One thing I've always wanted to see since reading about them in one of my Dr Seuss books as a child is Fireflies. As far as I know, there are no Fireflies anywhere near Perth. Almost every time I visited Japan on holidays in the past, people have mentioned “here's a place you can see Fireflies...”, but it has never been the right season (which only lasts for two weeks).
Well now that I live in Japan, and I found out that there is a certain spot in Nagaokakyo where the Fireflies appear in the right season, I have been waiting in anticipation. Finally the season arrived and we went to the place with a few of our friends from church. It was the most amazing site I've ever seen, a marvel of creation. How to they manage to all sync their lights like Christmas lights?
I'm sorry that my little photomontage doesn't really do justice to the experience, next year I'll be sure to bring a tripod.
Closing and Opening
It was a lovely sunny day and Ritsuko and I decided we'd walk all the way to Seiyu (owned by Walmart but not so big at least in Nagaokakyo). It's about a 25min walk from our house. On the way back there was beautiful afternoon sunlight so I made these two shots.
The first shot is of a Pachinko parlour that is actually closing down. If you're not familiar with Pachinko, it's a kind of vertical pinball type game, which players insert balls into the machine and attempt to win more balls by getting the ball to fall into certain targets. Once a small bucket load of balls have been won, this bucket can be exchanged for a prize, which then can be taken to a hock shop down the back alley and exchanged for cash (gambling is illegal, but this is how they get around it). So why is it closing? Changing demographics, young people don't play it so much, older people are retiring and have less spare cash to play it.
The second shot is of the new buildings at the local high school that have just recently opened. It is very good to see. Often I lament about how run down most government schools look in Japan. A country which is the worlds second biggest economy for some reason seems to leave most of it's schools depleted. Most schools I've seen, the exteriors and interiors look like they haven't changed since the 1960s! Well finally it's good to see a school get an upgrade to modern facilities. It's also good to note they are starting a lot more vocational style courses with the new facilities. It's about time...
New releases from Australia
I received a couple CDs from Australia in the post. Both these bands are truly “Metal Missionaries”, the lyrics of their songs contain an uncompromising Gospel message. Just as Ritsuko and I, bring the message of the Gospel to the Japanese culture. These bands bring the Gospel to the Heavy Metal culture around the world. I've had the privilege of working with both these bands in the past in a number of ways. I also took the photos in this Grave Forsaken album. I will present some photos from that shoot on Pbase later this year. While this Mortification album does not contain any of my photos, the recent live album (CD and DVD) “Live Humanitarian” does contain some of my photos.
I know from my relationship with these guys that the they're are serving the Lord and are not making a profit from their ministry. Rather they are spending money they earned in their day jobs producing these CDs which are of exceptional quality. If you like this kind of music, that is Thrash and Death Metal, consider supporting these guys by purchasing a CD.
Preparations for the Insect Season
As the season changes from the cold and relatively dry winter, to the hot, humid, rainy summer, many changes had to be made to ready the house for the totally different weather. This is something very new for me, since Perth's mild Mediterranean climate did not require drastic changes to things in the house between winter and summer. The other thing is in Japan insects stay relatively hidden for most of the colder months and then suddenly come with a bang in June. In order to keep them out of the house we had to change many carpets and rugs to tatami type mats and then purchase a lot of (environmentally friendly) insect killers.
To give you an idea of the amount insects in the summer here's a recording made in mid July of the cicadas in the trees near my house, note the sound sometimes get even louder than on this recording. They start their noise at 6am and continue to 6pm. It's good they are quiet at night, but if you're near a rice field then at night you will hear the frogs. Actually, it's a good thing you can hear frogs because it means the farmers a not using too strong chemicals on the rice. I heard in some other countries the chemicals used a so strong that it kills all the frogs!
Ritsuko and I made a trip (2 hours one way by the cheapest train option) out to the Airport to surprise our good friend Taka, who was returning from spending 9 months working at a orphanage in Thailand. It is amazing the journey that Taka has been on with God and we are exited to see where God will take him next. We don't know whether we be working in the same place together, but we know we serve the same God and we had the privilege of being with Taka at various stages in his walk and our walk. The last time we met Taka was in September last year while we were here on short trip to check out the house, before the move. At that time Taka was just about to head to Thailand. On the Saturday of that trip we made the two hour trip to his town then to see him and a visit a friend of his in hospital. Then on the Monday he came to Nagaokakyo and look at the house which we are now renting. He even took the photo of us on this pblog entry:- http://www.pbase.com/jameslclarke/image/103587599
It's also good to have a friend in Japan who is a fan of Grave Forsaken, and I'm sure all who know Taka from the Grave Forsaken Mosher Crew will be happy to see this entry. It's also interesting to note that Taka and I both have the same three countries which have been the locations were we've experienced things that have shaped our character and given us new insight to the things of God. These three countries are Australia, Thailand and Japan.