Tuesday, August 31, 2004


According to the TV news, the typhoon is now approaching Hokkaido. Hope it doesn’t cause much damage there like it did yesterday.

It was a terrible typhoon, and probably the strongest one I experienced since I came back from Kansai in 2000. Usually typhoons get weakened by the time they land on Kyushu or Shikoku, but the one we had this time maintained a central atmospheric pressure of 960 to 965 hectopascals while it moved up through Kyushu – Chubu area. Very unusual, I think. I guess the “global warming” is surely in progress!!

Last night, the wind was really terrible until about 9:00pm or 9:30pm here. My friend in nearby town emailed me from his mobile phone and said their power went down. He wrote that he was eating ice cream in the dark because it was melting in the fridge, and we sent some emails back and forth joking about it. I’d say mobile phones are a great invention to be useful in time of disaster…. provided that their batteries are fully charged beforehand.

Now we have a nice sunny day here toady!! I just finished doing my laundry and dishes. It really feels good to keep the windows open and enjoy the nice wind coming in. All of my herbs are outside now, trying to catch up with the photosynthesis they missed yesterday. Today is going to be my cleaning/ washing/shopping day. Oh, and I have to return the video that was due yesterday!! Can’t they be nice to me and say “It’s OK. Typhoon was so terrible yesterday. No one could’ve gone outside to return videos. So we won’t charge you for overdue”? No????

Oh, I forgot to add this!! Sorry!!
To those who sent me kind emails and comments about this typhoon,
My apartment and my parents’ house survived without any serious damage. We are OK. Thank you so much for your concern.

I just got back from the rental video shop. Yeah, they said that!! They said they were closed yesterday because of the typhoon, so they won’t charge overdue fee for videos that were due yesterday. Wow!!!
posted by obachan, 8/31/2004 11:36:00 AM | link | 0 comments |

Monday, August 30, 2004


Well, typhoon, AGAIN!
Yes, I put my herbs in the bathroom. Yes, I put laundry hangers inside and closed the storm shutter. Yes, I cooked some extra rice for tonight. Yes, yes,yes, I'm perfectly prepared, because this is the 3rd time this year! It's more than enough!
I'm going to post this before the power goes down. The wind is getting so strong now, so I'd better hurry.

For lunch, I heated up some frozen gumbo and also made a peach cobbler. I got bored and wanted to do something unusual.

seafood gumbo and peach cobbler Posted by Hello

This kind of lunch isn't anything unusual for me, but having it on a typhoon day IS unusual.

Now I hear the rain just started poring. I'd get really bored if the power would go down. No TV, no light to read books, and NO AIR CONDITIONING! Oh, I hope it doesn't happen!! PLEASE!!

posted by obachan, 8/30/2004 03:31:00 PM | link | 12 comments |

Thursday, August 26, 2004


Well, how's this new design? The background for the blog header is a pattern often seen in Japanese traditional paper, chiyogami, a kind of paper people use for paper folding. I also made another change --- those links to the websites which I got the web materials from were listed under "About Me"before. I did so just because the "About" section seemed to be already clogged, and I forgot that it can have up to 500 words. But thanks to one of the kind readers, I noticed that it looked like those 2 sites were my homepages. I hope that the way it is now is less confusing.

Now, it's finally time to talk about Japanese manga!! Sorry that I didn't write about this topic earlier.

About twenty years ago, when I was a college student, an American student in the cross-cultural communication class said that Japanese people looked so childish because they read manga all the time. He said it was so strange to see so many businessmen in suits reading manga on the train. His conclusion was this: Japanese adults are not intelligent enough or they all have some unresolved issues from their childhood, because they read manga too much. There was absolutely no student in the class who presented a different opinion.

Things seem to have changed in the past twenty years. Thanks to all those books and magazines that discuss manga not as just kids' stuff but one interesting cultural asset of Japan, and numerous fan sites of Japanese "anime (animation),"Japanese manga seems to be gradually gaining respect (to some extent) and becoming known worldwide. The American student mentioned above might have taken his kids to see "Spirited Away" or bought a VHS video of "My neighbor Totoro."

I believe that manga in Japan has become more than just funny "kids' stuff." Why was it possible? Someone said that the answer was: We had Osamu Tezuka in Japan. Many of his work are beyond mere entertainment and can be considered as true human drama, I believe. You may not believe this but by reading manga you can actually be deeply moved and feel encouraged to rediscover the beauty in people... faithfulness, strength, courage and love. If you don't understand what I'm talking about, just try some of the masterpieces by Osamu Tezuka such as "Black Jack" and "Adolf."

posted by obachan, 8/26/2004 11:41:00 PM | link | 2 comments |

Tuesday, August 17, 2004


I played pool with a foreign student of a local university yesterday. Pool has been one of my long-term hobbies since I first tried it in the U.S. about 10 years ago. Though "10 years" sounds pretty impressive, I'm still nothing more than a beginner, because I have played it on and off, not constantly. (What other excuses could I have?)
Anyway, I enjoyed the game with the guy. He seemed to be at about the same level as I was.

This is my private cue! I bought it for apx. $370(US) about 6 years ago. Adam is said to be a reliable brand for beginners, and of course for professionals, too.

Adam Twin Joint Posted by Hello

posted by obachan, 8/17/2004 01:11:00 AM | link | 0 comments |

Thursday, August 12, 2004


Yesterday I spent all afternoon watching the dance parade of the festival. Even though I had sunscreen on and kept drinking an isotonic drink, I got sunburnt and almost dehydrated. But the dance was worth watching!

Dancin' in the street Posted by Hello

The festival, "Yosakoi matsuri" started about 50 years ago, not so much as a religious custom but more like an effort to revitalize the rural economy and give people a chance to have fun.

The festival started with an original dance and a folk song, which were rather simple and slow. As time passed, many teams started making their own songs/dances/costumes,arranging the original one in whatever way they like. So what you see today at the festival is a unique mixture. You see a big decorative truck with PA system leading each team, slowly moving forward and playing dance music r-e-a-l loud,being followed by 30 to 150 dancers per team dancing in colorful costumes.

Costume Posted by Hello

Every year, each team starts recruiting dancers sometime in June (or earlier.) Rich and famous teams hire choreographers (usually dance instructors and students of local dance schools) and ask professional composers to make original dance music. Also they order their original costumes, and book vans to give the dancers rides from one dance venue to another. Such teams charge applicants the fee of apx. US$200 to US$300 to cover all the expenses. This year, total of 179 teams (19,000 dancers) joined the festival, and there were about 15 dance venues. So you can imagine the economic effect that this festival brings to this rural city.

Dancin' in the Street Posted by Hello

There are some basic rules that have to be obeyed, such as using traditional wooden clappers in the dance and including at least one phrase of the traditional folk song in the dance music. Anything else can be arranged freely. So there's many different versions of the original dance ....hiphop, jazz dance, modern dance, Hawaiian hula... you name it. And the music can be anything like rock, samba, oldies, rap...and many of them use the sound of Japanese traditional instruments (mostly made with synthesizers.) Some teams have band members on the leading truck and have them play the music live for 2 days! Most teams use pre-recorded dance music, but usually singers on the leading truck keep singing live and shouting at the dancers to show more and more passion.

Of course there are teams who stick with the traditional song and dance and pass them down the generations.

Wooden Clappers Posted by Hello

This pair isn't, but many are painted in bright colors.

I just love the way they mix tradition and new trends. There were times in the past that young people disregarded anything traditional, saying that it was obsolete. But I think now we're more in the direction of making a unique fusion of the old and the new. And I just love the way that whole town gets caught in the craze of the festival --- loud music echoing in the main street and the dance nuts, young and old, dancing as if they never get enough, under the hot summer sun! (It was probably above 35 degrees Celsius.)

Dancin' in the Street Posted by Hello

Some people seem to believe that dance teams from all over Japan come to Kochi to attend the national dance competition in this festival and win the prize. But to me, Yosakoi is a "festival" rather than a dance competition, and I want to believe that people come here for the love of the dance and for sharing the joy with all the people involved, not for winning the prize at any expense.

posted by obachan, 8/12/2004 10:59:00 PM | link | 0 comments |

Tuesday, August 10, 2004


Well, I was going to go for the purple-based background with cherry blossoms that I had yesterday. But it's August now and darn hot +humid here in the southern part of Japan. What I need is a cold color! Yeah, give me BLUE! So here it is: morning glories and a background that looks like water. More appropriate for this time of the year, don't you think?

Morning glories always remind me of my elementary school days, especially summer vacation. We had to grow the plant and keep observation diary as part of our science class activities. In summer vacation, we were supposed to keep checking how many flowers bloomed, etc. every day. I guess I was not the only one who got lazy and asked mom to help making up the fictional observation diary.

Tomorrow ( I mean today, because the date already changed) is the 1st day of our summer festival here in this prefecture. When I went shopping in the afternoon, and on my way to work in the evening, I saw people preparing for the festival. On Aug. 10 and 11, more than 100 dance teams are going to dance at more than 10 venues in the city. This is the time that everyone in the whole city or prefecture is allowed to forget about everything else and be a dance nut. (Well, not everyone, of course. I'm exaggerating. Esp. this year, the festival is held on weekdays. Someone has to stay in the office and do the work for the dance nuts.) Anyway, I've got to get my camera ready!

posted by obachan, 8/10/2004 02:06:00 AM | link | 0 comments |

Sunday, August 08, 2004


See?!! I changed the background of this blog!
It took me a loooooong time but I finally did it!!!

It was tough for me to figure out how to modify the template because I don't know much about HTML or CSS. But I really wanted to make my blog look unique and original, giving it a bit of Japanese touch. So I didn't want to give up!!

Now I found out how to do this, I'm going to change the background semi-periodically. You'll enjoy many different kinds of Japanese traditional designs. Just wait and see!

Another progress! I figured out how to upload photos I took with the camera on my cell phone. My first photo here is that of the fig cake I baked last Friday!!

figcake Posted by Hello

This weekend was very eventful. I have a lot to write about, but I'm just too tired now.
Good night!

posted by obachan, 8/08/2004 09:39:00 PM | link | 0 comments |

Thursday, August 05, 2004


We just got hit by a typhoon 5 days ago, then another one came last night. That's too much!! Yes, this prefecture is famous (notorious) for being hit by typhoons frequently. But twice in one week? Give me a break! It must have been a devastating experience for my herbs.

I have 7 planters, large and small, on the balcony. There I'm growing green perilla, sweet basil, thyme, scallion, spearmint(or peppermint? or both?), rhubarb and dill. The sweet basil, mint and scallion are doing just fine. They don't seem to care how much it rains or shines. Thyme is about 30 cm tall now. The rhubarb and dill.....I sowed them very late, in late June this year, which was my 1st mistake, I think. When it got pretty hot and humid in July, they were still small and weak.

When the typhoon came 5 days ago, I put all the planters in my bathroom to let them take shelter from the storm. At that time, the rhubarb and dill looked OK to me. I kept the planters there for 2 days, because this strange typhoon was followed by a terrible thunderstorm which lasted almost all day, on and off. Then I took them out on the balcony again. The next day, I noticed that some of those young plants were turning brown. A few branches of the thyme were turning brown, too.

Then we had hot sunny days, and another typhoon again last night. This typhoon wasn't much stronger than a tropical depression, so this time I didn't put the planters in the bathroom. Maybe this was my 2nd mistake. The typhoon brought almost no rain/wind, but it did bring disgusting humidity.

This morning I found most of the rhubarb and dill dead, and about half of the thyme turned brown!! I must have looked like the person in "The scream" by Edvard Munch. At least, that's the way I felt!

이번 토요이에 가족을 만나러 갑니다. (I'm going to see my family this coming Saturday.)

posted by obachan, 8/05/2004 06:38:00 PM | link | 0 comments |

Wednesday, August 04, 2004


A tabloid TV show this morning had a special feature on a new farming method that uses stevia. In the new method, you give plants "stevia extract." According to the TV program, and several Japanese internet sites I checked afterwards, stevia has a detoxifying effect that acts against harmful stuff like dioxin or nicotine. If you give stevia extract to vegetable plants, the extract detoxifies bad chemicals and activates useful microorganisms, thus improves the soil, they say. It is said to make the plants healthier by making them grow more hairy roots(?) to be able to absorb more calcium and phosphorous. And the fruits/vegetables grown this way will taste better, and stay fresh longer because of stevia's antioxidant effect, they say. Or, this is what I thought they said... I'm no science expert, so I might have misunderstood some points.

Sounds interesting. If this is not one of those wishy-washy stuff, I might give it a try someday for my herbs. I don't feel like jumping on it right now, but will stay tuned.

저는 인터넷을 좋아요. (I like the internet.)

우늘 자는 집에서 바나나 빵을 태욌어요. (Today, I baked banana bread at home. )
I decided to do so because the banana was going bad and the milk expired 2 days ago, and banana bread seemed to be the best solution. 정말 맛있었어요. (It was really delicious.)

posted by obachan, 8/04/2004 04:59:00 PM | link | 4 comments |

Tuesday, August 03, 2004


I've just finished the IME setting so that I can type in Korean language here in addition to English and Japanese. Gosh, it's gonna take a while to get used to the Korean typing......but THIS IS FUN!!! I love the way each small parts get together and make one whole character. I can play with this all day today!!

Looks like I can't type in Korean with my mailer. Hmmmmm, wonder why.... need more exploration, I suppose. Well, I don't have anyone to email to in Korean yet, so having a blog that can handle English, Japanese and Korean would be enough for now.

어제 장어를 먹었어요. 맛있었어요. --- Is this right? I meant to write, " I ate eel yesterday. It was delicious."
The grilled eel tasted good, but I've been suffering from diarrhea since then. Wonder what was wrong... I guess the meals for the rest of the day will be udon noodles and rice porridge today.

posted by obachan, 8/03/2004 05:39:00 PM | link | 2 comments |

Monday, August 02, 2004


This blog is basically about my hobbies: watercolor painting, cooking/baking, shooting pool and growing herbs. As you'll find out soon, I'm nothing more than just a beginner in all of these, and a slow learner, too. Well, I've got my whole lifetime to improve, so I'm not too worried. If you are looking for an "eternal beginner" to make you feel better about yourself, you're at the right place! :)

In addition, there'll be my soliloquies expressing what I did, thought and felt in my semi-secluded(?) life in a small city in Japan.

I'm keeping this blog to practice my 2nd and 3rd language: English and Korean. Well, more precisely, Korean is going to be my 3rd language sometime in the future. :P Anyway, I thought that if I kept this blog in these languages, the responses I get wouldn't be limited to those from Japanese language users only. Boy, isn't that exciting?! Oh, feel free to correct my mistakes --- I won't fall apart (hopefully).

One problem: I was going to post the photos of my watercolor painting, but somehow it doesn't work !!! The photos were taken with the lousy camera on my cell phone (because I don't have a digital camera, yet), and I can't get them on this blog!! Ahhhhhhh.... I'll try to find a way to show my paintings somehow. Until then, please be patient.

감사합니다 (Thank you.)

posted by obachan, 8/02/2004 04:20:00 PM | link | 2 comments |