Sunday, November 26, 2006


I guess some people were born to attract unfortunate happenings, and my mom seems to be one of them. Why do I say this? Well, I just got back from my “stormy” weekend in my hometown. Let me tell you how “stormy” it was.

The reason why I was there was the community agricultural/industrial fair in my home city held by the local chamber of commerce and industry. My mom is a tea ceremony teacher, and she was asked to be in charge of a tea ceremony room where visitors can enjoy the treat of hot matcha and wagashi sweets served by beautiful (ahem! ahem!) women in kimono. I was there to help my mom.

In the tea ceremony room -- actually it was a mid-size conference room -- in front of a big folding screen and traditional tea ceremony decorations (huge red paper umbrella, a scroll, flowers, etc.), they set a special desk with a heater where hot water was made. Mom’s students in kimono were available there to perform tea ceremony demonstration at the desk when requested. Otherwise, they received tickets from the visitors and came to the adjacent room where elder students in regular clothes made tea without following formal rituals. The hot green tea was brought from there to the visitors. Of course I wasn’t there to make or serve tea; I was there to wash dirty tea bowls after they were brought back from the booth.

It was expected to be a cloudy weekend, according to the weekly weather forecast issued a week ago. Then later they called for rain -- actually rain on Saturday and “thunderstorm” on Sunday afternoon. :O I’m sure those who had to wear kimono for that event were thinking “OMG!” Kimono is very expensive and it requires special, expensive cleaning, so everyone hates wearing kimono on a rainy day.

Saturday was a hectic day. But it didn’t rain, at least, so all the outside events were held as planned and outside food stalls did make some money, though participants were almost frozen in strong, cold winds. Our tea ceremony room had visitors constantly, with the busiest time being before the lunch break.

Sunday morning -- It was pouring when I got up. Mom was already in her kimono and ready to go. She said she set the alarm clock to go off at 2 am by mistake, thinking it was 5 am. :O We left home a little earlier than we had planned. Since it was raining, we expected that mom’s students would bring kimono to the venue instead of wearing it at home, in order to avoid walking from their cars to the venue in kimono through the rain. In that case, she needs to help them dress in kimono at the venue.

It was a slow day because of the bad weather. As time passed, the strong rain and wind outside got worse and worse. We often peeked outside through the curtain and saw outdoor stalls almost being blown away by the wind. Absolutely no one was visiting the stalls, but some elders were patiently sitting there behind the goods they were selling. Some outdoor shows were cancelled and others were moved to the main hall. Our tea ceremony room didn’t have many visitors and obviously we were going to have tons of leftover sweets. Though the rain and wind seemed to slacken around 2:00 pm, still the visitors were scarce.

I left the venue at around 3:30 pm to come back to my apartment. While dad drove me to the train station, mom and her students packed up everything, i.e., 20 to 30 tea bowls, trays for sweets, huge kettles, table-top gas stoves, all the equipments necessary for making tea, huge paper folding screen, special desk with a heater, buckets full of flowers, etc. etc. After dropping me off at the train station, dad was supposed to load his van with the stuff and make 2 trips to bring everything home.

When I was on the train, dozing off, someone called my cell phone. It was mom. She said that the storm got terrible over there and some people couldn’t go home because a road was flooded somewhere in the city. I looked outside of the window and saw the moon in the sky. “Mom, it’s not raining here,” I said. I asked her if dad made it there alright, and to my relief, she said yes.

As soon as I came back to my apartment, I turned on the TV. The local news said that there was a record-breaking rainfall in my home city in the late afternoon today. And for some reason, they had such a terrible rainfall in my home city ONLY. It seems to have lasted while mom and dad were taking all those tea ceremony stuff back home.

I talked with mom on the phone again at around 8:00 pm. She said her kimono got soaked wet when she walked from the car to her house. The small river a couple of blocks away from her house flooded so fire fighters came. “Now? Now I see stars in the sky!” She laughed.

So the record-breaking rainfall came just to make things more challenging for those who were finishing up the event. Hahaha… Mom said there must have been a haunted person in the executive committee of the agricultural/industrial fair to attract such a bad luck. But I know that mom and her students’ tea ceremony booth was almost blown away by strong winds at an outdoor event last spring, and also the year before, so ….
posted by obachan, 11/26/2006 10:45:00 PM | link | 3 comments |

Friday, November 24, 2006


A couple of day s ago, when I was working on my kaiseki posts, I thought I heard something outside that I was not supposed to hear. It sounded like a locomotive whistle. -- No way. We don’t have steam locomotives here any more. It must be TV. -- But the TV was not on. Then I heard it again, very clearly, from outside the window. No, it cannot be true! Or maybe I’m going crazy… maybe I worked too hard on the kaiseki posts…

But later that day, I found that it was a real SL. Our local TV news said that the local railroad company was going to run a stem locomotive for several days for some kind of event. -- My god, real SL! If I miss this chance, I may not have another chance to see real SL running. -- So I checked the time table, and waited for the SL at JR Kochi station this afternoon with my camera hanging from my neck.

Here’s some shots I took today.

There were many people on the platform trying to take photos of the SL.

I've seen train drivers dressed like this in movies or TV dramas only, but they were real today! And the steam whistle sounded so nice. (That sound reminded me of the anime, Galaxy Express 999.)
posted by obachan, 11/24/2006 04:39:00 PM | link | 5 comments |

Thursday, November 16, 2006


In the past several weeks, a series of suicides by students and even school principals has been reported. We hear about school children committing suicide one after another because of the bullying they experienced at school. One principal killed himself after his school was found to be one of those that skipped teaching some required courses. Another did so after being accused for not properly reporting a bullying incident to the city education board.

After making extensive coverage on this suicide issue, now the media seems to be paying more attention to the fact that the media coverage itself is a risk factor in imitative suicides. I saw a TV news program featuring “media guidelines on reporting of suicide” the other day, though briefly. Good thing that what deserves attention is finally gaining attention.

Matsuzaka (a Japanese baseball player) is going to the Major League. The Boston Red Sox’s bidding price is said to be apx. 51 million dollars. --- Wow!!

I bought a new kotatsu buton (blanket for kotatsu) today. It was the cheapest one I could find at EAON. It's finally getting cold here in Kochi...
posted by obachan, 11/16/2006 03:44:00 PM | link | 8 comments |

Saturday, November 11, 2006


After my work at the small kaiseki place finishes, I get changed and go straight to my bicycle waiting by the sidewalk. Usually there are several taxis waiting in line on the street, near where I park my bicycle, for the drunk customers who come out from numerous drinking places. While waiting, taxi drivers often stay outside of their cars to do the stretching or chat with other taxi drivers.

Last night, when I went to my bicycle after work, there were two taxi drivers standing by their taxis, chatting. One of them saw me and said, “You see the girls singing over there?” He was pointing at the two amateur street musicians performing their “street live concert” sitting directly on the steps right outside a building. I said, “Yeah.”
He continued, “You see where they are sitting? That's the spot where drunk guys always pee or puke. The owner of that building has to wash those steps in the morning.”
I: “Yeah….? So?”
Taxi Driver: “You go and tell them.”
I: “What?!”
TD: “You go and tell those girls that they are sitting on a dirty spot. I bet they don’t know.”
I: “What? Me? Gee… I can’t.”
TD: “Come on, be kind to them.”
I: “The steps look clean now, at least.”
TD: “But so many drunk guys have peed and puked there. I mean it.”

But I just passed by the musicians without talking to them, being aware that those two taxi drivers watching me all the way.

Would you tell the street musicians if you were me?
posted by obachan, 11/11/2006 06:15:00 PM | link | 6 comments |