Mar 17, 2013

Taking a break

My internet access ends so I will be taking a break from this blog. However, I will start again as soon as I can get cable into my new apartment. I expect that it will take at least a couple of weeks so you might want to check back in around the beginning of April if you would like to learn about Fukuoka.

Thank you for joining me in my explorations of Sendai and the Ohenro Pilgrimage. I am looking forward to our trips around Fukuoka and Kyushu.


Mar 16, 2013

More about moving

 The Sendai Book Club had a goodbye party for myself and another member who is moving to Tokyo. We had pizza and spaghetti at an Italian restaurant on the first floor of this well lit building in downtown Sendai.
 My wife's friends took her to lunch as a goodbye party and, since I did not go because I was at home waiting for a phone call, they all came back to my apartment for coffee. The group in my living room were given a demonstration by one of the group on how to apply makeup.
We threw away our old shoe box so now the slippers have to be lined up along the wall.

Mar 15, 2013

In the Neighborhood

 This is the rent-a-garden area near my apartment. There is almost nothing growing here but soon people should start spring planting.
 This used to be the police practice area but all the buildings have been removed and it is now just a huge flat area. The local gossip is that individual houses will be built here, as many as 50 of them.
This is one of my drawings. It is hanging in Kabo, a local Chinese restaurant where we frequently eat.

Mostly Moving

 This used to be a large ferro concrete building with a one story house behind it. Both were badly damaged in the earthquakes. It appears that they are going to erect a new building on the property, maybe apartments. What I found interesting here is that right in the middle of the field (at the left edge of the light brown building) is a Shinto Shrine. It was probably the family shrine for the people who lived in the house. The rest of the lot has been cleared but that shrine remains. I suspect that, before they have the Shinto purification rite that usually precedes construction, they will have the Shinto priests remove this shrine.
 Our living room. We are putting the packed boxes in this corner of the room. Not too much has been done yet but we are getting there.
 This is my study. The books and book shelf on the right are going to be donated to Miyagi U and the pile of stuff on the left is going to be thrown away.
 This is the other small room. It was my daughter's when she was still living with us.
Our kitchen after the dish cabinet has been sold to the recycle shop. We are going to take everything on the left side with us.

Mar 12, 2013


 This a side view of the gate that was in front of the house they tore down, the one with the outhouse behind it. I never realized how damaged the gate was until I could see it from the side. Too bad I won't be around to see what they do to it.
 Here a crew is repaving a section of the road. The heavy traffic on this road had caused a number of holes in the pavement.
We are still packing. This is the current state of our living room. Everyday there are are more and more boxes being added to the pile. Yesterday some friends came with their cars and carried away all of the sodaigomi, large sized trash, that costs extra money to discard. However, it you take to the dump yourself, they only charge 1,000 yen per car load.  We managed to get rid of everything in two cars. Actually we are getting very close to having everything done. Right now my wife is in the other room boxing our clothing. After that there is very little to do. I teach my last classes on Friday and then take my last art class on Saturday. Also on Saturday the movers are coming to take away my private library which I have donated to the new International Center at Miyagi University, the school where I taught for many years.

Mar 11, 2013

Another snowstorm

 Pictures taken on my way back from my dentist's office, where I had my last maintenance visit.

NOTE: Preparations for our move are coming along well, in spite or maybe because of as series of goodbye parties at night (three out of the last four). Most of the paperwork is finished. We are waiting for the arrival of the final paperwork for renting our new apartment. In Japan they do a background check before you sign the lease. As soon as that is finished they will send it to us for a final signature. We will official start renting from March 20 but will not arrive in Fukuoka until the 22nd. Our household goods are scheduled to arrive at 2 p.m. and will will arrive from Tokyo during the morning. To save money we are taking the Shinkansen to Tokyo, staying overnight in a cheap hotel (called a business hotel by the Japanese) and then taking a discount flight to Fukuoka. We have bought beds and hopefully they will have already arrived, but if not, we will sleep on the tatami mats like most Japanese.

Mar 10, 2013

Moving plus a couple of strange things

 Packing is progressing.
 This is the biggest pear I have ever seen. It is a Japanese nashi but it is about twice a large as usual.
While waiting on the sidewalk for the time of our appointment with our real estate agent, I noticed this white box. It seemed to contain some Buddhist related objects but they were very modernistic. On closer inspection this turned out to be a Buddhist altar to put in the home to honor your close but departed relatives. I have never seen anything so untraditional.

Mar 9, 2013

 A while back I showed the house with the traditional style gate, or I should say I showed the empty lot where it had been. Today I noticed two small traditional style Japanese buildings at the back of the lot. The shorter brownish one appears to be an outhouse. Older houses had the toilet separated from the living area, often in a small building toward the back. I am not sure what the second yellowish building is but it may be a small storehouse for the family valuables. I would have to get closer and maybe even enter it to be sure.
On Suisen Dori, a long empty lot is all of a sudden sprouting a building. I can't tell what it is going to be but the far left corner is curved on the first floor, which probably means it is not going to be a home. This section of the Suisen Dori has an increasing number of medical facilities so this may be another.

Mar 7, 2013


 We have started packing for our move to Fukuoka. The whole house is full of things. This is the entrance hall. We are waiting for a man to come from a discount store called Book-Off, which sells books, CD, etc, extremely cheaply. They do not pay much for things they buy but they come and take them away, saving us the effort and cost of disposing of them. Trash collection costs money here, not much but it adds up.
This is my room at the start of packing.

Mar 6, 2013


 A couple of duck surfing in the river. They seem to enjoy riding down the white water in the shallow places in the river. I have watch some do it over and over again, riding the waves and then swimming or flying back up stream so that they can do it again.
 The blue object is the back of a portable toilet at a construction site, but the object I wanted to show is the thing with whitish pipes and a red blob. Do you know what it is? It is a very important winter tool in Japan.

It is a hand pump for moving kerosine from cans to heaters. Most Japanese homes are heated with kerosine room heaters that have a hose that acts as a chimney. All new apartments have closeable holes in the walls for this sort of heater. My wife and I do not use them. We use our air conditioner. No smells and no chance of spilling kerosine all over the room. Also this year, electricity seems to be cheaper.
 I found this repair on a building near my home. The damage from the earthquake was getting worse and they squeezed some kind of plastic into the cracks.
 This my latest drawing.
 When we sold our apartment, we did the paperwork and signing in this block of buildings.
 After taking the above picture, I turned to take on in the other direction and noticed this sign. Sendai has become very cosmopolitan. Police warnings no require six languages.
 This is the view in the other direction. This part of Sendai is mostly banks and business offices.
The white van with the sign on the top is a sound truck for the Communist Party. Here in Japan the Party is very mild, not like the European versions. It is just a leftist party that advocates measures for the common people. If I had a vote, I would vote for some of their candidates, but definitely not all.

Mar 5, 2013

Along the main road on the southside of the river

 A traditional style fence in front of a traditional style house
 Decorative birds at the entrance to a small park
 The two concrete blocks in the hole fell of the top of the fence during the earthquake and have been lying there ever since. Also the damage to the edge of the sidewalk is unrepaired.
 One of the branches leading into our river also had damage to the banks
 A winter garden where sheets of plastic keep the plants warm
This seems to be the back of a company and these are probably the summer tires for the company's fleet of cars

Mar 3, 2013

 Breakfast time in the river
 A little further on another breakfast
 The nearby park that is now off limits because of the reconstruction work on the banks of the river. The blue areas in front of the buildings are the current work areas.
 Usually the crows fly away when you get close, but this one stood its ground.
 The levee top walkway downriver from my apartment.
 The building is a love hotel but look at the traffic jam. I do not know where they are all going but there is a shopping center in that direction and further on you arrive at the ocean.
This is the traffic jam, looking toward Izumi Chuo

NOTE: We are gradually getting ready to move. Most of the things we want to get rid of are gone and all the closets have been cleaned out once, although some stuff we are taking was put back in them. For the next few days my wife is going to Fukuoka and doing the paperwork for renting our new abode. It is a complicated process here with financial and social checks as well as the usual large amount of paperwork. We still have lots to do both in our old apartment and with various services and the government. The recently changed the law so that I have to do the same processes as a Japanese person when I move. This means going to the Ward Office and telling that I am moving and then going to the new Ward Office and telling them that I have moved in. Also there people coming to give us estimates of the cost of shipping and we also have to negotiate all the utility shut offs. It will be a very busy two weeks.