Monday, 18 July 2011

Class divide through Tanabata

Tanabata was a fortnight back.  It's a Japanese festival (click on Tanabata for the detail) where people write wishes and hang them on bamboo branches.   It might be a nosey thing to do, but I like reading what people write - it's an insight into people's concerns.  I was struck by the difference between the types of messages at my local supermarket, in an unfashionable working class part of Tokyo, compared with those at Yotsuya station  in Central Tokyo near the imperial palace and the belt of old universities and prestigious private schools...

The local supermarket:
May I win money at pachinko (think pokies)

The local supermarket:
May my father bring home bay blades

Yotsuya station -
May I pass the uni entrance exam, May there be world peace

Yotsuya Station
May I be a doctor when I grow up
May S become well.

Writing Tanabata messages at Yotsuya station

Yotsuya station Tanabata display

Do you have a wish?   To become a bit tidier?
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Ice sculptures in Ueno

The other day in Ueno Park we stumbled up on ice carving sculpture exhibition. At 35 degrees on the thermometre on a nearby department store, it was an ephemeral cooling of the park.

Saturday, 2 July 2011

Grasspicking day

Today was  apartment building grasspicking day. Four times a  year - or three if   the organizers are laudably low on initiative - the apartment building members  gather to pick out the weeds in the  garden.  Picking the weeds is less important than being seen to pick the weeds. There are still plenty of weeds in the back corner but because noone was interested in taking on the mosquitos for very long, they remain intact to contribute to reducing the heat island effect for the rest of the summer.
At the end of the picking, there are drinks and snacks - what better reason could there be to drink beer at 10am than spending the morning grasspicking.     It's always bothered me that that the "gunte" gloves are used once and thrown out - scandalously wasteful.   I was commenting today to one of my neighbours that it was a great pity to waste them like that "mottainai".... she heartily agreed.  In an inexplicable act of ecological self-righteousness / community mindedness I gathered them up to wash and bring back for the September grasspicking day....    
I am not really sure that they meet Japanese specifications of whiteness... but I feel better than throwing them all out.   We didn't have anywhere to hang them, so they're (much to Hiro's dismay) layed out infront of the window to dry.