Sunday, October 31, 2004


There’s a nice gathering place here in this town which is a sort of casual food court. Every year, a big costume & dance party is held there on Halloween Weekend. This is the chance that I can see almost all of my non-Japanese friends in this prefecture, and I never want to miss it. Last year and the year before I enjoyed dressing up as a movie character, and I was ready for that this year, too. Unfortunately, I got the last-minute call from the Izakaya I work at and had to work until 11:30pm. I went to the party straight from work, so I had to give up the costume. Nevertheless, I had a great time meeting my friends in costumes and taking lots of their photos!!

OK. These are just some of the fun-loving folks who were there at the Halloween party. I took too many pics so I cannot post all of them here. Sorry! I think I got permissions to post these shots on my blog ( but of course everyone, including myself, was a bit drunk when I asked, so …. Oh well. )

Bunch of fun-loving people and macho guys.......................

A big chicken and robot dancers. The robots brought around a casset player so that they can dance with the music. Good choreography. Excellent robotic movement. They must have practiced quite a bit.

From the movie "A Clockwork Orange" and a biiiiig sumo wrestler (I wonder what's stuffed in the stomach.)

Bunch of fun-loving people and a swan dancer, Kazuko Hosogi (a TV-popular fortuneteller), Ai Fukuhara and Ryoko Tamura from Athens Olympic.

Where's Neo?

I just love this party. I just love to see this many people spending so much time and energy for just having FUN! People are usually nice and friendly in this food court, but more so when in hilarious costumes and with some drinks. I can chat with, shake hands with or give hugs to those I’ve never met before, and don’t have to worry about deviating from the way a normal Japanese middle-aged woman should behave. No one cares. It's Halloween night!!! :D

posted by obachan, 10/31/2004 07:12:00 PM | link | 2 comments |

Tuesday, October 26, 2004


So, what do you think about the background design this time? The flowers in the blog-header are what we call Nadeshiko, probably called “Japanese pink” or “Fringed pink” in English. See the real Nadeshiko flowers in this site (scroll down a bit) The whole background design represents Nadeshiko flowers in a bamboo flower basket. How about that!

Well, off to work now. I’ll write about the continuing topic from my previous post sometime later today (hopefully).


Now, back to the topic of the place I always remember when I think about "boosting local economy" or "attracting visitors from other places."

The name of the place is Tortilla Flat, a small settlement on the Apache Trail in AZ, USA. The population of the whole town was 6 when I visited there in 1993. (Information on this place is available on the sites like
this and this.)

So what’s there in such a tiny town in the Wild West? There I saw one humorous way of making such a place a tourist attraction.

I don’t remember exactly how, but I think their jokes already started on the roadsigns repeatedly seen on the AZ88. Anyway, you enjoy driving miles and miles on the Apache Trail, and finally get to your destination, and find out why the phrase “Where the hell is Tortilla Flat” is used as the catch phrase there. The phrase was (still is?) on almost all the souvenirs such as post cards, T-shirts and bumper stickers.

The Apache Trail (a photo of the photo I took there on Oct. 24, 1993)

There were so many jokes that tickled me. They were making good laughs out of the smallness of the town, and also out of the legend of the Superstition Mountains. (To Japanese readers who know a TV program “Tantei Knight Scoop”: You might feel a bit of the taste of “Paradise” series by Mr. Koeda, but personally I think the jokes in Tortilla Flat was much more sophisticated. ) What I liked the most was the custom at a local eatery (or was that a souvenir shop? I don't remember exactly...). Visitors were supposed to write their names on 1-dollar(?) bills and pin on the wall there. I was impressed to see almost all the walls inside being covered by the bills with visitors’ names on. That was really something.

I don't think my hometown can or should copy the way they do in Tortilla Flat to attract tourists from other places. But the fact is that this funny place gave me a different kind of good memory that no other famous sightseeing spot did. Whenever I found a piece of joke there, I felt the humor and hospitality of the people behind it very closely. That’s what, I think, that made my experience there something “special.” To me, it’s something worth remembering.

posted by obachan, 10/26/2004 11:45:00 AM | link | 3 comments |

Sunday, October 24, 2004


My friend emailed me to let me know that there was some kind of international festival today. She kindly wrote the festival venue in her email, but I didn’t know exactly where it was. While I was wandering around trying to find the venue, I bumped into another festival. Gee, so many things are going on in this time of the year when the weather is so nice.

You can imagine the nice weather from this photo…

The one I accidentally found was some kind of “local specialty fair,” which is held to boost the local economy in small towns and villages in this prefecture. The local foods/crafts that we can not usually buy at regular supermarkets were sold at many stalls along the river. It was nice to rediscover the good things we have in our prefecture after all, and also nice to see some young visitors in this kind of fair.

roasting tea leaves

vegetable soup in a huge pot

charcoal-broiled foods


There’s one place in the U.S. that I remember when I think about the issue of “boosting local economy” or “attracting visitors from other places.” The population in that small place was six when I visited there more than 10 years ago. I wonder if it changed or not.
I’ll write more about that place in my next post…..

posted by obachan, 10/24/2004 11:57:00 PM | link | 2 comments |

Friday, October 22, 2004


The typhoon left a serious damage to my hometown. The disaster site was about 10 km away from by parents’ house.
The tidal waves caused by the typhoon broke the sea dyke and crushed some houses. The biggest wave was said to be 17.8m tall, as high as a 6-storied building. Who would imagine someone who never went outside but stayed in the house getting drowned there? But that’s what happened.

Hope we have no more typhoons this year! I truly hope so!

posted by obachan, 10/22/2004 11:18:00 AM | link | 0 comments |

Wednesday, October 20, 2004


The typhoon No.23 (TOKAGE) kept me at home all afternoon today. It gave me some unexpected free time because my daytime work was cancelled, but I was sick of having to stay at home like that. It happened way too often this year!!

Whenever the TV news shows people evacuated to schools, I remember the time my family evacuated to our relatives' house in my childhood. There was a landslide warning and we had to pack up and leave house ASAP. My dad brought bankbooks and the most important hanko (personal seal), mom brought our clothes, and grandma didn’t bring anything else but our ancestors' ihai (family mortuary tablet). When I was packing my school bag, my parents told me to give the highest priority to school textbooks and stationeries, so I couldn’t bring my toys with me. But I brought some notebooks without telling my parents. I was secretly writing stories and drawing manga in those notebooks then, and they were my “treasure” at that time.

Then one question popped up in my mind. If I have to evacuate now, as an adult, what would I pick if I were to choose ONE thing to bring with me in addition to the emergency kit? (Mobile phone is included in the emergency kit.) Only one thing. Something I consider to be most important --- just like the “treasure” in my childhood. Something I don’t want to lose. Something I want to keep with me in emergency situation. What would that be?

I thought about it for a while and soon came up with an answer, but I didn’t like the answer very much. NO…I want the answer to be something touching… like a letter/present from the most important person in my life, or photos of the best time of my life, or a book which changed my life … something along that line.
A laptop PC and CD-ROMs sound just too realistic!!

posted by obachan, 10/20/2004 10:28:00 PM | link | 0 comments |

Saturday, October 16, 2004


persimmon tree

When I got there, however, I found that my assumption was totally wrong about the solitude of the place. The river was very close to the main road, and so many trucks were going up and down there. Some truck drivers looked at me like “what the heck is that woman doing here?” There seemed to be a cement factory or something near the river. In addition, I couldn’t find a path to go down to the river or a place to park my bicycle. Finally, I gave up sketching there on the spot, and instead I took some photos so that I can draw at home watching them.

It was still too early to go home, so I decided to try another place. There is a much bigger river not too far from my apartment, where you can usually see families picnicking or fishing on weekends. I rode bicycle for another 30 minutes to my new destination. When I got there I thought I made a right choice, but not for a long time.

In the spot where I had a nice view of the river, there was no shade. The sunshine in October is still very strong in the southern part of Japan, and it hurt my eyes so much when I looked at the white sheet in the sketchbook. So I went in a shade under some trees on the river bank, then I couldn’t have the view of the river almost at all. ( I’m going to have to buy a parasol someday for sketching. )

It left me with only one choice: photo taking. Again. I spent some time with my digital camera again, had lunch in a shade, and rode my bicycle back to my apartment.


After I post this, I’m going to pick one good photo for drawing from all the ones I took today.

After all, it was a long day for my poor bicycle, I guess.


I posted the sketchhere.

posted by obachan, 10/16/2004 08:37:00 PM | link | 2 comments |

Thursday, October 14, 2004


Are you sneezing now? Do you have a runny nose? If so, welcome to the club. I’ve been suffering since the day before yesterday.
For me this is not the worst time …. my worst enemy is cedar pollen in spring. I’m not sure what is bothering me at this time of the year. Well, no matter what it is, it’s not going to keep me from going out to enjoy this beautiful season. If the weather permits, I might do some outdoor sketching this weekend (with a big box of tissue paper in my backpack!!) :(

Need more?

posted by obachan, 10/14/2004 10:37:00 AM | link | 0 comments |

Saturday, October 09, 2004


It was the end of August that I wrote about this topic last time. Now, here’s the PART II.
(Yes, there’s going to be Part III, IV, V and could be more if I felt like it, so be ready. : ) )

Some comic books I have
(C)Shogakukan, Hakusensha

There seem to be several ways to categorize Japanese manga, and I guess what we call "Supo-kon manga" can be a legitimate category. The “supo-kon” is a word made by combining supotsu ("sports" pronounced in Japanese way) and konjo (guts), and it means something like fighting spirits or guts in sports. The story of this kind of manga is mostly about a person who’s in sports struggling hard and succeeding in the end.

In a classic Japanese supo-kon manga, there is always a very talented hero/heroine, let’s call him/her S, in a poor family. And there is always a rival who is from a very rich family, good looking, an excellent student in class and thus very popular everywhere. But the rival knows that S has more talent in the particular sports they’re competing in. S always gets bullied by other members who are jealous, so S’s uniform is found torn apart in the locker or, if it’s a ballet manga, a glass piece or drawing pin is found in S’s toeshoes. You know, the classic. Despite the bullying, S goes through a special training and invents an almost miraculous technique that no one else can ever do……

To me, Kyojin no hoshi (Star of the Giants) and Attack No.1 are good representatives of the classic supo-kon manga/anime. (I was delighted to hear that one member of the Italian national volleyball team saw Attack No.1 on TV in her childhood and decided to be a player.) In this kind of old ones, the underlying philosophy seems to reflect the value of that time. It’s always all-or nothing and you just have to work hard but shouldn’t enjoy the sports. Enjoyment is something low, and seriousness and constant self-denial are essential for improvement….

The recent sports manga, however, describe the hero/heroine’s personal growth in a variety of ways, and are more positive and self-affirmative. I’d rather call the new ones “sports manga” to distinguish them from the old-time “supo-kon” manga. I definitely like the recent ones, but can’t help having special nostalgic feeling towards the old ones, too. Anyway, reading this kind of sports-related manga always makes me feel exhilarated and encouraged. I think it gives us a good chance to experience virtual success with the hero/heroine in the story, and makes us feel empowered to be able to face difficulties in our real lives. There are judo manga, tennis manga, ballet, baseball, pingpong, volleyball, basketball, boxing, pro-wrestling, billiard, shogi(Japanese chess), car racing… almost anything that you can think of.

posted by obachan, 10/09/2004 08:36:00 PM | link | 4 comments |

Tuesday, October 05, 2004


Some of you might have noticed that I changed my blog template again : ) a few days ago. Yes, I picked the pattern of ginkgo leaves for the 1st half of October. For those who might be wondering, this is the rule of thumb here: The blog template changes once or twice a month, and the design should reflect the seasonal changes in Japan. This is the fun part of blog-keeping … at least to me. I spend hours and hours trying different combinations of the free web materials, and I just love doing it. It feels so good to have my semi-original (because I didn’t make the graphics myself) blog with a bit of --- what do you call --- cultural taste?

I had no interest in traditional Japanese designs until I went to Arizona. Then about 12 years ago, I had a chance to stay in Phoenix for 2 months. When I was there, I saw Native American traditional designs wherever I went, and I got fascinated with them.

Souvenirs from Phoenix. A clay pot, roadrunner brooch and Kokopelli pendant. Kokopelli is a flute player in Native American legend. My favorite.

The designs were unique, cute, and I somehow felt familiar with them. I wondered why, and assumed it was their close relationship with the nature that made me feel that way. Native American legends and myths reminded me of the ones we had in Japan, and their traditional designs inspired me to take another look on our traditional designs. Since then, I’ve been learning, only little by little, about Japanese traditional designs and colors. I still don't know anything more than just some names of the patterns, but when I read “The Tale of Genji,” the description of the costumes of that time makes a little more sense to me now.

I guess the Yosakoi festival we have here in this prefecture also contributes to my love of our traditional designs. For the festival, costume designers often use traditional kimono patterns arranged in modern ways, and they look so beautiful. I just love this fusion of the old and the new, like I had written somewhere before. Here in this blog, I’m trying the combination of Japanese designs and Western language, and so far, very happy with the results : )

posted by obachan, 10/05/2004 10:10:00 AM | link | 2 comments |

Saturday, October 02, 2004


I’ve been avoiding writing about professional baseball, because I didn’t like what was happening with my favorite Japanese baseball team, Kintetsu Buffaloes. They’re going to merge with another team next season. Maybe this was going to happen sooner or later, but the team owners’ attitude was VERY annoying. I was really disappointed when, despite all the efforts by Mr. Furuta and all other players, the merger was finally officially decided.

But today is different. I’m happy to write about professional baseball, because it’s about a great achievement! Ichiro finally did this!!!(Ichiro Suzuki, a Japanese player in American Major League baseball team Seattle Mariners broke the record for the most hits in a single season. ) We haven’t heard about him in the beginning of this season as much as we did about Godzilla Matsui, but obviously Ichiro was working hard steadily. I sure admire his constant hard work.

I still remember the time when a Japanese pitcher Yutaka Enatsu went to MLB many years ago. Many called it foolish boldness. At that time, who would have imagined that a Japanese player would make a new record in MLB where all players are bigger and stronger than Japanese players? I, like some other Japanese baseball fans around me, thought that Japanese pitchers might have a better chance there if they had good control. But never expected a Japanese batter breaking a record that no one could break for more than 80 years!

So, here’s to you, Ichiro. Thanks for making our dream come true!!

posted by obachan, 10/02/2004 07:24:00 PM | link | 10 comments |