Tobata Gion Oyamakasa

I briefly wrote about the annual summer festival that’s held in our neighbourood called Tobata Gion Oyamakasa in a previous post or two. The festival commemorates a historical event about 200 years ago where the residents of Tobata were cured of a plague or somesuch epidemic disease. I’d do further research but that will have to wait until after I have some spare time. Here are the in-blog links: a photo from the 2004 festival and a brief mention in my Sugawara Jinja post

The festival involves residents of each of four neighbourhoods carrying large lantern floats. On the first night, all of the floats converge near the Tobata ward office, and race laps around the park. On the second night, each float gets paraded through its respective neighbourhood.

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The End of the Dreaded Short-Sleeved Dress Shirt

I’ve never been much for formal dress. I had a suit, and wore it on the appropriate occasions: weddings, funerals, job interviews. And given the kinds of weddings, funerals, and interviews I’ve been to, I rarely wore it at any of them. But my working life in Japan has changed all that. My office is very formal, the dress code being along the lines of “there is no dress code but all the men wear suits.”

Now I own more than one suit. Many dress shirts. Neckties, even. And I’ve had to learn to tie said ties. Who could have imagined it?

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Ukiha Dippers

I took the day off today so that I could do some more moving prep. So instead of a long rambling post, I only have time for a photo and caption. This time it’s from a shrine I neglected to write down the name of, in Ukiha in the southeast corner of Fukuoka.

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Going Postal

For the past couple of days I’ve briefly mentioned my recent encounters with the Japanese postal system. Today you get the complete report. Or as complete as I can make it given my chronically sleep-deprived state. This is a rant of sorts, but a mild one.

The short version of the story is that according to Japan Post, Canadian customs regulations are the strictest in the world so they require extremely detailed declarations on all shipments.

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Loss of Wallet

Yesterday I hinted at things like a lost wallet, postal rules of rigid interpretation, and other stuff that I’ve forgotten and am too lazy to look at my own blog to find out about. Actually, it seems that curiosity has won out over sloth yet again, and that in fact, the things I’ve described in the previous sentence are pretty much everything I hinted at yesterday.

So, dear reader, here’s what’s in store for you if you decide to continue reading:

  • how we spent our Sunday morning and early afternoon
  • adventures in losing a wallet in a foreign country
  • postal mayhem has been pre-empted due the need for sleep

And more, if I get distracted. For those of you thinking of skipping this post, I really can’t blame you. But it is more interesting that it sounds.

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Random Prizes: The Results

Way back in late April, in a bid to get more people to comment here, I offered up some random prizes. Then last week I finally got around to taking pictures of them. Today I actually figured out the winners, and wrapped up all the packages. It was a bit like preparing for Christmas, except that the recipients are, in general, people who don’t usually make it onto my Christmas list.

So, who are the five lucky winners?

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Tanga Monk

It’s been really tempting to go back to my usual ways and post another series of photos about quirky Japan or interesting-to-me internet oddities. In choosing images to write about, I seem to be reliving a phenomenon I experienced in the first weeks of art school. In the early days of my introductory drawing class we did an exercise where we were told to pay attention only to the negative space—everything but the object we were supposed to be drawing—but in trying to look at the background, the foreground object came into focus. Last week while I was digging around for photos of weird stuff, all I was finding was picture-postcard traditional images. Now that I’m trying to skip over the oddities, oddities are all I seem to be finding. I guess it’s like trying to listen to the sound of one hand clapping while a tree falls in the forest with no-one around to hear it. Or is it like counting to ten without thinking about pink elephants?

I dunno, but I’ll try to stop mixing koans and metaphors now. You’ll have to wait at least until tomorrow—probably longer—for all the strange I’ve recently unearthed in my photo library. I’m committed to keeping it—playground frogs, muppets, battle aprons, and general misuse of English in the name of fashion—at bay while for a few days. Today I’ve got one measly picture of a Buddhist monk. In the rain, no less.

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Split Statue

Today marks a return—of indeterminate length—to photos of the picturesque and serene Japan that you’d expect to see if you were to spend all your time leafing through coffee-table books or travel guides. Buddhist temples, zen gardens, mysterious shrines, statues, women in kimonos, and the like.

Today’s photo is of a statue we found on an out-of-the-way path behind a wonderful restaurant in the ume (Japanese plum) groves behind Dazaifu Tenmangu shrine in Dazaifu City.

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Obvious Restaurants

Today was yet another day of exhaustion. We had the first day of our class match at school—all of the homerooms compete against each other in various sporting activities—plus I revised a recommendation letter that another teacher wrote for one of his students, and did some coaching for an interview exam that a few of my students will have on Sunday.

And that was just the morning. I took the afternoon off and, among other things, dealt with a whole bunch of moving-related logistics. Is this interesting? I think not, so I’ll give you a couple of photos to look at.

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