Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Wander I Go

Drove again to the Kyo, forgetting entirely the usual boredom and weariness that accompanies the venture. After a couple days in town, MatsuMiki and I decided to head up to the open roads of Miyama. We found a small cabin on the edge of a river and settled in. As the sky turned purple, we wandered though a dark forest of tall, ancient trees, then over to a farm, where we startled the farmer as he was milking his cows before bed. He was doing it by machine now, something I should have guessed to be natural in this techno-age, but had never really thought about before. Hoses with four separate tubes were attached, pumping the milk into what looked like large syringes. The cows stood there with their vacant looks, thinking about whatever cows think about when someone is fiddling with their tits. Headed back after awhile, watching some small ducklings swimming freely in the rice paddies, uncomplaining in their work of weeding and debugging the fields in symbiotic exchange for a meal. Back at the cabin, made a simple meal of sloppy joes, then took a walk again in the incredibly strong winds, which had frightened the dogs so much that they'd forgotten to bark at us.

The next morning, fooled by the river into thinking that it was raining. Laying in the futon, staring awhile through the window, which framed the clouds moving quickly over a ridgeline which could've been in Bhutan. Simple breakfast of leftover sloppy joes, then set out to hike Hagakage. Nice easy walk, 90 minutes along steep trails recently groomed for summer. Flowers serving as colorful punctuation on a bamboo and ceder-colored page. At the top, enjoyed the 360 degree view of mountains. If not for the weather, we should've had a view of the Japan Sea. Instead, I peed in that direction, hoping it would mingle with the watershed, offering my unneeded minerals to the schools of hammerheads which often pass those rocky shores. Had some bread and tea, then blew my shakuhachi, hoping to chase away the clouds which had cooled things down considerably, making the sweat on my back turn cold. No luck. So we headed back to my car and make a quick drive over to Ashiu, the beautiful virgin forest protected by KyoDai for over 120 years. Hiked a little ways in, along a series of rails racing a river. As expected, the river won. Evening once again began to nudge aside the daylight. It was time to go home--that is, that place which I pay for, rather than my spiritual home in which I'd spent my entire day.

On the turntable: Ben Harper, "Both Sides of the Gun"
On the nighttable: Pico Iyer, "The Global Soul"

Thursday, May 25, 2006

What else could it be?

A major difference between Japan and America is that the former apologizes for everything (except the war of course), and the latter apologizes for nothing.

On the turntable: Tori Amos, "B-Side The Pink"
On the nighttable: Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, "A Study in Scarlet"

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Morning Commute




On the turntable: Jeff Beck, "With the Jan Hammer Group Live"

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Narita, a month ago...

The check-in counter girl
stepped on the scale with my bag.
She weighed 48 kilos.


On the turntable: David Gray, "A New Day at Midnight"

Monday, May 22, 2006

...so I'll have them

I got my new glasses today. I don't wear glasses often, but sometimes it helps when I've been reading to the point where my eyes melt. These new ones have a cool magnetic sunglasses attachment, sure to be lost someday while frolicking out of doors. As I put them on for the first time, this bland, gray, rainy, two-dimensional Yonago day came alive with color. The trees burst forth in the way that those 3D puzzles do, new props in the Land of Oz, with a snuff-snorting Mel Brooks standing off to the side saying, "Everything's so greeeen!" (I've mixed three metaphors in one sentence, sure to piss off my Freshman Comp-teaching big bro.) My eyes have yet to adjust to the new prescription, so when I look at the ground when I walk, it's like strolling a trampoline.

Now, if only the opthomologists could make specialty glasses for governments. Special colored lenses to help the US see more than black and white. And wide screen lenses for the Japanese Diet, making those edges of their visual tunnel turn fuzzy.

On the turntable: Mike Krstic, "Reboppin' Serbian Folk Dances"
On the nighttable: Mike Pattenden, "Last Orders at the Liar's Bar"

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Definition of Surreal

Walking through a supermarket on a Sunday afternoon, listening to "Roland the Headless Thompson Gunner" on the iPod.
Loud.
The other shoppers never suspected...

On the turntable: "Putomayo, One World"
On the nighttable: Paul Monette, "Becoming a Man"

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Insane Cloud Posse

Why are the clouds in such a hurry today,
So anxious to leave such a beautiful blue sky?


On the turntable: Psychedelic Furs, "Should God Forget"

Friday, May 19, 2006

Does Your Country have Four Seasons? In a Single Month?

OK, so something's wrong with the planet. It seems to be finding these seasonal changes awfully hard to bear, flitting around with a fickleness seen most often in a teenager trying to find the right outfit for a Saturday night date.

How else to explain these crisp, fall-like days we've been having. The kind of weather which usually follows typhoons. That could also be why we've had huge, orange Harvest Moons this month and last.

To recap: two weeks of cherry blossoms for spring;
two weeks of hot sunny days for summer;
these last two rainy weeks of crisp cool skies.

Will it snow June 1st? As I ponder this, the temp crawls up to 30, and the light rain feels like steam.

July already?


On the turntable: Iag Bari, "Fanfare Ciocarlia"
On the barometer: A really puzzled look

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Nothing Gold Can Stay

Let me just blow the dust from this recently neglected blog. It's now a year old as of May 9th. I can't quite remember where I was at the time, these first two weeks of the month being a maelstorm of activity, bringing with it Golden Week and a matriarchal invasion force. I was in motion, something I usually don't do during holiday times. But this year I stepped into the breach, and it went a little sometin' like this (Hit It!)

Sayonara party for Kat which begat long amblin' bouts of silliness with Shell's beau Nate, visiting from America (Fuck Yeah!) which begat after hours karaoke which begat boisterous singing which begat cottonmouth thirst which begat a rainbow of drinks which begat a samba beat hangover which begat vomiting while bathing (a first).

The following night, teatotalling at a party at Kyoryukan in the Kyo. Butoh and jazz and tap, Oh my! Cooling off on the roof, I spied what may have been a UFO over the Imperial Palace, plus a little silhouette of a man running across a roof on the next block.

Hike from Ichijoji over the top of Hiezan and down to Biwa. Deep in the forest, heard the puzzled screams of monkeys, and surprised a couple cuddling at the Buddha's feet.

Multiple meals with visiting friends over the following days. Sunshine means outdoor dining in the Kyo.

Walked the Kamogawa, from Kitayama to Shijo. In Tagh's, ran into Ady, down from Tokyo. Joined the masses in a bar crawl, which led us to Greenwich House. Midway through my first drink, it dawned on me that E-Ma Mari had sung here the week before.

Beautiful afternoon going park to park with Zack, Dana, and Eli. Breaking the (social) law by engaging in "mastication and ambulation" which led to Dana and my keeping the rhyme scheme going for almost an hour. Stacy came down from Gunma for wine, pasta, and Tarentino's surprisingly graphic new film.

A hike up the back side of Takao, with lunch and nap on a stream's small island.

My first trip to Yokohama, fighting the crowds to get to a Chinatown restaurant famous for rice gruel (and well worth the rep). Follow the neon lit waterfront awhile. Pay waaay too much for bad jazz and bad wine in Japan's highest building.

Pick up Mom and Maggie at KIX. My patented jet-lag cure? Wine and conversation in the back garden.

A few days in the 'Nog. Driving the villages of Shimane. Boat trip round Matsue castle. Daisen antiques and Aloe Cafe lunch. Visit to my tea sensei. Plus the usual cuisine, which I only seem to eat when folks come from abroad. Conveyer belt sushi anyone?

Obligatory Izakaya stop. Invite my better friends from the expat community. Number's have dwindled much this year, and sadly, I now no longer have to take off my socks to count them. [Hello Kyoto!].

A few days in the Kyo, with a side trip to Nara. Hit the major tourist spots, many I haven't hit in over a decade. Dodge the students who seem to be everywhere.

Send mom on her way, then walk the Kamogawa again, heavy with water from the week's rain. Bathe in the moonlite.

Watch the Aoi Matsuri procession awhile. Then round third and head for home...


On the turntable: "From Detroit to St. Germain"
On the nightable: Simon Winchester, "Korea"