Dec 31, 2011

A round trip to Miyagi Gakuin U

 For a little variety I went up a different flight of stairs at the Asahigaoka subway station and came out on the sidewalk. From there I had a very good view of the bus depot. The upper three stories have rooms that can be rented for club meetings and that sort of thing.
 Someone has placed a row of planters, and some water, in the underpass between the bus stop and the university.
 From the main entrance road, I could see the building (straight ahead) containing the teachers' lounge and the building where I have all of my classes (on the left).
 The student lounge on the first floor of the building in which I teach has flower arrangements but at this time in the morning the lights are not on, so they were very dark.
 As I left the Yaotome subway station's second floor exit, I notice that the moon was very bright and low in the sky.
 The big apartment building on the corner nearest the station was covered with scaffolding as work finally started on fixing the damage, mostly cracks on the outside.
 On the bridge I stopped and took another picture of the full mone.
When I reach the shrine on the levee, The moon was positioned just above the roof.

Dec 30, 2011

On my way to class

 This part of town is a bit rundown. There are many new concrete buildings but there are also lots o fbuildings like this fish market.
 The road I was on seemed to be going to far to the east so I went down a narrow side street. I found a large parking lot with this structure in a corner. I have no idea what it is but I suspect that it houses a Buddhist statue of some sort.
 There were many small companies that seemed to be engaged in manufacturing of some sort. Most had small parking lots, but many of them were, like this one, used to hold piles of junk.
 I stopped at a supermarket and bought my supper. The large container is Chinese style fried chicken and vegetables. The small pack is renkon, lotus root, which is one of my favorite foods. In the very front, in front of my chopsticks is a small dumpling that contains an, sweet bean paste.
 Since I was early I was the only one in the teacher's room. I ate and then listened to my iPod until class time.
When I got back to my condo, I found that the lights had finally been put on the tree, so it looked very Christmasy.

Dec 29, 2011

After setting up the art show

 After we finished setting up, we went to a nearby coffee shop where Wakamatsu Sensei bought us all coffee. This little guy was right in front of my seat.
 We broke up the group and I started walking south. I still had an evening class and it was a 15 minute walk to the campus. Along the way I passed a shop that makes hanko, name stamps that are used on documents in place of signatures or even initials. The window display showed the materials that they are made from. Because of worldwide prohibitions on elephant tusks, plastic is now used as well as various stones.
 These elephants were also in the window. I think this may have been made from an actual tusk, but quite a while ago.
I also passed a tattoo parlor. In the past only the yakuza, the gangsters, wore tattoos, but because of their popularity in the US, they are becoming more widespread.
In this area the buildings are mostly commercial, two-story concrete structures, but scatter around there are old wooden building. You can see one on the right.
This chimney is visible from many spots but I have been unable to find out why it is there. This area has some small factories. Sometime when I have time, I will have to find a backstreet that will allow me enough access to the area to determine what the company makes.
The second floor of this building, above a Lawson's convenience store, contains a hula dance school, according to the signs.
Scenic Sendai! One of the signs says "Five Bridge". I used to get up set at signs like this but my wife pointed out that, if this is the best that six years of school English can do, English teachers like me will always have jobs. It is interesting that there are many missing plurals as here, but they almost always use a plural form when a number proceeds a noun, for example, "a six miles road". One that is very common on signs is "Shoes Store".

Dec 28, 2011

The Izumi Art Club exhibition

 There are seven students who stayed with our teacher, Wakamatsu Sensei, after the earthquakes. For a few months we had classes in his remaining studio and then things were arranged so that we had classes in the NHK Bunka Center again, but this time in a downtown school, rather than the one in Izumi Chuo. Yesterday I was having coffee at Starbucks in Izumi Chuo and noticed that the lights were on in the old classroom so maybe the repairs have finally started.

In this picture we are arranging the pictures before hanging them. Two of the faculty from the university help us put up the show in a professional manner. Using tape measures and string, the pictures are arranged at the same height and with equal spacing between them.
 This shows the result of an hour or so of work. Altogether we had 40 pictures and some other stuff.
 My pictures this year were all about disasters. They were very therapeutic to do, but now I have gone back to trees, my favorite subject. This building was shown in the newspaper and it had been damaged by wind.
 This was a takeoff on a woodblock print by Hiroshige, but I replaced Mount Fuji with a Japanese style house to represent the tsuname.
 This is the famous ruins at Hiroshima and represents man's inhumanity to man.
 Three of my fellow students (we are all old and the men are retired) checking out the pictures.
 Kato San took pictures of all the pictures.
 After all the pictures were hung, Wakamatsu Sendei gave a critic of each picture as a learning experience of us.
I had one additional picture in the show. I did it before the earthquake and the subject is a canal scene from Europe. I used a photo that Wakamatsu Sensei had taken on one of his trips as the basis for my drawing. Most of the time I start with a photo but change things to make a more interesting drawing. Sometimes my work comes entirely from my head.

Dec 27, 2011

Getting ready for my art club's exhibit

 I was nearing the southern end of the arcade and found that there were a large number of tents where people were selling lots of different things, mostly food.
 The empty space in the background is where Maruzen, a bookstore chain that has a large selection of English language books, used to be. Now it has moved to a building next to Sendai Station.
 Looking back at the southernmost entrance to the arcade, called Sun Mall here.
 Our art exhibit is going to be in this building, on the first floor to the left of the 7/11 convenience store.
 This is Meijiya, a chain store that sells imported foods. We used to go to the one in Nagoya a lot when we first moved to Japan, but now we almost never go. We have become used to what is sold in the regular stores.
 This is inside Meijiya.
 This is the room where we will hang our pictures.
I really liked this plant and am thinking of using it as the subject of a picture. Notice the windows. One side of our exhibition hall is all windows, so everything is visible from the sidewalk. Last year a lot of people walking by stopped and, after looking in, actually came in for a closer look. This hall and a lot of the upper floors of this building belong to the Tohoku Institute of Technology, which allows us to use the site for free. They use it for student shows and for other groups. Last year we our first show here drew more visitors than any other exhibition.

Dec 26, 2011

In downtown Sendai

I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas and that the next year will be all that you hope it will be.

I have found a four week teaching job in Niigata Prefecture, over on the west coast, so I will be there for the month of February. Later this week, I will check my netbook computer and verify that I can continue blogging from the campus there. If not, I am sure that I can work out something. It should be interesting as I will be teaching only three hours a day and will have weekends free. The area has large amounts of snow but I should be able to do some exploring, and picture taking too.
 As I was leaving Miyagi Gakuin U at about 5 p.m., the Christmas lights on the steeple were on for the first time.
 The fire station was lit up as I passed and one of the trucks was out in the yard.
 The next morning on my way back to Miyagi Gakuin U, I noticed this bus at the Asahigaoka station. Strawberry Cones is an ice cream and pizza shop that specializes in home delivery. I believe they started out as an ice cream shop, which explains the name. They are famous for the strange pizzas that they sell, the toppings can be truly exotic.
 After my class I took a bus downtown and then walked along the arcade. There were a few people about but the stores had barely opened when I arrived. Also it was a Thursday, not the busiest day of the week.
 I stopped at this Starbucks for a coffee. It was not busy and the waitresses were very friendly, chatting me up once they discovered that I understood Japanese.
 A lot of the stores in the arcade have open fronts like this, where they sell stuff right out in the open (under the arcade roof, of course). Notice the sign that says We love Sendai in a mixture of English and Japanese.
 There are lots of bicycles but even more cars and trucks.
 This is one of the construction sites for the new subway line. It is going to run under the road and this part will go out to the west, eventually ending at the hill top campus of Tohoku U, the national university.
This bus, that looks like a trolly, is called the Loople and it travels in a big loop around the city. It is cheaper than the regular buses and is getting used more and more.

Dec 25, 2011

A Merry Christmas with Tomone and Tsubasa

 Let me warn you, if you are not part of my family. These are mostly pictures of my two grandchildren, Tomone, a three year old girl, and Tsubasa, a two year old boy. They were taken yesterday, when we celebrated Christmas because Tsubasa will leave this afternoon, Christmas Day, so that his mother and father can be back in Tokyo in time for work tomorrow.

The first picture is our Christmas tree. We have a tradition in our family of making each Christmas tree. This started when we first moved to Japan and could not buy a tree. Each year we made something different. This tree is made from pieces of cloth hung in the window at the end of our dining room table. By the time that we started to open presents on the morning of Dec 24, the pile of pictures had grow substantially.
These are gingerbread cookies that Tomone and Tsubasa decorated.
For breakfast we had coffee, juice and pie, apple and pumpkin. The kids understood that something special was happening but, since it was their first Christmas morning, they were not as excited as they will be next year when they have memories of this year.

 Tsubasa opening a present.
 Tsubasa with his new hat opening another present
 Tomone looking at a book she got
 Tomone with a new game
 Tsubasa showing off his new Shinkansen shoes
 Here is a better look at the shoes. They are designed to look like the Shinkansen, the Bullet Train. Tsubasa is crazy about trains, so most of his presents are somehow related to trains.

 Tomone showing off a tiara that she got
 Tsubasa and his grandmother looking at a present
 For Christmas Dinner, we all went to our local Chinese restaurant. Not exactly traditional, but it was excellent as always. This is Tsubasa looking at his chopsticks.
 We order six different meals and there was quite a bit of sharing
 On the way home we stopped in the park across from the 7/11 to let the kids play. Tsubasa liked the swings.

So did Tomone
 She also liked running around
 My wife and I stayed home, but the rest of them went downtown to see the Christmas lights. (I will eventually show the pictures that I took of them.) While they were out, they bought a Christmas Cake. This is a cake with lots of whipped cream and strawberries. Also there is something that will say Christmas, made from plastic or maybe candy.
 My first Christmas in Japan was many years ago, but I remember walking down the street in the little town that we lived in. We walked passed a shop and the man inside came running out insisting that I buy a Christmas Cake. He thought that all foreigners ate Christmas Cake. I, of course, had never seen one. They are nothing at all like the traditional Christmas log and in any case pie or plum pudding was traditional in my part of the country.
 Here is Tomone eating her piece of the the cake
 Here is Tsubasa being fed his piece
 Tsubasa playing with his new train
Tomone using her new huge set of crayons.

I hope that you, the reader, have as wonderful a Christmas as I had this year!