Apr 30, 2013

My first real walk - Finally able to upload the last pictures of the walk

 Heading home, I noticed each tree along the main road had a flower garden around the trunk. They were very pretty.
 I had promised my wife that I would eat before I came home, so I decided to stop at Mos Burger, where I knew they sell fried onion rings and chicken burgers. The red banner on the right asks the question, "What is your favorite burger?"
Reaching home, I stood in front of my building and took this picture of the fish goods store on the corner.

My wife and I found an ad for some kind of local flea market and decided to go. In Japanese, flea and free are phonetically the same, so many Japanese think that it is a free market, justifying the name by the low prices. We caught a bus and then had to walk about 10 minutes to the site.
 The first place we went was inside the building where they had an actual flea market. There were clothes and lots of other odds and ends. We bought a jigsaw puzzle that we will do in the near future, when we have recovered from moving.
 Outside there were tents set up, with someone selling stuff in each tent. Again there were lots of clothes and many toys, but also other stuff.

Still no uploads

Since this site is not working probably and I can find no way to do anything about it, I am going to start looking at the Wordpress blogs later today.

Yesterday afternoon I went to my Igo Club and they decided that I should be a 2-kyu rather than a 5-kyu. This was probably about right since I ended the day with four wins and three loses. In Igo, every player has a ranking that is used to handicap games so that players of different abilities can compete evenly. The lowest possible rank is 35-kyu, someone who has just learned the rules and is playing their first game. The kyu rankings climb to 1-kyu, so I am now near the top of the kyu players. After the kyu rankings there are nine more ranks, starting at 1-dan and going to 9-dan. Actually 1-dan is called sho-dan, which means "first dan" in Japanese.

A difference of one step in rank represents a one stone advantage for the stronger player. In practice this is actualize by the weaker player playing with the black stones (always starts) and placing the stones at predetermined places on the board. For example, when a 10-kyu plays a 5-kyu, the 10-kyu places five stones on the board at the specified locations as the first move. The white player, the 5-kyu, then places a single stone anywhere on the board.

Playing seven games in a row was very tiring, mentally, so when I got home I just camped out in front of the TV and watch a three hour special about two families building their dream homes. One was really nice and I would love to live in it. The other was a bit strange. All the walls, except for the toilet, were glass, so people could see everything the family did, including taking baths, if they did not close the curtains.

Apr 29, 2013

Problems continue.

Blogger is still refusing to upload my pictures. Today I have a five hour meeting of my Igo club and by the time that I get home my brain will be in no state to do anything. Therefore, after one more attempt tomorrow to upload, I will change to a different blog site. I expect that this will be the Wordpress site and I expect that it will take some time to set up the new blog. I will continue posting updates here and eventually post the address of the new blog. Sorry for the inconvenience.

Apr 28, 2013

Blogger site still not uploading pictures

I have tried everything I can think of to get this site to function properly. I will wait a few more days, checking daily and posting the results. If the site still will not work, I will change to a different blog site.

Apr 27, 2013

Blogger still will not upload my pictures. If this continues, I may be forced to change to a new blogging site. My apologies for the inconvenience.

Apr 26, 2013

A problem with Blogger.com

For some reason Blogger.com will not allow me to upload pictures. I will try again tomorrow.

Apr 25, 2013

My first real walk - At the Jakujyoji temple and then home

 This is a second story enclosed walkway connecting to of the buildings in the temple complex. This is very common in temples and large shrines. The walkway allows the monks and others to move around without having to worry about footwear or coats.
 Back at the bell tower I took this to show the large log hanging on the right that is used to ring the bell. The log is suspended on ropes that are arranged so that the log can swing from right to left. On the bottom of the log is another rope that is used to move the log.
 I left the temple and since I was now facing in the opposite direction from the way I arrived, I noticed that, on the other side of the rice paddies in front of the temple, there was a grave yard for old cars and trucks. I wonder if the monks ever perform ceremonies for them as they do for the human dead.
 I realized how high I had gotten when I turned a corner and had this view of the valley. The straight white line going from left to right across the hills is the track for the Shinkansen.
 On the bridge that I used to recross the Nakagawa River, I found this sign describing the festivals at a local temple. I have yet to visit this particular temple, although I have gone passed it on a bus.
I thought this was interesting and very Japanese. This is what will eventually be the inside of a concrete barrier protecting the riverbank from strong currents. This will be underground when the project is finished but the three workmen here are carefully smoothing the surface, filling in any holes and the lines between  the wooden forms that were used to shape it. It reminded me of all the workers sweeping the dirt of the tops of the blocks that will soon be under water.

Apr 24, 2013

My first real walk - At the Jakujyoji temple

 When I got up close to the temple, I found this sign. It gives the name, Jakujyoji in kanji and romaji, and the branch of Buddhism that is practiced here, Jodo Shinshu of the Honganji Branch. On the right of the the sign was a driveway so I decided to enter this way, rather than trying the gate.
 After a short walk uphill, I reached a flat area containing a bell tower and the back of the gate.
 The bell tower was typical of most and provided a nice setting for the temple buildings which were further up the hill.
 This is a statue of Shinran, the Buddhist monk who founded the Jodo Shinshu Branch.
 Up a short flight of stairs and I was in front of the main meditation hall.
The columns supporting the roof have carvings of lions and elephants to protect the building.

Apr 23, 2013

My first real walk - On to the Jakujyoji temple

 I left the shrine and started up into the hills. This is actually a rice paddy but someone is growing negi, green onions, here before the paddy is flooded for this year's crop.

 The water tank on the hill is interesting. It has a picture of the hills painted on it.
 This was the entrance to someone's home. Entering the house would be a very pleasant experience, as was walking passed it.
 At last after a long uphill walk, I reached the temple, Jakjyoji. Even from this distance, I could see that the grounds were well kept, which means they are supported by a large congregation or they have an independent source of funds.
The front gate was very impressive and I anticipated seeing a beautiful interior grounds.

Apr 22, 2013

My first real walk - At the shrine

 As seems to be the general case here, the characters on the stelae were to worn and moss covered to read.
 The shrine consists of two buildings: The main one I showed from the front yesterday and this one which is behind it. I assume that this is the one that actually houses the object that represents the god. People who come can only stand in front of the main building to pray.
 This is a closeup of the woodwork on the panel on the left side. Shinto themes are often very nature oriented.
 There was a third building that appeared to be part of the shrine since it had the straw rope across the opening but it was completely empty and seemed to have no purpose.
 Here is a picture of the shrine from the side. The main building, nearest the street, is on the right and the empty building is in line with the truck of the tree. Also you can see some sheds to the left. These may be part of the shrine or they may be part of the public building which was behind me. The empty ground continues far to the right and makes a baseball field.
I left the shrine and started  up the hill toward the temple that the sign had indicated was a lot farther into the hills.

Apr 21, 2013

My first real walk - Renkyoji to a shrine

 Someone had left fresh flowers on the graves. As they die, they remind us of how short life is.
 I left the temple ground but at the sidewalk level there was another grave with fresh flowers. I should point out that these graves do not hold bodies, sometimes ashes but never bodies which are cremated.
 I found a sign for a shrine and a temple that were not shown on my map, so I decided to visit them.
This is a private home. It is really huge by Japanese standards.
I reached the shrine. The sign on the torii uses a kanji that means heaven, but has at least two readings, so this could be the Amajinja or the Tenjinja. The only way to find out for sure would be to ask someone local but I did not see anyone.
This is a large stone pool, I guess you would call it. In the middle, the small black dot in the end of a water pipe. During the summer they probably keep it full of water.

Apr 20, 2013

My first real walk - visting a temple

 I followed the side road a little ways and came upon this building which at first I thought was the temple. However, after looking around a little, I realized that it was a private home. I suspect that it is quite old.
 Around the back of the above building, the scene was much less impressive but still interesting.
 A little further up the road and I came to the entrance to the actual temple. If I am reading the kanji correctly, the name is Renkyoji. I climbed the stairs to have a look around.
 The grounds, about three meters above the street level, contained both new and older buildings, but nothing like the previous private home. As I stood here taking this picture, I could here someone beating on a small drum, not actually a drum in the usual sense but a hollow more or less spherical object that makes a dull thud when hit. These are used to keep the rhythm when chanting.
 All the way to the right, the farthest spot in the direction I had been going, I found a small graveyard with only spaces for a few families. The strange shaped window reminds me of one that I saw at a temple in Sendai. Some day I will have to investigate as see if I can find what it represents. My first guess is that it represents the structure in which the Buddha was buried, something that eventually became a pagoda.
This red bush was in full bloom and very pretty.

Apr 19, 2013

My first real walk - along the riverside

 Just after one of the main construction sites, I found a paved path down to almost the level of the river. I had been walking along a paved path along the top of the levee. I walked down to the bottom and then turned and walked back so I exited the picture at the bottom left.
 A little further on, I found this very pretty waterfall where a smaller stream entered the main river.
 Notice the trees on the right. They have had the tops cut off so the trucks end abruptly. This is very common in Japan. However, it is usually done to keep the branches from interfering with the power and telephone lines. Here it is probably to keep the roots from spreading out and damaging the paved surface of the bank.
 Just before the bridge on the left in the previous picture, I saw this dog. I could not see its master but it was tied to a long rope. When I got up on the bridge, I say the master. He was standing on some large stones, making a deeper waterway by throwing some of the smaller stones away from the riverbed.
 At the end of the bridge there was a stele, but it was so old that I could not read the writing carved into it.
I crossed the main road and started up into the hills on a side road. This house is typical of houses in the area - quite large and perched on the side of a steep hill.

Apr 18, 2013

My first real walk - along the river

 I found this sign beside the river. It shows a photo of the river at the bottom with all of the work outlined on it. They are deepening it in some places and covering the banks with concrete slabs in others.
 The photo at the top, shown enlarged here, explains why they are spending all this money. A couple of years ago they had a huge rainfall in a short period of time. The photo shows some of the flooded areas along the river.
 At one place they are building a small dam so that the riverbed will be tiered rather than sloped. This is supposedly to help prevent a build up of sand on the bottom.
 This shows how extensive the work is. One thing the sign did not say was how much this project is costing. The expenditures must be enormous.
 One thing I like about Japanese construction is that they keep everything clean. Here is a workman sweeping the dirt of the concrete slabs, objects that will be underwater when they are finished.
This is a little park and playground that I found beside the river. I really liked the way the trees were trimmed in the traditional Japanese fashion.