Oct 31, 2013

Home again

 Walking along the riverside, I found this strange looking tree. In general trees are severely trimmed back twice a year, spring and fall. After a few year, they start looking like this.
 A rice paddy in front of some houses has been harvested and all that is left are the stubs where the stalks were cut.
 This monument is on the grounds of a school and the little plaque says that it commemorates the building of the school.
This color display is at the back of the supermarket that is across the street from our apartment.

Oct 30, 2013

 Around the next bend in the river, I found the end of the cross-river what-ever-it-was but still had no idea what its purpose was.
 In looking at these pictures, I now realize that I forgot to take a picture of the scene where I sat to do a watercolor of the river. While I was working, two grade school age girls came by. When they realized what I was doing they stopped to talk. They apparently have some relatives who are American, but they were not able to explain the relationship very well. I think their grandmother immigrated to the US and there were children who married Americans. After I while they left to go swimming in the river. For a while the splashed in the water in front of me, but they soon disappeared, although I could still hear them. A bit later, as I was finishing up the picture, a man and his daughter stopped briefly to look at my picture and chat. They then crossed the river and started looking for minnows in the shallow water.
I packed and started for home along the riverside path.

Oct 29, 2013

Farther upstream

Another few minutes walk and I found this sign beside the path. It says to watch out over your head.
 I had been keeping my eyes on the river and the banks but when I looked up I saw these cables strung across the river.
The object riding on the cables is obviously for carry things across the river, but I could not see anything that they might have carried. The fence in the above picture enclosed the work area and there were no piles of anything that might be moved.

Oct 28, 2013

Still looking for a scene to paint

 I like drawing these strangely shaped trees, but there is no reason to do it outside. This hole between the fences is a canal leading to the river. Any rice growing area will have a network of large and small canals that insure that all the paddies have access to water, a necessity for growing rice. Most of these water systems were started more than a thousand years ago and have been continuously repaired and upgraded since.
 There was a very severe flood in 2012 so they are building new dams along the Nakagawa River. A short while back I showed one under construction downriver from here, to the north of the main road. This one is about an equal distance to the south from the road.
This is looking back at the construction site from a little farther upstream. Still nothing interesting to draw.

Oct 27, 2013

Going out to do a watercolor painting

 As you get farther away from the station, you start seeing more places like this. It appears to be abandoned farming equipment. This area used to be mostly rice paddies and truck farms, but gradually it is turning into housing.
I was walking on some back roads to get to the riverside, when I saw this little building beside the road. It was so small that I stopped to investigate.
Inside was this statue. The shide on the pole in the right corner indicates that this is a Shinto shrine. I have no idea who the statue is supposed to represent, but maybe some time in the future I will be able to find out. It is obvious well kept up so someone most come here often. Maybe the timing will be right and I will be able to meet them and ask.

Oct 26, 2013

Random stuff

 This was the way the parking lot across the street looked during typhoon number 26. So far we have been lucky in Fukuoka, not too much rain and very little wind from all the typhoons. This year there has been almost twice as many as in an average year.
 I was at Hakataminami Station, wandering around on the upper deck, and discovered this sculpture of in a corner behind a roofed sitting area.
On the first and third Fridays of each month, I take a two and a half hour art class. Most of the people are working in oils or watercolors but I am trying to master graphite (pencil). The classroom has four or five still lifes and you pick the one you want to work on. While I do not  think I am good, I am gradually getting better and developing an understanding of what can be done and what can't.

Oct 25, 2013

And home again

 On my way home I stopped at the AU store, where they sell cell phones and the such. I've been thinking of getting a new phone, but at much thought I decided not to. One of the main reasons is that the little camera that I use for taking these pictures is beginning to act up and I don't want to buy both a camera and a phone. I bought the phone for my Ohenro Pilgrimage and it is a pretty good camera with a memory card. So I decided to keep using my current phone and my current camera. If the camera stops working, I will use the cell phone camera. After all, I took all the pictures at the beginning of this blog with it.
 This is the button that you press to get a pedestrian light at the intersection. I have shown one before but this one is a lot clearer, I think. The black band at the top contains LED lights that form the words Please wait. The grey area at the bottom contains a message telling the reader to press the above button to cross the road.
 This is the stream, not the river, where it cross the main road.
 The Halloween decoration at visAvis, the cake shop just around the corner from my apartment.
Finally reaching home again, I noticed that our laundry was still out. In Japan we do not use ropes for hanging laundry; we use long poles that hang from brackets in the ceiling. The poles are usually metal and about an inch and a half (3 cm) in diameter.

This was the longest walk I have taken since before my operation and, although very tired, I am okay. The next walk will be even longer if the weather cooperates.

Oct 24, 2013

Leaving the shrine

 Shinto shrines almost always have trees, often protected or very old. One of  these days I will have to do some research and find out the connection, probably it is related to the old folk religions.
 I left the shrine and was extremely surprised to find a narrow street line with brick walls. As I mentioned a few days ago, brick constructions are very weak and tend to fall down in earthquakes. I guess one reason that they have used bricks is that this part of Japan has very few earthquakes and the ones that occur are very mild, not at all like the constant barrage of shaking that we had in Sendai.
This is very typical of the roads in this area, very short and narrow with close together homes and trees squeezed into the open spaces.

Oct 23, 2013

Kasuga Shrine

 I finally located the other shrine that I was looking for, Kasuga Jinja. It was very small and just tucked between a parking lot and a private home. This is the view as I approached it.
 This shrine is typical of neighborhood Shinto shrines in this area, in fact in all of Japan.
I walked up and looked into the altar but could not see very much. There was a small vase on the right and the white things are folded strips of paper called shide. Here is what the Encyclopedia of Shinto has to say about shide:

One type of heihaku, formed by attaching flowing strips of paper or cloth (particularly , rough cloth made from the bast fibers of paper mulberry) to a sprig of sakaki, a staff, or a sacred border rope (Shimenawa). Although was formerly used, most shide today are made of paper. A variety of methods are used to fold and cut the strips, including those with 2, 4, and 8 folds. Shide are likewise found in a variety of specific styles, the best known of which would include those of Ise, Shirakawa, and Yoshida. Nowadays shide are most frequently found as one component of implements of purification, but they are also suspended from sacred border ropes demarcating sacred or ritual space, in which case they serve to symbolize a sacred border. A Grand Champion (yokozuna) of sumō wrestling wears a decorative shimenawa festooned with shide around his ornamental belt during the ring-entrance ceremonies of a sumō tournament. S
-Inoue Nobutaka

Oct 22, 2013

A bus, a building and a gate

 The lettering on the side of this bus says that is belongs to the History and Nature Protection Group. The little building on the right appeared to be related but there was no one there.
 This building was extremely unusual. Bricks are not common in Japan. They do not stand up well during earthquakes so almost all buildings are wood or steel framed, or reinforced concrete.
This little plant covered gate is a good example of the many small artistic scenes that exist in Japan, if you ignore the surroundings.

Oct 21, 2013

Along the way

 This man was using a net to catch something in the shallow water. There are small fish in this stream so maybe that was what he was after.
  I left the stream and started north along a narrow road. This very large house with a fancy garden occupied a large piece of land. Notice the way the trees are trimmed.
After walking by the car in the above picture, I came upon the gate, the main entrance to the house. It was very impressive.

Oct 20, 2013

More around the neighborhood

 Rice paddies always look so sad after the harvest.
 Very small flowers in little bunches, less than an inch across. The berry-like things are either still to new and the birds are waiting or the birds won't eat them.
This is a private driveway, but just look at the way the trees have been trimmed.

Oct 19, 2013

Going to the Supermarket

 A typhoon was on its way as I started the short walk to one of our three supermarkets. You can see the clouds spilling over the hills.
 The market is called Halloday and it is the most up scale of the three nearby supers. The prices are higher but the quality is better and they carry some things that we can not find at the other two. Notice the sign on the left. I have a closeup of it below.
I have absolutely no idea what FOOD HOLES means. I can't even begin to guess what the person who thought it up was  thinking. The middle line has the name in red kana and the bottom line gives the hours when they are open. At the bottom right the white kanji with the red background means Japanese sake and shows that they sell alcoholic beverages. The blue P is the P in parking.

Oct 18, 2013

The Shinto Shrine

 I walked under the torii and approached the shrine building. Surprisingly, it was completely stone. Even the doors are stone. I can not remember ever seeing a shrine like this. I could not find a sign of any sort and the name is not marked on any of my maps. I will keep looking and hopefully the next time I visit I will know the name.
 As I left the grounds, I looked inside the Buddhist altar. This is all I could see. On the left partly hidden behind a purple curtain were some fresh flowers. In the middle was a statue that was partially covered with a red cloth. The writing on the bottom says, "Number 19" on the right and "Thousand Armed Kannon" in the middle.
Walking home along the river, I had a good view of some stairs leading down to the stream bed.

Oct 17, 2013

Found it!

 This is a typical street in this area. It is very short so the area is a maze and it is lined with private homes. I did not see any businesses or companies as I wandered around looking for the Shrine. The problem was that this area is not well defined in my little map book that I carry when walking. Only a couple of the main through roads are shown and the shrines are not marked.
 I finally located it. This little building contains a Buddhist altar and the sign on the lintel says that this is number 80 of the 88 sites on the Nakagawa 88 Places, obviously copying the Ohenro Pilgrimage's 88 temples in Shikoku. Since visiting I have been trying to find out more about this but so far have been unable to find more than a single website on which the Japanese will not show properly.
Moving closer to the above building and turning to my left, I found a torii with a sign identifying a Shinto shrine on the same property. I am not sure about the pronunciation of the name, but it is probably Ama Jinja, Heaven Shrine in English. This area has lots of nonstandard pronunciations. For example, the area that I live in is called Nakabaru, which would be Nakabara in standard Japanese.

Oct 16, 2013

Still looking

 This natural  stone stele is dedicated to the Safe Water God. It is at the corner of the park with the wisteria that I showed yesterday.
 I was a bit surprised by this building. It is an animal hospital. It looks like maybe the vet lives here, too.
This old more or less traditional style home has a tall hedge around it so that the garden is private. In the past Japanese villas, homes of rich people, had walls around the outside of the property and large gates. They became strong defensive positions in times of war.