The day after the first snow
Well the snow came one day too late for a White Christmas with the first snow fall we got for the winter occurring over day of the 26th of December. Around our house it melted as soon as it hit the ground, however early the next morning I took a walk and noticed it was still sitting upon the distant Mt Hiei (Kyoto's highest mountain).
I'd like to fill you in a bit about our Christmas time in Japan. Firstly Ritsuko and I had wished to go out to a nice restaurant for a Christmas diner, but instead on Christmas Eve we were invited a long to a performance of Handle's Messiah in Kyoto city by our landlady. On the way to the performance she brought us to a nice Italian restaurant (so we got both a nice restaurant and a concert). On Christmas day I was pretty much bedridden with the flu, but I managed to watch Star Wars Episode I on DVD before returning to bed. On the 26th we were invited over for a Christmas dinner with a family from another church in Nagaokakyo, after dinner, I saw the Kyoto tower in the distance from their house. It was pointed out to me by our host that it was designed to look like a candle and thus Kyoto (in the traditional way) is the spiritual light of Japan. This gave me inspiration for the name “Shining Lights Church”, but more about that in a few entries later...
Christmas Light Up
Christmas in Japan has a lot of build up, the Christmas songs are played in all of the shops even the most Christian ones (in English, I have not once heard a Christmas song in Japanese playing in the shops). Nobody complains, even though only 1% of the population is Christian. There are decorations everywhere. Some people go out sing corals. City councils set up big light displays (like the one in this picture). Yet Christmas is not even a public holiday in Japan and few people really celebrate it. In Japan either it is a night couples go out or that families eat KFC (because Colonel Sanders looks like Santa). On Christmas day all of the decorations and music has gone from the shops, to make way for the New Year's decorations and music. All the hype for not much.
You might notice there's a bit of a gap of days between this entry and the previous entry. The reason for this was in the week between these two entries I had been really busy handing out advertisements for our English classes at the train stations morning and evening. After all of this hard work it was time to take a well deserved bit of time out and I spent a Saturday morning in Arashiyama about 10kms away from Nagaokakyo.
Arashiyama is a part of Kyoto that still has a lot of older style buildings and is quite a nice place to wander around if you get there early enough before all of the tourist and day trippers gather there. I got there around 8:00am and the place was almost empty. Eventually I'll get to putting up a full gallery of the shots from this visit, but until then you can check out a couple of my previous visits to Arashiyama (not so early in the day). See http://www.pbase.com/jameslclarke/arashiyama05
The Mac is Back!
We sent this Mac by Fedex all the way from Australia it cost $200 (AUD) to send which worked out to a lot more economical than having to sell it in Australia and buy a new one in Japan. As you might have a read a few entries ago Apple would NOT sell us a matching white iMac Japanese power cord for it, so I ended up buy a black PC power cord which works. The power supply in the computer is rated at 100-240V so there is no problem with the computer working in Japan. The computer desk is one we bought from the recycle shop in Takasuki for about 5,000yen. The map of Japan/Calendar on the wall is a freebie I got from BIC Camera in Kyoto. BTW this computer is an iMac G5 which I think is in some ways to superior to the current Intel based iMacs, although if you're wanting to run Windows (why?) on your Mac, then it's better to have an Intel based Mac and run VMWare fussion.