Jul 31, 2012

Brain Days - early morning walk - continued

 In some places the gorge was wider and I could actually see the pools of water.
 When I saw all the large boulders in the water, I wondered if any of them had fallen in the earthquake. If so, I am glad I was not there at the time.
 I met a Japanese man who was also taking pictures. He said hello and then offered to take my picture for me.
 This little waterfall was really nice. I might use it for a drawing.
 At one point there were a stone picnic table with stone benches. I sure wished that I had brought a thermos of coffee with me.
In some places the trees were so thick that you could not really see the gorge.

Jul 30, 2012

Brain Days - early morning walk

 In addition to the hot springs, Akiu is famous for the gorge that runs the length of the tourist area. I got up early as usual and decided to go for a walk. Leaving the back of the hotel, I found a dirt path.
 From the path, I could see down into the gorge.
 The water looked very inviting. If there had been a way down, I would have liked to go swimming, or I guess I should say paddling about.
 Much of the path was cut into living rock. As I walked, I kept wondering what it had been like on this path during our big earthquake.
 There were some small waterfalls that were very picturesque.
More stairs cut from the living rock. In the background you can see part of a hotel, not mine but the gorge is lined with them.

Jul 29, 2012

Brain Days

 The local chapter of the Japan Association of Language Teachers (JALT) had a two day seminar in Sendai about recent advances in the understanding of the brain and the potential effect on teaching languages. The first day was held in our usual venue in downtown Sendai. It started at 9 a.m. and finished at 5 p.m. Afterwards most of us went our onto the sidewalk and waited for a charter bus.
 While we were waiting this crow came and watched us. I guess it was surprised by the large number of foreigners, about half the group.
 The bus took us to the next town, Akiu, where we went to an onsen (hot spring) hotel. This picture shows the lobby and a coffee shop in the back.
 The were lots of decorations. This is a blow up of the picture in the above picture.
 At one place I found a large Chinese style ceramic and a screen.
 After a chance to settle into our rooms, we had a banquet. There was much more food than is usual at this sort of an affair. Most of the time all the food is eaten and some people are still hunger, but this time we could not eat anywhere near all of it.
This is what I got on my first trip to the serving line. It was not only plentiful but it was also delicious.l
Dessert was interesting - a chocolate fountain. The objects in the left hand basket are marshmallows and in the right cubes of French bread. We had the room for the whole evening and the hotel does not mind if  you bring in your own drinks. We stayed there eating, drinking, and talking until it was time for bed.

Jul 28, 2012

A very short walk

 This corner had a two story building on it the last time I passed here and that was just a few days ago.
 We had heavy rain and the river bank now has a rather large tree on it. The tree came down from upstream and got stuck here. This is where one of the neighbors practices golf. He is going to have an additional hazard from now on.
The rainy season is not over yet, so they have not cut the grass in the park. I suspect that, when I was a kid, I would have enjoyed playing here. It seems rather wild and not something structured by the grownups.

Jul 27, 2012

FInishing the walk

 I found a break in the trees and could look out to the north. I knew it was north because I could see my condo in the distance, the large buildings slightly to the left of center. Keeping this direction in mind, I entered the park. I was close to home but had never been in this area before and did not know the route home. However, I knew that by going north I would eventually run into something I recognized.
 As you can see, the dirt path in the park was well worn but I did not see any people. Finally, I came out at the back of a school, the Yaotome Junior High School and realized that the students where the ones who frequented the park. I got there just as school was letting out and a few students started into the park. Most of the students would have remained in school for clubs and other activities. Then later they would go to a prep school to study for the high school entrance exams.
 I left the park and started to walk north. The problem was that most of the roads were dead ends, so I had to keep turning this way and that way. Here the road terminated in an empty lot. The road to the right ended at another entrance to the park, so I turned right.
 Here another road ended in a fence.
 I finally got out into a built up area and discovered a small church. I am constantly amazed at how many churches there are in Sendai.
 I followed the road to the west and and found a place that I recognized. It was the pond beside the subway tracks. The subway is actually an elevated way here. Later when I looked at a map, I found that this pond is part of the park that I had been wandering around in, Mamisawa Koen. As I skirted the pond to get to the road back to Yaotome station, I found a crew trimming the bushes and weeding. You can see one of the workmen in the distance.
Near Yaotome station, I stopped and took a picture of a building that is no longer there. Apparently it was badly damaged in the quake. It used to contain a martial arts studio, a dentist, and a store specializing in bottled water. It has been unoccupied for a year and a half.

Jul 26, 2012

Some earthquake repairs and another walk

 This is the all in the men's room at the ward office. Some months ago I showed this wall. At the time it was a mass of cracks. Now, as you can see, they have repaired it.
 This is along the river next to my condo. The construction project to fix the damaged riverbank is in full swing.
At the moment they are still working on the coffer dam. Eventually they will fix the concrete bank. This is obviously not a high priority project, because on many days they do not do any work at all. I suspect that there is a budgetary limit on how many day workers can be employed each day, so if some other project needs a lot of workers for the day, no one comes here.

I walked south from my condo and got lost again. This time I did not bring a map with me so there was no chance of finding exactly where I was. I never worry when this happens, because if I keep wandering around, I will (read 'must') eventually come out at a place I recognize. This time the road I was on ended in a flight of stairs, so I went up and found a park. This is a close up of the 'path'.
 There were some interesting stelae hidden off in a corner. I was particularly taken by the one with the hole.
In the other direction was a gazebo. There was no one else around but from the look of the ground, the area is well used.

Jul 25, 2012

Walking home

 This branch laden with red flowers sure brightened up the day.
 The large building in the distance is the same building that I passed on my way to the hilltop that the Prince, later the Emperor Meiji, climbed. That hilltop, by the way, can be seen at the right.
 When I reached the building I could see the sign on the roof, saying what the building will contain. According to the sign it is a legal corporation dedicated to public welfare and a public welfare organization called yamato (Japan) mirai (future) fukushi (welfare) kai (organization, group, committee, etc).
 Almost home. When I passed the fire station they had the hazmat truck out and it looked like they were checking through the stuff onboard.
This is the intersection at my end of the bridge to Yaotome. They have finally fixed the damage that was done to the road by the earthquakes. The pavement is now smooth rather than a series of bumps caused by the temporary repairs.

Jul 24, 2012

Still walking

 At the top of the hill, I discovered a fairly large, well kept graveyard. Here in Japan, graveyards have a different feel to them, because there are no bodies here, only gravestones. The Japanese believe that they are eerie because of the spirits of the dead, but they do not seem to make themselves apparent to me.
 I decided to walk through the graveyard and discovered this sign. It asks people to keep the place clean and not to leave open food that will attract crows.
 At the far side of the graveyard, I found this flower decorated stairway. I went up it and found to my surprise I was in the same graveyard that I had visit a week or two before. At that time I had not noticed that  the rather informal path actually continued to the other side of the hill.
 I started down the other side of the hill and saw this traditional style family home with traditional landscaping.
 A little further on, I came to a place where the road turned but a path continued straight ahead. I took the path and was rewarded with this woodsy area. Through the trees I saw a building and soon discovered that it was Kifune Jinja, a shrine that I visit in May. I walked through the trees and passed the shrine.

After following the path and going down the stairs, I reached the outer limit of the shrine. When I was here before, I neglected to take a picture of this path. The remains of the torii are on the left and the dirt path is the only entrance to the shrine. There is a fence on the next property, separating the path from a parking lot. This path goes out to the road.

Jul 23, 2012


 This is still part of the new housing area. I do not think that I would like to live here. The houses are all so close together that they might as well be one large building. We have the advantage in our condo of having many of the normal cooperative neighborhood functions done by the administrative company that we hire. This area has, I am sure, a neighborhood committee and everyone has to go out at least once a month and clean the area as well as managing the trash collection points.
 This is at the same intersection as above, but I turned 90 degrees to the left. The view looks across the valley that has been created by the small river that drains the area. There is housing on the opposite hilltop. I had no particular goal for this walk but at this point decided to walk down into the valley and then go up and explore the top of the other side.
 Still on this side I found an area that has not been developed. According to a sign, this is farm (orchard?) where a landscaping company grows some of the plants that they use.
 Going down the slope to the valley floor, I found a stone mason's shop. These all seemed to be rejects or maybe they were just damaged during the quakes.
 Here I am standing on the bridge over the river and looking at a flight of stairs that allows access to the opposite hilltop.
Half way up, I stopped and turned around. I could see the housing development that I had just left.