Sunday, November 28, 2004

HENSHIN!! (Transformation)

When I came across this post by watson in my bloghopping the other day, I almost jumped up and shouted. OMG, aren’t they gorenja, our familiar henshin heroes!!?? Yes, I had heard that gorenja series was aired in other countries with a slightly different title. I never expected, however, to witness such popularity among kids in another country as described in his post.

When I was a kid, I really loved those henshin series on TV. In such series, usually cyborg heroes live their everyday life as regular people, but once an evil attempt is found, they transform into cyborgs and beat bad guys or kaiju(monsters). How I wished that I was a cyborg who is on a special mission of saving the world from an evil organization!

My life as a kid was pretty much burdened with inferiority complex. I was never popular at school and there was nothing that I was particularly good at. My parents kept me giving messages that I was nobody unless I make great achievements at school. A burning desire was always kept inside of me to be “somebody” --- someone special and outstanding in some way. To me at that time, the best way seemed to be living a life of a cyborg heroin. “No one knows who I really am. I’m just pretending like a regular kid, but the truth is, I am …” Yes, the classic, “Clark Kent who is actually Superman” kind of pattern.  Boy, looks like there’s an universally attractive magic in this kind of thinking --- something that puts bandaid on self esteem when it’s hurt from knowing “I’m nothing important” in real life. Honestly I went through the telephone directly many times looking for an organization that would give me an operation and turn me into a cyborg. I definitely wanted to be someone else but me.

Looking back, I’m surprised how much I was always struggling between what I really was and the way others see me, and how badly I sought help in fantasy life. This could be something everyone goes through more or less. Maybe that’s one of the reason why that transformation theme is still popular among kids (and maybe adult amime lovers, too). I don’t even remember how my desire to be a cyborg faded away, and now as a regular obachan, I’m saving the earth by recycling cans and bottles. I still don’t mind transforming into something half-human to be on a secret mission, though ---- if it’s only once in a while : )

posted by obachan, 11/28/2004 01:32:00 PM | link | 0 comments |

Monday, November 22, 2004


No, this is not about the music by Ayumi Hamasaki or Kitaro or Southern All Stars, or any other popular music in Japan. This is not about the music that you listen to in Japan, but about the music you have to hear whether you like it or not.

Well, it’s finally getting cold and I’m going to need Kotatsu (table with a heater to warm feet) very soon.

My Kotatsu (without futon)

The Kotatsu buton (futon to cover kotatsu) that I had vacuum packed last spring is now drying on the balcony to get ready for this winter. At this time of the year, there are a couple of songs you repeatedly hear in this town.

If you hear a car slowly circulating in town playing an old-fashioned children’s song aloud, that’s a kerosene vendor. If you need some kerosene for your heater, all you have to do is to step outside the house ASA you hear the song, stop the car and buy some. (Maybe you have to bring your own empty container…I’m not sure because I don’t have a kerosene heater in my apartment.) There seem to be 2 vendors frequently circulating in town. One uses a children’s song about a fox cub in late autumn and the other uses a winter song about snowfall. Looks like we hear those songs more often here in this rural area than in Osaka or Hyogo, but I guess I got used to it. They don’t bother me so much as far as they are not played too early in the morning.

Another kind of music I inevitably hear almost every day is the background music they play in the supermarket. Now I’ve tried hard many times but I cannot recall how it was in supermarkets in the U.S. Was the music on when I was shopping at Walmart or K mart or Sack & Save? Maybe, maybe not…. Anyway, here in Japan, some big supermarkets have their original song/music and have it on all the time. One place I go almost every day has their original one and, in addition, plays some 80s and early 90s pops (Cyndi Lauper, Bon Jovi, Wham, etc.....) arranged as background music. Sometimes I really feel nostalgic but other times I feel sad about the way my favorite songs are arranged…

Sometimes I find myself keep repeating those music in my mind even after the kerosene vendor is gone or I got out of the supermarket. Some songs are really addictive, aren’t they? For me one perfect example is the “kinoko (mushroom) song.” If you have lived in Japan sometime between 2003 -2004 (or maybe even earlier), you probably heard a commercial song that goes “kinoko no ko noko genki na ko…” on TV and/or in a supermarket. I’ll tell you what: They’re still playing the kinoko song in some supermarkets around here!! Ahhhhh……!!!!!

I read on the paper yesterday that one of the dolphins I saw last weekend died last Saturday. So sad…

posted by obachan, 11/22/2004 11:08:00 AM | link | 6 comments |

Thursday, November 18, 2004


I’ve been wanting to use a design of maple leaves in the background, so here it is!! The real maple leaves are not turning red at all around here, and the autumn scenery is very disappointing this year.

When I visited my parents last weekend, my mom and I went to see dolphins in a tiny fishing port in a nearby town. The dolphins are the ones that ran away when the last typhoon hit. It must have cost a lot to bring them back.

I didn’t have my digital camera with me, so this is the best I could with the camera on my mobile phone.

Can you see their heads sticking out of the water?????

I heard that they are there for some kind of research, but no one in the town seems to know what the research is about :P

posted by obachan, 11/18/2004 10:48:00 AM | link | 0 comments |

Tuesday, November 16, 2004


Agatha Christie was someone I adored in my junior-high school days. I don’t remember which novel was my first encounter with her work any more… It was either “Halloween party” or “The Mirror Crack’d,” I suppose.

Before Christie, I had read “mysteries for children” series in the elementary school library quite enthusiastically. My biggest heroes at that time were Sherlock Holmes and Mr. Akechi (with Kobayashi and Boys Detective Club.) This reading experience prepared me for hunting more and more mystery books in junior-high, but at the same time, lead me to create a stereotype: “Only men can write real mysteries or be good detectives.”

Then my stereotype was challenged as I read more of Christie’s books, and completely broken with her “The ABC Murder” and “And Then There Were None.” The controversy about “The Murder of Roger Ackroyd” did not change my love for her books. At that time, my favorites were serial murder cases, especially nursery rhyme murders. Often nursery rhymes are said to have hidden meanings behind the seemingly innocent wordings for kids. The combination of such nursery rhymes and murders was just so thrilling that I couldn’t stop reading one after another.

In the beginning, I was a Poirot fan, but as I grew older, I found myself reading stories of Miss Marple more repeatedly. To me it’s empowering to witness an elderly, single woman being respected by detectives and inspectors for her keen acumen. She is brave enough to look straight at the weakness in people and still have faith in people. She represents a healthy and dependable view in life…or at least I see her that way. Besides, Miss Marple’s series have many descriptions of food and drinks that I’ve never actually tried in my daily life. That was, and still is, a source of attraction to me, and something that easily traps me into my old habit of eating/drinking while reading. Maybe I’m not the only one who’s enjoying Christie books with tea and sweets in late-autumn when it’s cold and windy outside. Am I right?

posted by obachan, 11/16/2004 04:19:00 PM | link | 3 comments |

Thursday, November 11, 2004


After having sunny days for more than a week, it’s pouring today. I was thinking about another sketching excursion, because the busiest time of the month in the office is over now and today is my complete day-off, but I had to call it off. It’s nothing unusual to have some rainy days in November, but what’s unusual is it’s still very warm this year. The leaves are not turning colors as much as they do in normal years, but instead just turning brown and falling off the trees. There’s no need for Kotatsu (table with heater to warm feet) yet; actually, I don’t have my socks on now but I’m not feeling cold at all.

Anyway, the depressing weather usually brings back my old habit of nibbling on yummies while reading books. For me those always have to come together. Like a Pavlov’s dog, I’m classically conditioned to crave for food when I open a book (not including difficult textbooks), and crave for something to read when I have food in front of me. I know this may sound awfully pathetic, but I HAVE TO have something to read when I eat alone, either in my apartment or at restaurants. Well, actually, when I eat my meals alone in my apartment, I have the TV on and a book in front of me. Believe me, I can fully enjoy meals and at the same time follow both the story of the TV drama and the story in the book. Does this sound like a description of really pitiful single life of a middle-aged woman? I would think so if I hear someone else doing that, but it is actually…. comfortable, for me.

Maybe I’m not the only one who loves reading and eating at the same time. That could be one of the reasons why Manga & Internet cafes are so popular in Japan. Unlike libraries, we are allowed to eat and drink while we read there, you know.

Of course I don’t read when I eat with someone else, and it’s not painful or anything. It’s not too hard to switch between “self-pampering mode” and “enjoy-the-company-of others mode.” And it certainly helps to have some ways to pamper yourself, doesn’t it? In my junior-high school days, it was reading Agatha Christie’s books and eating my favorite foods. I’ll write more about how I enjoyed her work in my next post….

Oh, the rain stopped and now I see the sunshine!

posted by obachan, 11/11/2004 01:54:00 PM | link | 1 comments |

Sunday, November 07, 2004


The last time I held my pool cue in my hand was more than one month ago and I had been feeling like a cat on a hot tin roof. So I finally gave in and spent an hour and half at a pool hall yesterday.

I once called myself an “eternal beginner” in this blog, and I really am, especially when it comes to shooting pool. Many would ask me why I can possibly love pool if I cannot make any progress, or if I wasn’t good enough to enjoy playing with others. Well, believe it or not, that’s the way it is with me, at least for now. I’m terrible, I mostly practice alone, and I still love pool.

It’s just an addiction. Maybe when my concentration reaches its highest point at shooting the cue ball, my brain could be releasing some kind of neurotransmitter or something. Maybe when it doesn’t happen often enough, my body starts craving for it. And maybe, when I shoot the cue ball, thinking that’s the best shot I can give at the moment, I’m feeling as if I’m surrounded by the memories of those who had helped me learn how to play pool.

Yes, I admit that my motivation isn’t very future-oriented regarding playing pool. I don’t mean to label it “right” or “wrong” judging from someone else’s point of view. On the other hand, I do know that doing some routine practice alone with no objectives or goals isn’t an “effective” way if I want to improve. While practicing, I’m just enjoying the feel of the cue and the sound of the pocketed balls. There’s no specific bowlard score I want to achieve, nor I aim to beat anyone or join any house tournament.

As all pool players know, you have to keep facing lots of challenges on the pool table. When it happens, I tell myself something like “OK. I may not be able to make it, but I can at least try to do my very best. If I don’t want to be disappointed with myself, there’s no running away. If I can give my best shot now, without giving it up, then I’m still the kind of person who I want myself to be.” It’s pretty self-absorbing heroic thinking, I guess? But somehow, by facing myself and repeating this kind of self-talk in my mind, I feel as if I’m re-affirming something inside of me.

These days, women who are over 30 y.o.and not married are categorized as “losers” in Japan. Whether I like it or not, I often find myself wondering: Maybe that’s the way I should see myself? Is this self-affirmation on the pool table a way of avoiding to face something in my real life? I don't know the answer for sure yet, and that's what I have to find out myself --- no one else can feed me with the answer, I guess.

These are the pool-related items I have. Nothing fancy, but each of them brings me the memories of those who taught me something about pool: Memories of someone who first taught me about cues, someone who took the varnish off my private cue for me, and someone who made me a shaft cover out of old pool table cloth….

I remember those who taught me that the progress is a spiral. I never forget those who didn’t run away from facing true self on the pool table. And also there were those who couldn’t find a place to belong to other than the pool table…. Memories of such people may not help me make money or be included in the "winners" category in Japan, but still they mean a lot to me.

posted by obachan, 11/07/2004 11:00:00 PM | link | 4 comments |

Saturday, November 06, 2004


Now we have new 1,000-yen, 5,000-yen and 10,000-yen bills. For the past couple of days, our greeting always included “Have you seen the new bills yet?” So far I have new 1,000-yen and 5,000-yen bills at hand, but no 10,000-yen yet. It’s so funny that the new ones do not look like real money to me, but I'm sure I’ll get used to them pretty soon.

I was surprised that Ichiyo Higuchi was chosen to be the first Japanese female to be on the yen. She is the first Japanese female writer (professional), and I like her novels very much, but never expected her to be on 5,000-yen while the author of “The Tale of Genji” is on the back of 2,000-yen bill. I wonder who is in charge of deciding who should be on which note.

posted by obachan, 11/06/2004 09:52:00 PM | link | 2 comments |

Friday, November 05, 2004

2670 HITS

That’s what I’ve got from searching “Yuta Tabuse” on Google (English). He is the first Japanese player who made it to NBA (National Basketball Association) in the U.S. and is in Phoenix Suns now. (I was a Suns fan when Danny Ainge was in the team, and I still have a totally worn-out Suns sweat shirts.)
There’s no surprise that Japanese media is crazy about him at the moment, but I’m more happy to see that English media has been paying considerable attention to him these days, probably from a more objective point of view.

posted by obachan, 11/05/2004 11:18:00 AM | link | 2 comments |

Wednesday, November 03, 2004


The Nadeshiko template was indeed my favorite, but now it’s November, so it wouldn’t hurt to try another template. There are so many neat web graphics available on the net, and they are all too attractive and inspiring! I can’t help trying them one after another.
The flowers this time are Hagi (Japanese bush clover), and the real flowers look like this (scroll down a little.)

posted by obachan, 11/03/2004 01:22:00 AM | link | 0 comments |