Tag Archives: japanlife

Diary: various errands + wild boar foreshadowing


Brother Dan’s birthday in Japan time (got him The Minutemen Double Nickels on the Dime reissue 2xvinyl)

Flowers at seitai office
  • Seitai treatment
  • ¥550/ea lunch (fish or chicken + miso, rice w/ furikake & pickles + tea)
  • Drop off pre-school admin papers (I. starts 3 days/week in Sept at “forest school” run by YMCA


Replace this empty space with a new dresser type dealio
  • 2nd hand furniture shop
  • swim cap & goggles purchase
  • Post office (return googles, send postcards)
did not purchase at the secondhand store because I already have too many of these but these ones have the gold highlights which really please my eyes
To Germany, BC, New Jersey, New York, Gifu, etc

8/2 deal with closet *problem*
8/3 wild boar guy comes
8/4 blood flow brain scan

For your biometric convenience

Memo: iced coffee pour-overs and legendary okonomiyaki

this afternoon’s pour over ice coffees made with “Lion brand, pride of Hawaii” beans – note charcoal in the water carafe which was homemade out of bamboo (removes impurities from water like your fancy water filter does)

the beans were a gift from a mystical elder lady who has very likely made more artisan okonomiyaki than any other person alive #ProveMeWrong + as such, including a cheesy snap of me holding the bag

you know the coffee is going to be good when it’s “cooked” on the same grill as the grub – definitely worth all the stars

This was nephew Lee’s last meal before heading back to Canada after his two months with us here in Okayama and he requested okonomiyaki and – like a quality prison warden – I obliged.

The remarkable proprietor, who also painted all the walls and ceiling, indulged the youngster (an aspiring okonomiyaki cook) for a photo in-behind the grill.

There’s no sign in front, only a beige noren when open / maybe fits eight people, there’s a tiny “squat” toilet room (little privacy), a cooler for beer and sake, a miniature aquarium. More art on the walls, sometimes even mine.

The bill came to ¥2150 for three squid and pork okonomiyakis + she sent the boys on their way with a bottle of “Calpis” soda each, and the aforementioned bag of macadamia /chocolate coffee beans for us.

Note: I’m usually not a fan of any kind of flavor in coffee beans but this makes for a very nice afternoon icy treat from a legacy brand 150+ old of roasting on Hawai’i.

Post’d: figuring *it* out with coffee & cards

Trying to find my… I don’t know next path/ purpose/ quest… or just getting my “sea legs“ back under me.

A month and a half after the BCInvasion & i am still physically, mentally, and – especially emotionally – drained.

(Reminding myself that yes, you are dealing with a chronic and complex illness which, despite all kinds of recent attention, really doesn’t have a pathway forward as of yet so i continue to experiment blah blah blah) #MECFS

Everything with my wonderful wife and darling son is great, i’m getting all sorts of medical care, my immigration status will eventually get sorted out… but for whatever reason, feeling lost, depleted, disoriented, and very very blue.

So after a seitai treatment and a conversation with the kindly doctor, snuck into a quirky, jazz-filled and calm coffee shop called Gloss and went back to my usual therapy routine of simultaneously hydrating and caffeinating while writing a variety of postcards to folks i know, folks don’t know, folks who have sent kind things to me, folks who need a kind word and whatnot.

I’ll be all right eventually, just need to lay flat for a long while, yet there is always something that needs done, logistically or otherwise.

Now I will ride Shinogoze bus / I had a nice talk with master at Gloss. Maybe he can be my friend

Bonus: quick snapshots of the postcards just dropped in the mailbox (while returning with my squadron of companions realized I forgot a couple but hey… im *trying*) – anyhow, i often take snapshots of the fronts and backs for my own archival inconvenience as well as a digital back-up in case the cards don’t arrive but never really get far down that road – yeah i make lists and keep logs of letters sent and received and then immediately forget where aforementioned lists exists.

Off the bus, heading back home to figure “it” out… wearing the same inadequate boots which clomped me around the Himalayan trails towards Annapurna… intrepid beats expensive when used correctly (or some such)

Memos: immigration mustache + pallets & Colombian

Immigration office in the morning, hoping for a five year zairyu extension. I’m sure this mustache will make all the difference.

Update: Just back from failure of Immigration office visit & put bedroom into “shut down” mode, curtains closed, Air con on, carafe of water, noise canceling headphones on – to try to calm down. Did obtain some free pallets.

I should really not say any of this aloud but have long hospital tomorrow (made a memo) so was really hoping immigration would be done and i could have rest time but turned into much more work / demoralized & trying to keep outta flare mode :(

after the second, or was it the third, visit to the immigration office I went with darling wife and adorable son and found a oddly placed coffee shop nestled in amongst a shiny department store – I enjoyed a Colombian pour over while they tracked down a gift for almost one year old niece up in the big city, later they had some cake and I chatted with some folks

I’ve also had a rough go of it this time with my immigration status renewal. I shouldn’t take it “personally” but it’s taken three visits so far for what should be a basic extension.

The first visit I went in confidently, freshly shaved and a big boy outfit with my paperwork, photo, card, passport, revenue stamp etc. thinking I would be leaving that day with my new card but it’s turned into an endless paperwork chase – I’ve done everything from the pension, taxes, “my number“ card and have lived at the same address for four years #shrug #waitinghereinlimbo


Pardon my extraneous and highly personal riff, just getting it out of my head. My poor old noggin has just not been right since we’ve been back.

A lot of stressors coupled with brutal typhoon/rainy season (I don’t mind the rain but my goodness, the humidity and then the low air pressure when storms are coming in crash my delicate head which are part of the reason

I’m going to do these head injury/spine tests as there were at least 4 concussions as I fainted several times in the early days of my illness, plus a couple dislodged discs from a car accident on Christmas Eve in Jerome, Idaho in 1988.

Observations from the immigration office continued:

Heck, I even shaved and put on a presentable outfit and had all my papers in a special folder and that didn’t do the trick. The best part though is the weird little shop on the 10th floor that you go to for the revenue stamp. A random selection of services from dry cleaning to underpants and neck ties to 78 varieties of coffee and that’s about it 

There was a little table and chairs in the shop and I really want to go there and sit and drink a coffee and just observe what happens in there over the course of two hours – And during the lunch time *rush* & can figure out who buys the two day old sandwiches sitting on the shelf

Funny enough, some other “obvious western foreigner” came in with short shorts, crocs, and bad Kanji tattoos on his forearm… Never seen him anywhere before and couldn’t help but roll my eyes at the walking cliché #judgemental

Diary: A Rollicking Reentry from BC Invasion

Back from #bcinvasion trip a week / heck of a reentry, ergo:

  • funeral ?
  • record café ?
  • unpacking & documenting
  • head crushed from barometric pressure
  • seitai treatment
  • zairyu card prep
  • colossal rainstorm
  • hospital with injection & meds
  • clothes season switcheroo

Tomorrow (Sunday) nephew Lee (13 y/o) is going to church, then joining the darling duo to make a tremendous trio to go to tea ceremony, so… I’m hoping to sneak away to my beloved kura barn studio to unpack records & books & other treats.

We’ll see how I go, I’m totally over energy envelope and adrenals are completely depleted. Hoping some cool dark room with good music and maybe even a bit of ukulele playing will soothe my soul. There’s even a few more Letters and Postcards to enjoy!

I had a delusion I would be leisurely sending personal follow-up notes/videos to all the friends we met along the way to say “thank you for being part of our experience, awesome gifts, handy rides, comfy beds and simply existing with us“ but I guess that will come eventually. I also know that people know this but also know the importance of expressing gratitude in a tangible form.

I really have 1000 things to tell you, more actually – not sure quite what form the storytelling will take but anyway, now I’m in bed, the mosquito net is up (my incredible wife doing so many things to get the cottage cozy again), parents are making Gyoza but I’m going to hide out in the bath and eat a salad, possibly at the same time – ha. Such a luxury!

{In my fog, also watched a couple of documentaries I have commentary on but probably won’t ever get around to sharing}

Reminding myself: “good job, you pulled off a truly impossible trip with no major calamities and well over 100 human connections and then after a very challenging long airplane journey, showed up (despite complete exhaustion) looking sharp and respectful for a funeral for a relative you didn’t really know but hey, you’re part of this family and showing up is what you do – and oh yeah, after a couple days of incredible pain and crying my face off, got in two days of treatment which ain’t easy and only lost my temper once for a second” #PatsSelfOnBack

Oh right, I’ve been meaning to ask anyone who joined us on any of our “hobbit camp” excursions and hangouts to share photos on some channel or another #dribc

Diary: a night out to say “Gracias” to Gracias

His album “up all night“ drops any day now

Took kid to a bar (really & not irresponsible parenting) the kind of tiny hidden away place on one of those narrow buildings with several floors with mysterious signs outside where you don’t know quite what you’re gonna get & an elevator that smell like cigarettes and bleach

The bar was in this building. Yes, we were on a very special quest and it was all very legitimate and no neither he nor I were drinking alcohol though the wife had one fancy cocktail as it going away present for the lady who’s packing it in after many years.

In brief: Ryoko used to hang out here with an eclectic group in the tiny location years ago and she was welcomed with very fond memories and affection.

We rode Uno bus. Somehow it felt like getting ready for our Canada trip a bit.

We also left with my satchel bag stuffed with various crockery items no longer needed from the bar and now resident in our kitchen cupboard. Particularly interesting are three handmade cloth coasters with “Gracias” the Bars’s name. Closes forever on Friday :(

And of course, here in Japan, an event doesn’t even count unless there’s a commemorative group photo.

First though, we ate burgers.

Four tables and three more chairs at the bar and so much bric-a-brac, memorabilia, artifact and oddities – everywhere… The kind of “maximalist” design aesthetic that I love.

I really liked this DJs name and the fact that these little flyers were everywhere in the resto.

Though kept having a feeling somebody was watching me as i ate – looked over the shoulder to see this human in a merkin or loincloth of sorts / sure looks like they are having fun singing

Same handbill as before but, the bar lights across the street coming through a little window. I’m rarely out past dark so felt quite thrilling to be in that “District” past my usual bedtime.

On the way there, we met this curious being & Ichiro made sure to spread peaceful vibes

And in closing, “action for the future” in all its fully justified display is so much truth.

Four views of a coffee shop (and thoughts about small places and tipping)

Four views of a cute / shabby coffeehouse noticed while waiting for the pharmacy to finish up (with what will be a suitcase load of medication for Canada trip)

The coffee shops name written in katakana characters above is “liberal“ as per the literal meaning rather something “lost in translation” and they liked the sound of it… But who knows, maybe one day I’ll be able to make it in there and ask.

Semi-related: our “car guy“ company name is “Claudia“ and I asked him the reason, “My grandfather just liked the sound”

Vaguely related: In preparation for our “BC invasion” trip to Vancouver and Victoria, yesterday enjoyed an animated conversation with darling wife about the two topics of: zoning; and, tipping (and how group/chain companies swallow the restaurant/bar industry)

Still many tiny proprietor/owned and operated places in Japan. i.e. Less than 20 seats, short menus, odd hours sometimes a bit shabby & always quirky, scattered in mixed used neighborhoods… Just doing their thing generationally.

Wee businesses from bakeries to handicrafts to vegetable stands to coffee shops keep residential neighborhoods lively, convenient and enjoyable (& car, less)

What you see is what you pay (including taxes and the owner/employee living wages) / so such…

Semi-rant: I think in general going to very much avoid restaurants aside from Finches for a sandwich and then a secret deli in the West End that has pierogies and cabbage rolls, and another with tamales & I want to dim sum experience at a place where the Chinese ladies wheel carts around and get angry if you don’t choose their chicken feet or whatever.

Most of the time we’re staying with friends or hotels with a kitchenette and honestly, restaurants are total sensory overload for me anyway. We will do lots of picnics in parks instead, we’re bringing a little kit to just for that purpose.

I just don’t want to be part of the whole bullshit system and heaven help me if I’m going into a Brown’s, Cactus, Earls or any of those cheeseball places.

I will also drink Jj bean dark drip coffee and not buy 8$ lattes :)

Kurashiki corner with postbox, phone booth + several bonus items

I love it when you find an “double“ with postbox and phone booth (with phone book) side-by-side / in this case in historic Bikan district in Kurashiki, Okayama, Japan.

For bonus is the logo of the fantastic “black cat“ Yamato courier service and an official post office mark + safety cone, duo-lingual stop sign, resto menu board, electrical box & weary potted plant.

Its all happening, here, now. Wait. Stop. Go anywhere!

(And yes, I have folders filled with post office and postbox and payphone photos just waiting for more purposes, meanwhile working on poetry projects)

Secret Lunch Café (and remembering friends on a path)

1 choice so you don’t hafta order, easy – comes with a salad and water

So after medical treatment yesterday, snuck into secret cafe which had 1 patron (me) & offer only 1 kind of curry per day and every time is magnificent (as is the boss’ hair) *and* this time offered coffee and free gelato after cause i’m a big shot here in Okayama.

coffee and gelato (not pictured, notebook and pen)

I shan’t tell you the name :) Unless asked.

my own private hide out, with jazz, calm lights and very tidy

After, i wandered (got confused looking for the optometrist) and remembered my pals being here for the wedding and we sat on this bench and drank from this fountain (such luxury). I sat and felt grateful for friends.

Oh dear Okayama.

Item: Boots (at Hospital) + safety ramen

Today’s boots and socks combo for hospital visit. #looksharp / easy on and off is key in Japan / gotta make a simple outing for enjoyable somehow

not only did I wear these sharp boots, I also purchased gum, three packs (1 for back, 1 for car, 1 by door) & a pocari sweat (electrolytes :)) at the embedded 7-11 in hospital

PS Safety ramen before as well #important