Category Archives: Kinfolk + Pals

articles, tributes, bits of poetry, obituaries and birthdays alike – put here when relating to my brothers, parents and other kin

Catching up & goofing around with Ichiro #io

For the record, I am completely mental in love about this incorrigible, amusing, intrepid, courageous kiddo #io

I’m always dropping notes to keep up with my ongoing diary about him and how he changes and evolves while growing up *but* you know, memos & snippets slip through the cracks but perfection is not the aim, celebration of his existence is, ergo:

Goofing around with burgers made on the woodstove, lack of buns so mama improvised, he loves accessorizing and doing his *just right* with a little bits of bacon, ketchup, mayo, lettuce
We are cats in pajamas, hear us meow, softly
On our excursion to the omotecho shopping arcade, was some kind of delightful booth set up (a store celebrating a birthday? Just some normal enticement for shoppers)

Anyhow, he ended up with a balloon which he was very eager to pose with in the laneway

Backstory: Rolled bus and tram to pick up delightful/incorrigible kiddo for a little bit of dude time on the trek home. We had snacks at daily Yamazaki (the unsung hero of the konbini scene), got gatcha on the tram, smiled and waved at the cool older students in their uniforms chattering away, I helped him with his cargo (my goodness, his rucksack is already quite hefty but “this is the way “)

PS i mean it sounds really basic but it was kind of the plan when he started his school back in September that I would do pick up a couple days a week but, the illnesses hit and my energy just hasn’t bounced back so this was really the first time I did the routine solo.

The tricky part is, getting back because that’s when the trams and buses get quite filled and all that human energy energy, temperature changes, jostling around – is a lot. We waited at the bus depot which feels caught in time, and by the time we were on our usual backseat of the bus, he was kicking off his shoes and stretching out to snooze until the end of the line. (But managed to rally for a bit of playtime in the park showing me how he can lift heavy rocks before arriving home).

These tram drivers do really an incredible job

Diary: New Year Dragons with foods, gardens, bevvies, and themes #calm

what follows is a post-dated diary of various activities in and around New Years day copied from various notebooks, memos, and small dispatches covering foods, outings to parks and graves, bevvies, postcards, dreams, schemes, and themes of calm and endeavours

Dec. 31: We ate soba (buckwheat noodles) as per tradition with parents on new years eve. Most folks watch TeeVee (many famous “wide ” variety shows, singing contests). They leave it off for my sensory overload benefit so i retired early – as i my way – so they could watch if desired.

So tired, heading to bath and bed. {all the tabs will not be closed, many emails unreplied, various messages and conversations left dangling, flip the page, carry-on}

So we go on… gn & gy

i made a video: Good night & good year / Reiwa 6 Ahoy

Jan. 1: GM, HNY – We ate mochi (glutinous rice paste) with other tasty items with parents in the morn as is tradition.

Then, off to Korakuen (one of the “three great traditional garden” of Japan, frequently visited by us).

Early start by my standards – we packed several thermoses and flasks of coffee and tea for the journey…

Off onto the Road: Of course, all manner of beverages are readily available from ubiquitous vending machines yet I prefer our house-made treats. Also, provided opportunity to break out a teabag which was included in the card sent by some friends from Canada.

So off we went, waiting at Tsuchida stop for our first bus ride of the new year…

As is our usual routine, we sit in the very back row (like the *bad kids*) because there are big windows and a little bit more room to stash our gear. Ichi-Stan, of course being a frequent traveler, utilizes the hooks for hanging up his rucksack and travelling cap {usually here I would note that the bus features complimentary high-quality wi-fi and power outlets but you know that by now}.

Note: the *usual* tradition is a shrine visit on New Year Day (bet ya there is a posted in this archive (or maybe draft but… anyhow) this year though we took the with a chance to meet up with Ichi’s best pal and roll around the stellar garden – importantly including the first time in years in which the public could be present for the “flying of the cranes” so… off we went. Plus its a “free admission day!”

Flying of Cranes: The garden was packed but crowd well managed by diligently dudes wrangling pedestrians and keeping on the pathways with optimized view points for the flying of the cranes (a symbol of longevity).

The whole crane flying thing was quite amusing (the wranglers entice them to fly) and yeah cool but i couldn’t help but laugh at the crew of ojisans with their massive telephoto lens, standing on top of camera boxes (no fun for you kids!) and rapid firing like artillery weapon kinda killing the buzz but so it goes, hobbies and all that. {Of course, this is coming from the guy who’s over documenting everything including everything but a picture of the cranes.}

Continue reading Diary: New Year Dragons with foods, gardens, bevvies, and themes #calm

Festive Omnibus Annotations (church, shrine, tea, gardens, fire, poems, snaps)

So many things to tell you but I’ll scribble in Postcards, 1 by 1 because each of you deserves custom-made inky artifacts, right?

And coffee in fancy cups, and crocheted pen/cil + quilted stamp bags, and fancy postboxes.

Don’t you?

Anyway, briefly (ha!), for starters – not capable of brevity):

* Hot springs visits with over-the-top performance in quirky confines {note: have a post from a previous visit to share one of these days…}

* Pork belly, woodstove yams Kabocha squash etc. dinner

* Gorgeous new blue herringbone cashmere scarf and my own fancy Hanko stamp (previous was a ¥500 vending machine version)

Continue reading Festive Omnibus Annotations (church, shrine, tea, gardens, fire, poems, snaps)

*Method Acting* Santa Claus at “Forest Pre-school”

Those years studying Stanislavski’s acting system coming through in my naturalistic/method acting portrayal of a certain festive character to the delight of assembled preschool parents… Well I suppose the children as well :)

{Ahhhh… memories of walking the boards from Broadway to community playhouses but nothing quite like the magic of performing the “Scottish play” – the one which we acTORs who trod do not see the name aloud in the theatah! – at Summer Stock festival in Cedar City or Ashland, or Straffordshire for that matter}

The assembled patrons asked many questions, ergo:

“Where are your reindeer?”

“We don’t have chimneys in Japan how do you get into our houses?”

“What are your favorite kind of cookies?”

“I’m not sure if I’ve been a good child, this year how do I know?”

“What actions are required to ensure that I receive maximum allotment of gifts?”

“Where are you going next?”

“How do you speak so many languages?”

Of course, after years of “walking the boards” and endless hours of honing my improvisation craft, I was able to provide answers in line with the characters true soul.

well we had to have a talk about how all this works now i’ve done the Santa show for Ichiro 4 times now

The questions – of course – were asked in Japanese by somewhat confused and bemused children, often trembling, studied by their parents.

Continue reading *Method Acting* Santa Claus at “Forest Pre-school”

Diary: simple tasks and sparking life with renegade Ted

Evidence I’m still alive… From Oct. 25-ish or so (lemme check that as though it matters :0)

always fun with Ted with his stories, humour and ability to be a goofball come to visit

Not gonna lie, been a real tough stretch. But I’m keeping my hands and brain active by doing simple tactile little tasks.
In this case, putting some clearcoat on some more signs for yet another sign post and pouring an extra batch of soy wax on some fire starters just in time for the first woodstove of the year in honor of 4th (or 5th) visit from buddy Renegade Ted (who took most snaps included herein & i captured from his FB round-up post). But you should check his Notes from the Nog travel writer bloggity blog.

PS And dig that cassette player/radio hanging up. It doesn’t really work well but I still try to tune in like I’m gonna connect with some short wave radio + And that’s a trucker hat representing The Matinee & Tshirt is REM Chronic Town

Continue reading Diary: simple tasks and sparking life with renegade Ted

Secret Sketches (don’t tell *anyone*)

A penpal somewhere in Japan (can i tell your name?) produces lovely sketches – often of foks riding subways, gazing on phones, rocking headphones, lost in a book – and recently send a exceptionally well-produced photo ‘zine/chapbook.

On the envelope of recent dispatch were sketches of me and Ichiro – capture quick snap and stashing here for amusement and archiving (there are others which may join the collection, but for now:

Bonus: Note: he previously sent a fantastic mix CD.

fill up your calendar with hangouts with me, won’t ya

O-furo with #io + #poem

I have very rudimentary arithmetic / math skills but I do know:

Ichiro is 41-ish months old so about 1,230 days +/-

So, minus days when he was brand-new baby or i was critically ill / crashed &/or mom/jiji/baba filled-in, we’ve *easily* passed the 1000 bath threshold. 38°C in summer 42°C +/- in winter.

he’s much bigger now, not so appropriate for public snapshots :)

Bonus: bit of poem snippet

Question mark eyebrows
Old man shuffle walk
Baba Jiji Sho-sho
Double ups words to talk

Skipping walking
From crawling to running in a flash
The best hour of every day
When we slow down in bathtime
Reciting introductions to ancestors

Bonus: not just baths, also kitchen

yes, he was using that big knife, safely

Diary: visit with Fujii (Great)Grandmother + coffee and cake

Went to visit Ryoko’s grandmother, obviously Ichiro’s great grandmother, 92 years young, living at an elders home. First time we were able to go up into her room, previous visits were through the window for novel virus precautions.

Afterwards, we went to an interesting café next to it which had lovely tea coffee and cakes but also features various dog runs for agility training (is that what you call it with the dogs went through a special course?), a campground (really a place to park a camping van when coming to do said dog training/tournaments/events/workshops and, inside all sorts of fantastic dog accessories (including a grateful dead dog frisbee), and inexplicably, a beautiful upright bass.

Inside great grandmother Kazuko’s room is an assembled is an assembled puzzle I made for each of the Fujii ladies (my mother-in-law’s family name is Fujii) from a photo I snapped of her, her sister, the sister’s daughter and in turn, her daughters and of course my darling wife – who are all multi-talented, independent-minded, active and brilliant women.

I managed to capture all of them on a drizzly day with the matriarch behind the glass window and… one adorable little boy in amongst the splendor of the remarkable women. And, in this instance, they all seem to have matching short and sensible haircuts and mostly wearing spectacles. I just love the matchiness of it all.

Continue reading Diary: visit with Fujii (Great)Grandmother + coffee and cake

Diary: Halloween 2023, quick hit for short event

It’s probably too late, late to the party whatevs… took the snaps on a “vintage” early gen digital camera so it takes a minute to get to tha Internet…

We were Lawrence of Arabia, a ranger/explorer on adventure, a farmer on his “tractor” and a hastily assembled jack-o’-lantern.

But hey, we’re in provincial Okayama Japan and #Halloween happens from 1 PM till 2:30 PM at 4 authorized community checkpoints with sign-in sheets where children are issued approved bag of snacks & sent on their way.

this kabocha thinks will be spared the knife coz of the cute eyes but… we’ll eat you Wilson, oh we will!

Addendum: everything, quite everything, in Japan has a designated program, a specific start/end time, a special introduction and review of the plan, and then the plan is followed very carefully and in the end, everything is tidied up very deliberately. Not a country for spontaneity or ambiguity but if you like efficiency and punctuality, have I got a country for you :-)}

{note: snaps straight from the camera, a sort of “vintage” Olympus ruggedized digital camera, using the onboard pinhole camera setting. It’s a really cool little unit}

Bonus: When you are just wearing goggles to cut an onion but it happens to be Halloween…

accidents happen
fun in the neighbourhood

Ramen magic – spontaneous outing for resto’s anniversary

We picked up Ichiro from preschool and came to our favorite Ramen place. {Darling wife is working so hard & im a bit wiped out from trying to stay up with housework}

Somehow the ramen was calling us

&& This magnificent place is celebrating 8th anniversary today with a “one day only” special dish! Yes plz :)

Anyhow, #Peace

We had to kill a bit of time before opening so we hung out on shopping street and visited store selling all Okayama made goods including local sake, Doppo beer, Betty Smith denim accessories, Bizen ceramics & postcards etc Taisho-era painter Yumeji.

Yes, we purchased items. Did not purchase the hat made of renowned Kojima denim as it was “not cheap” but we did get some salad dressing, art postcards, Hot Springs powders, Doppo craft beer for a friend visiting, & a few pieces of special brocade fabric for arts and crafts.

Yes im smitten

This angel is still in her grubby work clothes. She even hauling her wood chipper to the back lot to do some well… wood chipping. She’s so cute when she’s dirty. Oh wait, that sounds wrong ????

Hail Mudhoney, always delivering “this gift”

Yes, I look exhausted, bleary-eyed, spun out, not at my best but hey, look at that Superfuzz Bigmuff T-shirt and that glorious bowl of noodles.

Yes, i am invigorated and overjoyed when with my darling duo!

Oh there he is, the smile comes out once he gets his grub. He’s been coming here since before he was born & has a chance to be the all-time record holder. He’s graduated to his own small bowl with special fork and spoon set.

One day only for this very special sophisticated unique bowl of noodles

Ramen is not fashion, Ramen is art, pleasure, satisfaction, international, tradition, culture (it says so on the chalkboard) and yes, this tiny back alley joint is Michelin guide listed so if you’re into car tyres, this place was properly evaluated / a very special bowl today.

Congratulations on eight years of awesomeness. We wished him at least 50 more

Us and the super grateful ramen boss. He’s a delightful, hard-working, soft-spoken and very very serious and passionate about his Ramen. What a pleasure it is to go here!

You can see the location is critically important. As in: Important to have absolutely nothing else around and be hiding in plain sight / not a swinging hotspot.

And you don’t need some big neon sign and giant LED screen screaming at the people, and understated chalkboard with sincere message wins the day

These are important runes

Lest ye forget: Ramen is pleasure, love, smile / such as is written on the wall – so it must be true, the chalk never lies after all, after all