Sometimes you know it's good that I write these PBLOGs with a bit of hindsight. As you might recall, in 2009 my dad sent me a Dockers' poster
which was from a Perth newspaper. By 2010 that poster was looking a bit worse for wear, so I requested a new poster. This time my dad sent me a better quality $10 poster from the AFL shop in a nice poster tube. Well, it's now 2011 and the poster in this picture has been replaced once again, this time with another $10 poster, that I bought from a Dockers' shop when I went back to Perth this May.
Interestingly enough 2010 was a pretty good year for the Dockers, actually it was their second best season ever... And although a team is more than one player, one speculates on how it might have gone for them had Barlow not broken his leg. Well, that season is now gone, Barlow is back, but 2011 is not looking quite as good. Come on Dockers give some more of "that old heave ho" and hopefully we can make the finals again...
Note 10/08/2011: Well, I'm back from our trip to Gifu, we had a great time and held a baptism in a river. Now Ritsuko has gone to Australia to work on her new book. I'm here in Japan looking after our two cats, trying to knock off lots of preparation work, teaching a few classes (not many because it's summer vacation, but in Japan kids still go to school for sports/band/etc on summer vacation so the concept of vacation is a bit different here) and all the house work. When I do get some free time, I'd rather be out shooting than posting, but I will make an effort to post a few more PBLOGs and other photos.
The Children's Day Procession
Just two days after going to Kurama-yama
, to investigate some possible Japanese connections to Israel, which all started because I photographed a "Mikoshi" in 2009
, a "Mikoshi" came past my house. The reason it came past my house was that it was part of the Children's Day Procession. When I was young I used to ask my parents why there was no "Children's Day", thinking it was unfair that they got presents three times a year and us kids only got them twice a year. My parents would reply "that's because every day is Children's Day".
Well, Japan is a country which has recognised this problem and created "Children's Day" (which is on the day that traditionally is "Boys Day"
and there's also a "Girl's day"
, but the only Public Holiday is on boy's day, so they call it Children's Day). Hey they even have a public holiday for grand parents (aka "Respect for the Aged Day") and "Adults Day", as well as Mother's Day and Father's Day. So I guess they've got everyone covered then!
So, when I heard the sound of this procession approaching I grabbed my little Casio and snapped this from my front yard (which is like one meter of concrete between my house and the road!). There were are few older gentlemen wheeling this Mikoshi (rather than carrying it like The Ark of the Covenant) followed by heaps of kids in Happy Coats. While I was taking some shots one of the older gentlemen gave me a bag of snacks, which I then shared out amongst my students the very next day (which is another very Japanese thing to do, rather than hoarding gifts to yourself).
Note 20/07/2011: The busy period for work is over for about 7 weeks, but I've got lots of admin stuff to do in the mean time, as well as a 4 day trip to Gifu and a few day trips planned. Hopefully I will posts a good few more PBLOGs over these seven weeks and update some of the other galleries with newer photos.
The Mystery of the Tenggu
There are many Mysteries in Japanese culture the origins of which have been lost long ago. Records destroyed by wars, arson, and natural disasters. Other records that have been lost or hidden somewhere, but that may one day be revealed. The Japanese language changes and evolves much faster than English, meaning even words for things and names may be difficult to comprehend for the modern Japanese speaker. One of the big mysteries still to be answered: Is there a connection between the Japanese people and the Israelites? Did one of the 10 lost tribes migrate here? Or did members of the tribes of Judah, Benjamin or Levi migrate here after the destruction of Jerusalem in 70AD?
Over time I've been photographing the occasional suspected evidence
of a connection. However one day I was going through some photos of a parade and noticed a resemblance between the carrying of a “mikoshi” (portable Shinto Shrine)
and the carrying of the Ark of the Covenant. So I Googled “Mikoshi Ark of the Covenant” and found a lot of info. And it wasn't just from a group of elderly Japanese Christian gentlemen in Kobe! Even some Jewish scholars were doing their own research into the possible connection.
One of the places in Japan which many of the researchers believe has evidence of a connection is Kurama-yama, a mountain to the North of Kyoto city. So Ritsuko, I and our friends Mitsuko and Maki headed off to Kurama-yama during our Golden Week Holiday in 2010. On arrival at the base of Kurama-yama we came across the Tenggu (pictured) which many believe is one of the evidences of the connection. We also explored the mountain and looked at the supposed “Star of David”
emblems that could be found there. I'm still not sure if it's proved anything to me yet, but our search continues and I'm planning to BLOG more about the search in future. And it was worth going there just for the view
. I'll leave you with this video which is one of the better ones I've seen so far...
In a land famed for it's conformity, it's amazing the many and varying types of trains one can see, especially belonging to the JR (Japan Rail) Group of Companies. Even though they do vary in size, shape , colour, and interior décor, for the most part they do conform for punctuality, cleanliness and high level of customer service. What also is very interesting is the whole subculture that has come about because of the beautiful and varied trains and that is "rail fanning". On any weekend and sometimes even early on weekday mornings (before work?) the "rail fans" come out to any vantage point along the tracks armed with everything from handy cams, point and shoots to multiple pro dSLRs and Super Telephoto Lenses.
On this particular day I decided to try out my D700 with the 70-300VR lens. While walking about with this set up, I came to a rail crossing and decided to take a few test train shots. However it wasn't long before a few "rail fans" rocked up armed with very expensive set ups. One guy in particular had two Canon 1D(s?) Mk? Plus a Nikon D700 and 3 massive lenses. Plus huge tripods and a ladder! I became more fascinated in photoing the “rail fans” and their gear than the trains, so I guess I was "rail fan fanning"!
Something I can't find in Japan
Living in Japan there are a few things I find frustrating, although over time I'm becoming more accommodating. A few of these things relate to food like "why is the biggest size that cereal comes in is a 410gram pack?" (doesn't last me long) and "why can't I get non-sugary cereal like Vita Brits
?" "Why is the only chocolate available in a bar form a Snickers?" (but I'm getting used to Snickers now) But the biggest frustration is when I get a sore throat and can't find any anti bacterial lozenges in Japan, all there is here are throat candies, which don't do much at all.
Well it always seems to happen around Golden Week (in 2009, 2010 and also 2011) I had come down with a cold and was running short on supplies of Strepsils, so I took a photo of the last pack I had remaining and emailed to Mum and Dad who kindly sent me a couple of packets. Moving forwarded to the present time and not the time of this photo, funnily enough I've had less need of them over the last year than in the first two years here. However we have helped a lot of students who turn up to English class with sore throats, "try this it will blow the sore throat away" and most often it does. So maybe that’s why these don't sell in Japan, cause it might put lots of doctors out of business!
Note 19/06/2011: I took my second trip back to Australia in this May (and I still aren't up to blogging about my first trip back to Australia last August!). After I returned to Japan (May 8th) I enter the most busy period of English Teaching and other work, which is not quiet over yet, but it's slowed for a couple of weeks, so hopefully I can post a few more PBLOGs before it gets hectic again. The good news is busier means making more money, which wasn't true when I worked for someone else... Ah the joys of running your own business...