Monday, 13 April 2015

Tokyo picture quiz

I'm teaching a course that's going to focus on tourism in Japan.  Even though students are mostly from Tokyo, it often seems that many have little idea of the city. The construction site (the new fish markets) will probably be substituted before the class.
Any takers? If the place taken from and the subject are clearly different, both should be mentioned.
P.S. Many thanks to my little sister who kindly let me use some of her photos.


And thanks to this site that converted a PDF to JPG so I could upload it. http://pdf2jpg.net/convert.php








Friday, 3 April 2015

Jobs continued. The outside guard.


The other day, I went to the university where I have most of my classes.
I didn't recognize the guard so I said hello, introduced myself. She didn't give me her name, so I asked her.

Guard: "But I'm (just) from the security company".
      (translation, I'm not a university employee, so my name isn't important (to you?)
Me: "But you're here often?"
Guard: "Yes"
Me: "Well we'll often meet."
Guard:  "Oh.... and she told me her name".

It reminded me of asking students why most of them don't greet the guard in the morning, even though she greets them... The students agreed that they mostly didn't greet the guard. One of the most basic manners drummed into kids in Japan is the importance of "aisatsu"  - greetings.  "Make a good community, let's greet each other", "Greetings are important" type slogans.
I'm not quite sure at what point 'aisatsu' begin to be exclusive and reserved for people in the same group... A point for investigation...

At any rate, I said hello to the guard on my way in the next day, and she very cheerily greeted me back.  Small steps.  Very small steps.


Monday, 30 March 2015

The Kominato Line, Chiba.



 For the lyrics see here: http://www.jpopasia.com/lyrics/21990/ayumi-hamasaki/haru-yo-koi.html 

 Inspired by the video  above of Yumi Matsutoya's Haru Yo Koi, and with an ever abiding fondness for local trains, Friday was set aside as a day to ride the Kominato sen. I went on the first year I came to Japan, when Hiro & I went on a cycling trip through Chiba in the middle of summer (starting in the mountains.... what we were thinking...) I have little recollection of the train though.. the memories of salt patches from the copious amount of sweat remain vivid...

 Anyway, back to the Kominato sen... It's a one and sometimes two carriage train that starts from Goi on the west coast of Chiba. It used to be part of the JR network before the grand breakup in the 1980s and now it's a third party local line, like the much less profitable Akita Nairiku sen. Admittedly it was spring holidays and the flowers are out, but I was surprised, at least compared to the Nairiku line,  how many people were taking the train. They were mostly joy riders - but not all - and it's probably enough people to keep the line from being akaji (in the red). 
http://www.kominato.co.jp/

Like a lot of rural lines the Kominato line runs infrequently.   The second train of the day leaves Goi at 9:29.  The one after that at 12:36.  Planning is necessary, but there is still some scope for flexibility. The timetable below is a little misleading  - the arrival and departure times are noted as the same however the train stopped for a generous 4 minutes at Satomi station and many passengers got out to take photos.
GOI
09:29
12:36
0.0km

KAZUSAMURAKAMI
09:33
09:33
12:40
12:40
2.5km

AMAARIKI
09:37
09:37
12:45
12:45
5.4km

KAZUSAMITSUMATA
09:41
09:41
12:48
12:48
7.2km

KAZUSAYAMADA
09:44
09:44
12:51
12:51
8.6km

KOFUDAI(CHIBA)
09:48
09:48
12:55
12:55
10.6km

UMATATE
09:51
09:51
12:59
12:59
12.4km

KAZUSAUSHIKU
09:57
09:57
13:05
13:05
16.4km

KAZUSAKAWAMA
10:01
10:01
13:08
13:08
18.5km

KAZUSATSURUMAI
10:04
10:04
13:11
13:11
20.0km

KAZUSAKUBO
10:07
10:07
13:15
13:15
22.0km

TAKATAKI
10:10
10:10
13:18
13:18
23.8km

SATOMI
10:18
10:18
13:25
13:25
25.7km

ITABU
10:22
10:22
13:29
13:29
27.5km

TSUKIZAKI
10:26
10:26
13:33
13:33
29.8km

KAZUSAOKUBO
10:30
10:30
13:38
13:38
32.3km

YOROKEIKOKU
10:35
10:35
13:43
13:43
34.9km

KAZUSANAKANO
10:42
13:49

39.1km

You may notice that many of the station names are Kazusa....
Kazusa was the old domain name for central Chiba.
Wikipedia has a little more on it.
 
It's nanohana - canola - season on the line at the moment, and although we were too early for the sakura, and we didn't get as far as YoruKeikoku (we would have but for the fact we believed a road sign over google maps...) the nanohana and bucolic charm of the line made for a very relaxing day out.  The missed turn wasn't in vain either as we had the good fortune to meet a very hospitable local who invited us in for coffee!

Yorukeikoku is probably the most "famous" place in Chiba for autumn leaves and it's a good excuse to go back.  Next time, perhaps taking the Kominato line to the end and changing to the Isumi line train which goes through to the Pacific coast.


Most of the line is single track, with a few stations where trains can pass.
We backtracked to Kazusa Tsurumai
We met this groups of sketchers earlier in the day at Tsukizaki.  Sketching is a popular hobby in Japan. It's quite common to see primary school children out in the neighbourhood sketching.
Perhaps practice is the reason, but I have no doubt the average Japanese person is more skillful
at drawing than the average Australian. In fact, I rarely meet people here who say "I can't draw".
It's a bit like saying "I can't walk" - everyone can do it unless they have a certifiable disability.
Canola looking beautiful against the clear blue sky.
Kazusa Tsurumai
At Tsukizaki station - a map for hiking in the Yoru Keikoku area
Kazusa Okubo
The canola on this line is more like floral decoration. In Australia people plant it in huge paddocks.
I assume the variety in Aus has been altered to allow for more oil production.  Here it seems to be more commonly eaten as a green vegetable. The flower seems to be proportionally much less.
Tsukizaki. A large group of photographers gather to greet the train. Some of the crowd had obnoxiously unnecessary tripods - I came to understand why some places ban the use of tripods.
Tsukizaki station
Tsukizaki station

Sunday, 29 March 2015

Hanami 3: Yanaka cemetery spot the difference.

Yanaka cemetery sakura 2015


Yanaka cemetery sakura 2010


answer to follow