Time for Me

Yesterday I mentioned that we went to Hiroshima on Monday. Today was really busy at school so I haven’t had time to put together a post about the trip. But here are some photos that made me smile, taken in one of the Hiroshima shopping arcades.

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A Cycling Milestone

Today we made a day trip to Hiroshima and back. We toured through the A-Bomb Memorial Museum in the morning and then visited Miyajima, which is famous for the huge toriii in the sea. I’ll write about the trip once I’ve had some sleep and some time to organize the photos. In the meantime, here’s a snippet of data about my neglected cycling life.

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Three Houses and a Passage

Today I spent the day at Jarrod’s school, watching their undokai, a kind of field day or sports festival. It was hot and dusty, with a lot of sun and wind. It was also a lot of fun to watch, filled as it was with an assortment of unusual games and races.

But that’s a topic for a multi-part post that I don’t have time or brain power to write tonight. Instead, I’ll be presenting something completely unrelated. As the title says, three houses and a passage.

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Amy in Japanland, Part 1

I had a request to write about Amy, so that’s what I’ve done today. Though I’m not sure which Amy this is, and whether things happened exactly as I’ve described them. Here’s an excerpt from today’s events.

Beginnings: A Bus, Some Schoolgirls, and a Handful of Fish Eggs

Today Amy took the bus to Kokura. As usual, the bus driver was in uniform, and had on a headset and microphone for announcing the stops. But instead of one of the usual dour-faced old men in rumpled black pants and a white dress shirt that was yellowing around the collar, a perky young woman in a smart beige uniform—complete with a cap that would have been fashionable on an airline stewardess ten years after the bomb hit Nagasaki—sat at the wheel.

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For Sale: Hope and Peace

Just a quickie tonight, as I spent the day touring around Kitakyushu—on foot, train, and bus—with sisters-in-law in tow.

Japan Tobacco is the third largest cigarette company in the world. The Japanese Ministry of Finance is a major shareholder, owning two thirds of the company. Apparently there are many Japanese men who believe that smoking is their patriotic duty—half the men here smoke—and tobacco profits help shore up government budgets that have been gutted by post-bubble recessions and economic stagnation.

How to unite this support for the government with Japan’s postwar anti-military constitution and wishes for a return to prosperity? Pacifism and wishful thinking through cigarettes, of course!

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Foraging for Berries

I’ve been initiated into the grand Japanese tradition of gathering wild seasonal foodstuffs. Or rather, I’ve initiated myself into the tradition. At least every couple of days for the last few weeks I’ve seen one or more people picking plants, fruit, or flowers on public land. There have been broad-leafed greens in shaded woods. Japanese fiddleheads. Edible wild grasses. And so on.

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Ice Ice Baby

A couple of weeks ago, around the time I was starting to think about writing the Kokura fashion report, one of the Japanese teachers at my school received a courier package. That’s Japanese as in literature, composition, and such, since besides me, everyone at my school—students and staff—is ethnically Japanese. The receiving of a parcel isn’t unusual in and of itself, since various teachers often get deliveries: textbook samples, standardized test scores, home ec supplies. The list goes on. I only noticed it subconsciously, absorbed as I was in correcting some second-year student translations—which, coincidentally, were all about fashion—until the teacher in question stopped by my desk and showed me the open box and started gesturing towards its contents. She eventually flagged down an English teacher to translate.

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Odds & Ends

I don’t intend to turn this blog into a daily list of links, but today I’ve got a random assortment of stuff, some of which can’t wait until I get time to write a full post about it, some of which has been hanging around waiting for me to get around to write about. And some stuff which doesn’t deserve its own post. But I’ll let you guess which ones are which. It’s basically a whole bunch of random that I’ve somehow managed to connect together. Food, technology, courtship & marriage, and more!

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Kokura Fashion Report Postscript

Or, The Screaming Toddler, or The Real Reason I Had To Revise the Fashion Report

This post is only about fashion because it has to do with the Kokura fashion report posts. Other than that, it’s a rant about the strangeness of Japan. So if you’re traversing my site by category, you might want to skip this one. The rest of you will either be amused or horrified.

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It Smells Like Victory

Today you get an ode to the anonymous queen of Japan’s flowering trees: the humble jasmine bush. I first noticed it last year in early May, but even more so this year. My first encounter was while walking through a pedestrian lane one evening with Lia, near Tobata station. We actually backtracked to make sure we hadn’t imagined it.

A year later it doesn’t surprise me as much. Every so often, the scent of jasmine comes floating out of nowhere and brings a peaceful smile to my face. I get to experience flashes of this serenity at four or five points on my daily commute, though at 30kph—on a bike—they’re fleeting. The scent is subtle but unmistakeable, and a welcome change from the usual smell of factory emissions and exhaust.

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