Thursday, September 29, 2005


We’ve experienced the following (fortunately not all at once) and even more in the past 5 to 6 years. One of them happened last weekend to spice us up on a rather slow night.

- Water stopped on a busy Saturday night.
- We ran out of some important ingredients.
- Acute alcohol poisoning (Of course a customer, not a staff.)
- One of the fridges wouldn’t cool.
- One of the gas stoves wouldn’t turn on.
- Microwave sparked and died.
- Laundry machine broke in the middle of winter.
- Sink clogged up on a busy Friday night.
- A big reservation was cancelled only 30 minutes in advance (when all the food was ready).

Life is tough, isn't it? ;P
posted by obachan, 9/29/2005 11:38:00 AM | link | 4 comments |

Monday, September 26, 2005


I saw an interesting experiment on a TV variety show (re-run) today. They tried to find out if a professional orchestra can play classical music without hearing any sound of their instruments. The orchestra members, including the conductor, were deafened by ear plugs and loud noise from headphones, and played a piece of classical music. The result? They did a good job. There were some parts that sounded slightly strange, but overall performance was almost perfect. Impressive.

Talking about amazing talent in music, absolute pitch is another ability that looks really amazing to me. They say that having an absolute pitch and being a great musician are two different stories, which I agree. But I assume such an ability would help quite a bit in certain areas.

Oh well…even I might have some kind of talent, too, though it seems VERY latent. Hope it shows up before I get too old...

I’ve been watching the video news on MSNBC about Rita. So relieved that it didn’t result in a death toll as terrible as Katrina’s, though the damage seems still devastating. Hope things are getting better for the people affected...
posted by obachan, 9/26/2005 12:09:00 AM | link | 4 comments |

Thursday, September 22, 2005


My complete day off today. Feeling so nice to have a whole day to work on whatever I want.
I just have to stick to two rules: “No eating out” and “No rental videos/DVDs.” I’ve decided to save money to buy a portable MD recorder (used) early next month, so about ten more days to be on an extremely tight budget! Mmmm… hope I can survive.

Also thinking about making a backup of my foodblog. Might go to the library in the afternoon to watch DVD there and/or try making an easy Asian dessert using carrots, too.

It’s going to be a productive day ;)
posted by obachan, 9/22/2005 11:12:00 AM | link | 0 comments |

Monday, September 19, 2005


It was the night of harvest moon last night. As you can probably imagine, many moon-viewing related events were held at various places in this prefecture (and all over Japan, I suppose).

The custom of appreciating the moon is said to have come to Japan from China, perhaps more than 1,000 years ago. It is supposed to take place on the night of the 15th of August by the lunar calendar. The custom has been modified here and now the typical items for the moon-viewing in Japan are susuki (Japanese silver grass), rabbit and dumplings.

Japanese silver grass is an ornamental grass very commonly seen blooming on the roadside at this time of the year. No one seems to be sure exactly why it became associated with moon-viewing here in Japan. Anyway it’s abundant, and has an image of sentimental beauty in a sense, so it's no surprise that people in olden days were tempted to use the grass for this nature-oriented celebration.

Then what about the rabbit and dumplings? It’s largely related to the shape of the seas of the moon, I suppose. Have you heard that people in different countries have associated the shape with different things? In this site, the illustration on top shows what we associate it with in Japan: a rabbit making rice cakes with a mortar and a pestle.

Actually, as mentioned in this site, there are people other than the Japanese who have associated rabbit with the moon. I assume that our "rabbit in the moon" legend came from China and it has been closely related to the way we see the seas of the moon. Dumplings were probably chosen to symbolize the moon because of their round shape and also in relation to the rice cakes the rabbit is said to be making there.

OK, so much for the background information. Today I wanted to take a look at some of the moon-viewing related events, because I couldn’t see any last year!

The closest venue was Kochi Castle, and I spent about an hour in late afternoon taking some photos there. There were several bonsai with the theme, “the moon” displayed inside the castle, and tea ceremony meetings and koto (Japanese traditional instrument) performance were also held there all afternoon till late evening.

It was interesting to be there, thinking that people did the same thing hundreds of years ago at exactly the same place. It would have been much better if there was actually the moon in the sky, but it was still too early for that when I was there.

To view the moon later in the evening, my friend and I went to Katsurahama beach, the place said to be the best moon-viewing spot in Kochi. We really didn't expect to see the moon there, because it was pretty cloudy, but we felt the urge to do something to highlight this long weekend. We had a backup plan of watching a special event for the moon-viewing night at the aquarium there: “observing beautiful luminous plankton.” Sounded like they were going to show visitors the plankton lighting up in a large tank or something. We thought that would be worth watching, but the plan turned out to be a BIG mistake. :O

At the beach, as expected, the sky was coverd with clouds and we couldn't see the moon at all. All we saw was bunch of Japanese silver grass, apparently transplanted temporarily for this particular event only, a special decoration with local sake and food offered to the harvest moon, and PEOPLE.

As is often the case with this friend and I visiting somewhere together, things went worse and worse. We bought tickets to enter the aquarium to see the luminous plankton, then the guy at the counter said, “The 19:30 show is already full. You’ll have to wait until the next one at 20:30.” WHAT!? Why didn't he tell us so before we buy the tickets??? But too late...We finally decided not to wait until the next show but just to look around in the aquarium and leave, because my friend had to drive a long way home.

Spiderman was working overtime

These are the photos of a few fish tanks that were lit up… The rest of the tanks were much darker and we couldn't figure out what was inside. It was a real waste of time and money, and the admission fee was soooooooooo EXPENSIVE!!

Disappointed, my friend and I left the beach and had supper at a ramen place on our way back. She dropped me off at the city hall and drove home. I didn't feel like going straight home, so I had a quick drink at Hirome before heading home. When I was bicycling near the castle on my way to my apartment, the moon appeared from the clouds and I had this crazy idea of going up to the castle real quick to take this photo.

The castle under the moon

Because of the beer, I dosed off a few hours and then woke up at around 3:30 a.m. I was tempted to go out in the balcony, and Wow!! There was absolutely no cloud in the sky and the full moon was just breathtakingly gorgeous!! There I finally did my real moon-viewing of this year, listening to my favorite music with an earphone.

The world was so full of serene and sentimental beauty with the chirping of crickets in the background.

It’s Autumn now.

Background music: “Autumn Moon” by Hiroshima
- Absolutely the best for moon viewing -
posted by obachan, 9/19/2005 02:44:00 PM | link | 6 comments |

Tuesday, September 13, 2005


I got an email from a friend in Canada this morning. Sounds like it's pretty cool over there.

The election is over. LDP won. I’m not too surprised.
I support the postal privatization. I think it is necessary. But the plan they brought up this time doesn’t look good. I hoped that the postal privatization be achieved with a better plan, allowing it to take more time for discussion. That means, in my opinion, the postal privatization didn’t have to be achieved during the current prime minister’s term. To me, his biggest concern seems to be getting it done before the end of his term, not providing us with what’s best, and that’s what I don’t like.

I’ve been watching the DVD of “The Incredibles” since last night. I like this one the best among all the Disney stuff I’ve seen. Now I’m enjoying it with director’s commentary and animators’ commentary on. They taught me something that I didn’t know before. I had thought that when they make films like this, the animations are always made first and then they pick people to do the voice and do the recording. But it sounds like, to make this film, the recording was done first and animators did their work based on the recorded lines. I wonder if that's the way it is now with any kind of animation film. Anyway, it’s so interesting to hear what kind of hard times they had for which part of the scenes. I was especially happy to hear the director saying, "Animation is not a genre. It's an art form." Gee…I wish I could do this type of creative work (though obviously I have no talent in that area...)

Well, time to go out for shopping! I still have a lot to do in the kitchen this afternoon.
posted by obachan, 9/13/2005 12:56:00 PM | link | 0 comments |

Sunday, September 11, 2005


OMG! They’ve finally started it!! :O

Sorry…I just came back from our garbage collection site. Here in Kochi, we are supposed to bring garbage to designated garbage collection sites on scheduled days for garbage trucks to pick up. Large trash is collected only once a month on the 2nd Monday, so tomorrow is the pick-up day for this month. I felt a strong “urge to purge” this weekend, and prepared 5 to 6 big garbage bags full of bottles, cans, old clothes, and knick-knacks that I couldn’t throw away for years. Now they are all sitting in my kitchen.

According to the community rule, we are supposed to take large trash to designated sites Monday morning, only betw. 6:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. But the fact is, NO ONE wants to do it MONDAY MORNING before going to work, especially when the garbage has to be separated like green bottles here, brown bottles there and old clothes over there next to the spot for cardboards, etc… Think about it… people usually bring large trash by cars. Imagine how crowded it can be at and around the garbage collection site which is right next to the entrance of a junior high school. Kids come to school around 8:00 a.m. So what we, the MAJORITY -- if not all -- of the residents, have been doing was that we took large trash there beforehand, like Sunday night, or in the daytime Sunday, or even Saturday night…

We had been warned that we should stop doing that. Last month, at the garbage collection site, they put up new signboards saying that leaving large trash there before the scheduled time is strictly prohibited. But I didn't think that would actually stop us.

I just went there to see if anyone already took large trash there tonight… OMG! There were 6 or 7 elders from the neighborhood association standing there with hands on their hips, watching so that no one would break the rule. Ahhhh…..!!!

Oh, of course, the community rule is very important. I’m basically a low-abiding citizen. I just paid the annual fee for the neighborhood association yesterday, too. Oh, thank you, board members of the association, thank you for watching… BTW don’t you need to go home and have supper? Are you taking turns…?

Looks like there’s no other choice but to get up early tomorrow morning :( It’d be devastating if I missed this chance and would have to wait for another month to throw away all these craps piled up in my kitchen now. Gosh…
posted by obachan, 9/11/2005 07:57:00 PM | link | 4 comments |

Saturday, September 10, 2005


I was going to post this entry right after the one about visiting my parents’ house last weekend if Nabi didn’t hit Japan. But it did and I HAD TO post something about the typhoon because I was too bored on that day with the work cancelled.

At my parents' house last weekend...

When I dragged out several old family albums from the closet at my parents’ house, I found this O-L-D one that I’ve never noticed before. Assuming it to be my dad’s or mom’s, I brought it under the light in the living room and dusted carefully. No it didn't belong to either of them. It was the album of my uncle M who I'd never met.

Uncle M (with round glasses in the photos) was my grandparents’ first and only son. You might be puzzled to read this, but yes, he was. He joined the army and went to Manchuria in WWII, and died there when he was in his early twenties, I heard. That’s all I know about him. I don’t know if he died in a battle or from a disease. Several years after his death, my grandparents adopted a boy from a distant village, the youngest of 15 siblings. That is my biological father.

Now that I think about it, I don’t remember seeing my grandparents and my dad talking about uncle M at all. Maybe just a few times, I heard my dad reminding grandpa or grandma about the Buddhist memorial service for uncle M, but that was it. I almost never heard about what kind of person he was until I told my family, more than 10 years ago, that I was going to the U.S. for several years.

None of my family really liked the idea of me going abroad for such a long time, but they just couldn’t stop me. Later my grandma told me that she finally okayed it because of uncle M. According to her, uncle M was an enthusiastic learner who wanted to study more but couldn’t achieve it, so she wanted me to achieve it instead of him. I never thought I was living my life to achieve someone else’s goal or wish, but I did remember that piece of information about him. Most of the time, however, he seemed to have been totally forgotten in our family, even when my grandparents were still alive. Maybe they didn’t talk about uncle M on purpose because they cared about my dad’s feeling.

When I opened uncle M’s album and saw the sepia photographs, I was a little surprised… and understood why my grandma wanted to see uncle M in me. My dad is a serious person and he never puts humorous captions to photos in his album. Uncle M’s album, on the other hand, was full of handwritten captions in blue ink on sepia-colored pages of the album. They showed his young enthusiasm, cute but not arrogant (over?)confidence, and sense of humor. There were some funny captions playfully teasing his friends in the photos, written in our local dialect on purpose.

I'm not sure but I guess the scene in uncle M's photo (top) is the same place as in mine (bottom). It's the view of the beach about 1 minute from my parents' house.

Looks like photo-taking was his hobby and he had his own camera when he was in his early twenties, which must have been a luxurious hobby at that time. I bet for many people in such a rural area, photo-taking was something for special occasions and at sightseeing spots only, but he was obviously interested in taking snaps of things he liked in everyday life. I’m 100% sure that he would be photoblogging if he were alive now.

I especially liked the shots of some girls he took, and I assume he had a crush on one of the girls who often appeared in his photos. The biggest surprise was that a few times he signed his name in English, and it was very similar to the way I signed my name in English when I was in junior high school.

I think this letter has a scarcity value now --- I don’t think most Japanese families kept something like this until today. This is a letter to my grandpa sent from an educational section of Japanese army in WWII. No, not the one to inform of uncle M’s death. As far as I can understand from the old Japanese written there, the letter seems to be telling grandpa that his son, uncle M, is almost finishing the training and they are ready to provide him with those items on the list so grandpa needs to send them money. The red letters stamped on the envelope say “military mail” and “official business,” and the name of the regiment is stamped on the back.

Going through uncle M's album, I felt as if a vacant spot inside of me was filled somehow. It was surprising, because I never thought that not knowing about him was such a big issue for me. I felt happy that he didn’t die young without living his life at all. This album told me that he lived, and enjoyed his life to the fullest in the time given to him. I’m not sure why that makes me happy – or relieved – though. Was I feeling unconsciously responsible for the things he wanted to achieve in his life? I don't know. All I know is I feel much closer to him now and at the same time feel freed from his “unknownness,” and somehow I feel encouraged to live my own life. And I don’t see much logic there. ;P (Well, my feelings are illogical most of the time anyway.)

Dear Uncle M,
The boy who was adopted after your death did his best and took a real good care of your parents. I guarantee that. His daughter often takes pictures of her hometown just like you did, and now she is sharing them with the whole world.
And she will probably keep your album as long as she lives.

--- From your niece who is now twice as old as you :)
posted by obachan, 9/10/2005 12:26:00 AM | link | 10 comments |

Tuesday, September 06, 2005


After all, Nabi is not going to hit Kochi directly, but it’s taking the worst course for the residents of Kyushu, I guess. The island has been on the right side of the slow-moving typhoon all the way…

Though not extremely terrible, I still hear the storm outside raging. Both my daytime and night-time work was cancelled, and I’ve been trying to use this unexpected and UNPAID holiday as constructively as possible. Guess what I did all day today. I cleaned the closet and threw bunch of old craps into a huge garbage bag. I also started working on the kitchen closet, too, but I got exhausted when I was about half-way through. Right now I’m sitting in front of my laptop, trying to ignore the mess in the kitchen.

My herbs are in the bathroom now. Well, more precisely, about 1/3 of them are in the bathroom (bathtub) and the rest is on the stairs near the entrance, protected from the wind. This way the entire bathroom is not occupied by the plants and I can at least take a shower. It was such a bummer to bring all those planters from the balcony last night. Let’s not think about putting them back on the balcony again tomorrow…

It feels strange to be able to see the TV programs that I cannot see on normal days. The wind is still pretty strong outside, and I'm getting hungry. It's been a long day.
posted by obachan, 9/06/2005 07:17:00 PM | link | 2 comments |

Sunday, September 04, 2005


Saturday Sep. 3 Late afternoon

I visited my parents in Muroto this weekend. The ocean was so rough because of the typhoon Nabi approaching. It must be a real big and strong one to cause such high waves already a few days before it is expected to come. (The weather forecast says it would hit Japan on Sep. 6th.) On my way to my parents’ house Saturday evening on a bus, I saw big waves almost washing the route 55 along the coast in one part of Muroto city. From this evening on, at the time of high tide, they probably will close that part of the road and divert the traffic to the old prefectural road.

Saturday Sep. 3 Late afternoon

I decided to visit my parents this weekend because I couldn’t do so in August in the bon period when people are supposed to come home to commemorate ancestors. The decision was made Friday night at the last minute, and I didn’t bother to phone them before I got on the bus ;P So my parents were surprised to see me Saturday evening. Anyway, this was a belated “obon” visit and also a chance to dig up my childhood photos to post on my foodblog.

Saturday night, in the living room, I spent a few hours digging in a dusty closet for old family albums. It is always nice to revisit old memories, but this time I accidentally found something I’d never seen before, which made this visit rather special.
I’ll write about it in my next post :)

Sunday Sep. 4, around 10 a.m.
posted by obachan, 9/04/2005 09:09:00 PM | link | 2 comments |

Thursday, September 01, 2005


I’m so terribly shocked by the news of hurricane Katrina that hit the Gulf Coast area the other day. The devastating damage in Mississippi and Louisiana, where I don’t hesitate to call my second home.... It really hurts to watch the hurricane-related news on TV with the death toll rising each time. I’m worried about my friends there who I lost touch with long time ago...

SEP. 7, 2005

This afternoon I went to the shopping mall -- the one and only shopping mall in Kochi-- and donated a little amount of money for Katrina victims.

If you are in Kochi and want to make a donation for those suffering in the Gulf Coast area but don’t want to do it online for some reason, they are collecting donations at EAON Kochi shopping mall, at the "service counter" on the second floor.

(I wanted to take a picture of the donation box to post here, but they said I would need a special permission for that and it would take some time, so I gave up.)
posted by obachan, 9/01/2005 12:40:00 PM | link | 2 comments |