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2008年10月

2008 September 16 Tuesday thru September 22 Monday.

2008sep20_shakuhachi The Autumn Equinox is tomorrow, and the weather this past week has been absolutely gorgeous.   

I love this time of year the most of all. 

I like to spend a lot of time outdoors, both day and night. 

Because it is still warm enough to walk around with bare feet and sandals.   

I like to walk slow, and take my alto recorder with me. 

Which got me to thinking again, about my promise to myself, to get a Japanese ShakuHachi Bamboo flute THIS YEAR, and learn how to play it too.   

I was thinking that I may have to pay from between 20,000 yen to 40,000 yen for a beginner's bamboo flute.   

A bit expensive, but I really want to do this, so I decided to go downtown on Saturday afternoon and buy one.   

The only store which I could find, that had any 尺八 for sale, was the OoNuma Musical Instruments Store 大沼楽器 at 2 Jodori 11 Chome.   

When I walked into the store, I saw a very nice looking shakuhachi with a price tag of 100,000 yen.   

YIKES!    I wonder if they have something a bit less expensive.   They did.

The one I bought, is the one you can see in the photo on the left.   

It only cost 9,000 yen because it is made of plastic.   

A very hard and thick plastic, but plastic nonetheless. 

The black band that you can see in the middle of the flute is the place where you can pull it apart into two pieces, making it easy to carry around in a small bag.

The shakuhachi is not easy to play.   

It has no reeds in the mouthpiece, in fact it has no mouthpiece at all. 

Just an open hole at the top with a very small v-shaped cutout at the front.   

It is like blowing across the top of an open bottle in order to make a sound, only much more difficult.   

I has a total of five finger holes.   

Four on the front and one on the back.   

The easiest sound to make, is with all of the finger holes open.   

Even this took me a good 30 minutes to learn how to make a steady musical sound.   

After practicing for 3 days straight, I was finally able to make a sound with all 5 finger holes covered.   I say make a sound, but not music.   Not yet.   

This is by far, the most difficult musical instrument, I have ever tried to play.  (I have never tried to play the violin or the clarinet, or the trombone, etc.)

I really love the sound of the Japanese Bamboo Flute 尺八, and I am confident that I will be able to make it sound nice, after several years of practice.

I know for a fact that anyone who really tries hard to do something, that they really want to do, will be able to make it happen. 

Even non-Japanese people can learn how to play the shakuhachi well.   

Click here to see a YOU TUBE video of  Todd Barton  playing a song called "AKEBONO" on a very expensive flute.   

I want to become that good too, someday.

2008sep20_jomonguide_2



Another thing which I bought on the same day, was a book about 15 historical sites of the Jomon Culture, which are in Hokkaido and the North northeast area of Japan 北東北.   

I saw an article about it in the Hokkaido Newspaper a few weeks ago, and decided to buy it right then and there.   

I have already been to most of the Jomon sites in Hokkaido, in fact you can see a photo slide show which I made of the Oofune Site that I visited on 2007 August 9.   

It is located in Minami Kayabe Village which is now a part of  Hakodate City.  Please view this photo slide show by clicking here.

The main purpose of this book is to show the reader how to get to each of these 15 sites, and what they can see once they get there.   

Also, the cover of the book says; "With the aim of having these historical remains registered as World Heritage Sites.   I totally agree.   

The Jomon Civilization dates back from 12,000 years ago up to about 3,000 years ago. 

That is a very long time.   Unfortunately, they did not develop any writing system so we have no written record of their daily lifestyle, and no clue as to what kind of language they spoke.   

Was it the original Japanese Language?   Maybe so.   

The Japanese Language as only 5 vowel sounds, which is a very small number by modern language standards.

I have already studied quite a bit about the Jomon Culture, and will continue to do so from now on.

Human Beings living in total harmony with the earth.

That was the Jomon People.

2008sep20keimeiartsfesta

On Sunday morning of September 21, I went to the KeiMei Elementary School 啓明小学校 to watch their School Arts Festival 学芸会.   

The only reason I went to this event, is because 5 of the students who come to my classroom, also attend this elementary school and they invited me over and over again to come and see them perform. 

So, I made a special trip out to their school, to see them on stage.   

I enjoyed it very much, but the sound system wasn't very good, and I couldn't understand what the actors on stage were saying.

Finally towards the end of the event when the 6th graders got up on stage to do their performance about the beginning of this school 80 years ago, I was able to move closer to the stage and hear what the actors were saying.

It was a lot more interesting for me than the previous performances of their younger classmates.   

The event was finished at about 12:30 and I quickly got back into my van, so I could drive on over to the next event that I wanted to attend, on that day.

2008sep21livehaulingscrap

The next event that I wanted to go to was a free outdoor music stage, right in front of the Marui Imai Department store on the pedestrian shopping mall 買物公園, that was scheduled to start at 12:00 and end at about 17:00.   

I couldn't find any free parking, so I drove my van back to my house, and walked from there back into town. 

I arrived at about 13:30, just in time to hear a Rolling Stones Cover Band crank out some wicked sounds, at high volume.   What a treat!

In total, there were about 13 different bands, playing different kinds of music.   

The photo on the left is of a band called "Hauling Scrap" which was probably the most dynamic of all the bands.   

Also, it was one of the youngest of the bands in terms of the member's ages.

About half of all the other bands were composed of older guys about the same age as me.

There was a large crowd gathered around for each performance, with people drinking beer and dancing to the music. 

A very peaceful and enjoyable afternoon, with not one policeman in sight.

I met many people near the stage area, whom I have known for many years, and I even made a few new friends as well.

I play music too, so I can really appreciate what goes into making a band sound good.   A lot of practice.

It has been several years since I have played on stage at one of these events, but I hope to do so again in the very near future.   

Nowadays I am concentrating on the electric bass guitar the most, of all of the instruments that I can play.

Oh yes, let's not forget that I just started learning how to play the Japanese Bamboo Flute 尺八 only 3 days ago.   

It will most likely take me about 3 years to learn how to play even one song, well.   

Yeah, so what!   I have enough time to do that too.

Lifelong learning is my greatest pleasure, now that I am 52 years young.

There is always something new to learn.   

ALWAYS.

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2008 September 8 Monday thru September 15 Monday.

GOLDEN HARVEST

2008sep14goldricefield05

Monday September 15 was a National Holiday in Japan known as KeiRo no Hi 敬老の日 Respect for the Aged Day. 

What a novel idea!   Show respect and pay attention to the older people in society, who have built this country into what it is today. 

I am talking about Japan.

2008sep14goldricefield04

In the very beginning of the stage play RUN, which I translated into English from the original Japanese, writer Kuramoto Soh 倉本總 wrote the following; 

As for me,….  Well,….   I used to be the same way.

I graduated from college and got a job at a big company.

It was during that time when Japan was still recovering from the damage it had suffered by defeat in the big war.

Anyway, without knowing why, I started running.  Running,…… running and doing my best. 

I lived that way for almost 40 years.  Getting closer and closer to retirement.  Today was my last day on the job.

(pause).

Yeah,  lately I’ve been really confused.

Even though I’ve reached retirement, should I keep on running?  Or, should I just stop around here somewhere, and take a rest?

That’s why I’m just standing around here and waiting.

I don’t know what to do.

The main point being that in late 1945, Japan was just a big pile of ashes with a black rain falling.

2008sep14goldricefield03

It is a whole new world today. 

Because of the slavish work of the millions of survivors from the atrocity that IS every war,  Japan has become the most peaceful, most civilized nation on the face of this earth today.   

Made in Japan, means something special.  Including this rice field in Higashi Kagura 東神楽町.   Japonica rice.   

I prefer to eat it as unpolished brown rice 玄米.

2008sep14goldricefield02

I could buy it directly from the farmers if I really wanted to, but usually buy it at a WESTERN supermarket. 

One of the few supermarkets were you can easily buy unpolished brown rice.

I eat more than 5 kilograms of it every month.

2008sep14goldricefield01

I cook it in a regular rice cooker, in the same way you would cook white rice.   Brown rice smells a bit nasty while it's cooking, but it tastes great.   

A bit more chewy than white rice, and not appropriate for use as sushi すし, but it goes great with curry カレーライス and everything else.   

Once you have had brown rice, you might like it better than white rice, but I doubt it.   

I am not in the majority as a brown rice eater, but then again, I know what I like. 

Fiber filled golden grains of locally grown brown rice.

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2008 September 1 Monday thru September 7 Sunday.

2008sep09shosanbetsutorii

Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday were the days of the Okagura Festival お神楽まつり here in the Kagura District of Asahikawa.   

It is held every year on September 1, 2 and 3.   

Unfortunately, this year it rained on September 1 and 3.   Rained Big Time.  

September 2 was a beautiful sunny day, and I was able to video tape the children of Kagura Elementary School as they carried the Omikoshi 御神輿 (portable shrine) along the main streets of the Kagura District.   

I will be putting that video on my PrivateHokkaido channel at YOUTUBE in the near future.   

Tuesday was also a big day for HOMAC, as they held a big Sports Festival 運動会 at the Taisetsu Arena.   

All of the HOMAC stores in the DoHoku Area 道北 were closed on that day, so that everyone could participate in the event.   

After the big sports day event, everyone went to TsuboHachi 居酒屋つぼ八 for dinner and drinks.   

After that, many of them went to a place in Kamui called HiBana 火花 which is another Izakaya type of restaurant.   

Ikuko has a part time job at HOMAC, so that is the only reason I know anything about this.   

I myself did not participate in any of these activities, until about 11:00 p.m. of September 2.   

I was alone at home, drinking some TAKA  貴 brand NihonShu 日本酒 and playing the bass guitar, when suddenly I heard Ikuko's voice calling me from the entrance of our classroom.   

At first, I thought I was hearing things 空耳 but in fact it was Ikuko's voice.

When I put down my bass guitar and walked over to the entrance to take a look, Ikuko was standing there in tears, with two of her coworkers from HOMAC standing at the open door.   

My first question was;  "What Happened?"   

The answer was that Ikuko had fallen down and injured her shoulder.   

I could see from a close examination that she may have dislocated her shoulder, so I called her mother and auntie and told them what happened.   

After they came to my classroom to see Ikuko for themselves, we decided to call an ambulance and have Ikuko taken to the Red Cross Hospital.   

At the hospital, the doctor confirmed the fact that Ikuko had indeed dislocated her shoulder.   

After he popped her shoulder back into its proper place, and put on a big Velcro bandage, we left the hospital and went back home.   

Good Gawd!   I never knew that eating and drinking at a Pub Restaurant 居酒屋 could be so dangerous.   

This particular Izakaya has rooms where they have tables in the style of HoriKotatsu 堀コタツ.   

A KOTATSU 炬燵 is table with very short legs.   

The ones that most people might have in their homes also have an electric heater attached to the bottom of the table board, and also a thick curtain hanging from the outer edges of the table and down to the floor.   

These traditional Japanese style low tables are meant to be used while sitting on the floor.   

In some modern Pub Restaurants, the seating arrangements have been modified so that a hole has been dug from the floor level down to about one half of a meter in depth, so that the customers can sit on the floor at the KoTatsu and let their feet hang down into the hole.   

This design makes it feel more like sitting on a bench that sitting on the floor.   

It is much more comfortable for people who may have sore legs.   

Anyway, to make a long story shorter, Ikuko was walking between these tables on her way towards the toilet, when she somehow managed to step into the hole with her right foot, and fall to the floor hitting her left shoulder hard.

I myself have sat at such tables at Pub Restaurants many times before, and I could not visualize how someone could so easily injure themselves in this way.   

Ikuko's repeated explanation of her accident caused me to become even more bewildered about the whole affair. 

So, on Sunday September 7, I drove her down to the very same restaurant at about 16:50, just before opening time, to have a look at the accident scene for myself. 

We talked to the manager and I looked at the big room where it all happened, and I could see no negligence on the part of the Pub Restaurant for faulty equipment, or dangerous surroundings, so I apologized to the staff for barging in on them before opening time, and distracting them from their preparation work.

Conclusion?   Ikuko herself, had been careless in not watching where she was walking and had caused the accident to herself, by herself.   

WATCH YOUR STEP is common sense, in the world of the living.   

XIT happens.    Accidents do too.   

That is why, they are called ACCIDENTS. 

Words have specific meanings.   

Pay closer attention to the world around you and watch your steps carefully.   

Your damn lucky you didn't hit your head on the ground first.   

You could have been in one helluva worse condition than you are right now.   

Count your blessings and throw away the BLAME GAME.   

You did this one, to yourself.   WATCH YOUR STEP.

The photo in today's blog was taken on July 2, 2006.   

It was taken at ShoSanBetsu 初山別村 along the Sea of Japan. 

I even took a dip in the shining sea that day, before I took this photo.   

This photo was copied and pasted here without any changes whatsoever.   

It was taken by my 3.0 Megapixal Digital Camera on that very lovely day.   

I took a very large number of photos on that day,  but this one was THE BEST of the lot. You can even see RiShiri Island 利尻島 in the background, thru the gates of the ToriI 鳥居.   

Also known as RiShiri FuJi.     A photo says it all.      

Hokkaido = BEAUTY.      

Come and see it for yourself, sometime.

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