Jun 30, 2012

Out for a walk

 I decided to go out for a long walk. As you can see the sun was out along the river. However, the mountains were completely hidden in the haze.
 I walked to Yaotome and then turned east and walk for a kilometer or so on a wide road.  I turned at this intersection and headed south away from home.
 At an underpass I found a truck that was restocking the vending machines beside the sidewalk.
 The nice wide road in the previous picture soon narrowed, paralleling a much wider road.
 The two roads soon merged and were wide enough that there was a pedestrian overpass in the middle of a long block.
I continued on the wide road passing both apartment buildings and wooded areas.

Jun 29, 2012

Street scenes and manju

 On my way to the Sendai Book Club, I saw another building being torn down.  There is so much reconstruction going on that equipment is in short supply and delaying many of the projects. Also raw materials are hard to find, even concrete is hard to get. Also many places are trying to do repairs but are finding that that things that need to be replaced are no longer being made, many of the companies having been destroyed by the tsunami.
 Here is another building with a lot of damage. Repairs seem to be just getting underway.
 The building in  the distance is the center where the Book Club meets. I have shown this wall a few times. For close to a year, it was cover with blue sheets. They are finally repairing the surface.

One of our neighbors brought is some kusa manju. These are balls of sweetened bean paste covered with rice that has been beaten with herbs. I love them. When they arrived there were about ten of them. They are wrapped in dried leaves and tied with something string-like that has been stripped from a plant.
 When I thought to take pictures, the rest of them were already eaten. They go very fast when we can get them.
 This is one that has just been opened. The beaten rice/herb combination is a translucent green and quite pretty.
This picture, in which then end of the manju has been bitten off, shows the bean paste in the inside. Manju go very well with various kinds of green tea. I also like them with coffee.

Jun 28, 2012

Wandering around

 Everywhere you look in Sendai, there are new buildings going up and old ones being repaired. This one is unusual because of the green, rather than blue, curtain around it. This is next to Suisen Dori, Daffodil Road, and is on one of the routes I take to Izumi Chuo.
 I stopped at Starbucks for coffee and sat outside. They were having some sort of special sale and these tents were set up along the walkway.
 On a side street that I have not walked on before, I found this red house with a little red house mailbox. Cute!
 After visiting my doctor, I started home and saw this truck, which is one of the results of the strict separation of trash here. His truck goes around and collects anything that can be sold. Mostly old metal objects and cardboard.
On the way home, I stopped at a bread store that gives free coffee, if you buy and eat their bread. This little sparrow came begging for crumbs. It was about as tame as pigeon.

Jun 27, 2012

More at the temple and shrine and then walking more

 This is the altar inside Toyokawa Inari Jinja.
 This is the house on the right of the shrine. It probably belongs to the caretaker, who is probably a Buddhist priest who also functions as a Shinto priest. I have seen this arrangement many times. It happens because Japan is getting less religious and fewer people are becoming priests, especially Shinto priests.
 As I was returning to the road, I noticed that, in the back of the building holding that first statue, there was a Buddhist altar in a very small room. The building was very small and at the street had that room with the statue, behind it was the stairs to the second floor, and at the very inside end of the building this altar.
 A little further down the street, I found this old style house.
 Just beyond it, I found this modern home but with a traditional Japanese garden.
I was crossing the last wide street before reaching the station, when I noticed this group of women. They were weeding and picking up the trash that had accumulated in the bed of plants.

Jun 26, 2012

Toyokawa Inari Jinja and Kozenji Temple

 I was walking into Sendai along the main road from Izumi Chuo to the downtown area. The road follows a shallow valley much of the way and the side streets are often narrow, going up steep slopes to reach the tops of the surrounding hills. Well before the road reaches downtown, the land flattens and there are more possible routes, all on back roads. I took one that I had never before walked on. It went through an area of one family houses and newer apartment buildings, plus a few small stores.
 All of a sudden I noticed this roof. It looked like it might be a temple or a shrine so I decided to investigate.
 I rounded the next corner and found a temple, occupying the first floor of a two story residential structure. The sign on the right says that it is Kozenji and the sign on the left indicates that it is Toyokawa Inari Jinja.
 The statue is definitely Buddhist as is the small stele besided it. I could not read the writing on the left.
 I walked around behind the building and discovered a Buddhist statue on the left.
Straight ahead there is a Shinto shrine. This was Toyokawa Inari Jinja. Toyokawa is a place name as well as the family name of a large clan from the old days. Inari is a fox god. Jinja, of course, just means shrine. There was no one around so I was unable to ask any questions.

Jun 25, 2012

Walking around

 This lot near Yaotome had been empty for at least 10 years before they started on this building. I do not know what it is going to be but I looks suspiciously like a fast food restaurant.
 This is very strange. This bridge was rebuilt about 8 years ago. It crosses a little stream and the subway is on a bridge above it, the source of the shadow in the picture. The strangeness comes from the fact that the sidewalk is on a separate bridge. This picture shows the empty space between the road and the sidewalk. Apparently the city contracted one company to build the road bridge and another to build the sidewalk. The reason behind such a decision would be to spread the money around and not concentrate it in one company. Japanese public works designs are submitted to various companies for estimates but the lowest estimate is not always the winner. Consideration will be given to spreading the work around so that all the companies can survive and keep their employees working.
 I passed some very pretty flower growing beside the road.
This was an apartment building that was condemned after the earthquake. It has taken a year but they are finally tearing it down. I assume that it will be replaced. Most buildings like this have occupant owned apartments and a self government that collects money each month for maintenance and a fund for replacing the building if necessary. My complex is currently in the process of using our funds to repair the damage caused by the quakes.
 This is on the main road between Izumi Chuo and downtown Sendai. I doubt if you could see something like this in the US or many other countries. It is a golfing goods store and there is a large supply of clubs and other stuff sitting open on the sidewalk. I looked inside but there was not anyone in the showroom. The clerk must have been in the backroom. If I had wanted to, I could have just walked off with a selection of expensive clubs with almost no chance of being caught. However, I doubt if this place ever had, or will ever have, anything stolen.
The hill on the right shelter a torture and execution ground a couple of hundred years ago. The people who live in the area claim to see ghosts of the dead wandering around at night and there is a shrine just passed the hill.

Jun 23, 2012

Almost home again

 This is the drink that I bought at the convenience store, Pocari Sweat, another of those wonderfully named Japanese products. No one seems to know what Pocari means but to me it sounds like some South American mammal, which means, based on the name, I was drinking the sweat from a pocari.
 This is the roof of a house stick up above a tree in its front yard.
 I met up with some grade school girls who, for some reason, were out of school early. Notice that they all have backpacks, called rondoseru. All students in grades 1 through 6 have these to carry their books and other stuff. They are made from leather and are quite heave. My children used light weight cloth backpacks because there is no rule that they must be rondoseru, only the custom. Many of the students in my kids school changed to backpacks but after my kids left the trend did not continue. The power of custom and advertising. Making and sell rondoserus is a big business here.
 Nestled in some trees was an ad for the Komeito, the Komei political party. It started as the political arm of one of the new religions, but eventually became independent.
 Here are some more advertising flags. These are in front of a large store that sells tires.
Since I moved into the area, this has been a pay-by-the-month parking lot. But now, they are starting some sort of construction. I would bet that it will be an apartment building but I guess I will have to wait and see.

Jun 22, 2012

Going home

 This old fence and gate were covered with wild plants and very pretty.
 This collection of large rocks are waiting for a landscaping company to place them in someone's yard.
 Just beyond the rocks in the previous pictures, you can see a blue roof. When I got to a position from which I could see well, it turned out to be a storage shed for the poles that are used on Japanese farms.
 These stairs lead up to the top of a hill where there was a fort. The buildings are long gone but there is still some traces of the structures and the area has been turned into a park. The signs give the history of the fort and show a diagram of the grounds. I was tired so I did not go up there, but in the past I have explored the area.
 Rice paddies with the athletics dome in the background. My apartment is about four kilometers on the other side of the dome.
There were very few buildings along this stretch of the road, but I found a convenience store, a couple of other shops, and some apartments in a small complex. I stopped in the store and bought a drink and a snack.

Jun 21, 2012

Jiganji Graveyard

 Looking at the pictures I took, I am still amazed at the lack of caretaking in this graveyard. The grass is completely wild and it looks like nothing has been cut or trimmed since last year or maybe longer ago.
 Even the private plots have grass growing in them. The fresh flowers indicate that people come here but usually the grass, such as in the nearest plot above, would be pulled out so that just bare earth or crushed stone remained. On the left side of the picture you can see a whole row of empty plots.
 I found signs like this on many of the small plots. It says that for only 500,000 yen, a little over US$6,000, the plot can be yours.When I said the plot was small, I meant it. The sign also says that the plot is 1.5 square meters.
 As I left, I found this sign on the wall. It says that the this is part of Zenshoji temple, which is not the temple that is on the grounds - the one I showed yesterday. Very strange. It must have something to do with the inscrutable East
 On my way home, I found this sign built into the sidewalk. Apparently this sidewalk is considered to be a jogging trail.
Just past that sign, I found some kind of chemical plant beside the road. There were no signs so I have no idea what this is used for.