Saturday, 27 February 2010

The Mechanical Wonders of Japan

Hello! We went to Kobe for Chinese New Year, it was fun... but that is not the point of this post. Our friends Dan and Yuka took us to Kobe with them. After we checked out Chinese New Year, Yuka had to take us to Harbour Land. An amusement park that would make any carni proud. It was then that I saw them....they were beautiful! Large fuzzy animals and monsters that you pay 200 yen and then sit on and drive around. I was in cheesy heaven.

Here is Yuka on her amazing giraffe and me on my awesome elephant!

This is Yuka and Dan, in the background I am concerned because my elephant seems to be malfunctioning.

And off we go! Two girls and the mechanical wonders of Japan!

Don't worry in this country two full grown women riding mechanical animals is not an unusual occurance.

Friday, 26 February 2010

"Bamboo Fence Nails Need Not," Confucious Say

So do you remember the episode of our cutting bamboo in the woods? The whole ill-gotten booty was worth the risk as we now have a bamboo fence, thanks to a saw and a whole lot of jute. We were growing tired of saying Konnichiwa to every person who walked down our street and so needed a slight privacy/shade screen for our summer backyard lounging. Interestingly enough I found out that Japanese fences made of bamboo should only be tied with a strange square not tactic using wet jute, which tightens as it dries. This is because nails break the chi of the bamboo, well actually they just crack the bamboo as it shrinks over time splitting your fence into a loose pile of sticks.
After over two weeks of planning and a good week of morning digging burying posts and tying around eighty knots I have a decent (maybe not the straightest) Japanese fence, the only one in my neighbourhood. I often wonder if the neighbours think I am nuts, kind of like a Japanese guy moving in to Waterloo and building a traditional Canadian Cedar rail fence or log home in his backyard the day after he moves in. The responses have been pretty copasetic so far as I have even had a few elderly neighbours walk by and shout Gambare (endure the hard work with pleasure), Kirei desu nei (Pretty thing you have there) and Otsukari sama deshita (you have worked hard) so all in all I think the hood is liking my Japanese fence. It divides my walking garden from my veggie plots (more on that later) quite well and hopefully since we have installed it we will recieve less Konnichiwa, Gambare and other comments for the privacy it provides. Hope you like the pictures.

Thursday, 25 February 2010


Ralph Nader has long been a champion of society and community over the elite, we have always admired his outspoken ability to raise consciousness and get results (he is after all the guy who formed the seat belt laws of the USA). This is a short video series that everyone who is living in this world should watch, he implores us to subordinate corporate power to the rule of the people, not communism but a taming of the international financial oligarchy by WE THE PEOPLE. You have the 30 minutes to watch, I mean you are just looking at our silly blog are you not? Forget Obama, if you wanted real change you should have been supporting Nader.

On "you tube" you can catch the last two parts of this great speech titled "Ralph Nader on corporatism".

Please get together and act as communities, watch what is going on and actually write your MP, otherwise you may as well live in a feudal system. The most important point made in these videos is for us to actually become a civil society rather than an individualized mass of consumer slaves to the corporate elite. Let us not sit idly by as our society is ruled by unelected public commons looting pirates, you only live once!

Sunday, 21 February 2010

Spring of the Jerk bird

Hey everyone.
The sun has been shining here in Sanda Japan for the past few days and all the plum blossoms on my bonsai have opened. Shinto shrines now smell richly of a host of plum blossoms and tulips and daffodils have been coming up. This warming has also meant another things, the birds are coming out stronger than they were in winter. I have made a friend with a neat one with peach cheeks, white eye stripes and a black cap. He is a rather well dressed chap who I call momo (japanese for peach), all he wants to do is peck insects from my garden and I am more than happy to make his acquaintance.
There is a smattering of other birds not nearly so character filled or pretty but entirely new animals to me being a North American. One of these new birds is a bird I have named the "Jerk-face-jerk" bird or simply "jerk bird". This long tailed grey bird (jerk) chases all other birds, including my friend momo and then mocks everyone and everything with his loud call, when he belts no other birds come near. He does not sing like the rest he screams, like a cat/whinney baby/construction-worker-whistle. This squak is so piercing it can be heard all around and he just keeps doing it. Most annoying thing about this is that he even does it into the late evening and early night! Maybe he is working on developing a new call or has something caught in his throat, whatever it is just be glad you do not have a "jerk" bird in your country.
\PS. I am sorry if such low-ball words lower the esteem of my blog, but it needed to be said, this bird is a real jerk, he is currently ruining my morning view.

Wednesday, 17 February 2010


Like kimonos, sushi and hello kitty ... hikikomori is thing unique to Japan. What I have to tell you might find upsetting, in fact I hope you find it upsetting, it has upset me. Do not worry I am not actually upset but ever since I have heard about this phenomenon it has confused me so much that I truly felt that it should be part of our blog.
Hikikomori or 'the withdrawn' are people who for a host of social reasons choose to live as complete hermits separate from Japanese society. They shut themselves in their bedrooms and do not come out for months and in many cases years. The definition of hikikomori on the Japanese Government site is a person who has not gone outside for a period of over six months. According to psychologist Tamaki Saito, who first coined the phrase, there may be one million hikikomori in Japan representing 20% of all male adolescents in Japan, or 1% of the total Japanese population. Although, the majority of hikiomori are boys there are also many girls. Many begin as students who refuse to go to school and slowly slip into further social isolation.
Now the question is.... what is causing so many young people in Japan to choose this lifestyle? The videos I watched showed shy young men and women who seemed to have considerable problems communicating and did not seem to trust any of the people around them. Many analysts point to the unbelievable pressure students are under in Japanese middle and high schools and in their homes. Pushed to succeed until they flatly refuse and after a time shut out everything and everybody.
So while we in Canada are worried about students dropping out of school, the Japanese parent's worry is their child dropping out of life. Sorry for dire thoughts but this issue or disease (whatever you want to call it) was just so interesting to me that I thought I needed to share it.