Sep 28, 2013

The local drug store

 Stores do not like people to take pictures but I took these when no one could see me. The two red cartons with the green tops were intriguing. There is English near the top which says Vermont Apple Vinegar. The term Vermont is often used in Japanese ads for food and it generally means that the food contains apples or honey or both. Vermont Curry roux is very popular and contains both.
As you can see the aisles are quite long. There are eight of them in this store. The over-the-counter drug section takes up less than 10% of the floor space. The back wall has freezers full of frozen food. There are also toilet and bathroom supplies, food, soaps, etc, along the aisles.

Sep 27, 2013

New pictures from my hospital stay

I just realized that I had taken three pictures with my iPad while I was in the hospital. Almost the entire time I was there, I had a bed next to the windows in a room for six. The man in the other window bed, Kato-san, was also a long term 'resident' so we became quite friendly. In fact, a few days ago he called and said that after a couple of weeks at home, he had finally gotten well enough to have his operation. So on Wednesday this week, my wife and I visited him at the hospital. He is going to be discharged on Monday but was very glad to see us.

 This is the view out the window from my bed. As you can see, the hospital was in the middle of downtown Fukuoka city.

Laying in my bed, I also had a great view of Kato-san's bed. We could pull the curtains across for privacy during the day and when we slept at night.

 This is my bed and the little wooden piece of furniture. The furniture had a small space with doors at the top, a pull out table and a single drawer in the middle under a desk top and TV, and a small refrigerator at the bottom. The refrigerator and the TV were paid for with cards that you bought from a machine in the hall. Except for the fact that the building was 70 years old, it was not too bad. The staff were great. When I go for a checkup at the beginning of November, I will go to the new building that is about 15 minutes away.

Sep 26, 2013

Art Class

 I arrived first so I took a couple of pictures out the window. This is the view straight out the window of the room where I have my art classes. I have no idea what the round extension to the main building is. I will have to check it out. I do know that there is bicycle parking and a smoking area under the roof, but it is a mystery as to what is inside.
 Looking out the window to  the right is a little pool and a landscaped area. The exit road also runs through the back of the area. The light green field that can be seen though the trees is the rice paddies I showed yesterday. After taking the picture I moved all the chairs against the walls and moved the extra tables to the back of the room.
 This is the classroom after the other students arrived. As you can see there are two still lifes on the table. There is another against the wall on the left and yet another against the wall on the right. There is also a white cylinder that one student is using as an exercise.
This is the still life that I am working on. It is surprisingly difficult in pencil. I think that it would be a lot easier as a watercolor but I am at present trying to develop some skills with pencils.

Sep 24, 2013

Art Class

 The large buildings, called Mirikaroden, consisting of two buildings, one with a library, a hall, and classrooms and the other with a swimming pool and exercise rooms, was directly behind me when I took the picture. My apartment is a couple of kilometers away more or less straight ahead on the left side, on the other side of the buildings. In the foreground is a fairly large area of rice paddies.
Turning to my left, I could see more rice paddies and then a housing area. The low wall on the extreme left is the beginning of the grounds of Mirikaroden. I was standing in the exit driveway.
I walked over to the nearest rice paddy to see how close to harvest it had reached. It was close but it will still be a while. I was very surprised to find water in the paddy. I don't know if it was because of all the rain that we have had or if it was deliberate because of the high temperatures.

Sep 23, 2013

More at Hakata Station

 This is a bread shop that sells mostly single serving pieces of bread that have all sorts of things in them or on them. People buy one or two and a bottle of tea and eat them for lunch. Some of them are things that Westerners would never think of, for example, potato salad, fried noodles, or other things we do not normally eat with bread, another starch.
 At the far end of this hall you can just see the wickets and above them the schedule of arriving and departing trains.
 This is a souvenir shop. People almost always buy packages of some sort of sweets and give them to coworkers, friends and family. Giving small gifts when going someplace or returning is an extremely common practice in Japan.
This is the Shinkansen platform. The little room is air conditioned and you can sit inside where it is cool while you wait for your train. On the floor below this, there is a much larger, air conditioned room where you can sit in comfort, but we usually come up here for some reason.

Sep 22, 2013

In Hakata Station

 The station is full of long walkways like this. There are small shops on either side.
 In spite of having six or more years of English, we still get signs like this. Apostrophes seem to follow the current American usage - put them wherever you want. I think that what this stores name should be is It is a demo. I did not, however, see anything in the store that looked like a demo.
This is one of the omiyagi shops, souvenir shops, inside the Shinkansen section of the station. You can only get in here if you have a ticket for the Shinkansen. Our 290 yen tickets for HakataMinami Station serve the purpose because even though it is only a nine minute ride, it is the Shinkansen.

Sep 21, 2013

In the city

 This curved structure is the roof over the entrance to Hakata Station
 We had lunch in a Thai restaurant on the top floor of the station building the one behind the above curved roof. We were able to sit next to the window and had a marvelous view. The reasons for the glass panels is that there is a door to an outside balcony, but it was closed, probably because of the summer heat.
We walked a couple of hundred meters from the station to Yodobashi Camera, a large electronics store. I wanted to buy a Nexus 7 tablet computer but they were sold out. On the way back I noticed this colorful building. It appeared to be a pachinko parlor.

Sep 19, 2013

Into Fukuoka city

 We needed to stop at our bank so my wife and I decided to go into the city, going to the bank and then having lunch and doing a little shopping. The Shinkansen train that arrived at the HakataMinami Station was one of the new streamlined types.
 Inside there were two seats on either side of the aisle. The older trains had two seats on one side and three on the other. Since the width of the trains is about the same because they use the same tunnels, having only four seats across means that they are bigger and more comfortable. Of course that really does not matter on our nine minute trip. At the front of this car, the first in the train, there is a mockup of the control room for kids to sit in and pretend that they are driving the train. My grandson loves it.
At the station we went up to the second floor outside walkway so that we could get to the bank which is across a couple of fairly main streets. As usual at Japanese train stations, there were a large number of taxis lined up waiting for fares.

Sep 16, 2013

A trip to the doctor

 This is the back entrance to the hospital where we go to see our doctor. In Japan most doctors, but not all, have a small clinic/hospital where they see outpatients. If it is slightly bigger there will be a few beds for patients. I am not sure how many beds this hospital has but I am pretty sure that it is less than 20. Even so, there is a wide range of equipment for tests, x-ray, ultrasonic, internal cameras, etc. At this hospital, you get a prescription for medicine and you go to a pharmacy that is in the same block.
 This is the pharmacy. The building on the right is part of the hospital. Here, there is a pharmacist and clerk. They stock all the medicine that the doctors in the hospital prescribe and probably nothing else. The pharmacist ask you about your illness and checks that the prescription is correct. If there appears to be a problem, he will call the hospital and double check. Just as at the hospital, you present your health insurance card along with the prescription. In my case, I have to pay 10% of the cost, but my wife who is younger must still pay 30%. The main reason for paying is to make people think twice about going to the hospital when they are not really sick. The insurance coverage is extremely wide, covering most medical conditions, hospitalization, medicine and dental work.

This is the front door to my apartment. Although there is a mail slot in the door, mail is placed in a mail box on the first floor. However, our daily newspaper is placed in the slot.
This is the second floor landing. I was standing here when I took the above picture. One of the mysteries about this place has all the black marks on the concrete floors and stairs. The entire staircase is covered with them, but I could not figure out where they came from. Finally, the other day, my wife was talking to the lady who comes daily to sweep the entrance and clean the public areas. She told my wife that a few years ago there had been a fire on the third floor that that the water the fire department used to extinguish the fire had carried ashes and soot down the stairs and that they had stained the concrete. Mystery solved.

Sep 15, 2013

In front of my apartment

 To take this picture I stood in the road in front of my apartment building. This is the only entrance to the building. My apartment is on the second floor. This window provides light for our bedroom.
 Turning around 180 degrees so that I was facing more or less to the east, I took this picture. This block contains the one house, two parking areas and the large garden on the right. You can just see part of the station between the buildings on the left. In front of the distant building on the left that is current covered with tarps while they refinish the outside surface, there is the long low roof of the Sunny supermarket. This is somehow connected to the American Walmart and is the cheapest of our three supermarkets.
 I then turned 90 degrees to my left so that I was facing approximately north. There is very little traffic on this street although a few people use it as a short cut, but the first intersection is with a main road and there is no traffic light so it is hard to get a cross. Behind the apartment building there are two parking lots and an empty field. On the left there are one and two story homes.
Again turning 180 degrees so I was facing more or less to the south, I took this picture. The building on the left is, of course, my apartment building. The second floor window is in the room where I have my computer. The low building straight ahead is a supermarket, the Coop. This end has the delivery platform. The customer entrance is at the left end. It is a little bit noisy in the early morning, but only from our living room. You can not hear the trucks arrive, unload and depart from our bedroom. The Coop is the mid range supermarket.

Sep 14, 2013

Going to Go

On this day I went to the station building to a club meeting.

This object is on the sidewalk on the right side of the station. It appears to be an antique mailbox that has been painted white instead of the official red it would have been when in use. The lock at the bottom left looks new, by the way. The red writing on says akusho tsuiho posuto. I could not figure out what it means. As is often the case in Japanese I knew all of the kanji individually and understood the literal meaning of the words but could no figure out the overall meaning of the message. I knew that the first two kanji on the right, akusho, mean 'bad writing', but what does that mean? The final two kanji on the right, tsuiho, mean 'disposal or exile', which did not seem to be a problem, and the word on the left, the katakana posuto, means mailbox. So I thought about this for a long while, but in the world did 'bad writing disposal mailbox' mean? I finally gave up and asked my wife. She said that akusho refers to written things that people in general should not see, for example, pornography or things kids don't want their parents to see. So this is a place where you can leave written documents and have the disposed of in a way that other people will not see them.
 This is the elevator up to the third floor of the station building. I am on my way to my Go Club, also Igo Club, for the first time since before my operation. Notice the No Smoking and No Dogs signs beside the buttons.
 This is the third floor. This floor is used as an extension of the town office and we can do most of the paperwork here, rather than going to the main office which is out in the middle of nowhere. On the left is a bookshelf containing books from the public library. You can take them out and return them here. The main library is in Mirikaroden, where I have my art lessons. My Igo Club meets in a room at the back that is available to the public for free.
 As I walked the length of the building, I heard music. I looked out the window and saw three hula dancers. By the time I got my camera out and got positioned, they had left the stage and this woman was dancing alone.
Here are two of the club member playing a game of Go. We have a handicapping system so that it is possible for even the weakest player to have a chance of winning against the strongest. The weaker player places black stones at predesignated spots on the board, the number depending on the difference in strength between the two players, and then the other player starts freely playing the white stones. The board is 19x19 so it is a very complex game. At our level it takes 45 minutes to an  hour to play a game. There is a ranking system that starts at 35 kyu for someone with no knowledge and after reaching 1 kyu, the next rank is 1 dan and the highest rank is 9 dan. I am playing at 3 kyu level at the moment.

Sep 13, 2013

My art

This is a very poor picture of my poor picture. It was done as an exercise with an HB pencil so there is not a lot of contrast. If you would like to see some better work that I have done, go to my Facebook page and look at the Albums in the Photos section. Two of the albums (Timeline Photos andMy entries in the 5th Izumi Art Club Show) have pictures of drawings that I did and that were in shows.

Sep 12, 2013

At art class

 I arrived early for my art class, the first since becoming sick, and waited in the  large lobby. The Japanese love vending machines and there may actually be more of them than there are people. This one is particularly interesting because of the abstract art on the used bottles and cans container. There used to always be such a container, usually small and plastic, beside each vending machine, but since the sarin gas attack by Aum, most of them have been removed so that terrorists can not use them to place bombs.
 I wandered toward the back on the lobby. There is a large hall behind the wall where they show movies, have plays and performances and lectures. This rather colorful abstract at was hanging on the wall. The top is a little higher than the top of my head. In the bottom left corner there is a plaque. I walked over to look at it.
 This is the plaque. The top line is the title, Autumn in New England, and the bottom line is the artists name, Takatsuru Gen. I am originally from New England. It is my furusato as the Japanese would say, so it brought back good memories.
This is center piece of the three sections.

Sep 11, 2013

In the neighborhood

 This is a sign on our favorite bread store. The sign on the left say in English Baker Moved and in Japanese sakurai. I have absolutely no idea what either of them is supposed to mean. I checked the dictionary and sakurai is not listed. I do know that it can be a last name, I do not see the relevance. The sign on the right is a bit more transparent. In Japanese it says pan-nagata and in English bread & chef. Pan is bread and Nagata is apparently the name of the chef/owner, so it makes sense although I doubt we would every do something like that in English.
This is kozumosu, Cosmos, a drugstore. According to the left side of the sign, they sell discount drugs and on the right it indicates that they are open 365 days a year and the prices are cheap everyone of those days. Inside they sell a huge variety of things, in addition to over the counter drugs, they sell personal hygiene items, stuff for the kitchen, clothing, food, frozen food, health drinks and a lot of other stuff.

They only sell over the counter drugs because in Japan the doctor traditionally gives you the medicine as part of your visit. Recently a lot of doctors have started having an associated drugstore where you take you prescription and get if filled. There is no need to shop around because the prices are fixed by the government and paid for by your health insurance program. Tomorrow or the next day, I have to go to my doctor to restock the various medicines that I am taking so I will take some pictures.

Sep 9, 2013

Walking still

 I like walking by automobile dealers because they almost always have models of all the models they sell. They are extremely detailed.
 This is one of our 7/11s. As you can see, the sign says 7i and Seven & i Holdings. The company i Holdings bought a large enough share of the franchise that they were able to include their name in all the signs. The three sections at the bottom of the sign indicate that this store has an automatic teller maching and that sells liquors and cigarettes.
 We are surround more or less on three sides by low mountains, the source of all the water in the river.
 This is our local Mister Donut, or as it is known here Misdo.
This Eco Mall sells discount items. Most of them are new and still in the original package. They have clothes, some furniture and lots of dishes, pots and pans, and knick-knacks. We bought a set of dishes here, the ones that we use almost every day.