Tag Archives: japan diary

Rolling Elsewhere: Sitayama / Unazuki Onsen, Toyama (Japan)

Rolling various local quirky trains from rustic Sitayama station towards the mountains on Toyama and Unazuki Onsen station – not chronologic or accurate, just ambient views of rolling stock, carriage interiors, watching from windows, as well as catching trains going by.

Mixed with music by Dan Mangan, “Tragic Turn of Events (demo)” from “Nice Nice Very Nice (10 year anniversary)”

Note:
Sitayama: https://goo.gl/maps/i4Vq3xfG7weVfx9M9
Unazuki Onsen: https://goo.gl/maps/crnF9NC2hZ5jKFJ58 

More space cruises – by train, tuk tuk, float plane and occasional taxis – from global locales

Riff: Japan Imperial Era Names, a brief primer

Maybe you noticed my affinity towards dropping in Japan imperial era names in reference to “Showa this” or “Taisho that” – In brief, while modern Japan also uses BCE/AD year dating system, also uses imperial eras to count years… in a somewhat confusing manner.

Briefly:

Each Emperor has a name while living (example Hirohito) but their era name also becomes the posthumous name (in Hirohito’s case Showa). When a new imperial reign begins, the numbers start from one.

Birth years and other important dates are generally referenced from this system. I.e. i was born in Showa 45 or 1970.

2019 was an extra anomaly as Emperor Akihito abdicated and his era “Heisei” (which will also be his posthumous name) in his 31st year of reign, and a new era “Reiwa” began on May 1 2019 when his son/heir Naruhito took the throne. So 2019 was both Heisei 31 and Reiwa 1. 2020 is Reiwa 2.

So blah blah blah. I came to tell you that Taisho era is my current topic of interest. This was about 100 years ago and the “jazz age” in Japan as well as west. The previous era “Meiji” was when Japan started opening up to the outside world (a topic in itself) with a charismatic emperor.

Taisho era was different and relatively short and squeezed between the impending militarism which came with Showa and the fundamental societal changes of Meiji.

Taisho saw rise of *western* clothes/styles, dancing, woman’s role expanding with jobs and relative “freedom” of being.

A seminal literary work from this time is Tanizaki’s Naomi which tells the story of a young woman seizing her liberation in all aspects of her life.

Anyhow, here’s an article meaning to share with more about above now that i laid a foundation.

Carry on.

The Taisho Era: When modernity ruled Japan’s masses  BY MICHAEL HOFFMAN SPECIAL TO THE JAPAN TIMES

Diary: Starting off 2020 with Coffee and Classes etc.

A coffee break at “Tartan something or other” (not actual name) in downtown Okayama

So it goes, the festive season passes yet calendar stays busy with the usual sorts of things. Yesterday included returning books to splendid library, a few letters (Switzerland and Indonesia) to the post office, a stop for the best ramen, and a visit to a chiropractor and then a super good little (i mean little) coffee shop – like just perfect right? 

In amongst, we repaired/re-did a wall in Tsuchida Cottage, attended a parenting class(!), went to opera variety show, hit up Hatsumi-san’s piano recital, moved some brick around outside, printed more flyers for Mae Maes gig, talked to a guy about replaced some drafty windows, recycled plastic items, booked a trip to Nagasaki… 

Here is a variety of snippets collected along the way, with minor annotations as possible. 

we ordered umeboshi by the kilo – i love these pickled plums and nope to make them myself one of these days soon but in the meantime, order up in bulk! salty, sour goodness
one morning i awoke to Ryoko singing snippets of so many songs – realized she was tidying up all her sheet music/scores etc.
tidied up the Kamidama a little bit with fresh items to bring good fortune and happiness more and more

Continue reading Diary: Starting off 2020 with Coffee and Classes etc.

Artifacts: Vending Machines at Uno Bus terminal in Okayama

these machines are for pre-paid bus cards

Some (not all by any measure) vending machines at bus station (and map board) at Uno bus terminal in Okayama, Japan.

Also not pictured: sumo on TV and cup of hot tea purchased.

newspapers, variety

Continue reading Artifacts: Vending Machines at Uno Bus terminal in Okayama

Life Musings from a Cottage in Japan / baby, books, love, etc #video

 

A spontaneous life update from Okayama, Japan with annotations about incoming child, state of my health, affection for parents and pals, fixing up our little cottage, plans for schools and playing Santa Claus, notes about birthing clinic, Ryoko’s awesomeness, request for notes of recommendation and preview of some forthcoming book projects. 

Diary: New Year Tea Ceremony at Matsuka-sensei’s house

Studying tea ceremony… I’m not sure if studying is the right word, maybe practicing, refining or just enjoying… with a wonderful circle of folks.

Together, we enjoy refining the sequence, admiring the artifacts, eating lunch (fabulous of course), and in some cases also practicing/refining/studying/enjoying wearing kimono.

This was a special one to kick off the new year. So lovely (other riffs elsewhere in this archive). 

My sweet Ryoko riffed out a riff, ergo:

Continue reading Diary: New Year Tea Ceremony at Matsuka-sensei’s house

Diary: New Year’s Morning + Day / Reiwa 2, Let’s Enjoy!

Well hello 2020. Let’s enjoy. Step 1 (or 2) #japanlife

special stash of Indonesian coffee beans
give em a special extra roast
into the Moka (not mocha) pot – my fave all-around way to prepare coffee
warm up in our chilly little cottage

Continue reading Diary: New Year’s Morning + Day / Reiwa 2, Let’s Enjoy!

Diary: Days Before New Year’s Eve / Lead-up Activities + Goodnight Year of the Boar

Well, the days between Christmas and New Year’s aren’t really a thing per se in Japan as Christmas is just a reason for decor and music (as it should be at most) and all the build up is for New Year’s – this being my first “real” New Year’s in Japan, i just sorta held on for the ride… 

Anyhow, regardless, during this time, Ryoko and I were out and about for various events, errands, chores, adventures and whatnot – much of which is documented elsewhere in this archive and here are the pleasant mundane-ities which didn’t fit anywhere else – with minor annotations perhaps of “Japan Life”. 

Let’s begin with a few lunches and beverages – after a shop at a hardware store, we slipped into a little Yoshoku restaurant – sorta Japan remix of western dishes – this one sorta French but ya know, not really (and that’s not the point). Anyhow… had a sort of cutlet above and a pot of tea to follow. 

Another lunchtime, our relationship with pizza toast continued at home. 

And this seems absurd but the wonderful konbini stores can provide fresh ground/brewed coffee – i mean, it seems weird to say this but dang, not bad and well priced. That’s me in reflection (literally and metaphorically). Continue reading Diary: Days Before New Year’s Eve / Lead-up Activities + Goodnight Year of the Boar

Diary: Christmas Eve, Day and Boxing in Okayama, 2019

Christmas isn’t really an “event” in Japan, more of a marketing campaign and a prelude to New Year’s Eve which is laden with tradition, nostalgia and routine. It’s kinda my speed as i am def turned off by rampant commercialism quasi-religious sabre-rattling which comes around. 

Regardless, with new family (and more family arriving in 2020) i wanted to wrangle a bit of festiveness – also acknowledging been a long while since i had vaguely “regular” christmas and while this was atypical, established some new routines, scratched an itch… after all, with the turmoil in my life the last years, there is admittedly some misgivings and rather tough emotions which come around during all this hoolpa. Most importantly, got to show love and respect for wife and in-laws. 

PS You can see a bit of building up for Christmas and read a riff between a friend and i about this holiday in Japan in: Diary: Christmas Forthcoming / out n about and at home in Okayama, 2019

What follows are a few poorly-photographed artifact of activities from Dec. 24 – 26 JST. Carry On!

First off, Dec. 24 (christmas eve) we made dinner of grilled mackeral, squash, pickled cucumbers and tsukemono carrots, greens, miso soup, tea, rice, lotus root, and whatnot. Yup, not off to a very traditional start – ha!

Christmas morn, we opened our stockings (pictured above) purchased from a 100yen store ($1), nothing but the best! and enjoyed toast with cream cheese and my kaki (persimmon) jam which i am always talking about, and nashi (pear). My sock had snacks, Ryoko’s had expired 35mm film and a necklace and snacks. 

Then we went to post office (one of my fave activities of course) and i wore a Santa cap (borrowed from Ryoko who wore at Mae Maes Christmas concert) to the amusement of the post office staff and the kids at the grocery store which was our next stop. Folks are stocking up for New Years time during which many stores are closed or scaled back hours and folks generally wanna hunker down. 

Then we picked up a pre-made feast from a great lil cafe called Sakura-mi we had ordered a while back when we went on a little lunch date. Here’s the café’s post box.

And i got to make a fire in the wood stove. So yeah, post office and fire making in the same day! Pleased. 

Took the grub home and set up at parent’s house (next door).

Continue reading Diary: Christmas Eve, Day and Boxing in Okayama, 2019

Diary: Christmas Forthcoming / out n about and at home in Okayama, 2019

Some kind of phone… possibly from a battlefield or remote office

We headed out on some errands to return the felt sheets used in the tea ceremony at assassinated Prime minster Inukai Tsuyoshi’s home to a strange little office in a corridor with the cigarette smell cemented into the cracked linoleum floors which all evoked the lost Showa times.

Along the way, a saw some shops, ate ramen, developed film, checked out cameras and whatnot. 

First though, along one of these covered shopping arcades which i totally dig (how does Vancouver not have these everywhere?), continued my rather absurd documentation of phone boxes.

I would call you but haven’t figured out where to buy a phone card. Also noting these “midori denwa” (green phones) are abundant and in beautiful condition but i (not shockingly) never see one in use. 

PS Did someone call a doctor? #joke My friend in Adelaide Australia made the snap into a fun cartoon-y image. I might do this with all photos in future. 

Continue reading Diary: Christmas Forthcoming / out n about and at home in Okayama, 2019