

As luck would have it, it was the Small Child’s birthday in a week or so, and I decided to teach him a lesson about forgetfulness, by telling that he was getting a new microwave for his birthday as a result of the Greatly Offensive and Injurious Mac ‘n’ Cheese Incident of 2014.  I let him do the retail research and he got to put together a purchase proposal, so you know, I kindly allowed him to choose which one we needed (much to his disgust), and then we duly went out and purchased it.  Poor little guy was quiet and resigned throughout, feeling equal parts guilty at destroying the old microwave and despondent at the concept that the new one was to constitute his birthday gift.  We then got a week of telling him that his birthday present was all sorted but that he needed some new slippers, so he might get some of those too.  Little did he know, his actual birthday present had been ordered weeks ago…

As an avid young gamer, his eight year old hand me down laptop was his most prized possession and while it was okay for some things, it wasn’t really wasn’t cutting the mustard.  So we had decided it was a good time to replace and we arranged for the whole family to chip in and help us buy him a new one – one that would hopefully see him through the next four years or so.  Hopefully by that time, when he needs another upgrade – he can damn well get a job and save for it himself!  But it served our purposes at the moment to let him think that a shiny new microwave was all that birthday had in store for him… it significantly reduced the ‘I wants’ in the lead up to said birthday, that’s for sure.

Anyway, birthday morning rolled around and so began the unwrapping of some underwhelming decoy birthday presents that I literally pulled out of the emergency present box (everyone has one of them right?)…

Well, Happy Birthday kiddo… I think that was exactly the reaction we were hoping for…. except for that weird, “I am victorious!”, exclamation, which mostly just tells me he’s been playing way too many video games already, and doesn’t have a suitable vocabulary to express elation!