Mar 31, 2012

In Sendai again

 Yesterday I showed a black cat. This is the house the it was in.
 This was a supermarket and game center. It was so badly damaged in the earthquake that it is still closed. It appears that they may not bother to reopen. The supermarket chain, Seiyu, the same as the one next to my apartment, was overextended before the quake and is apparently taking this opportunity to cut some losses by not reopening some of its stores.
 This is a beauty shop with a great name - Shaggy.
 I woke up the next morning and discovered that it was snowing again. This is the view out our kitchen door. There is a sign between the two trees but only the top of it is visible. It has the single work Seiyu and advertises the Seiyu supermarket.
 Moving into another part of our apartment, this was the view from our living room balcony.
Downtown again for my art class, I walked passed a construction site that I have shown a couple of times. It is now finished and is a wedding hall where they hold receptions. There is a church just around the corner so people can have a fashionable Christian ceremony and then move here for a dinner.

Mar 30, 2012

Back in Sendai

 A few days after returning to Sendai, I went to my art class. On my way home I found a route along some back roads that I had never before been on. The building on the right was very unusual.
 This was an ad for a restaurant/bar that was just up the street. It is a phoenix, a mythical bird that is repeatedly burned to ashes and then reborn. I assume that a night of eating and drinking in the restaurant will give the burned out office worker a rebirth. One interesting thing is that there is no name on the sign. However, the phoenix was repeated on the front of the restaurant.
 The road had no sidewalks but there was this warning sign for drivers.
 The building in the center resembles the old fashioned buildings in which people stored their valuables. However, this one is new, which is obvious because it is constructed from concrete blocks.
 A black cat was sitting on the rubble that was all that remained of an old house that had collapsed, probably well before the earthquake from the looks of it.
The cat was very cooperative about posing for a picture.

Mar 29, 2012

In Toyama

 By the time that we got on the trolly, it was dark, but the inside of the car was well lit. It is one long car but there is a hinge in the middle so that it can get around some of the sharp curves.
 This is the box where you pay for the trip. It is 200 yen no matter how far you go. Actually you cannot go very far because it is a loop.
 I was surprised to find that they still had Christmas decorations, or at least they seemed to be Christmas lights.
 We returned to my brother-in-laws house and then just before 11 p.m., my sister-in-law drove us to the bus stop. It was knee deep in snow but we only had to wait about 15 minutes. The lights in the distance are the toll booth at an exit from the highway.
 The inside of the bus was only dimly lit, so that people who were already asleep could stay that way. The seats were very much like what you find in tourist class on a long flight on a plane. I was able to put my seat back and, after lifting up the footrest, put my feet under the seat in front. I actually got a pretty good night's sleep.
About an hour before arriving back in Sendai, they stopped the bus at a rest area and woke us up. I got out and stretched my legs. I also bought a can of hot coffee. I stayed awake for the rest of the trip. We arrived at Sendai Station earlier than scheduled. To get home, we took the subway and then a taxi from Yaotome station, since we had bags to carry.

I was not home for the first time in five weeks and ready to start my 'retired' life.

Mar 28, 2012

In Toyama

 Considering the amount of snow, we were amazed to find an operating fountain. It was actually quite pretty.
 Looking back behind us, we could see the strange tower on the city office building.
 We walked back toward the station and the only businesses that we could find were bars and restaurants. This was apparently the drinking section of town.
 We went to the trolley stop in front of the station, planning to ride around the loop a couple of times. The schedule was posted at the stop, but nothing came. Finally this car came but after letting out some of the riders, it just sat there.
 Finally this car came on the track nearest us and then with some complex maneuvering, it got on the other track and started back toward the car that had been sitting there.
 When the cars were side by side, the riders on the first car got out and then got on the new car. The new car pulled back on the nearest track and both cars drove off out of sight. We later heard that the first car had been in an accident with an automobile, and they had had to wait while a new driver was located and then for the new replacement car to arrive from the barns.
Finally our car arrived. You can see that it says Loop Line on it.

Mar 27, 2012

In Toyama

 This strange looking tower was on the top of the city offices.
 This building was in front of the castle and was the home office of some company. I thought the tower on the roof was quite interesting.
 Along the street they had class booth-like structures that contained artwork. It made walking on the sidewalks much more pleasant.
 This artistic looking structure was actually a frame to protect the plants from the snow.
 We entered a park and the building on the opposite side was reflecting the sky.
The clouds on the building added something extra to the park, particularly at this time of year when there was little in the way of plants.

Mar 26, 2012

In Toyama

 I should have put this in the last post. It is three of the warriors who protect the Imperial Family.

 My sister-ion-law took us to the station. My wife and I were going to go sightseeing in Toyama city. This was another of the places where you could get water to take home.
 Outside the station at the edge of the parking lot, there was a large green box that contained two shovels that you could borrow if your car was buried in snow while you were gone.
 We reached Toyama in less than an hour and one of the first things we was was the trolley system. There is one that goes around in a big circle stopping at most of the important points in the city center. Took this car, just for the fun of it, and then we got off after only two stops.
We decided to visit Toyama castle. The castle is pretty much right in the middle of the city.

Mar 25, 2012

Back to my brother-in-law's

 We left ninjadera and returned to our car. The parking lot was now empty in front of this temple so I finally got a good view of the bright red railing.
 The drive home was uneventful, although it was snowing hard all the way. Back at the house, my sister-in-law show us the traditional dolls that she had set up in anticipation of Girl's Day which was coming soon. These dolls are not to be played with, but to be looked at. They are put on display for a short time once a year. The two figures in the top row represent the Emperor and Empress. In the rows below them are the people and things of the Imperial Household.
 This is the Emperor. He is about the same height as an average human hand in this set. Most of the time the dolls are not very tall and some sets will be extremely small. The old leaders of the country had sets that consisted of hundreds of individual pieces with incredible levels of craftsmanship involved.
 Here is the Empress. She is sitting of a raised throne and there are various pieces of furniture that are part of the set.
 These dolls represent the court musicians and each doll is playing a different instrument.
This doll is a warrior who is guarding the rest of the members of the Imperial Household.

Mar 24, 2012

In Kanazawa

 Just inside the grounds of Ninjadera was this little white building which apparently contains an altar or a statue. I have never seen a building like this on temple grounds, very perplexing. I wish I had some way of finding out about it.
 Walking up to the entrance to the main building, I could just see some of the altar.
 The next building was more traditional. You can see a bit of the white building on the left.
Inside this building was a statue and some other paraphernalia. Obviously this building is frequently used for some sort of rite.
 The trees on the grounds were covered with a rich layer of moss.

We had to wait for about half an hour until our scheduled tour. Cameras were prohibited so I have no pictures of the inside. We removed our shoes and were allowed into the large room that contains the main altar. We sat there, in front of oil space heaters, for another 15 minutes or so. Then a guide arrived and took us through the temple. The place was amazing. The building was constructed in such a way that there were no clear floors, each room seemed to be a bit above or below the last. The whole place was constructed as a military warren, a maze. This was to protect the daimyo, the local ruler, who is said to have been the richest man in Japan at the time. There was a tunnel leading from an indoor well back to the castle so that he could escape. Many places were designed so that attackers would be trapped and easily killed by soldiers who remained hidden behind false doors. In some places the risers on the stairs were made from paper so that soldiers hidden under the stairs could use spears to stab attackers. It was utterly amazing.
Walking back to our car, I noticed this gate leading into some sort of garden.

Mar 23, 2012

In Kanazawa

 After eating, we had a reservation to tour a temple. It is called ninjadera, or ninja temple, but it has nothing to do with ninja. I will explain the name in a future post. The parking lot for the temple was actual on the grounds of another temple. This temple had a very impressive red railing between the temple and the parking lot. Tour buses also park here.
 The temple gate is still there but the walls on each side have been removed and replaced by paved driveways. We left the car and the keys in the temple office and left the grounds, following signs to the left and then to the left again.
 We passed this souvenir shop but did not go in.
 And then passed another.
 We finally reached ninjadera and found it to be very unimpressive. It looked like just another neighborhood temple and the grounds were very small. It was obvious why we had to park at the other temple.
The temple gate was just an abstract representation of a gate, although there were doors. Again it was not at all impressive.