Tag Archives: japan

Steady On, Time Travelers! {New Year Greetz, 2021 / Reiwa 3 令和3年}

{New Year Greetz, 2021 / Reiwa 3}「迎春」令和3

Time Travelers – date and location undetermined 

Steady On
Time Travel(l)ers!
We’ll see you when the future’s past
(in the meanwhile) breathe backwards
So the world doesn’t spin so fast.

落ち着いて!
時空旅行者達。
未来が過去になる時会いましょう。
その間、呼吸を整えて…
そうすれば、世界は軽やかにまわりだす。

“Steady On, time travel(l)ers!” – note” Ichiro’s finger print for proof of authenticity 

Fondly from Ryoko, Ichiro & Dave
[date and location undetermined]

Happy Merry, All the Festive, Every Joyful

Happy Merry
Any Festive
Every Joyful
All of the Moments

Peace – Health – Happy
to all of us, all of you

Ate nabe stew, warmed by woodstove, bath then slept

Fondly from Dave, Ryoko & Ichiro Stanley Thorvald of Tsuchida Cottage, Okayama, Japan on a usual Friday, Dec. 25, Reiwa 2 / 2020

Tradition is what you are doing in the present tense. Every moment a spectacular event. You are a miracle, truly, enjoy. (& If you ever forget, we’re here to remind you.)

an original for the biographers and collectors

Haiku: Graves & Trains

Graves & Trains

Rubbing faded kanji

From mossy tilted Edo graves

Shinkansen shooshes past

Note: Japan trad house is sorta “camping”

living in Japan trad house is basically camping, sleep on a mat on a straw floor, fire up stew 2 burner gas stove, huddle around a warm table, hot bevvies, maybe play some nikko or ukulele / somehow suits the canadian cub scout in me

One big bed, not futon but a queen & a single on tatami mat floor / one big cuddle puddle pile

Diary: Santa Land at Community Centre

Background: Just doing a Santa gig at a little local community center in Tsuchida, Okayama… Not a lot of kids around here it seems so… not sure what to expect exactly > just is going with the flow. Figure it’s my “job for life” now that I live here and I’m the token neighborhood guy with a beard.

Preparation: Giving the chukka boots a little bit of black polish (after removing some salt stains with vinegar), then a little buff up to go with the Santa Claus outfit tomorrow.

Of course, I won’t actually be able to wear the shoes into the event (will bring my own red and black check slippers though) but well, doing what I can to be a top-end Uncle Christmas for the kiddos.

Also pulled out some old gold wire rim glasses – just not doing what I can to look sharp.

With various precautions (temperature checks included), the kids won’t sit on my lap but instead, stand a respectful distance away, bow likely (at the grandeur of my beard no doubt), cry possibly, state their wishes maybe, and I will nod approvingly and wish them each well on their life.

There will likely be a few snapshots. Note to self, early start so prepare coffee and/or cocoa in advance.

OK, back to the boots before I make a mess of things. (update: mess = yes)

PS These little boots are what I wore stomping around the Himalayas a bit… Kind of as a “protest to yuppie Mountaineers“, and out of respect to so many Nepalis who carry obnoxious tourist’s load around the mountains wearing off the rack regular old clothes, as such wandered through the villages with these on my hooves.

Re: tomorrow morning’s “Uncle Christmas“ gig… Made a “Santa’s own family photo album” to take along in case any kids question the backstory. Includes: Santa as a young boy with beard etc. plus “Santa on vacation“ with the mayor. Includes pictures of mom and dad and Christmas in Jamaica.

+ Practicing Q&A with appropriate “in-character“ Japanese answers including which honorific pronouns and whatnot to use.
I mean I’m doing it, might as well go all in, as usual.

As I understand, there will be some sort of singing, storybook and then the kids will chant for Santa, at which time I will enter with a bag/box of presents > they’ve advised some sort of dancing, however I will sit during that part and tell the kids how adorable they are and ask appropriate questions about their recent behavior, thusly adjudicating the worthiness of gifts. 

Then, I will interact with the children in a cautious safe manner.

Stay tuned…

Here we go

Quick stroll over to kominkon

Ohato gozaimasu – now on-location in “stealth mode”, temperature checked, masks, so many cute kids…

Foggy morning like a Gordon Lightfoot song

Assisted by my R & I.

Also have Insta camera but seems no shortage of cameras here.

(Limited photos due to well, kids etc.)

I am appropriately medicated but could use one more coffee.

Moms & kids assembling here at community centre.

Windows open for max fresh air. 6o C, no one minds, bundled up.

Warming up with some movement & music.

I have elected to use my “foreigner elective card” and sit on a chair – I almost always do the floor sitting but right now, playing it safe… I may not be able to stand back up :)

Standing by for cue / note: specs circa 1996-7 when an internet company geek in Olympia, dress-up times like this is why I keep items. Could not see very well but #methodacting requires such sacrifices

Also, have used beard as a wig creating some sort of Santa Mullet

Resplendent and shimmering (note ordered the “luxury/deluxe” Santa outfit but it is decidedly mediocre, lots of flair but was hoping for higher end fabrics – geez, I’m needy!)

It’s technically not breaking & entering when you have a magic key. Just making sure my backstory is all in place when kids ask how I get in without a chimney to be found. (thanks S)

Rolling into the community center like no big deal… (Note the coordinated uniglo slippers) / Also walkingstick made from wood salvaged from the Fukushima incidents (thanks R)

Update: Slayed – My study at the Strasburg Institute paid off with my naturalistic performance as a trimmed up Santa Claus, old and weary yet doing all right.

Each child received a custom monologue based on their appearance, age, personality and shyness level.

Gift bags were provided.

Yes, a lot of the kids were a little surprised, a few cried but all left feeling better about themselves I think. Complements (sincere) are the most precious (& free) gift.

Reminded each kid to be sweet to their parents, say kind words to others, take good care of their health and I will see them next year.

Explained my trimmed up figure as a diet of natto and umeboshi exclusively.

Told them I was off to Kurashiki next.

Had a notebook with a map of the nearby seto-ni-ki (inland sea) on the cover and told them I was keeping notes (with a comically oversize pencil from the McMenimin’s Kennedy school in Portland) as to who were the good kids and whatnot.

Found this child particularly amusing and appealing.

I suppose *technically* Santa isn’t it supposed to choose favorites but I did. He was a bit confused, like “I know this dude but something seems *off*”

Oh, the kids performed some sort of freeform dance with colourful pom-poms which was unexpected.
 

Of course made a few other minor observances while on location i.e.: karaoke machine in the closet (for SFK)

Noted a lovely persimmon tree on the walk home

I did a stealth exit and back at the cottage warming up the bath and wishing there was a hockey game on. Received a gift bag which seems to have a bottle of tea and some sort of box… Let’s hope it’s chocolate.

[Update: was not chocolate, some sort of crackers, I broke the rules and ate in the bath – 2 hours at 44-45 °]

All the parents seemed super happy and I will do this every year forever, somewhere or another.

Afterward (with C.B.): I went to the gig in sort of street clothes and participated in the opening singing blah blah blah stuff (keep in mind I’m the only fella and only foreigner there) and then went and changed and came back in to the complete astonishment of the children.

That said, I kind of love the idea of rolling through the neighborhood in the outfit… Maybe head downtown and just act like it’s no big deal

Next year we can do the “foreign Santa renegade day out” / Rampage the streets giving away ¥100 store things

So much fun! I’m going to do this every year forever in Japan.

Ichiro: cards #61~65 “5ive Set / Farm, Minako, Canadian, Rice, Superstar” 12.2~9.2020

5 – count ’em 5ive – new #Ichiro cards for your on-going collection from early Dec. 2020 (Reiwa 2), series includes:

Ichiro: card “Farm guys” hanging out at uncle Mac’’s goat Emporium Rural Caprine Farm with a haiku post box in the sunshine
Ichiro: card “meeting Minako-san” the remarkable elder lady proprietor of the finest tiny restaurant with ridiculous Okonomiyaki & a completely psychedelic painter (minus the psychedelics)
Ichiro: card “Officially Canadian“ no big deal, came with an awesome sweater and a citizenship certificate
Ichiro: card “Let’s try rice!“A.k.a. “Snacktime“ or “spoonful of wasabi…“ Yep, trying a little bit of sort of solid food in the form of smashed up rice soup. Next step, pierogies
Ichiro: card “Okayama superstar” our prefecture ain’t so famous (unless you count peaches, peach boy legend, denim and school uniforms…) but that’s changing with this dashing dude

Ichiro: card #60 “Child Prodigy-ish” 12.1

Ichiro card 60 / “Child Prodigy-ish” (Glenn Gould Redux)

Won’t say he is *concert-ready* quite yet but he’s using fingers not fists, posture is solid, chord shapes developing… another couple months he should be ready for Okayama Symphony Hall.
 
Will let you know when tickets go on preorder.

Ichiro: card #59 “Generations of Fujitas”(in Tsuchida) / 11.28

Ichiro: card #59 “Generations of Fujitas”(in Tsuchida) / 11.28

These shining lights continue to connect the centuries of culture & community The family gravestones go back so far the words are obscured / we wash (sometimes), light incense (Nag Champa in this case), clap and bow + bit of a conversation > In this case, namesake Grandfather Ichiro & Grandmother Tomiko’s ohaka / note: this “ohaka” has served as an important destination and part this year’s actions as documented in this archive.

Ichiro: card #58 “Capn’s Chair”/ 11.21

Ichiro: card #58 “Capn’s Chair”/ 11.21

This chair helps strengthen up his back for sitting up and such fun!  

Ichiro: card #53~57 “Dapper, Nice, Out n About, Gathering Stories, Rookie”/ 11.5

5 new Ichiro cards #io in the ongoing series… Coming from the last fortnight in spectacular & pleasantly autumnal Okayama, Japan. 

This assortment includes:

Ichiro: card #52~56 “Fancy hat and mustache” (dapper, esq)
Ichiro: card #52~56 “Nice to meet you” (dandy man)
Ichiro: card #52~56 “Out n about” (in the stroller towards the post office)
Ichiro: card #52~56 “Gathering Stories” (with Frederick)
Ichiro: card #52~56 “Rookie of our year” (with jersey of the goat)

Ichiro: card (bonus) “Boo”(Halloween Canucks) / 10.31

Ichiro: card (bonus) “Boo”(Halloween Canucks) / 10.31

At a special Halloween (safe and all that) gathering at local community centre / for our “trick or treat” station, we did insta-photo with annotations and kids chose stickers (sent by R & S in Montréal) Mama was a Canucks hockey player and Papa rocked lederhosen (possibly documented elsewhere).

Dossier: Okayama Air Raid, 1945

+ Okayama Air Raid Overview +

A delicate topic to ask people about but I finally found an English language dossier about the incidents of June 29, 1945 in Okayama so I can learn more about the effects in my/our community.

Details & Annotations follow (via dossier pictured above, obtained to local library):

(If you have credible information or thoughtful opinion to add, please do)

  • June 29 1945 – 2:43-4:07am
  • 138 B-29s (1 aircraft lost reason unspecified)
  • Launched from Tinian (Northern Marianas Island, just north of Guam)
  • Incendiary bombs (12,602 M47, 83,106, M74, 2,187 E-48 cluster + photoflash 10 bombs)
  • Attack Elevation 3000-4000m
  • 1700-2000 dead
  • 63% of city destroyed by fire via Detailed maps made the day of bombing

Notes:

Original bombing strategy attempted precision bombing from 10,000m elevation (out of range of anti-aircraft gun/planes) with military ammunitions ammunition /factory targets.

Due to poor results, strategy was changed to night bombing at low elevation with fire bombs starting March 10 with aim of comprehensive destruction of metropolitan centers.

After initial large cities (Tokyo, Kawasaki, Yokohama, Nagoya, Osaka, Kobe) were hit, a list was made of 180 medium-to-small cities as potential targets, of which Okayama was 31st.

Sasebo, Moji, Nobeoka bombed same night as Okayama.

Including Hiroshima and Nagasaki, 66 cities were bombed/burned to the ground.

No military or industrial targets targeted in Okayama.

Okayama residents held air raid drills, carried air raid hoods and had a citizen fire brigade. Some people’s possessions had been evacuated the country in preparation.

Government office buildings were destroyed so citizen “disaster certificates” were rapidly made on carbon paper to give access to rations and emergency transportation and help.

Also: 

Where we live (Tsuchida, Higashi Okayama), still plenty of prewar houses but as we drive into downtown (:20 mins or so), you can almost distinguish the line where the bombs reached.

And:

Peace.