Friday, December 31, 2004

Alyssa and Cindy on another whirlwind adventure. Here we are on the first day of our trip. Let me tell you Hokkaido is Cold. Like Northern NH cold. My roomate is from Taiwan a place of no snow so I had to coach her on proper cold weather precautions, like wearing a had and gloves... Posted by Hello

A little history of Hokkaido... Posted by Hello
Hokkaido is the second largest and most northern of the four main islands that make up Japan. Historically, Hokkaido was not really considered a part of Japan, it was the home of the Ainu, the aboriginal people of Japan. The Ainu were pushed into Hokkido long ago by the immigrants from mainland Asia who are now considered the Japanese. Until the Meiji Period (1868) the Ainu were the main population of Hokkaido, while the few Japanese who lived there clung to the southern coast. This changed after the Meiji Period as Japan wanted to expand it's northern border. Now Hokkaido is the main producer of milk and cheese in Japan, as well Japan's wood and coal. Hokkaido is also a key fishing and agricultural center. It is a very rugged land with many mountains and volcanos, and is prone to large earthquakes.

Ahh...End of Semester, Christmas Parties, and time to travel!!!!!!!!!!!! From 12/26-12/29 my roommate and I were lucky enough to get to go to Hokkaido on a tour for four days and three nights...bliss! This is the map of our trip; each different colored line represents a different day of travel. Needless to say we had lots of fun! Posted by Hello

My Most Humble and Deep Apologies...

To my many readers who have all given up on this blog...I'm Sorry! Between school and travel and the end of the semester my life has been a bit hectic. Alright, a lot hectic. But since I have about a week till I begin classes again I will try to put up the blogs that have been sitting in the back of my head. I will finish the Fushimi Inari blogs as well as put up the Hokkaido blogs and the blogs about my life here in Japan. Please bear with me through the coming year!

Sunday, November 28, 2004

Fushimi Inari Posted by Hello

Fushimi Inari Posted by Hello

Fushimi Inari Posted by Hello

Fushimi Inari Posted by Hello
Here a Shinto priest is reading devotions as, behind him, the children and their parents look on. Strictly speaking, I wasn't supposed to take this picture...

Fushimi Inari Posted by Hello

Fushimi Inari Posted by Hello

Fushimi Inari Posted by Hello
In Japan November 15 is the day when parents of children 3, 5, or 7, go to their local shrine to pray for the continued health and well being of their child and to by charms to safeguard the child . I was lucky enought to get this picture of a young mother adjusting her daughter's kimono, while the father buy's a charm for the girl and the girl's younger sister looks on.

Fushimi Inari Posted by Hello
Please click to magnify and read the short history of Fushimi Inari.

Fushimi Inari Posted by Hello
The Kitsune, or fox is the messanger of Inari. Throughout Fushimi Inari there are many Kitsune statues that guard the shrines instead of the more typical dog/lion guardians.

Fushimi Inari Posted by Hello
Fushimi Inari Shrine is the principle shrine in Japan dedicated to Inari, the god of rice, and Uganomitama-no-Okami, the goddess of plentiful harvest and prosperity.

You are being watched...

Tofukuji Posted by Hello

Tofukuji Posted by Hello
What would any Buddhist Temple be without it's own rock garden. These beautiful and orderly gardens are choice meditation spots for the Japanese and you can often see people sitting, contemplating their beauty...or sleeping.

Tofukuji Posted by Hello

Tofukuji Posted by Hello
Tofukuji is a Zen temple that was built in 1236 in Kyoto. It is very famos for it's beautiful Autumn leaves. We went in mid-November but the leaves were just starting to turn.

Saturday, November 13, 2004

Gomi Day... Posted by Hello

Gomi Days...

Ahh Friday's...The glorious last day of the week, TGIF, two days till Monday, and...Trash Day...Kiyaaaaaaaaaaaa- (scream cut off abruptly).

That's right, here in Okazaki Friday is Trash day. Not the American, put your recyclables out by the mailbox, trash day, but the Japanese Ultra Anal Trash (aka Gomi) Day. Oh Joy oh Rapture *note please read last with a very heavy dose of sarcasm*

To fully understand the, oh let's say, Stupidity, of Gomi Day, you must first understand Japan's Trash Situation (I can't believe I just wrote that...). Japan is an overly populated island where the people live on the flat areas and the rest of the country is mostly mountainous (think alps) which makes it seem even smaller. As a result there are few places for the trash to go. Noticing this the Japanese created a system where you recycle everything or you are shunned by society. That's right, shunned. Now I personally support recycling, and at home in America we are pretty organized in our recycling, but this is a whole new level...

During our orientation at Yamasa, a whole hour was dedicated to, what else, trash throwing etiquette. No, I am not lying, trash throwing etiquette, aka how to throw away your trash without getting lynched by your friendly Japanese neighbors. While I'm sure you all would be thrilled to hear the whole hour of the talk, due to time constraints, and to save my fingers, I will give you the high points.

A)There are 13 basic categories of trash, all of which must be separated into their separate color coated plastic bags, which you can purchase at your local convenience store.
1)Burnable Trash
2)Non-burnable Trash
3)Paper containers and packages
4)Plastic containers and packages
5)PET Bottles
6)Empty Cans
7)Empty Bottles (large beer and sake)
8)Empty Bottles (other)
9)Newspapers, magazines, milk cartons
10)Used Clothing
11)Hazardous Waste
12)Flammable Hazardous Waste
13)Large Sized Trash

B)All trash must be thoroughly separated, down to the last plastic straw wrapper, and cleaned. Yes, cleaned, as in cut your used toothpaste bottle in half and clean out what is inside, cleaned.

C)The trash may only be put out on trash day, generally between 6:30 and 9:30 am. Never before or after.

D)Your nice, foreigner distrusting, neighbors will be out patrolling the trash and recycle areas, and may ask to examine your bags and make you return if not sorted correctly.

E)There are certain places that certain types of trash may be placed. Do not put your recyclables at the burnable trash area.

Well, those are the highlights. Though in truth, since I am only a stupid foreigner I get away with only 8 separate types of trash, (6 on a regular basis) and have yet to have my trash searched. Though some of the nice neighbors have tried to use their x-ray vision on my bags. Although my neighbor tried to put his Plastic out with the burnable, and we haven't seen him since...

Jaa Ne!

Thursday, October 28, 2004


To all my dear friends from New York who told me that Hell would freeze over before the Red Sox won the World Series...Satan's shopping for ice skates.

THE RED SOX WON THE WORLD SERIES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Saturday, October 23, 2004

Shinko-Retsu Posted by Hello

This is one of two palaquins that hold the spirits of the Emperors Komei and Kammu. Emperor Komei is the Deity of the Heian Shrine and Emperor Kammu was the Emperor who moved the capital from Nara to Kyoto. In Japan the Royal family is said to decend directly from the Sun Goddess Ameratsu and thus the Royal family is honored as deities in their own right.

Kudara-O-Myoshin (780) Posted by Hello

Kudara-O-Myoshin was the Chief Lady-in-Waiting to Emperor Kammu's Imperial Court. The highest position that a woman who was not part of the Imperial family could recieve. In the west a Lady-in-Waiting is usually a woman, attached to a court, in charge of managing the household or some other womanly duty. In Japan, however, a Lady-in-Waiting of the court had the trust and the ear of the Emperor and Empress and often acted as an advisor.

Ono-no-Komachi (850) Posted by Hello

Murasaki Shikibu (1000) Posted by Hello

Tomoe-Gozen (1180) Posted by Hello

The sight of Tomoe-Gozen was the pivot around which I wrote my thesis. There she was, a woman warrior in what I thought was a strict patriarchal society. Since then I have learned that Japan wasn't always a patriarchal society but the site of a woman warrior is not common by any means. She lived and fought in a liminal time at the end of the Heian Period and the beginning of the Warring States Period. During the Heian Period women of the Imperial court had both power and authoriy over the court and their own lives. In the Warring States period they lost all authority and most of their power. Tomoe-Gozen was the last of these women. She was able to hold power and authority as a woman acting like a man. After her disappearance women had little power and authority outside their roles as wifes or courtesans.

Tomoe-Gozen Posted by Hello

A Horse and Samuri in correct armor from the 16th century. Posted by Hello