Aug 29, 2014
NOTE: It was relatively cool yesterday, about 25 degrees C, so I was able to go out for a walk. Also a couple of days ago I took some pictures around the neighborhood. This means that I have enough photos to start posting more than one a day again. I hope that you enjoy them and maybe learn a little bit about life in Japan.
Aug 28, 2014
Aug 27, 2014
The little boy has a 'fan' and a dish to hold his winnings. It looks like he has gotten quite a few. The man in the red t-shirt is putting someone's winnings in a plastic bag. This type of game is very popular with the kids. One last point, if a kid is unable to get anything, they usual give him or her a few so that they go away happy. In other words, everybody wins.
Aug 26, 2014
Here the price of a can of beer is 300 yen which is quite reasonable for this sort of festival. Many restaurants will charge as much or more. The pink sign over the man's head, says canned beer, 300 yen. The first character on the left means can or canned and the other three spell out beer phonetically.
Aug 25, 2014
Aug 23, 2014
Aug 22, 2014
I particularly like the shape of the top of the station building. It contrasts nicely with all the straight lines in the area. I you look closely you can see what appears to be a tree growing out of the roof. Actually is a tree growing on the roof. The fourth floor of the building has an outdoor garden. The two structures above the roof on the right are sunshades that shelter benches. The junior and senior high school students use the area a lot because they can sit and talk with direct observation by adults. Nothing outrageous or dangerous happens up there, just the chance to sit together in private.
The building is contains the train station but it is also a bus terminal. We have two bus lines that pass through here. The town run buses that go around the town on three different courses, passing through all the populated areas and only costing 150 yen (100 yen for seniors) no matter how far you go. When my wife and I first moved here, we took this buses and just rode until they returned to the station. We got to see the whole town that way. The other bus company, the bus in the picture belongs to them, is the Nishitetsu line. They are a large scale transportation company running buses and trains throughout northern Kyushu. From the station you get get to a number of destination is Fukuoka city, so depending on where we are going we take the train, the Shinkansen, not the Nishitetsu which does not have a train to our town or we take a bus. There is about one train an hour but usually about three buses. The train is at least three times faster than the bus.
Aug 21, 2014
Aug 18, 2014
One of my favorite products is one of the first ones where I noticed the name. The product is a powdered coffee creamer and it has been for sale as long as I remember. It is quite popular and many people use the name as a general term for powdered cream. The name is CREAP. The label explains that this stands for cream (CREA) and powder (P). There are also packaged sausages named COWPAS, Think about it.
My wife has always wanted to have a party and serve nothing but things with strange names. There are enough that it would definitely be possible.
Aug 17, 2014
My wife was in Tokyo helping with my grandson so I decided that in addition to the coffee I would have my lunch while I was there. As usual it was delicious. If I lived alone and had to commute into Fukuoka city for work, I would eat there quite often. They are also open at night, when they serve alcohol and the necessary tsumami. The Japanese always eat when they drink, often quite a lot, and this food that accompanies the alcohol is called tsumami no matter what it consists of. Again, if I worked and still drank alcohol, I think I would frequently stop in on my way home at night. Both the man and woman are quite pleasant and easy to talk to.
Aug 16, 2014
Aug 15, 2014
Aug 14, 2014
Throughout much of my career I was involved in the English language portion of the entrance exams. When I was first in Japan, I worked at a school that was part of a system of schools run by a juku. While my school prepared students for jobs, I also did part time work for the prep school portion, writing study materials, recording study materials, writing examples of answers to the exams given at various universities, etc. I also prepared my school's entrance exam.
When I became a university professor, I was on the exam writing committee, although usually relegated to editing and correcting the students' tests. When I moved to a new university, I was usually in charge of preparing the English entrance exams and the grading process. This was a very stressful job since any errors were always big news and often made the national news, much to the dismay of the powers in the school. Luckily I had no such problems. Also for some reason, I was able to constantly generate tests that, when all the scores were plotted have a long tail on the high score side, a distorted bell curve. This was a useful quality because it meant that at the cutoff point there were only a few students with the same score. If the cutoff point were near the peak score there would be many students with the same grade making selection almost impossible.
After a few years, however, our university decided to use the standardized test that is given every year, so we no longer had to prepare our own. However, my nursing department accepted about ten practicing nurses every year. These prospective students already had a license but did not have BS degrees. They were able to obtain a BS in Nursing in about two years rather than the normal four. We tested these students ourselves. I was always in charge of preparing the test, for the approval of the Dean, of course. The Dean always approved. I worked with another native speaking professor and we were able to do a statistical study of the results after each test, something that was never allowed for the previous tests. Using these yearly analyses, we were able to improve the exams and they were statistically quite effective by the time I retired.
Returning to the bicycles, this parking in no parking areas is a big problem, especially around train and subway stations. In new stations or places were there is space, there are bicycle garages, where for a small fee, you can leave your bicycle for the day. However, in built up areas there is typically no place for a garage, so people just leave their bikes on the sidewalk, sometimes blocking it completely. The local governments are trying out many things to relieve the congestion, rent-a-bikes, taking the bikes to a collection point and charging the owner a fee for its return, etc. One other aspect of this is that many young people steal bikes, ride them to their destination, and just leave the bike. Since the owner does not know where the bike is, it will just stay there until it is stolen again or the city collects it. However, overall I think that progress is being made on this problem.
Aug 13, 2014
The rules of GO are very simple. The usual listing has only 10 and I have seen them expressed with as little as 4. However, what happens is very complicated, but there are sequences of moves and ways of playing that can be studies and learned. I often study at home. One advantage of living in Japan is that there is an Igo Shogi Channel on cable TV. Shogi is a game that is similar to chess, but you can place captured pieces back on the board as your men. This picture shows a game that is being played on TV. They limit the thinking time to 30 seconds so it goes pretty fast. They have a commentator and another person who analyze the game as it is being played, discussing the merits and demerits of specific moves and describing the possibilities for future moves. I watch two or three games a week in addition to solving problems on my computer. Hopefully, this study will have help and I will actually be able to move up to 1kyu. My goal is to become a shodan, but I have a long way to go.
Aug 12, 2014
Aug 11, 2014
The area on the right side is my private area. I have my computer and a bookshelf. Also I have the area behind one of the doors, the rightmost one, for storing my stuff. I have mostly art supplies and electronic equipment. I have two computers in there, a large laptop and a netbook. I am planning on changing the operating systems from Windows to Linux on the laptop. The netbook already has Linux.
Aug 9, 2014
Aug 8, 2014
The shelves in the picture are a mini branch library. The books can be borrowed from here on an honor system and any library book can be returned through the book box. I've looked through the collection and there are a lot of travel books, many novels, and a scattering of other books.
Just out of the picture on the right, there are five computers that are connected to the internet. They are old and slow but they are free to use. When we first moved here, I used these computers to access my gmail account while we waited for our cable connection to be installed.
Aug 7, 2014
Now to the picture. While waiting for my chicken curry lunch, I was reading the newspaper and noticed the article in the left corner of page one. While this is a serious event, it does illustrate one of the positive reasons I live in Japan. A man took over a highway bus by force. However, since guns are illegal and very hard to get here, the best he could do for a weapon was a fruit knife. The usual procedure in cases like this is for the police to follow the bus until it has to stop and then talk the hijacker into giving up. If they can't do this, they get most of the passengers out the rear or the windows while distracting the hijacker, and then they simply overpower him. There are seldom an injures in this sort of event and, if there are, they are usually non life threatening cuts. I believe that in most cases in the US the hijacker would be armed with at least a pistol and that the outcome would be the death of one or more people. It is much more peaceful here.
Aug 4, 2014
This is the gift giving time of year. I used to get boxes of beer or bottles of wine. People also send various kinds of specialty food and a variety of other things. The cost of the gifts is relatively easy to guess and also forms a part of the gift. Melons with their inflated prices, based on the pattern of ribs on the outside, are perfect when you want to make a definite impression. The recipient knows that it costs a lot.
We used to live in a melon growing area and were frequently given melons that did not have a good external pattern. They tasted the same, but the looks are important. The farmers give away or consume themselves the ones that do not look perfect so that they can maintain the high prices for the good ones.
Aug 3, 2014
Most of the stuff on the table in the foreground is art supplies with a bit of electronics piled in that had temporarily been in the drawers. I did manage to get it all put away before my wife got home and I hate to say it, but it is better organized now than when I had more room.