Friday, April 29, 2011

Show Me Japan Vol 1 Issue 23

And we are back to the usual stuff. But first I'd like to express my gratitude to Lisa over at Ichigoichielove for stepping in and taking care of Show Me Japan for the past few weeks. - Thank you so much!




IMPORTANT: Please enter a link to a specific post on your blog, not a general link to your entire blog/website. Thank you!

Welcome to the 23rd edition of Show Me Japan. 第23回 Show Me Japan へようこそ。

You can see previous editions here. 前回の”Show Me Japan” エントリーはここです。

FAQ page in English and Japanese is here. 英語と日本語のFAQはここにありますので、初めて参加される方は目を通して頂けると幸いです。

Below is a random selection of photos from last week’s participants. 前回の参加者中からランダムに選んだ写真を以下に紹介します。

The widget to enter your links is at the end of this post – below the photos. ”Show Me Japan”にエントリーする際のリンクを貼るウィジェットはこの記事の一番下にあります。

So, here we go! In no particular order:

- from Bigger in Japan - click on the photo to go to his blog.


- from Avery Morrow - you know the drill, click on the photo, etc, etc...


- from blu kats, and yeah, there are two cats, and they do seem blue, or at least bluish. Click on the image above to visit them.


- from the one and only Lina - click on the photo for more of her Japan memories


- from sixmats in Sendai. In Sendai, man. Need I say more? Click on the blossom to be taken over to his blog.


If you participate in Show Me Japan, please be so kind and include a link back to this blog in your post. エントリーしたポスト中で “Show Me Japan”のリンクを貼り忘れてないか確かめて頂けると幸いです。バッジに “Show Me Japan”のリンクを加えて頂ければ至極幸いここ極まれりです。


Thank you for participating and have a wonderful weekend.
それでは参加者の皆さん、よい週末を。




And now it's your turn!!!




Show Me Japan Participants

1. sixmats
2. Haikugirl
3. Jon (Tornadoes28)
4. misadventures with miso
5. Vincent
6. Japan Australia
7. David LaSpina
8. Getting High!!
9. Gaijinass
10. Ichigoichielove
11. Jay Dee in Japan
12. kyushudan
13. Rekishi no Tabi
14. Bridget Beaver
15. Lina
16. bartman
17. Haikugirl
18. A Modern Girl
19. kyushudan
20. YOUSUKE
21. Muza-chan
22. goodandbadjapan
23. Lina In Hiroshima
24. David
25. Anna
26. Loco
27. bird

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Annual Shrines and Temples Cleanup in Nikko

The annual cleanup was held a week earlier this year, not sure why. Maybe so the temple grounds could look all sparkling and beautiful for Golden Week? Possibly. Whatever the reason, we were there with our work gloves on, flipping stones and picking up dirt. Oh, the things we do for Nikko! The sacrifice of getting at an ungodly hour on a Sunday - the only day when I can sleep in. But I didn't sleep in today. Today, like all the other good worker bees, we headed for the Shrines and Temples complex in Nikko to do our part and clean the damn thing.



Last year we worked at Toshogu, this year we were assigned to Taiyuin. Personally, I like Taiyuin better. Not sure why. Maybe it's because the volunteers get not only hot tea (like at Toshogu), but also yummy pickles? And I definitely like pickles.

This year the money that normally goes to the clean up volunteers (something very nominal like 500 yen per person) was donated to the earthquake and tsunami victims.

Here's a video of our effort:




And even with two pairs of work gloves, my hands looked like I've been digging in the dirt. Which, come to think of it, I was.


All in all, it was a great day.

And this is my entry for Show Me Japan, which this week is again guest hosted by the wonderful Ichigoichielove.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Show Me Japan Vol 1 Issue 22 is hosted by

the wonderful Ichigoichielove again.

Here's the link - Show Me Japan Vol.1 Issue 22.


Please go over there, say "hello" and do some awesome Japan showing!

Have a great weekend everyone!

Monday, April 18, 2011

There was a fire in Nikko last Saturday

I mentioned in my post on Saturday that there was a big fire in Nikko city on April 16. Four buildings burned down to pretty much nothing. That's really sad and unfortunate. But what is even sadder and more unfortunate is the story how this fire started.



An elderly lady struggled to park her car. In a true Japanese fashion, she was parking it by backing up into the parking space. People remembered her very well, because her maneuvers blocked the traffic for a couple of minutes. She finally managed to park and went in to buy something.



When she returned to her car, she got in, and all she needed to do was turn on the turn signal and join the traffic on route 119 (that main street in front of the building). But being an elderly lady, she didn't quite manage to do so on her first attempt. She had to back up in order to re-position the car. And she backed up so vigorously (or perhaps confused the brake and gas pedals, that would be my guess) and hit something flammable. Some people say it was a propane tank, others - that it was a portable fuel container. Either way, she hit it hard enough for it to fall on the back of her car and start a fire.

It was a very windy day. She had just enough time to get out of the car when the fire was burning out of control. And before anybody knew what was going on, four buildings were in flames.



The old woman will not be held liable for the accident, because the official version is that something in her car "malfunctioned". And since there no longer is a car to examine and prove what really happened, the official version stands.

Personally, I don't know how she can live with herself knowing that four families lost their lives' work because of her carelessness. I hope she has the worst nightmares imaginable till the day she dies.


Sunday, April 17, 2011

Shirakawa Castle after the Tohoku earthquake

Because we love Fukushima, we decided to drive up to Aizu Wakamatsu today. And so we did. That will be something for another post.

On the way home we stopped in Shirakawa and went to see the castle there. I like this castle a lot. It has free parking and you don't have to pay to enter the tower.



However, today we had to be happy with visitng the park in front of the castle. Why only the park? Because you can't enter the castle now. Why? The grounds were seriously damaged in the Tohoku earthquake.


This is the entrance. You think it looks bad? It gets worse.



And even worse here:

And just take a look at these trees:


Still, there were quite a few people in the park enjoying the cherry blossoms and picnicking under the trees. We saw a group of foreigners as well. They were not French, obviously.



Here's the video of the damage. I do hope they will restore the grounds eventually and we'll be able to enter the castle once again.





This is my entry for Show Me Japan, which this week is hosted by Lisa over at Ichigoichielove.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Empty Nikko

We didn't plan to visit the temple complex today. With the Yayoi festival canceled this year (or rather - with only the ritual part of the festival performed behind closed doors) there was no reason for us to schlep all the way up there. But we did anyway. And we got stuck in a massive traffic jam on route 119. The reason for that? A huge fire that destroyed four houses along the street. Gone is one coffee shop, one soba shop and I don't remember what else was there.

When we got to the temple complex (yep, that's that World Heritage Site in Nikko I'm talking about here) it was deserted. I've never ever seen it that empty on a beautiful sunny Saturday. Apart from literally a handful of Japanese tourists and one annoying Farsi-speaking woman who insisted on smoking inside a souvenir shop, there was nobody else. I'm pretty certain I was the only foreigner there.


The fact that the public festivities of Yayoi were canceled didn't help either with bringing more people to town. And now I'm hearing that there will be no Toshogu Festival this year either. That means no Thousand Warrior March, no Yabusame, no glitz and show normally expected in the middle of May. Stupid, if you ask me. If Nikko city really wants to bring tourists back, they should be ADDING events, not canceling them. They should entice hotel and pension owners (especially those of high end establishments) to reduce prices, create a multi-lingual promo campaign and do stuff.

Why specifically high end establishments? Because that's the best and most memorable way to experience Nikko. And usually people who stay at such places (translation - they're not yen pinching backpackers) have more disposable income to spend on other things and support local economy.

But nooooo... owners of fancier places would rather starve or close shop for a while than reduce room prices. That's Nikko for you, sadly. But the same can be said for other areas in Japan as well. Many business owners b*tch and moan that tourists are not coming right now. Yet, if you start digging deeper, you find out that they don't really mean foreign tourists. They mean retired Japanese who have nothing better to do with their time than travel the country.
Yet even the places that cater to foreigners are either unwilling or unable to come up with a promotion plan. Because it's so much easier to sit and complain that so few people have visited Nikko this month compared with the same time last year.

Myself, I'll be back at Toshogu next Sunday to participate in the annual clean-up event. Yep, it's scheduled early this year. At least they had the good sense to hold it on a weekend. Because with Nikko, you just never know what kind of idiotic planning might be forced upon you. But that's all part of the charm, right? And we wouldn't have it any other way. Nikko rules!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Show Me Japan Vol 1 Issue 21 is hosted this week by...

Lisa over at Ichigoichielove.

She'll be taking care of Show Me Japan for the next few months.

Please visit her, say "hello" and show her Japan!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

I love you Fukushima

As you can see, there is no Show Me Japan this week. Why? Because I need to take a break and focus on myself for a while. With everything that's been going on here for the past month, I'm actually pretty surprised we didn't have a physical and mental breakdown. Not yet anyway.

It's just that I'm sooooo tired lately... And I just started a new job. Doing what I love. That fact makes it a lot easier to get up every morning. And damn, I have to get up early now - something that I'm not used to.

So yes, Show Me Japan is taking a break. It'll be back, of that I'm certain. I just don't know when.

In the meantime, our life goes on. Just like last Sunday, today I was planning to go and play with the Fukushima evacuee children that are staying at Sugatagawa. But unfortunately, I didn't make it. Today was my only day off this week and it was spent at the laundromat (no, not because I'm afraid to hang stuff out to dry due to radioactivity, rather - lots of winter coats to wash and dry), shopping (still no yogurt to be found) and cleaning (haven't been doing any of that lately and it's showing).

And then it was off for a quick peek at cherry blossoms. I'll try to take more photos next weekend, I promise.



So what else is new? Not much, really.

Yesterday I was able to buy Vitamin Water, but in a different bottle. I haven't seen Vitamin Water since the earthquake. It disappeared when people got worried about radioactive tap water, because of Fukushima. And then, just as many other drinks, it was gone due to packaging shortages. But I see the company managed to put it in a different bottle and it's available at some stores.

Now, if only dairy companies could put non-fat yogurt in a different container, or in any container at all, my life would be complete. I mean, what am I supposed to eat for breakfast? Fish and miso soup? Ha! That will be the day! And don't hold your breath for natto, either. It has also disappeared due to packaging shortages.

Our house is still being built, more or less according to schedule. But we had to re-select many features last week. The companies manufacturing our first choices had the misfortune to be located in Miyagi and Iwate prefectures. And how to put it nicely? Are no longer able to supply the contracted building materials? Yeah, something like that. Our second choices aren't as nice, but that's what happens if you're trying to build a house during a national disaster. You get what you can, not what you want.

As in other places in Japan, in Tochigi the cherry blossom viewing parties are very subdued this year too. There are no cherry tree night time light ups (gotta save electricity) and people feel they shouldn't be out celebrating in the aftermath of the horrors of last month. Which, if you ask me, is stupid.

We should go out and celebrate. We should buy booze to keep the sake manufacturers up north in business. We should eat till we can eat no more to keep the meat and produce from Tohoku from going bad. And we should go out and spend money to support our local businesses, because they need our support. Especially here, north of Tokyo. THAT is what we should be doing, instead of staying at home and feeling miserable for ourselves.

And I plan to do just that, but next weekend. No sake for me, however. But I'm willing to buy a bottle. As long as it was made in Tohoku!




More info here. That's where the translation below came from, too.

Message
To everyone in Fukushima,
we’re supporting you from across Japan.
That’s why we’ll all sing together.

Song Start
I left my true self at Fukushima, Fukushima, Fukushima
I loved the true you at Fukushima, Fukushima, Fukushima

Something will start tomorrow. Something beautiful.
Something will start tomorrow. I’m talking about you.

I love you baby, Fukushima. I need you baby, Fukushima.
I want you baby, we love Fukushima. (x2)

Let me see that you’re wonderful at Fukushima, Fukushima, Fukushima.
The dreamlike days and the beautiful you, at Fukushima, Fukushima, Fukushima.

Tomorrow, everything will begin. Your life will begin.
Tomorrow, a new life will begin. Your life will begin.

I love you baby, Fukushima. I need you baby, Fukushima.
I want you baby, we love Fukushima.

I love you baby, Hamadori. I need you baby, Nakadori.
I want you baby, Aizu. We love Fukushima.

I love you baby, Nomaoi. I need you baby, Akabeko.
I want you baby, Tsuruga Castle. We love Fukushima.

I love you baby, Fukushima. I need you baby, Fukushima.
I want you baby, we love Fukushima. (x2)


Hamadori, Nakadori and Aizu are all regions in Fukushima. Nomaoi means "wild horse chase" and refers to a military exercise carried out in Fukushima during the Edo Period, re-created to this day during the Soma-Nomaoi Festival. Akapeko is a traditional toy from Fukushima shaped like a red cow.



PS. For those geographically challenged, we are right under Fukushima.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Show Me Japan Vol.1 Issue 20

As you probably know, last week’s Show Me Japan was hosted by Lisa from Ichigoichielove. Lisa – thank you so much for stepping in and taking care of the meme.

皆さんご承知の通り、先週のShow Me Japanは一期一会ラブのリサがホストをつとめてくれました。突然のお願いにも関わらす、申し出を快諾してくれてとても良く面倒をみてくれたリサに拍手拍手!どうも有り難う。

And we would like to thank all participants for their kind words and support during this difficult time.

そして、この困難な時期に暖かい言葉をかけてくれて支えてくれた参加者全員にもこの場をかりて厚く御礼申し上げます。

This week things are back to normal and we are very happy to present Show Me Japan for the 20th time!
今週からは普段通りに戻って、20回目のShow Me Japanを楽しみましょう!


Enjoy!

IMPORTANT: Please enter a link to a specific post on your blog, not a general link to your entire blog/website. Thank you!


Welcome to the 20th edition of Show Me Japan. 第20回 Show Me Japan へようこそ。

You can see previous editions here. 前回の”Show Me Japan” エントリーはここです。

FAQ page in English and Japanese is here. 英語と日本語のFAQはここにありますので、初めて参加される方は目を通して頂けると幸いです。

Below is a random selection of photos from last week’s participants. 前回の参加者中からランダムに選んだ写真を以下に紹介します。

The widget to enter your links is at the end of this post – below the photos. ”Show Me Japan”にエントリーする際のリンクを貼るウィジェットはこの記事の一番下にあります。

Yay for Haikugirl! Click on the photo to be taken to her blog.



From the soulful one of the Soul of Japan. Click on the deer to be taken to Tony's blog.


JayDee says spring is here. Oh rearry? Click on the photo to see if that's true.


The one and only Lina is revisiting Japan. Click on the photo to see what she's been up to.


And Yousuke, as always, is doing his thing. And doing it exceptionally well, of course. To see more of his excellent photos, click on the image above.


And a special mention for Bad Boy in Japan (aka Naked Girl) - just go and read this post. He doesn't mince words and tells it like it is.

If you participate in Show Me Japan, please be so kind and include a link back to this blog in your post. エントリーしたポスト中で “Show Me Japan”のリンクを貼り忘れてないか確かめて頂けると幸いです。バッジに “Show Me Japan”のリンクを加えて頂ければ至極幸いここ極まれりです。


Thank you for participating and have a wonderful weekend.
それでは参加者の皆さん、よい週末を。




And now it's your turn!!!




Show Me Japan Participants

1. lina
2. Jon
3. Kawaii Culture
4. Shy and Naked Girl
5. Anzu
6. YOUSUKE
7. David JapanDave LaSpina
8. kyushudan
9. Spooning with a Schoolboy
10. LifeyouTV
11. bartman
12. cocomino
13. Muza-chan
14. lina
15. Jay Dee in Japan
16. TDP
17. goodandbadjapan
18. bird
19. SurvivingInJapan
20. Alice Vyxle
21. Haikugirl
22. Ichigoichielove