Jun 17, 2013

I am being hospitalized for a minor operation, but this being Japan, where we all have comprehensive health insurance, they keep you until they are sure that there are no complications. I will not have internet access so I will not be sending any posts during my hospitalization. I will continue posting after I am released. Please check back in about a week and a half.

Jun 15, 2013

Near home

 This is the VisAVis cake shop. Everything here is just a little sweeter than we like it, but all the food in Fukuoka is sweeter than in Sendai. We bought a cake each plus a butter cake, a small yellow cake with a butter based frosting.
 Japanese cake shops always have a display counter like this. When I look at all the different cakes, I have trouble making up my mind and want to buy one of each.
This, as the sign says, is a curry and hamburger restaurant named Yamato. Yamato is an old name for Japan. When we were eating out every day, we ate here once. The curry was good as were the hamburgers that went with the curry. Also it was very inexpensive. However, the servings were much too big and both my wife and I had to leave about a third of the serving on the plate. When you do that at restaurants in Japan, the staff always make a big deal out of it and want to know why you did not like the food. Making them understand that the servings are too big is sometimes difficult, so we tend to not go back to places like that, leaving them to younger people who have big appetites.

Jun 14, 2013

More neighborhood

 This sign is by the door of the post office. It lists all the services that they offer. In addition to mail, they have banking, money orders, ATM machines, life insurance, auto insurance, and they sell government bonds. Definitely a full service operation.
 This is the sign in front of the juku, prep school, that is next to my hospital. On the left it indicates how many of their students got into various high schools and at the bottom and on the right how many got into various colleges.
 This is the school building. It reminds me of some of the places where I had classes in the Army.
 I am not sure why, but I like this sign.
In this view you can see the store. They sell take-away boxed lunches based mainly on fried chicken. Before we got our stove, we ate from here quite often - inexpensive and delicious.

Jun 13, 2013

Around my neighborhood

 This is Hotto Motto, a store that sells takeout boxed lunches. They are very cheap and taste it. When we had just moved and were eating out because we did not yet have a stove, we tried here once and never went back again.
 This is our local post office. It is less than a five minute walk from our apartment and, while small, is a full service post office.
 This building is our hospital. In Japan most doctors have a small hospital or clinic. This one is across the street from the post office, which means it is very close to home. They are specialists in external medicine, intestinal medicine, dermatology, and rehabilitation. The doctor we see is very good, spending a lot of time with each patient to explain  things in a way that the patient understands. Apparently they have a lot of elderly patients, which is good because it means they have a lot of experience with us old folks. Next week I will be going there for some tests, if they are negative I will have a minor operation and and be hospitalize for about a week. I think I saw somewhere that they have 22 beds here.
 This is a beauty shop named Art's Hair. The Art here being the art from artistic, not Arthur. This is typical Japanese English. Because of the way English is taught in schools here and the overall lack of input, this type of strange language is quite common.
 I think that, when they first painted this building,I would not have liked it, but now that the paint has aged I find it quite appealing.

This is a standard Japanese mailbox. They are always red and have the post office mark, a T-shape with a line above it, in white.

Jun 11, 2013

In Fukuoka City and returning

 The nice woman in the information booth told us that our bank was at the far end of this passageway. There is a huge underground shopping and restaurant area, but there are also long passages that lead to exits near above ground facilities. We went to the bank and, as I said yesterday, we were unable to do our business. We also need to stop at a different bank at Hakata Station, so we took the subway back.
 This is Hakata Station as seen from a second floor walk way. There are many stores and restaurants in the area and inside the station building. There are two large bookstores, both of which carry English books. One of my favorite places to stop is Tokyu Hands. They sell many things but I particularly like the section for tools and hobbies. I can easily kill an hour just wandering around in this section, to say nothing of  the kitchen appliances, stationary, and gadgets sections. Since I was with my wife, we went to the kitchen appliances section and she bought a couple of small items. We then thought it was time for our Shinkansen home, so we went and bought tickets and then went up the platform.
 On the platform we discovered that I had misread the schedule so instead of five minutes we had to wait half an hour. We found a seat and drank a Coke while we watched the other Shinkansen trains come and go. From here they go south to Kagoshima and northeast to Osaka. If you want to go passed Osaka, to Tokyo, for example, you have to change trains.
 On the way home, our long ten minute ride, I had a window seat so I too some pictures. This is still downtown Fukuoka, but an area that contains mostly apartments as opposed to the commercial areas around the stations.
Getting close to home, you can see that the buildings are mostly one and two stories with only a scattering of taller apartment buildings.

Jun 10, 2013

A trip into Fukuoka City

 This is the pedestrian bridge from the Station Building to the Shinkansen platform. My wife and I are on our way to visit a bank in downtown Fukuoka.
 The Shinkansen has just pulled into the station. This is the train that takes us into Fukuoka in only 10 minutes. However, except for the rush hours, there is only one train an hour.
 At Hakata Station, we went to the lowest level and took the subway to Tenjin Station. The bank is quite near the station but we do not know where.
We walked through the underground shopping area and found this stained glass picture. The black sign is for Doutor, a chain of inexpensive coffee shops. They have pretty good sandwiches. The blue sign is for the subway that we just left. The white sign is general directions for the trains. We finally decided not to try to find the bank on our own and instead went looking for an Information Kiosk. We quickly found one and the woman in it gave us directions without even looking at her reference material. The bank probably has a lot of foreigners looking for it since it is part of an American chain but it is not on most of the maps. The directions were perfect and we found the bank within a few meters of the last subway exit. However, we found that we needed a different hanko, name stamp, so we had to leave and will go back again later.

Jun 9, 2013

More near my apartment

 This is a newly completed center for kids. I am not sure exactly what it is but maybe it is what is called a hoikuen, a school for kids too young for kindergarten but whose parents work. Normally you can leave your kids there all day, dropping them off on your way to work and picking them up again on your way home. The kids have various activities including classes, playtime, meals, etc.
 The door in the middle of the first floor leads to the curry shop that we like. My barber is on the second floor and my dentist is at the left end of the building. The station is directly in front of the building.
I have mentioned a number of times that there are three supermarkets near my apartment. Sunny is the cheapest, Coop is in the middle and Halloday is at the high end. Halloday has very good vegetables but all of the prices are a bit higher that at the other two. As I said, we consider both cost and quality to decide what to buy at each.

Did you read the sign? I can do nothing but laugh at the slogan Amusement Food Holes For Better Live. I have no idea what it means. My wife always points out that, as long as there is English like this, there will be jobs for English teachers.

Jun 8, 2013

Still near my apartment

 This is the entrance to the house next door. It is always a pleasure to walk by it.
 This is the alleyway between the house next door and the next house beyond it. If you keep your eye out, there are many small spaces that have been landscaped. In fact it may be more likely that a small enclosed space will be carefully landscaped and taken care of than larger more open areas.
 This is just a few meters from the station. There are trees and flowers along most of  the roads in town. The building on the left is Sunny, an inexpensive supermarket that has some fairly distant connection to Walmart. We decide on which of the three local supermarkets to use in terms of individual items, evaluating price and quality.
This is my dentist's building. They have both the room on the first floor and the one on the second. The first floor has five dental chairs, the x-ray machine and the admin office. The second floor has four dental chairs. You have to go outdoors to get from the first to the second floor. There are a number of other facilities in the building. My barber is on the second floor and there is an excellent curry restaurant on the first floor.

Jun 7, 2013

Near my apartment

 This is an ATM. It is a free standing minibuilding and takes almost any cash card.
 The gray building has a different prep school on each floor.
 This is the entrance to my apartment building. We are on the second floor on the left. The motorbike belongs to the postman who was making the daily deliveries to our building.
The small truck farm is gradually increasing the crops. The potatoes on the right are coming along fine. I have no idea what the new plants are.

My pencil sketch

This is the picture I drew at the park. It is only the third pencil drawing that I have done. The teacher said that the drawing was okay but that it lacked power. I agree.

Jun 6, 2013

End of the art class

 This road is very steep and has a hairpin curve to enable it to reach the park.
At the end of each of my art classes, we all display the work we have done during class, and anything we have done at home and brought to class, The teacher than goes through the pictures one at a  time giving suggestions and critiquing the pictures. His comments are designed to be useful to the student and so far I think they have been very useful. His comments about mine have got me thinking about how to improve my technique.

Jun 5, 2013

More art class

 The park was a very pleasant place to be. If you look very close, you can see some of the other students in the distance.
 Another student barely visible under the trees.
 The park is on the side of a hill. I went up to the highest point and had a good view over the mountains to the south.
 The beds of roses were still pretty, if you did not look to close. Another couple of days and they would start losing petals.
 In addition to flowers, there were lots of crows. I don't know why this particular place attracted them. There did not seem to be any food there.
This is the view toward the east. The access road came up the side of a very steep hill.

Jun 4, 2013

Outdoor art class

 While waiting for the bus to take me to Mirikaroden, I noticed that the tree I was using for shade had a very interesting support. Many of the trees, particularly those along major roads, have extra supports. This area has many typhoons so they support the trees in the hope that they can prevent the roads from being blocked by fallen trees. The bus took me to Mirikaroden, where the teacher picked me up and drove me to the park where we would draw. The other students all met us there. Apparently I am the only one who does not have a car.
 This is the tree that I decided to draw in pencil. In the past I never tried to do finished drawings in pencil, using the medium only for underdrawings and for shading on pen and ink drawings.
 This is the teacher, working on a watercolor which he has placed on the ground.
 Here are some of the other students. I am the only student working in pencil. The others are using watercolors or oils.
 The park has many little green houses where they grow flowers. Since we were working on drawings, I did not have time to investigate the interiors.
This is a huge wisteria plant. We have already passed the time when it was in bloom but it must have been beautiful.

Jun 3, 2013

End of the walk

 Being taller than the average Japanese, I could see into this yard. The red in the center is a torii in front of a personal Shinto shrine.
 This is the house that goes with the above garden and shrine. The shrine is behind the house in this picture.
 This area is architecturally very interesting. The house in the first two pictures was very traditional, although built with modern materials. This house is definitely not traditional. However, the two are neighbors. You can see the first house on the right. The contrasts here are incredible. Traditional buildings, modern buildings, single family dwellings, apartment buildings, old, and new are all mixed together. Actually I find it quite interesting visually.
This row of houses are all build from a single plan probably by a developer of some sort who, after they were built, sold them.