Wednesday, September 28, 2011

To Matsui in the Sand, Whoever You Are

Found, leaping out at me, that smile — glad you were happy then, hope you are still.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Life & Death

Both cruel. I'm sorry. For the agony. Don't know what happened.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Monday, September 19, 2011

Whiskey 48.44%

I've been hooked recently on the show American Pickers. Living vicariously doesn't really work for me much though, so this weekend I went out looking for my own place to pick.

Tromping along the river in the rain, I passed a junk shop called (loosely translated) Holy Crap! 100 Yen City! I couldn't resist going in. In addition to a "rare" tin turtle flower frog with the price painted on its side in outdated kana, I picked up this postcard:

It shows pictorially the alcohol percentages of the various sakes available in Japan at the time, from whiskey top left, descending all the way to beer, bottom right. Next to the beer are red and white wine respectively which went by the now outdated aka-budou-shu and shiro-budou-shu.

There's a lot to like about the postcard. The wonky hand drawn lines of the bottles for one. The colors. The blue type script of the header. Certain obsolete or simplified kanji. The date. And the French "carte postale" written on the back in art nouveau lettering. 

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Post Under: Only in Japan

One espresso. One mint chocolate chip ice cream in a cone. All very serious. No one laughed.

Monday, September 12, 2011

It's Ginkgo Nut Season

When I used to live in Chiba, I'd watch the old folks in the park collecting ginkgo nuts. They'd stand under these massive old trees and either wait for the fruit to fall or hurl objects up into the branches to speed the process.

Seems like there's less competition out here in the countryside — maybe because there's so much other good stuff available, people can't be bothered. Anyway, yesterday we swung through a local park to check on the ginkgo trees' status. Happy to report we were right on time.
And no shaking necessary. There were dozens of nuts littered all over the ground under the trees. Two words of warning though before you attempt collecting them — they stink! Bring either gloves or a plastic bag to turn inside-out. But before you stoop down to pick up the fruit, give them a good twist with the bottom of your shoe or boot or Croc and then pick out the seed.
Once home you can wash them and then set them out in the sun to dry.
All right then, you're almost there. For food preparation I know of two ways to eat them. In Osaka I had them as a bar snack at an oden shop. There they grilled them before liberally covering the yellow bodies with sea salt. Conversely, they can be added to chawan mushi, a kind of custard.

Unfortunately, in the more backward States, cities don't plant female ginkgo trees for fear that people like me will make a mess of their lovely sidewalks.

A pity for the forager.

Friday, September 9, 2011


Every once in a while out here I'm flummoxed — someone does something so entirely out of the norm, disregarding good taste or convention, that I don't know how to react.

Yesterday I was peacefully riding my bike, blissing to this
on my iPod, perhaps straying a little closer to the center of the road than I should have, when blasting around the bend behind me beeping came an old man on his moped. As he passed me he torqued his body around to to flash me the finger.

Perfectly acceptable, even required behavior perhaps in Providence or San Jose — too odd to believe out here. I'm holding on to the thought that the man was communicating to me in sign language something about a one-horned big horn sheep.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Monday, September 5, 2011


 in the back alley, old fisherman's quarters, my museum.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Friday, September 2, 2011

Before the Typhoon

Patterns. The weather's breaking. I've been away a long time.

Up in the hills yesterday, hacking through late summer, I came upon this tiffany shade:
And an orb weaver:
Travel notes somewhat brighter. Came home scratched and wet. Everything's hanging on the line.