Aug 31, 2011

Still more from along Nanakita River - To Izumi Chuo

 After passing the Shinto shrine, I continued up the street toward Izumi Chuo. On my right I could see the back of the library and the Science Museum with its dome that houses a planetarium. The library is under reconstruction and the library has not yet reopened. In order for people to get books they have parked a mobile library truck in front of the library entrance and people can get books from there. I have not yet gone into the library. I have been saving it for after I retire. Supposedly they have a fairly large collection of English language books.
Across from the station building, I saw, or I should say heard because he was giving a very load speech. This is the beginning of the election for the Sendai City Council. All media are required to give candidates equal time, so the newspapers usually carry full page summaries of all the candidates.Also they use sound trucks but I will save that for another day when I have pictures.
Here a typically dressed young woman is waiting for someone or something in the open area above the bus depot and between the station building and the stores.
I stopped at Starbucks and got coffee and then sat in the area outside. Starbucks is inside the window on the right. This area is very nice. There are at least ten tables with chairs and it is protected from the weather because it is actually inside the building. The columns mark the outside of the building and the second floor uses all the space overhead. I sit out here all year around. I remember sitting there in a snow storm, watching the snow blow around outside and sipping hot coffee.
This is a medicinal alcohol dispenser that is by the door. A couple of years ago there was a very bad epidemic of flu and public buildings started putting alcohol near the doors with big signs asking people to use it. This was so successful that most of the large stores and universities have continued the practice, keeping down the flu and colds.
Boards like this are set up all over the city and they are the only place that election candidates are allowed to put up posters. Compared to other countries, especially the US, elections are strictly controlled and the police regular investigate violations. In national elections there are almost always criminal proceedings against a few of the candidates who have violated the law.

Aug 30, 2011

Still more from along Nanakita River - Nanakita Park again

 At the official entrance to Nanakita Park, there are some very interesting statues sitting on the benches. There is a fat man playing a saxophone, a cat sitting next to a book, an a girl holding a dove. You can often see people having their picture taken while sitting next to the statues.

 After stopping to take pictures, I exited the park and started up the road to the Izumi Chuo station building. Immediately outside the gate there is a small Shinto shrine nestled between the large apartment buildings that spring up like weeds outside the park.
 The shrine building is actually quite small. It is only about waist high. The grounds are always well cared for, so I assume someone in the neighborhood takes care of it.
The objects on the altar are mostly Buddhist. The seated statue in the middle and the large statue on the left are clearly Buddhist. The two statues on the right are too badly damaged (aged?) to tell what they are, other than saying the are people. The two objects immediately to the left of the seated Buddha are kokeshi, wooden dolls. Kokeshi are made in this area and are popular gifts for travelers to being home. The article in Wikipedia suggest that these may be fetish symbols for aborted babies, which may explain why they are in this shrine.The pieces of white paper are attached to sticks are ritual objects that are used in Shinto ceremonies.

Aug 29, 2011

Still more from along Nanakita River - Nanakita Park

 This is one of the sitting areas. In the past you could almost always find people sitting here eating a bento, a box lunch, or just relaxing. It is also well frequented by high school couples. It is one of the few places where they can have some privacy but still be in public. The sign in the foreground says, "Keep Out. The area is dangerous because of earthquake damage."
 This man brought a folding chair and is enjoying his morning coffee.
 The duck pond is almost empty. The large gray area is usually covered with water. Also out in the middle is a fountain that is not being used this year even when the rain fills the pond. They are not using any nonessential electrical equipment to help make up for the power loses due to earthquake and tsunami damage.
 This building is architecturally interesting. The various sections of the building are round. I have not been inside yet, but the building houses a large collection of exotic trees and other plants.
 I have not decided whether this is a sculpture or a phallic symbol. You can decide for yourself.
When I got up closer to the above building, I discovered that it too is under reconstruction. One of the types of damage that I noticed throughout the park was cobble stones that had been disrupted. The ground was compressed horizontally in some places but stretched in others, so the cobble stones were pushed together and up in some places but separated in others. Repairs are relatively easy. The stones are just removed, the sand under them smoothed, and then the stones are replaced. The only problem is that it is time consuming and it is low priority.

Aug 27, 2011

A walk along Nanakita River - continued in Nanakita Park

I reached the far west end of Nanakita Park. The bridge has this nice bas-relief of a bird as decoration. I think the bird is supposed to be a pheasant.
As I was walking through the park, I was stopped by a young woman who ask me if I was Charlie. She had been a student at Miyagi U when I worked there more than seven years ago. We chatted and, then as she left, I realized I had not taken a picture. By the time I got my camera out she have move off so this is what I took.
Even in the middle of a public park, you will find blue tarps. This is covering a pile of debris that was apparently cleaned up after the quakes.
This artificial hill is in the middle of the park and usually has water flowing down the large staircase-like section of the left. The stairs on the right lead to a viewing platform on the top. This year, however, there is no water and the stairs are blocked off. The sign on the barrier says that the top is damaged and dangerous.
This little stream is usually full of running water, which is pretty to look at, sounds nice, and cools the area. This year they have turned off the water at least until they finish repairs.
I do not know the name of these flowers but walking under the trellis is very relaxing. On thing that I like about it is that the path is dirt, rather than the pavement that covers most of the other paths in the park.

Aug 26, 2011

A walk along Nanakita River - continued

 I entered Nanakita Park and discovered some graffiti in one of the paved areas.
 As I looked arou, I found that some of it was pretty good. This elephant was quite well done.
 As was this bird. Japanese, both young and old, read an incredible amount of manga, comic books, and most school age children start to imitate their favorite authors, so all most every student is a competent cartoonist.
 All along the bank of the river there are posts like this. They are use as surveying markers to determine how much the ground shifts during earthquakes and how much the river moves around as a natural part of its flow.
 The bridge marks the west end of the park. The paved paths circle around the outside and weave around the middle so it is a great place to walk. In the morning there are always people, like the man in this picture, getting their daily exercise.
These cracks in the path were not made by the 3/11 quake and its aftershocks, but by one of the earlier tremors of which there have been many. You can tell because the cracks have filled in and are now supporting a nice crop of grass. The cracks from the recent seismic activity have only a little grass, but by next it will be hard to distinguish when they were made.

Aug 25, 2011

A walk along Nanakita River

 After cutting all the weeds, the workmen started erecting the stage that will be used during the local festival for the river god.
 At this time of year the local Buddhist temple is very pretty from the riverside.
 The Japanese tend to be very good at ignoring the parts of a scene that they do not like - the trash on the ground, for example. Here I have managed a view of the river that does not include all of the nearby buildings.
 Another view of the river, looking under the bridge, the shadow of which is what gives this picture its interesting color contrasts.
It looks like they are finally doing a little repair work under the bridge. In talking to the inspector from the construction company that has the contract for upkeep on my condo complex, I learned that all such companies are having problems. First, they do not have enough trained people to do all the inspections, to write proposals and then contracts, to get the necessary materials (many of the factors were destroyed and the remaining ones are having trouble finding raw materials and power), and to find enough construction workers.

Aug 24, 2011

Still walking

 This is the downtown shopping mall. It is in the form of a large T, that includes a number of kilometers of walkways.
 Sendai now has a pro basketball team. The team members, the tall guy in the middle is one of the players, were spread out around town, giving away paper ads about the game schedule. The attendance at the games is very low and this was obvious a PR stunt aimed at increase interest and attendance at the games.
 The shops generally open right onto the walkway. Many of the stores actually pile the stuff they are selling in the space in front of the entrance.
 This big banner says some that is roughly like "We won't lose!" or "We won't be beaten". The obvious reference is to the earthquakes and tsunami.
 Back ten years ago of so when I used to go out drinking and carousing with my friends, one of our favorite starting points and sometimes finishing points is on the third floor of this building. It is a jazz club, where they constantly play jazz and  sometime have live concerts. It is named the Vilivan, but when it first opened it was called the Village Vanguard. According to the story that I have heard, it was featured on a TV program about Sendai that eventually aired in the US. The real Village Vanguard objected and threatened legal action, so this place changed its name to Vilivan.You can see the name at the top on the right just under the horizontal blue stripe.
This is another place we frequented. It is beer garden  in the basement. Most of the customers were young, in their early 20s, but that meant that it was cheap and we could stay a long while. They also have some semi-enclosed rooms where you could get away from some of the noise and some of the cigarette smoke.

Aug 23, 2011

Still walking

 This is another example of an old wooden house next to a modern ferro-concrete structure.
 This is another apartment building that is under reconstruction. One of the most common types of earthquake damage was tiles falling off the outside wall or cracks in the walls. A number of people have told me that they can now see the outdoors through the new cracks in their walls.
 As I walked by, they were removing the last of the tents that had been erected for some sort of festival. I have gotten confused, because there have been so many different festivals and activities this year in order to cheer up the population, that I can not remember which was whick.
 This was the scene behind me when I took the last picture. There were tents in the open spaces on both sides of the road.
 Ah, this was the tanabata festival. The remaining decorations tell the story.
These plastic bags contain some of the hanging decorations that have been taken down and will now be stored until they are brought out for next year's festival.

Aug 22, 2011

Still walking toward Sendai

 This is not a very typical scene in Sendai and throughout the rest of Japan. The long low building is convenience store. It seems that there now is one every block or two.
 This is the tallest condo in Sendai. I have been able to use it as a landmark to find my way back to a main road when I have gotten lost in the back streets.
 This is a little Shinto shrine, dedicated to all the people who lost their lives in the torture and execution facility that used to be on this spot. The people who live around here say that they frequently encounter ghosts at night. I have walk by here on many a night and have yet to see one. I keep hoping.
 This used to be a supermarket with a game center on the second floor. However, it is closed and the entrance is barricaded with these iron pipes. This was a bit of a problem for me because I usually use the public toilets on the second floor. However, they are closed, too. You might have laughed if you had seen me trying to walk with my legs crosses.
 This is very typical of the area along the sides of this main road. The building in the front is new and made from ferro-concrete. The building on the hill to the left, however, is an old traditional style wooden building that is half buried in vegetation.
This is another old building. However, the brown door is new, in spite of being a traditional shape, you have to duck to get through it.