Oct 20, 2017

Another canal

I love the little canals that flow between the houses in many places. There are usually trees and flowers along the sides and they are often very picturesque. Also, you can sometimes see large birds wading or fish swimming in the water which is very clean except for immediately after heavy rains when some of the dirt washes out of the rice paddies.

Oct 17, 2017

Farming and Milikaroden

This is one of the largest rice paddies around town. Probably by next week when I return, it will have been harvested and all that will be left is stubble. The buildings on the right make up a complex called "Milikaroden". It is a culture center. The nearest building, the one with orange walls, is a children's center and seems to be quite popular, although I don't know what they offer. The next building has classrooms. It is where I am currently taking my exercise classes. It also contains an exposition area, a large auditorium, and the town library. Out of site behind these buildings is a heated indoor swimming pool that costs a few hundred yen per visit. It also offers various types of swimming classes.

The above rice paddy was large by Japanese standards but the farm below is more typical of what you find in Japan. This is a truck farm and the farmer probably has a number of little plots like this scattered around town. Most such farmers belong to cooperatives so that they can get together with other small farmers to pool their money and buy the various pieces of equipment that are necessary for efficient farming.

Oct 16, 2017

Straight Lines

There are many straight lines near my apartment. Here are two of them.

This is the small canal the runs by my apartment building. The wall in the foreground is part of the entrance and that in the background is the actual wall of one of the first floor apartments. Less than 30 years ago this entire area was rice paddies, and the farmer's cooperatives built canals all over the town to supply the water that is necessary for flooding the paddies in the spring. They vary greatly in size and many of them have been covered over so that they are more like sewers than canals but they are still carrying water. You can see that there is a guard rail separating the canal from the road but in many places there is nothing between the road and the water. This makes me glad that I do not drive a car, my license having expired in about 1980.

 Here is another straight line. It is composed of trees. Most of the main streets in town are lined with trees. In this picture you can see the gardeners trimming this year's branches and cutting off most of the leaves. They say that this is done to keep the roots short so that they do not damage the sidewalk or the street. The roots are supposed to spread so that they cover the same area as the branches, so short branches, short roots. Removing the leaves helps keep down the overall growth.

Oct 14, 2017

Prep Schools

One common sight in Japan is prep schools and signs for prep schools. This picture shows some signs advertising prep schools had have space in this building. Kumon is probably known to many people outside Japan. There are both large nationwide chains like Kumon, small mom-and-pop style schools, and everything in between. Also, a lot high school and college students make extra money by tutoring younger students.

When I first started teaching in Japan, I worked at what is called a senmongakko. It was a post high school program that gave a certificate of graduation rather than a diploma so it was one rank below a junior college. The school, Trident College, was owned by one of the top three prep schools in Japan. In addition to my regularly scheduled classes, I was able to do a lot of part-time, extra pay work in the prep school itself. I taught preparation classes for the high school and college entrance tests as well as making a large amount of materials for use by other teachers. Prep schools are a really huge industry in Japan.