Wednesday, March 14, 2007


The small airport in this rural prefecture has suddenly become the center of public attention yesterday because of this incident. We saw the video of this airplane landing on its nose over and over on almost all TV news programs this morning. Good thing that no one was hurt.

They say that this DHC-8-400 is a popularly used model in rural areas in Japan (with loads of accidents reported in the past few years). Hope this accident brings a big change, hopefully without raising airfare rates.
posted by obachan, 3/14/2007 10:09:00 AM | link | 0 comments |

Monday, March 12, 2007


I went to the spring Daikoku-sama festival at Sugimoto shrine last Sunday. Yes, it's the same shrine that I posted about in the autumn of 2005 when the autumn Daikoku-sama festival was held there. The event then was gods' excursion to a nearby river bank. This time, the festival was dedicated to Daikoku-sama, God of wealth widely known and loved in Japan.

People praying at Sugimoto shrine and a young guy holding up a sign
saying, "Watch your step, and watch out for pickpockets."

There were many omikuji slips (paper fortunes) tied to the branches as in this photo. It is said that by doing so, the good prophecy written on the strips will come true as well as your wishes.

Colorful paper ornaments were all over the place at the shrine. Some were very traditional, and others looked pretty modern.

People come to this festival to pray for the happiness and prosperity, and buy the lucky ornament called fuku-dawara 福俵 which can be literally translated as "lucky straw-bag." Actually in this case it is a bamboo branch decorated with luck-bringing ornaments such as a small straw bag, ancient coin and a paper strip with lucky words.

Many other good-luck charms were being sold here and there at the shrine.

One of the main attractions of the day was this lion dance. The story seemed to have been the same as the performance I saw in 2005 at their autumn festival: The lion took away the drunk man's lucky bamboo branch. The man was scared at first but with the help of sake (and god's power, maybe?) , got courageous and finally took the bamboo branch back and calmed down the lion.

The moves of the drunk man were just too funny. I think the same person plays this role in both autumn and spring festivals at this shrine every year.

Another attraction was Kagura dance performance by two gods. It was performed indoor but the audience was able to see it from outside, too.

Hina-ningyo (dolls we display on girls' doll festival on Mar. 3rd) were still on display to contribute to the festive atmosphere of the day. The room behind the stage was full of traditional drawings and paper works for visitors to see.

This photo shows the autumn festival of this shrine in olden days (in feudal era, I think) recreated by paper craft. An amazingly elaborate work, don't you think?

The Kagura dance was performed by two men wearing masks: one was supposed to be God of rice and the other was God of wealth. You see one of them in the photo is holding a bunch of rice stalks and the other is holding a hammer? The story goes like this (IIRC): One day the two gods meet each other and start competing in the magic skills. God of rice says "Hey, I can grow rice well and bring an abundant harvest. " God of wealth says, "Oh, I can bring money and treasure with the strokes of this magic hammer." Then their magic competition is described by the dance. Two gods keep turning round and round, waving the fans.

Eventually, the God of rice goes off stage, and the God of wealth, holding both the rice and hammer in his hands, blesses everyone with good luck and big laughter.

After the dance, Daikoku-sama, the God of wealth, gave each of the audience a folded paper with a five-yen coin enclosed inside. Five yen is pronounced "go-en" in Japanese, thus it is associated with a Japanese word, goen ご縁 which means "relation" or "connection." So, this means that now I have a relation or connection to the happiness and laughter provided by the god of wealth! :)

The dance was accompanied by a little narration, which ended in a pretty much edifying tone. It went like, "But you can't get Daikoku-sama's blessing for free. There are things you should do to receive the blessing. Those are, to be diligent and always do your best at work, worship your ancestors, respect your parents and love your family members. Then Daikoku-sama will bless you with happiness and wealth." Yeah, a cliche. But when I saw an old woman standing next to me nodding to these words with a happy smile on her face, I honestly felt touched.

Isn't it wonderful if you could keep such simple, real basic teachings as the basis of your life, and live an ordinary life happily contented? But we know -- even the old woman herself knows -- that it's nothing but an ideal. Real life is not that simple.

Hope your days will be filled with a lot of laughter ;)

Maybe that's why our ancestors developed these traditional activities or rituals so that we can keep coming back to the basics -- the simple basics, the importance of which does not change over time. I don't know... Maybe, maybe not.

posted by obachan, 3/12/2007 09:37:00 AM | link | 2 comments |

Friday, March 02, 2007


OK. My surgery date is set. It’s May 11th, 2007. I need to be admitted on the 9th and go through all the preparations. According to the blogs by Japanese women who went through the same thing, looks like I have to be “emptied” completely before the surgery. Which means, what I will have eaten/drunk by then must be completely removed from my body. Gosh, what fun.

Today the doc said that two weeks before the surgery I need to have blood and urine tests, x-ray, ECG (electrocardiogram), PFT (pulmonary function test) and another transv. ultrasound, if I remember correctly. So an appointment was set for Apr. 27th. He also said that on the day of hospital admission, explanation about the surgery will be given to me and my family member (it’ll be my mom). My family member needs to be at the hospital during the surgery on May 11th just in case something unexpected is found during the operation and the procedure has to be changed. Yeah, obviously it cannot be explained to the patient him/herself. But it’s not necessary for my family member to stay at the hospital and take care of me after the surgery.

I went through another transv. ultrasound today and the doc said my Pinoko hasn’t grown much… just a few millimeters. I asked for a doctor’s statement to show to my bosses. (BTW, have you ever seen a doctor who writes a good hand? I haven’t.):P  My boss at my daytime job already knows all about my surgery, so there’s no problem. But I haven’t told anything to my boss at my nighttime job yet, and I’m going to talk with him tonight. Hope it works out. Wish me luck. :)

Fee: 1800 yen (copayment) (= apx. US$ 15) *In Japan, copayment is 30% of the expense.
1500 yen (= apx. US$ 13) for doctor’s statement (Not covered by medical insurance)
Total: 3300 yen (incl. tax) (= apx. US$ 28)

To be cont'd

は い。手術日決まりました。2007年5月11日。9日に入院して、イロイロやらんとあかんみたいです。同じ経験をなさった日本人女性の皆さんのブログによ ると、手術前には私、空っぽにされるんですね。つまり、それまでに食べたり飲んだりしたモノを全部身体から出してしまうと。ゲー。

今日、 センセーが言うには、手術の2週間前に、(もし私の記憶が正しければ)尿検査、血液検査、レントゲン、心電図、肺機能検査、それにまたエコー検査やらない といけないそうな。で、それが4月の27日。入院最初の日に、私と付添いの家族(母の予定)に、手術の説明があるそうです。11日の手術の間は、家族が病 院にいないといけないそうで、なぜかというと手術中に予測しなかったことが見つかって、何か違う事をする必要が出てきたら、それを家族の人にすぐ知らせな いといけな いから。確かに手術されてる本人に言うわけにはイカンですわな。でも、手術のあとは家族が付き添って世話する必要はないとのこと。

今 日の エコーで、ピノコはたいして育ってない、ホンの数ミリ大きくなってるぐらいだそうでした。職場の上司に見せるため、診断書を書いてもらいました。(話かわ るけど、字の上手なお医者さんって見たことあります?私はナイ!) 昼間の職場の上司はもうこの手術について全部知ってるので問題ないんですが、夜の仕事 の上司にはまだ何も言ってないんです。今晩言う予定。幸運を祈って下され。

費用:1800円 保険適用の患者負担分。
診断書:1500円 自費
計: 3300円 (税込)   也


posted by obachan, 3/02/2007 11:30:00 AM | link | 12 comments |