Monday, February 28, 2011

Grave Afternoon

That must be taboo to make such a terrible pun about the dead. At any rate it was entirely true. While the afternoon was not grave in a somber way, it was full of these graves. I'm left wondering about the bigger monument off to the right. It has a door to the back of it. Is it a mausoleum. I have seen these around these parts but haven't ever asked what exactly there are. This is quite curious little spot too. When I walked up a short flight of stairs and entered the grounds it reminded me of what it felt like to play Ocarina of Time. There is definitely some uniquely Japanese elements to those games. No surprise that they were made by Japanese people after all.

Grave Afternoon

Stay tuned. I'll keep the daily pictures coming. I have a couple that should turn up in the following days.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

The Japanese Family

I found this advertisement for a reading day that was held in December. The translation is "Have fun reading with family day".

Let's Read With Hitler

This raises a number of questions.

Since when did Japanese dads begin to look like Hitler or have Hitler mustaches? Where does one get such a cartoon image anyway? What are Japanese people learning in history class?

And besides these things who thought a Hitler lookalike was great for promoting a family reading day? But these wouldn't matter if the previous questions weren't considered first of all.

Oh Japan you never fail to confuse us all...

Return to Inamura

The trip was cut rather short. The snow had kept me from even driving to this mountain for several months. It had been warm enough this week, I thought, for the road to be passable. It was fine but if another car had been coming down the road there wouldn't have been any space to pull off to the side. The snow was piled rather high from whenever it was plowed. I made it to the parking spot and trudged up the path with the full intention of capturing some shots of the sun setting. Things took an unexpected turn when the trail was still packed high with snow. Now the only parts of the trail covered in snow are the ones that don't have sun exposure. Well this happens to be a lot and I decided to go on through with my tennis shoes and jeans. There were foot steps from previous hikers and I tried to follow these as best as possible without getting wet.

Tunnel Ice

I eventually gave up trying to stay dry and rescinded to the fact I would be wet either way. After some fairly difficult marching through semi hard snow that was about a foot deep I got to the trail junction which goes to the top or down to a dam. It was here that for some reason nobody had gone up to the top in the snow. No more steps to rely on and the snow up here was slushy. Even with the promise of a decent sunset I couldn't be lured to get wet any longer. I turned back and called it a day. Remind me to not hike mountains without boots from now on. Courtesy image from the tunnel just before the parking lot. That is all that was decent from a rather cloudy and hazy day.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Keeping My Word

I have been throwing the idea around of posting a picture every day. That probably won't happen but I'm going to try. This picture is from a couple weeks ago. This was the only snow that really stuck up here for a long period of time. It was a very wet and slushy snow so an umbrella was necessary. The following day when it warmed up, most of of it melted quickly. Still this was one for the records or something. It had been 10 years since it snowed like this. People were freaking out and school closed earlier the day it happened. The only good thing was going home early.

Here Today, Gone Tomorrow

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

January Seems So Long Ago

In keeping with my claims here are some pictures from last month taken around the south eastern tip of Shikoku.

Sun Warp

Kochi Coast

Downward Spiral

Your Last Splash of Red

As it always was, just me and the mountains.

Mere Shadows Amongst Mountains

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Back at the Whetstone

Time to bring some normalcy back to these hallowed spaces of the internet. Every time I've sat down to write since I came back from my winter vacation journeys I have failed to execute a proper entry. Nevertheless I press onward to once again talk about the exciting (maybe) things going on in my life.

I have been going to the city every weekend. The change of pace is welcomed. I've spent so much time being alone in my months living here that I find it to be a much needed refresher. My mind feels much more stable. Not that it was unstable before, the lack of human contact wears on the mind and spirit. The internet can only afford a degree of interaction but being with others in person does quite a bit of good. On Friday night I went for dinner with a friend to a small Okinawa themed bar in the city. This place is tiny and would feel cramped if more than 8 people decided to show up. There is no rhyme or reason how such places stay open with so many other bars in the vicinity. Supposedly spam is a favorite food in Okinawa. Most likely it was brought by the American military and became ingrained in local culture. It was my first time to partake of spam. I had for the longest time been wanting to try it but never took the time to buy any. However the owner of the bar cooked it sure made it delicious. I wouldn't mind getting some more spam in my gullet ASAP. I do believe that this brand of 'spam' is not the name brand itself. It is another Japanese brand so I'm not sure if that has any bearing on how good it was. The bottom line is that everyone needs to stop discriminating and eat some spam. The sausage, yakisoba, and taco rice were equally satisfying. One of the most satisfying pleasures of the night, however, was playing Connect Four. This was some chintzy knock off version but with the same premise. While eating we played. My friend told me that they were quite good at the game to which I replied I carried a few layers of rust. I lost rather quickly the first match. I then realized strategy and careful planning was needed. I went on to win the remainder of the 3 games we played. After leaving the bar my friend was complaining about my victory. Rule number one is that you don't tell someone how you are supposedly good at a game after the fact. The second rule is you don't complain about it because you just give the winner the opportunity to bask in the glow of sweet victory. I relished it for all it was worth.

The rest of the evening was spent with other teachers and people in the city. People wanted to go dancing and get their drink on. I'm not so inclined but I obliged the people I was with and joined in. I mostly ended up free styling rap songs over the beats of other hiphop and rap with George. My friend and I left later on and attempted to watch the first Harry Potter movie. The original plan was to have dinner and begin watching the movies but things changed. I was fading quickly though a little half way through and we retired that for another day.

The pizza party we had on Saturday was interesting. The pizza I made was mostly a success. It wasn't as good as previous pizza I have made but that is what happens using other ovens and equipment. There was lots of pizza to consume and my insides felt like bursting after everything that was ate. Before watching a movie that I can't remember because I was falling asleep the whole time we played Scrabble. Oh how I love a game of Scrabble. While there is a decent amount of luck involved with the tiles you draw, you still have to be intelligent to construct words for maximum point value. All I can say is that my teammate and I finished with over 300 points. The other party was none too happy about this in the slightest, especially when they had already suffered a humiliating loss several weeks ago by my hand. Pride goeth before the fall, right? I may have it coming to me rather soon. That is fine. I won first and set the tone. I don't care if I lose. If I keep winning, all the better.

It is good to be busy with people and doing things. The weeks seem to be melting away. I'm not sure how it is we will have almost made it to March. Not sure what I have to show for that. I feel like my spoken Japanese is terrible. It will improve somehow though. I'm falling back into a routine. At least that is what I keep saying. I've almost finished the Harry Potter books as well. I will be glad to at least have some credibility in my opinion of the series from now on. I will say the books have been pretty good. Easy reads and exciting at times. I could say so much more about life in general but this is just getting my foot back in the water. I'll be sure to be proactive once again. It is required of me.

I told myself that I'm going to China this summer. I can't change my mind now. Better start cracking on that Mandarin again. Reading pinyin is ridiculous. Pronunciation of most Chinese doesn't appear to be that hard save for some specific combos of sounds. The tones aren't what are difficult by any means. Just sounds we don't have to make with our mouths on a consistent basis. Anyway I'm game for it. Sometimes I feel like just switching to Chinese anyway because I'll have an instant billion people to communicate with. Then again having Japanese is good for Japan. It's good to know how to hire a boat to an off limit island of an old military base. Golden week in Kyushu anyone? Hope I still have my job when I come back.

Give me some love mail if you feel so inclined. It would be truly divine.