Sep 30, 2014

Along the river

 Still walking along the bank of the Nakagawa (Naka River), I got close enough to see the construction. They are putting a hard, concrete block surface on the side of the river.
 I reached a bridge and from the middle of it, looking north, I could see the path along the right bank. This is the way that I planned to get home.
From the south side of the bridge, I could see the river bank construction on the left and the dam on the right. I thought it was a bit interesting that the city was under a potential-flooding alert but they were still working in the riverbed.

Sep 29, 2014

A strange sign

 JOUVENCE CIRCULATORY CENTER and the DIRECT CIRCULATORY CENTER are written on this door. I would bet that CIRCULATORY here has absolutely nothing to do with the circulatory system, but then what do I know?
 This is the building. The door is at the far end. The sign in the middle just says JOUVENCE, which must be the company name. I will have to keep this place in the list of strange things to ask about.
I am back to the Nakagawa River side again. The last of the riverbank construction is going on here. You can just see it in the middle of the picture. They are also working on reconstructing the dam which you can also see in the distance.

Sep 28, 2014

Heading home

 After crossing the bridge, I turned right and found a dirt path that was obviously made for students to get to the school without having to go on the main road which does not have sidewalks. The river is on the right. You can just see a little of it through the trees.
 Reaching the main road, I discovered that they are widening it.The road-like place on the right is going to be a new side walk and they will be able to add another lane to the road. This widened section will only be a few hundred meters long. Most roads, except completely new ones, change in size as you go along them. Any time they have money and access to property they will widen a road, even if it is only for a little way.
This is a used car lot. I loved the name, really weird.

Sep 27, 2014

Reaching Nakagawa River

 After a short walk, I reached the Nakagawa River (actually it is the Naka River, because gawa means river) and found a new bridge across it. Immediately on the other side is a school and they built the bridge so that students who live on the east side of the river could get to the school on the west bank.
 Half way across the bridge, I found this information board. It describes the fish and birds that live along the river and also gives some information about the river itself. The small square plaques on either side contain bas relief sculptures of some of the fish that are referred to in local folk tales.
This is the view looking south into the mountains. Some day soon, I plan to walk deeper into the mountains.

Sep 26, 2014

Myooji Temple

 This is the storehouse at the temple. Most temples, at least large temples, will have a building like this. It is very strongly made and it is a safe place to store their valuable art when it is not on display.

Apparently there has been a temple on this site for more than a thousand years. The sect has changed a few times but it has been a Buddhist site for all that time.
 Near the temple buildings, I found this upside down more-than-a-meter-tall water contain, with two large carefully finished stones next to it. I have no idea why it was there, but obvious it is upside down to prevent it from filling with rain water and becoming a mosquito farm.
This is the view from the street in front to the temple. If you looked out the second floor windows of the temple, this is what you would see.

Sep 25, 2014

Myooji Temple

 Reaching the end of the road I found the building with the pole on top. On closer inspection the pole turned out to be a pagoda, a symbolic representation of the Buddhas grave, of the fact that all things change.
 Beside the this building there was a bell tower and a smaller building with another pagoda on the roof.
However, entering the grounds I received a bit of a surprise. A new building was under construction, or maybe an old building was being remodeled. I will have to come back here in the spring and see what it looks like when the building and grounds are completed.

Sep 24, 2014

Sighting Myooji

 In the middle of the rice paddies, I came upon a fire station. I assume that there is a fire truck of some kind inside. At the bottom of the door are the words MOBILE GARAGE. I don't think that the garage is actually mobile. I suspect that MOBILE is Japanese-English, some call it Japlish style short hand referring to the fire truck as a MOBILE.
 Finally I could see the Myooji temple in the distance. I could recognize it because of the pole sticking up from the roof.
Since I could see the temple passed the end of this road, I assume that this was the entrance and started up the street toward the temple.

Sep 23, 2014

Still at the Kannon Altar

 This is the sign over the altar that identifies the two figures. According to my translations, the one on the right is the Holy Kannon and the one of the left is the Eleven faced Kannon.
 In front of the altar was  a bench and a very strange looking tree. The trunk was hollow and the tree was obviously very big in the past but all that remains alive now is a single branch.
You can tell you are in a farming area when garages contain things like this. These are onions, but many places will also hang daikon, the large Japanese radishes.

Sep 22, 2014

Another small shrine

 Along the road, I found this like clump of trees. Since this sort of thing almost always indicates the presence of a shrine or altar or some religious, I decided to investigate.

Sure enough, Under the trees I found this little building with an altar in it it. I could read the characters on the sign under the eaves, but they did not make any sense to me. I should add that this is frequently the case because I do not have the background information to decipher titles. It is a bit like headlines in newspapers. These are generally very opaque if you don't have some knowledge of the subject.
 Anyway, looking in through the grill, I discovered this double gold plated statue. A little sign said that they represent two different aspects of the Bodhisattva Kannon.

Sep 21, 2014

An industrial area in the rice paddies

 Yesterday, I posted pictures of what appeared to be a shrine, a building with an open front. When I reached it so that I could see inside, I discovered a large stone wearing a red bib and a small table with green leaves in vases, a pot, and offerings of Japanese sake and some water. Piled up around the large stone were a number of smaller stones. This would appear to be some sort of Shinto altar, but you never can be completely sure, at least I can't. Maybe when my understanding of the local dialect improves a bit, I will start knocking on doors in the neighborhood of these shrines and asking people to explain them.
 This is quite typical of the area I was in. There is a large rice paddy but a section along the road has been turned into an industrial area. This company appears to make the preconstructed beams that are used to make large buildings.
After walking passed the industrial area, I came to a number of green houses with young plants growing in them. On the left side of the picture you can just see the tall structures from the industrial area and a small segment of the rice paddy.

Sep 20, 2014

Heading south into the countryside

 The only think missing in this picture is the river. This area is a mixture of housing, farms and small industrial areas. The high rise apartment building is the last one as you move south. There is a change in zoning laws that prohibits buildings of more than two stories, so Nakagawa Machi, my town, is divided with the north half having taller buildings and the south half very rural.
 This is a typical house in this area. It is large and surrounded by rice paddies.
The roads in this area follow the canals that form the system for providing water to the paddies. As I approached this spot, it appeared that the small building wold contain an altar of some kind. From this vantage point it was not possible to determine whether it was going to be Buddhist or Shinto.

Sep 18, 2014

Arabito Shrine

 I was a  bit surprised when I realized that the shrine in front of me was the Arabito Shrine. I came in from the back so I did not recognize it as I approached. This is the view from the side entrance. There is a very large sacred tree on the right. It has a fence around it so that people can not touch it.
 Sumo is traditionally a sport that is conducted on the shrine grounds, at least partly for the amusement of the local gods. On this day the dohyo, the surface that the wrestling takes place on, was covered with a blue tarp.
This is a side view of the main shrine building and some of the smaller shrines on the right.

Sep 17, 2014

Starting a walk

 I got to Mirikaroden and discovered that there was a heavy rain and flooding alert in effect so the classes were all cancelled. However, the weather forecast said that there would be a few hours without rain, so I decided to go for a walk. If it rained, it was warm enough that getting wet would not be a problem. So, I went out through the parking lot and headed for the mountains. In the picture, you can see the heavy cloud cover hiding the mountain tops. Right in the middle you can see a vertical white line of smoke. I am not sure what this is, but according to the map there is a crematorium at that location. In Japan almost everyone is cremated because there is no space for burying bodies. The ashes are kept at home or in a Buddhist temple.
 I turned off the main road that heads south toward the mountains and found this lovely little street. As with most narrow lanes in Japan, it has two-way traffic. If two cars meet, one has to back up until there is enough space for the other to pass. Amazingly there is almost no road rage in Japan. People just patiently wait. Sometime both cars will start backing up.
A little further down the lane, I came upon this traditional style gate. It is things like this that make walking in Japan such a pleasure.

Sep 16, 2014

Gardens among the paddies

 This field looks as though it used some years as a rice paddy but this year they are growing corn. It is one of the largest fields of corn I have seen in Japan, although I know that they raise huge amounts in Hokkaido, I have never been there.
 This gives you an idea of how big, or I should say small, some of the gardens are. You can see a rice paddy in the top right and this garden consists of five newly processed beds, each is about one meter wide and about ten meters long. As I have mentioned before, the machinery that they use is usually owned by a cooperative and shared by all the farmers so that they do not have to pay for the machines themselves. However, there are also many small farmers who own the equipment themselves. Sometimes such farmers will rent the equipment to others. Anyway, that is what I understand without having done any extensive study of farming.
This old picturesque fence and the white flowers separate the gardens and paddies from the public road.

Sep 14, 2014

Rice paddies

 Mirikaroden is the large building on the left. There are rice paddies to both the north, the side where I am standing, and the south, the far side of the buildings.
 The rice is nearing the time for harvest. The individual grains are quite large, nearly their final size. After this the leaves will start to turn yellow and in just a few weeks it will be time to run the harvesting machines through the paddies. This year's rice is expect to be quite poor, well below the normal quality. The reason is the terrible weather, too much rain and not enough sunlight. This year seems to be unusual in that there is still water in the paddies. I don't remember ever seeing standing water in the paddies at this time of year. However, there is still time for the paddies to dry out before harvest.
One result of all the water is that there is a huge number of snails crawling around in the paddies. This snail was huge, almost three inches long, about seven centimeters.

Sep 13, 2014

Start of first long walk since last Spring

 The day was very cloudy and it had apparently rained all night. You can see that the sidewalk is still wet. I was on my way to the station to catch a bus to Mirikaroden and saw some workmen trimming the trees in preparation for the winter. The trees along the roads are usually trimmed once just after the new branches come out in the spring and once shortly before the leaves start to fall in the autumn. The new branches are all trimmed off because this keeps the roots from growing and damaging the sidewalks and roads. It also means that the streets will not be covered by fallen leaves as the weather cools.

About half way to Mirikaroden, the bus turned off the usual route and I discovered that I had gotten on the wrong bus so I got off and started to walk. I was only a kilometer or so away from Mirikaroden
 Since I was in a bit of a hurry, having to walk rather than take the quick bus ride, I only paused long enough to take two picture at a shrine that I passed.
I did not enter the grounds but took this picture of the main building from the street.

Sep 11, 2014


 The Omikoshi from a local festival was on display at Mirikaroden. This is a large box resting on six logs. During the festival the logs are used to carry the Omikoshi around the area. The traditional idea was that the festival was a time to carry the god around the neighborhood so he or she could see what it was currently like and to also show him or her a good time. There is lots of music, chanting, dancing, and especially a lot of drinking. When I lived in Shizuoka Prefecture, I was on the organizing committee for our neighborhood festival, but after moving to Sendai, I did not participate because they were bigger, covering many neighborhoods so I did not know the people involved.