Friday, September 28, 2012

Where the River Bends

The rice fields have yellowed over and the farmers are working hard to hang the harvest.

IMG_3157_9-26 Niyodogawa River

What was a mere instant of humid weather evaporated into cool mornings and nights. Oh how I've longed for high pressure. It's been too infrequent for my mind and soul. The rivers glow with an unbelievable green in the blue skies of autumn. From afar it looks like algae plumes gone astray. Don't be fooled. Get close and peer into the shallow depths where the slender fish swim. That is if you can find them.

IMG_3154_9-26 Niyodogawa River

Submersible bridges wading in the shallows much the same. The fishermen are trying to track their catch. They all are the best of friends but long time foes.

IMG_3161_9-26 Niyodogawa River

I would love to steal one of the boats and ride the river. I would let my skin turn ruddy from the bright sun. I wouldn't really care.

IMG_3168_9-26 Niyodogawa River

You won't really believe what you see. But they call it Niyodogawa blue for a reason.

IMG_3179_9-26 Niyodogawa River

A great secret of nature. Man has made sure to explain it clearly.

IMG_3180_9-26 Niyodogawa River

In the still neck of the river. A man and his boat sliced the water. I couldn't resist. Maybe a trespass on my part.

IMG_3220_9-26 Niyodogawa River

How was the catch today? He didn't say.

IMG_3217_9-26 Niyodogawa River

In Japanese they say the sky is high but when I was asked to translate, a suitable phrase escaped me. Then looking here I realized I knew it all along. Endless sky.

IMG_3228_9-26 Niyodogawa River

Out of the classroom spills passive aggressive Chinese hate. At least for the day, the fisherman and I felt no such state.

Thursday, September 27, 2012


With every turn of the meandering mountain roads I wonder if something more than sugi and concrete walls will meet my eyes. A little stream flowing under a bridge. Broken views of what seems to be endless hills. Not much ever changes. Too late to turn back. Too much commitment to going forward is the constant problem. It's the same as my favorite mountains. Clear when I leave but foggy when I get close. I know what lies behind the thick fog. It isn't good enough though. I want to see something. How much of the mundane will we allow ourselves to be satisfied with? Before you know it you are crossing over a mountain ridge and entering another microcosm. Here you are hoping for the best knowing half the time nothing will be your reward. Yet we push onward. Same story again and again.

IMG_2561_9-19 Kiyotaki Fall

Then a sign might catch your eye. The car only takes you so far. The feet have to do the rest. Adjacent vacant roads are losing their fight with nature. The steep edges losing to the rain. The concrete yielding its once strong grasp. In a way you are glad. In a way it's sad. The warm sun slowly turning cold. The distant view of a waterfall hidden away.

IMG_2577_9-19 Kiyotaki Fall

Your interest might be piqued again. The path doesn't end.

IMG_2583_9-19 Kiyotaki Fall

The ropes only convey one message. Go forward. The valley is ready to leave its green behind and go to fall.


What great fate has kept this tranquil spot at bay?

IMG_2597_9-19 Kiyotaki Fall

The giant rock slide is responsible you could say. Yet a clear path remains.

IMG_2601_9-19 Kiyotaki Fall

Well, is that the something I came to find? It's shadowy stare left me chilled. It's then you realize the time has come to go home.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Oh Wednesday

Last week I ventured off into the mountains only to find an unpaved road that my bald tire car wasn't going to like. I turned around and found myself just going. Up and over some unknown mountains. Through memories of the past spring.

IMG_2546_9-19 Kiyotaki Fall

More remains to be said. More for later.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

After the Rains

One more rainy day and I'm going to lose my mind. At least it cleared off in the afternoon. I've hated being stuck inside all the time. I figured there might be some crabs hanging out on the walls by the river after all the rain so I went out to greet the mosquitoes and twilight. There weren't any crabs like I had seen in earlier summer so I was a bit disappointed. I tried to find anything else interesting around the river. It was all pretty mundane. Concrete walls and weeds. Then on my loop back up to the house I came across some dew soaked beauties. My monthly flower allowance has been met and this is deserving.

Tattered Petal Parasol

Tomorrow could be worthwhile. The waterfalls will be blasting. I have no choice but to go.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Citrus Pie

I think I was inspired to make a key lime pie after playing the Sims with Christy. Yeah I think that's right. I wasn't going to find key limes in Japan though. I was prepared to substitute limes. I first checked for lime juice but no dice. I proceeded to look for limes and managed to find one small one. That was far from enough juice to put in my pie. I found some green citrus fruit that looked like a fair substitute for all the limes. It took me awhile to get around to making the pie. The fruit was starting to turn yellow so it was time to get it made before the flavor profile changed. What am I talking about? I didn't even taste the fruit when it was mostly green.

This was one of the easiest things I've made in the kitchen. The ingredients are simple, the assembly is simple, and the bake time is 20 minutes total. The pie was still a little warm after an hour of cooling so I accelerated its chill by sticking it in the freezer for another hour. At that point I couldn't stop from eating a slice or two.

Bushukan Sudachi Pie

Wow. The flavor was better than I expected. The bushukan and sudachi citrus I used created a great sweet and tart flavor in the pie. I've been feasting on pie since last night. I was generous to off load a couple of pieces in exchange for a dinner made for my parents and me. It was a good excuse to return the plates I had been holding onto. I think I ate about 3 pieces of pie today. I feel great satisfaction baking. Many people are genuinely impressed by the food I make. If they only knew how easy it is sometimes they might take the risk. Unfortunately most think trying something is too hard. Now I just need to have my sister teach me how to make a legitimate pie crust and I'll be on my way to ruling the bakery kingdom.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Yours Truly On TV

I finally uploaded the stone skipping contest video. I should have upped the volume on my TV though. If you watch you are going to need to crank your sound. I'm in the very first part and then a section a little bit later on. Most of it is about the host but I'm pleased that I made it into the TV program. The quality is a bit iffy because of my old analog TV and I recorded with my camera. Nonetheless, you can experience the feel of the contest. Enjoy.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Giving to the Gods in Tsubayama

Oh what another blue morning and I was filled with joy. But the usual happened. The afternoon clouded over and brought us under a blanket of dashed optimism yet again. At least it wasn't raining or I would have been left to get my life in order at home once and for all. It was more likely the couch would once again great me with open arms. I've been to Tsubayama valley quite a few times in the past few months. I'm not sure what I'm looking for there. I think it holds some mysterious promise in my mind. Whenever I look at Goshiki I wonder what possessed me to go on an errant climb through the forest and mountains. The real answer to my question is that Tsubayama feels like the closest step to another time. The traces of the dwindling inhabitants remain. Yet, just like going up to Goshiki, one is reminded of how few have been into the bottom of the valley. I scrambled down through my favorite garden of sugi trees. I was already complaining of the walk back up...

 9-16 Tsubayama_0005

With all the recent rain the stream was flowing rather heavy. Not heavy enough to keep me from going into it though. It never occurred to me that it might be good to secure my tripod while I was making my way through the quasi rapids. As I perched on a stone to reach my foot to a viable location that wouldn't sweep me away, the tripod slipped off my backpack and was thrown into the churning stream. I watched it float away trying to see where it went. I went back to look but it was futile. The gods claimed my tripod. It must be the sacrifice for a new one then. That sounds right.

9-16 Tsubayama_0006

Yes. I really did want to find it. It had been my trusty friend for many a situation. Alas it drowned in that wild stream. I wouldn't want it to rest anywhere else.

9-16 Tsubayama_0002

I had wanted to see the view from this spot for some time. I was hoping it would be easier to see up where the water was coming down some rocks. This water feature is after a narrow deep pool. I wanted to swim in that deep pool. Truth be told, these pools kind of scare me. No matter how clear and clean they are, I feel like something terrible is going to break out of the rocks and take hold of me. I swam close to the background. The intensity threw me back. There was no use. The pool in the foreground was pleasant enough for today. I cast my view down the stream and was confused.

9-16 Tsubayama_0008

The glare made it seem as though the river had turned to rock. No short time later and I was drudging up the steep valley walls to make my triumphant return home. It was good timing because the rain was floating into the canyon on the looming clouds. But back in the good old land of home there was no rain to crush my spirit. The slightly foggy river set my vision straight.

Kamiyakawa River

Monday, September 10, 2012


I wasn't going to do anything on Saturday so thankfully I was invited to visit Matsuyama for the day with some friends. I had never been and wanted to at least see the Bocchan Train before my time is up in Japan. Well I did see but actually wasn't that interested. I just wanted to live the 2nd year English textbook section about the trip to Matsuyama. I think I hit everything they did in the book and more. I hope they rode up the lift to the castle because it would have been a tiring walk. I probably would have walked up if I was alone. I liked the chair left and wanted to go skiing after riding it.

Matsuyama Castle Lift

Matsuyama Castle is somewhat famous in Japan, I think. I'm too lazy to double check that statement but it might fall into a similar category as Kochi Castle.

Matsuyama Castle

It has a nice feudal feel to it. More so than Kochi Castle. It is also perched on a hill in the middle of Matsuyama which gives a great view of the surrounding environs and the sea.

Matsuyama Castle Entry

I was dripping sweat when we got to the top. I wished no photographs were taken of me with lower chest sweat marks. They look oh so beautiful.

Matsuyama View

We drove to the other side of town to visit the famous Dogo Onsen. It is known throughout Japan because of how old it is. It was partial inspiration for a movie bath house. We went there half expecting not to go in but after sitting in front of the building for awhile we figured, why not? It was completely underwhelming as I had read. You only go there to say you went there. Give me back those outdoor baths in the mountains of Nagano or Hokkaido.

Then we ate sushi. Way too much sushi but I was thankful. If it quits raining I might have better pictures to look at. Bare with me!

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Clearing Foggy Heads With River Water

I survived a mind numbing few days at school this past week. It all came out for the best though. I was able to accomplish a lot and motivate myself to get back into the swing of things. I bought a new bread pan this weekend and made a giant loaf of white bread. That came out very nicely. It's good to bake some bread after a break for a few months. I want to make a marbled rye loaf next week and I think I'm on track for that to happen.

Last week I had wanted to swim in the river after the stone skipping competition but I ran out of time. I found this nice picture on the depths of the internet. Okay so it wasn't that random. Some guy had interviewed me about the contest and I let him put me up on the page. It's about local events it seems but I can't imagine anyone really visits the page. Who knows...

I was determined to get out swimming this weekend. I was a little unsure of the conditions because of a dumping of rain we endured over the past few days. It rained so much. That can make the river a bit unsuitable for swimming. The strong current doesn't necessarily encourage great swimming. However, I was set on getting into the river regardless of how fast it was flowing. Sounds kind of scary. Trust me though, everything was fine

Calm but Rushing

The river turns to an interesting shade of green after heavy rain. The water remains relatively clear even with the hillsides draining into the stream. This picture is highly misleading. That water was really flowing through that part. It's shallow enough walk around without the water going over your head. It was a little too strong, however, to walk very far up the stream. I had a good time walking for a little up the stream and then catching a nice ride on the current. I took my mask so I could see under the water. I should have collected some of those stones for the competition last week. It crossed my mind but I thought it might be cheating.

Choppy Rocky Blocks

This was the first time I came down to this part of the river. I don't usually like to hang out by the river because it's by the road and I feel exposed. Why should I care? I'm going to start spending more time down by the river day dreaming and thinking. It relaxes me and feels good. I love the water. On the way back up to the car I ran into this little guy.

Skinkin' Around

I slowly reached into my bag to pull out my camera. I half expected him to dart away before I could get a close up. The skinks and little lizards are skittish. He let me get really close. He was breathing hard hoping I would go away and I was hoping he would stay. I've seen these little lizards so many times by now but I also enjoy an intimate encounter. Thanks for making my day even better.

Skinkin' On Moss

Christy wanted me to write something about me. All I know is that me refers to I and if a student asked me to explain it, I wouldn't know how. Thanks for reminding me that I don't know anything about English. I'll ponder that down by the river.