Saturday, July 28, 2007

Fireworks in Japan! 花火祭り 


Just in front of a McDonald's I ran into a bunch of gorgeous young ladies. They were about Junior high school age, maybe freshmen in high school. They were dressed so sweetly in their traditional yukatas 浴衣 (sort of a light cotton summer kimono) that I asked them very politely if I might be able to take a picture. Before I knew it they were all coming together in a pose and laughing.

Obviously it's fun to pose for the foreigner... but I couldn't help but wonder if I was a regular Japanese guy on the street stopping a bunch of girls and asking for their pictures... yeah, they'd probably shoot down and ignore any typical Japanese photographer. I guess this is one of the many perks of being a famed gaikokujin.

Ka-BOOM! Here are some shots from the fireworks show.

Finally we met up with the rest of the gang. Here's everybody enjoying a quick snapshot together.

Since it was Ayed's (far right) last night in Japan we gave him a nice sending off farewell. I hope he makes it back to America just fine.

Above and below shows how densely crowded it was along the river front where we went to get the best view of the show. It was crazy packed with people. And with the hot hot hot weather, the black top was actually acting like a sauna.

A bit blurry, but a nice shot of the dense crowds buying traditional Japanese snacks along the string of vending booths.

Can you guess what the little boy is getting money from his mother for? He's going to buy a nice treat, here's a hint, it cost 600 yen and there is a picture to help... still not sure? Roast squid on a stick! Yummy!

A pretty rain of fire.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Shimane & Hiroshima Trek

Hiroshima Castle (14th century). Of course the atomic blast demolished the original castle, however, the fortitude of the Japanese lead them to reconstruct an iconic structure which signified their traditional heritage and also signifying their diligence to cling onto something which embodies the great memory of the Japanese way of life. Japanese culture is an amazingly rich one riddled with all the historic excitement of a grand epic.

These pictures may only catch glimpses of what once was --a time of nobler sensibilities. A time when nationalism and self identity went hand in hand. A time when honor meant more than life, and life was always in service to another, to your country, to your nobleman, to your father's fathers. And out of centuries of Imperial rule comes countless cultural phenomena which have intrigued the world over. Whether it be the way of the Samurai, the great martial arts of Judo, Karate, Kendo, and Aikido, or just the polite manners of a humble people who love to eat sushi, Japan has constantly given back to the world a sense of awe. Sure these pictures may only catch a glimpse of what once was --but maybe more than this, these photos represent a testament to what still is. For the greatest aspects of Japan have withstood the test of time, and here at my simple Blog I gladly may share a little bit of it with you.

Sayaka and I pause for a brief photo shoot before we storm the castle.

Here I am standing in front of the entrance gate to Hiroshima Castle. It's a wood type castle and looks very rustic compared to other more lacquered, trimmed, and painted castles. Although sporting a slightly unfinished look it certainly adds to the mountaineering atmosphere of Hiroshima's vast mountainous regions.

Here I am enjoying a field day with my adult Tuesday English students. We're in front of an extremely old (and retired) train station in Shimane Prefecture. The train station is only a few blocks away from the famous Izumo Shrine.

Last Sunday my Tuesday English conversation class got together for a weekend outing. It wasn't a field trip as much as it was a socializing of sorts, and we all had a fabulous time. We ventured north to the neighboring Prefecture Shimane, where the famous Izumo Taisha
(shrine) is. Here we threw our 10 Yen coins (roughly 10 cents) into the large rope as a symbol of good luck.

Good luck for what you might ask? Well for love, romance, and relationships of course! Izumo Shrine is famous for its 'spiritual wellspring of romantic love'. Basically it is the place people from around the country go to pray in hopes of deep requited love.

Does it work? Well, I'm fortunate enough to have the love of my life with me now, but on the bus ride home we did see about a dozen or so Filipino hostess club workers --all wearing entirely provocative and skimpy clothing. Bright colors and see through tops and everything! So maybe that's what you get for tossing in 10 Yen. If you want a meaningful relationship you might have to spend a fortune. It never hurts to stop by the gift shop and buy a good-luck charm. I picked up a couple of romance charms as gag gifts for some of the lonely and desperately single ladies I tutor English to on weekends.

Within my town are a numerous scattering of Temples and Shrines. In my local area, within and surrounding the town, are approximately thirty or so ancient spiritual sites. Most of them are ancient, some are newly erect, but all of them contain a serenity which is all part of the greater aesthetic quality of Japan's beauty. So it goes without saying that I enjoy trekking off on long strolls to capture some of this beauty to share with all of you.

Here's a nice roof line shot of one of the small country villages out where I teach. I love the old Japanese houses. All of them tightly packed together. Notice the attention to aesthetics, everything having it's own form, a form follows shape, shape creates a atmosphere. This atmosphere leads to one to have a feeling or mood in reaction to this particular aesthetic, and all of this is part of the essence of Japan. You can't view Japan without having this unique experience, but all I can say is that Japan is so distinct that it is definitely worth experiencing.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Mops and Curls and mops that make curls!

Isn't he cute? A curly little "mop" fresh out of the oven. I don't exactly know what breed of poodle this is, but I believe it translates to "Mop" Poodle. Nah, I'm just joking. I don't know. But this little guy is cute. Soft curly little fuzz bucket and still blind as a bat too. They just sort of crawl around until they hit something with their face, and then in a bold attempt of survival, they start sucking on whatever approaches their little mouths... fingers included.

I think this week their eyes popped open for the first time. So I'll have to go play with them and get some updates. I love how they just pile onto their mother, squishing past whatever obstacle is in the way, including each other, until they find a juicy milk nipple.

Ah! Sweet victory... the nector of the Dog Gods! Well, okay, it's just biology. Pure mamal instinct... find a boob and latch on. Good job fur kids! Your job is done. Now take it easy and enjoy your nap.

By the way, if anyone is looking for a new mop... these guys are being given away... so if you're in the neighborhood (of Japan) and desperately want a curly white mop, then give me a hollar and I'll see if any are in stock.

Although I had a bunch of time with nothing to do today, I felt all too unproductive to write any meaningful blogs. I have a big trip tomorrow, so I have to start getting ready for that, but I'll get back to you all around Monday or Tuesday with some fun updates! Stay tuned.