Dec 30, 2010

Nanakita Koen

The schools are all closed for the holidays so I am not getting my usual exercise. Because of this, I decided to walk to the large part, Nanakita Koen, which is to the west of my apartment. The first interesting thing that I saw was this dead snowman.
I can now walk along the riverside all the way to the park. When they rebuilt the bridge near my apartment, they build a pedestrian bridge over a small stream that had previously blocked the way. Now, I pass under two large bridges to get to the park - the road to Yaotome station that I take to get to the subway and then the bridge carrying the main road from Izumi Chuo to downtown Sendai. The next picture is the view from under the second bridge.

This is a path to nowhere. It was obviously well used and was covered with footprints but it does not go anywhere, just to the edge of the water. Maybe fishermen use it, but it does not look like a good place to fish for carp, the only thing in the river at this time of year.
At the top of the river bank there is a paved path that goes the complete length of the park. As i started along the path, I found four women apparently getting ready for a picnic. I do not know why but they did not invite me to join them.

Dec 29, 2010

More White Christmas pictures 03

The path in front of our apartment complex again.
The local Shinto shrine to the river god

Walking home along the river, just as it was getting dark. The snow had continued all day.
Almost home. We live in the large building, which you have seen many times before.

Dec 28, 2010

More White Christmas pictures 02

This is back in our apartment complex. The structure is the admin building, which borders the main walkway into the complex.

Our apartment is on the second floor in the building on the right of the open space. You can just see our bedroom window over the end of the entrance way.
This next picture is along the river again. There was a really heavy rain last week so the river is much fuller than it normally is at this time of year.
I do not know the name of the red flowers but they stick up above all the rest of the vegetation and are about the last flowers to die off once the weather gets below freezing at night.
Usually when I post pictures of this area, you can see the mountains in the background. However, on Christmas day they must have gone on vacation because we did not see them at all.

Dec 27, 2010

More White Christmas pictures

Bicycles in front of the supermarket next to our apartment

The front of our apartment complex
Between the corner and the admin building of our complex
A family moving out on Christmas Day and during a snow storm - sad
My wife walking on the path along the river. We were on our way to the station to meet my daughter and grandson

Dec 24, 2010

Pictures from the neighborhood 03

While we waited for the guest speaker, this young lady came and stood near us. I do not know her but she is a perfect example of the students that I teach.

Here is another Christmas tree. It is outside Parco, a large department store next to the station.
We took the speaker to a restaurant on the top floor of Parco and, when we got off the elevator, the follow Christmas tree greeted us.
The next day I was out in my neighborhood and walked by the grade school that is in the next block. The kids were having a gym class. The building on the left, on the other side of the fence, is part of the police practice area which lies between my apartment building and the school. I have previously posted pictures of the police practicing on motorcycles in the open area within the facility. The police band is also located here. As well as some special units and some local patrol units.

Dec 23, 2010

Pictures from the neighborhood 02

Still on the way back from the doctor's, I passed a stand in the parking lot of a large store that sells hardware, household goods, yard goods, and do-it-yourself goods. The stand is a self-service kerosene dispenser. In Japan most homes are heat with portable kerosene heaters. The new ones are very efficient and have vents that let the smells go outside. We have not used one in more than 20 years, because we did not like the smell. Once the odorless ones were on the market, we decided not to use them because they involve carrying large containers of kerosene around the inside of your house when you refill the fuel tanks. We also thought that as we get older we are more likely to spill during the refilling. We use small electric heaters and air conditioners to keep our apartment warm.A little further down the road, we reached a bread shop. It has pretty good bread and, best of all, it has free coffee if you buy even a single piece of bread. In the picture Masayo is walking passed a large inflated Santa to enter the shop.

A day later I was at Sendai Station and four this large Christmas tree outside a department store, named S-PAL II (I do not know what it means, either), that connects to the station.
The reason I was at the station was to meet some friends and then to meet the speaker for the afternoon JALT (Japan Association for Language Teaching) meeting. We took the speaker to lunch. In the picture you can see a tall stained glass window. This is the traditional meeting place for anyone meeting in the station area. There is always a crowd in front of the window. It is not as good as it used to be. A few years ago there was a large statue of a former feudal era ruler of the area on a horse. However, for some reason that I was never able to determine it was removed, so all that is left is the stained glass. The area to the left of the picture is a large open space and it is frequently used for special sales and exhibits. On this day there were booths (you can see one in the foreground) sell cakes and other sweets. I was tempted but manage to not buy anything.

Dec 22, 2010

Pictures from the neighborhood

One day as I was coming home from teaching, I discovered some gardeners trimming the hedge that separates our buildings from a parking lot.
The man on the ladder is using a power tool that looks like a chainsaw but has lots of small blades that trim the branches.
On the next day, my wife and I went to the doctor's to get our daily medicine and while walking home (about 6 kilometers) we saw these plants. They are a kind of reed and they are used in flower arranging. If you buy them in Tokyo, they are very expensive but here they just grow wild. Actually I think they are quite pretty and enjoy watching them move in the wind.
From the doctor's, we walked to Green Mart, an upscale supermarket that we like. We buy our coffee beans there, for example. From Green Mart, we took a short cut through a park area that contains a small pond. The apartment complex in the background is only about five years old. One of our friends, a Scotsman, lives in one of the apartments.

Dec 21, 2010

Going to the movies 05

We left Sato Shokai and walked to the main road. At the corner we could see the building that houses the Auto Registration Dept. Masayo had to renew her license recently and it took half a day. A few years ago she got caught in a speed trap, so she had to watch a video that showed the accidents that resulted from speeding. She said it lasted an hour and she had to wait for the showing after standing in line for a long time and then completing the renewal paperwork. She said that one of her friends had gotten in an accident that was not her fault but she had had to watch three hours of films.The road reminds of Route 9 between Boston and Worcester back in the 1950s and 1960s - a divided road with lots of service stations, restaurants, and other stores.
At one place a building had be taken down and replaced with these metal boxes. The sign said that they were rental storage boxes. Places like this are beginning to pop up all around town. Japanese house have very little storage space. There are few closets and even private homes do not have cellars. I have heard two reason for the lack of cellars: [1] that the tax rate is based on the square footage of the house, including the cellar, and [2] that because of the humidity cellars soon become a health hazard. I have no idea what the correct reason is but both of these sound plausible.
This is a construction site at the point where we turned off the main road to walk the 500 meters to our mansion.

Dec 18, 2010

Going to the movies 04 (continued after a pause)

After the movie was over, we needed to do a little shopping so we stopped at Sato Shokai, a semi-wholesale store that caters to restaurants but also is open to the general public.It has a fairly large parking lot and, as is often the case in Japan, there are many things on sale outside the store.
The two blue vending machines are of a type that is probably unique to Japan. The sell rice. These are interesting because the rice is not packaged but just comes out in a stream of grains. The buyer puts some sort of bag into the machine on the left and, after selecting the amount and type, puts in the money - and out comes the rice.
On the other side of the entrance, there is a fresh fruit and vegetable stand. Because of the more or less wholesale nature of the store, prices are very cheap. We needed lemons. Every morning I squeeze the juice from half a lemon and drink it in a glass of hot water. This means we use up lemons fairly fast. The lemons here are very juice, not at all uniform in shape or color, and less than half of the cheapest lemons at the other places where we shop.

Dec 17, 2010

Another art show 04

My duties as a receptionist for the show over, I started home and took this picture from the street as I left.To get to the subway, I had to walk through about a kilometer long shopping arcade. It was decorate with very nice Christmas and New Years lights.
A little nearer the subway station, there was a large torii (hard to see but it is the red structure in the middle). Since the Japanese are not very religious but rather just enjoy a celebration, they mix Western and Oriental, Christmas and traditional New Years. The effect is actually very nice.
The entrance that I usually take to the subway goes through a department store. On this night they had a display of part of a crystal floor lamp that had been made for the Romanov's but never delivered. The bottom, which the sign said was as tall as this part (almost three meters), is missing. The sign also said that the original cost of this part was about 2,000,000 dollars. Originally it was designed to hold candles but it has now been fitted with electric lights.

Dec 15, 2010

Another art show 03

Today I will post the four larger drawings that I had in the show. The first picture shows the four on the right. They were the first pictures a guest would see when they entered.This picture was drawn from a photo I took during the Henro Pilgrimage. It is actually quite powerful and it is one of my best. It was done in ink and then shaded with rubbed pencil.
This is two boys in a Rio dump. I took the boys from a newspaper photo and added the junk.
These Italian boats for shipping olive oil were drawn from a picture my teacher took on a trip to Italy. He travels a lot so we frequently use his photos in our classes. After finishing the inking I used a white pencil to gray the boat in the back, giving the illusion of distance and fog.
The last picture was done from a photo that I took during a trip to Yokohama. A sailing ship is tied up to a dock there. I am not sure whether it ever goes out to sea anymore, but it is kept in perfect condition and could easily be sailed. I was fascinated by the shapes and patterns made by the various ship's ropes.

Dec 14, 2010

Another art show 02

Today I will post the four smaller pictures that are on the counter by the window. The first is a picture of an olive tree and it was drawn with a very fine-tipped commercial pen. The little sign on the right contains my name and the year.
This next picture is a church in Germany. It was drawn with very fine-tipped colored commercial pens, the kind that many of my students use to take notes.
The next is an old cabin in Maine. It was drawn with the same pens as the last picture. I really like these pens because you can get very complex colors by adding many different layers each drawn at a different angle.
The final picture also used the same pens and is of a carnival goer in Rio. You can not see it but the background is composed of about ten different colors and has an interesting depth to it.
All of these pictures were drawn from photographs. I do not particularly like drawing at the site. My preference is to go see something in person, taking a lot of photos, then returning home and working out the picture composition, etc. in my studio. About the only time I draw at a site, I use a cheap pen with water soluble ink and then a brush with water. I have a postcard size sketchbook that I use for this purpose. Some time when I think of it I will post some of the pictures from it.