As Time Goes By

It is cloudy with sunny spells here today. The sky was covered with thick layer of clouds in the morning, but the weather is getting better towards the evening. The rainy season is just around the corner.

The buds of Tokeisou have begun to open in my garden. Two flowers are now in full bloom, and ten or more buds are still tight. This flower has a strange shape and really looks like a clock or a watch.

Talking of a watch, I recall my first wristwatch which my parents bought for me as a present when I passed the examination of high school. I had to go to school by bicycle on a bumpy road. It took about 30 minutes. I was not good at getting up early in the morning. So I often rushed to school desperately, seeing the time many times. Even now I have a dream of being late for school, sweating a great deal.

As time goes by, I am becoming punctual. I am seldom late for some circles which I belong to. When I meet my friend somewhere, I reach the place ten minutes before the appointment time. My character seems somewhat improved.

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The Film "BABEL"

I happened to watch the film ”BABEL” on TV the night before last. This film is popular among Japanese people because Kikuchi Rinko features as a girl who has problem in speaking and Tokyo is the place where one of the stories in the film goes on. Eventually, some stories are connected and end up with one story. That’s interesting.

“BABEL” is based on “The Tower of Babel” in Genesis 11 of the Old Testament. People in Babylonia tried to build a big city with a tower that reached to the skies—a monument to their greatness. However, God didn’t want the people to do so because they would become very conceited and would think that nothing would be impossible for them after finishing this construction. So, God gave them different languages and scattered them all over the earth so that they wouldn’t be able to understand each other. It is said that this is the beginning of various languages across the world. I wonder why God gave us this agony. To become more humble?

In the film “BABEL”, people tried to communicate with each other in vain because of the difference of languages. Furthermore, they couldn’t talk with each other from heart to heart despite they spoke the same language. It’s very difficult to understand each other. Misunderstanding makes us unhappy. We are sometimes offended by other people’s thoughtless words. We can’t forgive other people’s fault. However, if we stop there, we are left unhappy and painful. We also might offend other people's feeling. So as to step forward, we need to make allowance for each other’s fault and forgive the person who offends us. That's the best way for us in order to be free from anger and agony.

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Fresh Green Breeze

I attended haiku in English circle the other day(May 24). This time the haiku gathering was held at my teacher's house. I really felt thankful for her warm hospitality. An Indonesian lady who is working for Indonesian Consulate joined us. We could talk with one another in English. I realized that English was an international language and very useful to communicate with each other wherever we live. I have to improve my English skills much more. I submitted five haikus and one of them included the word "shouji", a paper sliding door. The Indonesian lady didn't understand "shoji". This picture is a unique Japanese room in olden times. We use shoji in a Japanese-style room still now.

shadows of

fresh green breeze

on the shoji

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The Fifth 88 Temple Pilgrimage(2)

I stayed overnight at Muroto 室戸 in Kochi Prefecture(土佐).
There is Memorial Hall of Sakamoto Ryouma near Katurahama 桂浜. This memorial hall is a wax museum(蝋人形館).There are many large -as -life wax figures(等身大の蝋人形)of Ryoma, Saigo Takamori and other famous politicians in the museum. I was very surprised to meet the wax figure of Marilyn Monroe there.

Sakamoto Ryoma's Wedding

Sakamoto Ryoma was born in Kochi and brought up seeing the Pacific Ocean. He was not very smart and called "a lamp in daytime"(昼行灯)in his childhood. He must have dreamed of new dawn of Japan while seeing that vast ocean.

Buddha surrounded by beautiful lilies

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The Fifth 88 Temple Pilgrimage of Shikoku

shinnshouji.jpgI took part in the 5th bus trip as a part of 88Temple Pilgrimage of Shikoku on May 21 and 22. I visited eight temples in Kochi Prefecture for two days. It was a busy trip as usual. but the weather was absolutely wonderful.

The most impressive temple was 津照寺 Temple(Shinshou-ji). I walked up 125 stone steps, gasping sometimes. The step was very steep. I thought I had to do more exercise for the next pilgrimage in June. The gate of this temple was vermilion-lacquered (朱塗り) and looked like a gate of the Sea God's Palace(竜宮城). This temple is dedicated to 延命地蔵菩薩 and protects fishermen. Many people were wearing white clothes. I haven't prepared this white clothing for pilgrimage yet, though.

To be continued.

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A New Laundry Service Business

A new laundry service business is gradually becoming popular. The company comes to homes to collect clothes. They wash, dry, fold them neatly and return them to the customers.

Two bag sizes are available. The bigger bag can hold 60~80 T-shirts in it and it costs 3,000 yen.

Senior citizens, single persons and stores like beauty-treatment clinics are the target customers to use this service. Each bag is washed separately, so we don’t have to worry about our clothes being washed with other people’s.

I want to use this service when I am sick or get older. This service is very helpful to elderly people who have no family.

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The Clinic

I went to the clinic for a regular check-up. The receptionist of the clinic always wears a mask, maybe in order to protect herself from influenza and other diseases. She told one patient to take his temperature and give a urine sample.

After checking my blood pressure, my doctor told me that my pulse was not regular so I should have an electrocardiogram. It seemed that I had some problem in my heart due to hardening of the arteries.

Happily, my pulse was regular when it was checked again. My doctor said, “It’s not so bad! Don’t worry too much!”

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The DVD of "Shall We Dance?"

I enjoyed the DVD of "Shall We Dance" starring Richard Gere and Jennifer Lopez. Susan Sarandon also played a key part in the film as hero's wife. I watched the Japanese original "Shall We ダンス?" several years ago. Tamiyo Kusakari had impressed me so much and for this reason I expected Jennifer Lopez to be more like her.

The American version is more brilliant and gorgeous than the Japanese production. Gere(hero) is a lawyer and the dance festival and the dance school in America are more stylish and showy than in Japan. Or, they may only seem that way to me because I can't feel the pathos of an ordinary salaried worker in the American version. However, the dancing is cool and the dance music all the way through the film is so enjoyable.

I feel a kind of culture gap between America and Japan. A Japanese husband seldom presents a bouquet or a flower to his wife, although I don't know about today's Japanese husbands. Gere presents only one rose to his wife and hugs her in public, saying " My partner is right here!" How cool! Finally, he gets along with his wife after some troubles. It is a happy ending.

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Cat Cafe

There are Internet Café, Book Café, English Café and Dog Café around Japan. I knew Cat Café for the first time from a newspaper. “Cat Café Nyanny” has been open in Kobe since last December. It is said that there are about twenty Cat Cafes in our country, chiefly in Tokyo and Osaka.

In the Cat Café in Kobe, there are nine lovely cat staffs. Women, couples and even a single man, about 80 people at most per day, visit the café. People who can’t have cats at home due to house situation want to be healed by cat staffs in there. They look at cats and play with them, giving snacks or using Nekojarashi. They can have tea and even drink beer or whisky.

However, the café owner says, “I don’t want a customer to hold and hug cats by force despite cats are denying to be done so. That’s because cats are capricious and it is one of cats’ charms that we can’t do as we want.
In my childhood, I had a cat at my house. I wanted to play with it more, but it often refused to play with me and left me alone.

The fee is 1,000 yen per hour, excluding the fee of tea or drinks. Do you want to go there? As for me, “No”

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How many times do we have to see representatives hanging down their heads at a press conference? There are some cases in which I feel a little sympathy for the accused representatives. However, in the case of this scandal-hit upmarket restaurant, I can’t feel any sympathy; far from it, I feel very angry at the owners of the restaurants. Incredible!!!

I’ve had lunch at this notorious restaurant with my friends two or three times. The price wasn’t reasonable, though I could enjoy refined Japanese atmosphere in there. I may have served leftovers. Oh, I feel very creepy.

Imagine that many customers are drinking and chatting over sashimi, boiled fish, vegetables and things. They may have scattered their salvia on foods while speaking. It’s very dirty to reuse leftovers even if the food is left untouched. And food may somewhat rot. It’s dangerous. The principle of “Mottainai” is used in the worst way.

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Only One Thing in Common

My two grandsons are already on their own. They have their own world. They used to get around me, wanting juice, snacks, games and things. Now they don’t need my help anymore. Sadly, I can’t catch up with their talking. I don’t know well about pop-music, anime, manga, games, films and stuff which they are interested in. Kobukuro? Ayaka? Who are they? I was puzzled and felt kind of lonely.

During Golden week, they stayed at my home for two days. Happily, I found out that there is still only one thing in common between my grandsons and me. That is “English”. They are studying English in senior high school and middle school.

They sometimes peeked into my room and said to me, “Are you studying English still now, Grandma? Do you speak English?” I answered proudly, “Sure. Of course, I speak English.” Then they asked me again with somewhat critical eyes, “How is your English pronunciation, Grandma?” I could not help surrendering. They pointed out my weakness.

My second grader of senior high school is now preparing for the 2nd Step of Eiken. He was struggling to memorize English words like “appropriate, argue, urgent・・・." Oh、 my competitor、Grandson! I’ve already known those words!

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Unavairable Coin Locker

My daughter’s family went to my hometown by train to see my father in the hospital the day before yesterday. My elder grandson in senior high school insisted to carry a heavy sports bag with him. The bag was filled with thick textbooks and study-aid books. I thought it was no use to bring such a heavy bag in a supposedly crowded train and one book was enough if he would study in a train. He intended to study in a train for two hours if he could take a seat. You may think that he is a good boy and studies hard. However, I was afraid that he was too much involved in studying. Then, I said to him, ”You sometimes need to cut yourself some slack.” My daughter said to me, laughing, “Don’t worry, Mom! He is all right. He is fully relaxed all the time.”

On their way back home, they dropped in at JR Kyoto Station to get around and have dinner. My grandson was finally tired from carrying a heavy bag with him and wanted to use a coin locker. Lo and behold, all the coin lockers were not available in the station. Afterwards, I knew from TV news that a very dangerous-like bag had been found in one of the coin locker in the station on the previous day. The bag contained items including electrical cables, a clock and a two-liter plastic bottle filled with gasoline. Fortunately, a horrible incident was prevented and a 46-year- old man was arrested yesterday.

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Children's Day

Today is Children’s Day in Japan, a festival called “tango no sekku” or “Boy’s Festival”. Meanwhile, March 3 is “Girl’s Festival”. Boys pray for health and growing up to be fine adults. Families with boys display a helmet replica and a set of Samurai figures on a tokomoma, an alcove. And they fly carp streamers outside their homes. It is rainy today, so we can’t see carp streamers fluttering high above roofs in the blue sky. A carp is believed that it challengingly swims up waterfalls like a salmon, so it is a symbol of a strong and vigorous boy.

It is reported that the number of children aged 14 or younger in Japan continues to decline, making a record low for the 27th straight year. Among world’s major countries, Japan has the lowest percentage of children; 13.5 percent of the total population. I feel very sad and regrettable to hear the news reports that some children are not taken care of well, are sometimes abused to kill or are abandoned somewhere. Any child has the right to be brought up as happily as possible.

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Tidy the Room Up

Golden Week holidays have started. My neighboring young couples stayed home, playing with their children, cleaning the yards or washing their cars. The sky cleared up and it was the best day for washing and airing futons or mats.

I tidied my rooms up so that I could use them comfortably in summer---Summer Version of my rooms. First of all, I put winter blankets away and changed the sheets of futons. And I vacuumed the rooms. I washed some winter clothes and took some to a laundry.

I picked some lavender and rosemary in my garden and made some bunches of flowers. I put them here and there in the bathroom, entrance, bedroom, living room and kitchen. Now my house is filled with faint fragrance. Great stuff! I’ve already tired before my daughter’s family coming.

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Soaring Food Prices

I found a nearby cake shop was closed today. I used to buy a bag of castella, sponge cake at the price of 300 yen. Surprisingly, the price soared to 350 yen a few months ago. I stopped buying it. It seemed that the number of the customers had decreased these days.

This store is badly influenced by the soaring food prices, I guess. The prices of flour, daily products and even eggs have soared these days. The price of cake or bread cannot help rising.

A few months ago, I was surprised to see bread sold at much higher price. I changed my western-style breakfast to Japanese-style one. I stopped having bread. Instead, I have rice or rice cake for breakfast recently. A TV program reported yesterday that many people had begun to pay attention to rice.

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Hang in There, Dad!

It was cloudy with sunny spells here. The weather is getting worse, but still holding. One-third of the months in the year have already passed.

A four-day weekend is coming soon. Do you have some plans? I don’t have any plans because tourist spots, transportation facilities, roads and something like that will be very crowded with many people.

Perhaps my daughter’s family will stay overnight at my house and will go see my father in the hospital. I already went to my hometown in Shiga Prefecture and saw him four days ago.

He is suffering from kidney disease. If the dietary therapy doesn’t work well, he will be on a kidney machine. He turned 90 years old last December. He wants to live until 95 and he thinks positive about some medical treatments. Hang in there, Dad!

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