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estebanana

 

Posts: 7502
Joined: Oct. 16 2009
 

Dispatches from Akune 

Found in translation

It’s far off the common track here.
Crows, fishing boats, sea eagles. There are no gulls. I think the sea eagles must have eaten them eons ago during the Jomon Period. Beds of tender white potatoes grow in terraces perched on cliffs over the sea up the coast on Nagashima Island. The water is Mediterranean, rocky bottomed. Viridian green shallows blend to dark manganese blue depths. Small black octopi try to hide on Styrofoam trays under the canvas tented fish market stalls.

One could write all kinds of touristy road trip details designed to flatter the countryside. Any real portrait of this town would have to side track the stunning beauty of nature here and cut to Tachiko’s story of how packages of shrimp and gyoza constantly went missing from the big dented freezer she keeps in her cardboard box and plastic bucket cluttered carport.

Tachan, the familiar endearment form of Tachiko, lives across the street. Well it’s hardly a street, unless you’re from a really small village in Italy and the streets are narrow, scattered with loose pea gravel and allow only one tiny non American sized car at a time. Where I am from it would be called an alley, but I shy from judging this thoroughfare by naming with diminutive like 'alley'. It’s a tough little street full of amorpropio, but like most side streets in out of the way Japanese towns, it has no name. Taxi drivers would know the street if you were to climb aboard and say "Fumotosan’s house!" or "Tachikosan". With efficiency your taxi man would deliver you to the precise door you requested.

At the opposite end of Tachiko and I there is a large hospital, and a building behind it which is the Akune City branch of JTT, Japan Telephone and Telegraph, although I have not actually seen the telegraph lines, yet, it would not surprise me to see a guy in an upper story window tapping out Morse code. I’ve seen stranger things already. Fifty meters down the road the hospital raises like a squared up white stucco boulder three stories high; smaller than Godzilla, bigger than a shoebox. As if to give the albino Godzilla hospital something to climb on, JTT has a grey iron tower that looks like a seven story tall clipper ship mast with a wide octagonal observation deck. The deck is a grid work of steel mesh platforms silhouetted against the sky and stocked with several flat radar dishes ready to be torn from their mounts and tossed into the sea and hills like a terrible monsters' Frisbee golf set.

You would think all this urban funk and infrastructure would loom depressingly over the little delicate street with no name, but it’s saved by a tree filled city park situated between us and Godzilla’s playground. In 1765 there was a fire in Akune which burned a great deal of the city, the park is quite old, at least from the time of the fire. It features a Shinto figure three feet tall made of the indigenous basalt rock, a fire protector diety. He is the usual demon like diety, scary angry eyed, several arms, a flaming headdress, stony feet which stomp furiously on a lotus shaped base. All meant not to be demonic and Satan like in the Christian sense, but to tell future fires to “stay away or I will kick your face in” kind thing. Not sure if fire has a face, but if it did this little rock bastard would crack free of its moorings to beat it silly. Lucky for me, he is about 30 paces behind my bedroom, and up a short grassy slope. Quite near enough to stave off any guitar incinerating conflagrations. The Japanese, I must surmise, gave up centuries ago on making anti-mosquito Shinto deities, for I have not seen a single one, unless you count those cans of repellent in the drug store. I can see the TV advert scene: Ancient Shinto shrine, can of bug repellent on the altar, priest devoutly hands can to young acolyte, says it is secret of peace and harmony……wait…..I could get a job in advertising here……

Well the mean street I live on has its feline denizens as well and my favorite so far is Tachiko’s tom cat. He is a swaggering punk rocker tabby. His right foreleg is completely white; the outline of the white fur is a contour drawing which perfectly circumnavigates the tip of this pointy shoulder. From paw tip to haunches it looks like he is wearing a tabby print tee-shirt with one sleeve rolled up around his boxers arm. He reminds me of Joe Strummer from The Clash.

Trouble in the Casbah.

Tachiko used to own a restaurant, I’m sure it had a name, but I have not ventured to ask it, yet. It must have been called something tough and scandalous like Samurai Village Coffee Shop or Rudy’s Can’t Fail Ramen. She now gets up about 4am and cooks in her added on catering kitchen next to the carport and delivers her delicious goods to grocery stores that sell them to the business lunch crowd. Well, I have not seen the crowd, but I can attest that Tachiko’s wares do not last long in the groceries. You seldom see a hair of them past 4pm.

Tachan drinks beer from a can, she wears her hair in a poodle sprawl of a short brown perm. She looks like a 1980’s MTV Japanese band leader, maybe she founded Shonen Knife? She looks to be around sixty five years old and burps at the table with gusto. She speaks low and deep, with force, like the big man in a “sword and sandal” film. She could probably one punch deck your lights out in a fight, even though she stands tall ring side at about 5’4”. She also had that problem with disappearing frozen ebi. Ebi is sprimp in Japanese, you might know it from those ridiculous ‘pencil in the item’ sushi menus from the United States. Sorry boys, everything here in the back forty is written in Kanji, Hiragana and Katagana. No numbers on the menus and no pictures of food. You can’t read Japanese? You go hungry. Or you have someone order for you.

The shrimp and fish fillets were not fin walking out of Tachiko’s freezer by themselves, so she took action by calling the policia. Fish capers were low on the priority list they said, but at some point they would tear themselves away from the 7-11 doughnut section ( It’s not bad I must say) and make a drive by to secure the ‘hood and hopefully catch the fish thief. They never arrived. The seafood kept swimming off into thin air, so she called them again. This time she asked them for surveillance advice. She proposed that she sit in the carport after the deliveryman dropped off her daily food supplies and hide in her car with a baseball bat after she put the ebi in the freezer. The police responded, horrified, that she herself might get hurt and that they would make haste to patrol the ‘street with no name’ during the times Tachiko was out delivering foodstuffs on her grocery store route. Try as they might the Akune Police Force could not crack the case of the missing crab cakes and purloined ebi. Joe Strummer the cat was pretty useless too, as Tachiko thinks the thief bribed him to keep his mouth shut.

One afternoon she forgot some of the bamboo leaf wrapped mochi packs that were needed by the massive hordes of hungry businessmen across town. As she gunned her Honda economy car back into her carport to grab the leaf swaddled mochi, she trapped the vile predator red handed, with freezer lid open and one arm clutching a jumble of bags filled with frozen chicken gyoza. It was the old lady down the street, her rival. Tachiko threw open the car door and cussed her up a blue streak, except that, um well, the Japanese language does not really have any cusswords, you just have to get your point across by talking angrily.

Luckily no blows were exchanged. The frozen goods were dumped back into the freezer by the brazen aggressor and she was chased back down the street by Tachiko at broom point. Still, Tachiko has refused to put a padlock on the freezer, it’s just not that kind of street, or that kind of town.

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date May 5 2013 4:07:56
 
Leñador

Posts: 5228
Joined: Jun. 8 2012
From: Los Angeles

RE: Dispatches from Akune (in reply to estebanana

Great reading, there's no cussing in Japanese?? How do you emphasize things...?...

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date May 5 2013 16:58:28
 
estebanana

 

Posts: 7502
Joined: Oct. 16 2009
 

RE: Dispatches from Akune (in reply to Leñador

quote:

Great reading, there's no cussing in Japanese?? How do you emphasize things...?...


You just say it like your really pissed off and it gets the point across. Unfortunately for me not being able to cuss cuts my understandable English vocabulary in half.

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date May 7 2013 3:15:30
 
hamia

 

Posts: 357
Joined: Jun. 25 2004
 

RE: Dispatches from Akune (in reply to estebanana

Nice story. I like the freezer still being unlocked!
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date May 7 2013 8:19:47
 
estebanana

 

Posts: 7502
Joined: Oct. 16 2009
 

RE: Dispatches from Akune (in reply to estebanana

Just for a visual on the town I took a 360 degree group of pictures with my cell phone by standing on the breakwater.

We went fishing yesterday and caught a slew of this tasty small fish called Arakabu. They are pretty easy to catch. There are these 1/2 ounce weights painted red with single hooks on the bottom side. You drop them over the side of the breakwater and let it sink into the deep holes between the rocks, then jig it up and down. The Arakabu is not that smart and he inhales the lure. I also caught a fiesty blue eyed Wrasse the other day, but he was not that tasty.

So far the best way I've eaten the Arakabu is by simmering it in a pan of a bit of water with onion, sliced ginger, pinch of sugar, shoyu (soy sauce) and sake. It's really good and worth the finicky picking around with your chops sticks to get the meat.

This view is looking straight out off the break water about 300 yards for the end of the breakwater. A few more miles out is Oshima Island, a deer sanctuary. Bambi lives there, but you can get a ferry ride out to go fishing and sit on the beaches.

[EDIT]
I went to the store tonight and saw some large Arakabu in the fish section. A fat 10" long Arakabu was about $11.00, so fishing for them is worth it.



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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date May 7 2013 8:29:50
 
estebanana

 

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Joined: Oct. 16 2009
 

RE: Dispatches from Akune (in reply to estebanana

Oshima Island is West, this is looking South West at the hilly point at the southern end of town.

The small building on top of the hill is The Grandview Hotel, it's pretty funky. I would expect you might find a gecko or two in your room. However it is pleasant to hang out there. The salt water geothermal bath is open to the public for about $3.00 a visit.



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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date May 7 2013 8:33:51
 
estebanana

 

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RE: Dispatches from Akune (in reply to estebanana

Looking East back at the town, you get the idea. Fishing port town.

Those black marks on the top of the cement breakwater are ika sumi, squid ink. When fishermen catch squid the squid protests by squirting ink at them. Up and down the break water there are squid paintings in black ink.



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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date May 7 2013 8:40:56
 
estebanana

 

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RE: Dispatches from Akune (in reply to estebanana

The bug eyed and tasty little Arakabu. They bite on those orange lures, much like the color of a Conde'

*ducks and runs*



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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date May 7 2013 8:46:28
 
estebanana

 

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Joined: Oct. 16 2009
 

RE: Dispatches from Akune (in reply to estebanana

Here's the onsen (bath) at Grandview. The water is steaming hot geothermally heated ocean water.
There is another onsen indoors, also with ocean view, and fresh water showers surround it so you can go back and forth.

This is where tired luthiers go to recoup after work.

Of course these are all trade offs. I'm sitting on the Western coast out in the boonies and as far as flamenco is concerned I may as well be on the moon.



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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date May 7 2013 8:56:32
 
BarkellWH

Posts: 2826
Joined: Jul. 12 2009
From: Washington, DC

RE: Dispatches from Akune (in reply to estebanana

Stephen,

Great photos! Keep us posted on the gaijin's introduction to small-town Kyushu.

Cheers,

Bill

_____________________________

And the end of the fight is a tombstone white,
With the name of the late deceased,
And the epitaph drear, "A fool lies here,
Who tried to hustle the East."

--Rudyard Kipling
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date May 7 2013 12:04:39
 
rogeliocan

Posts: 811
Joined: Nov. 23 2009
From: Canada

RE: Dispatches from Akune (in reply to estebanana

nice stories.
That fish looks bony! You exert more energy to get to the meet than you absorb eating it!
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date May 7 2013 17:58:03
 
Ricardo

Posts: 11074
Joined: Dec. 14 2004
From: Washington DC

RE: Dispatches from Akune (in reply to estebanana

quote:

ORIGINAL: estebanana

quote:

Great reading, there's no cussing in Japanese?? How do you emphasize things...?...


You just say it like your really pissed off and it gets the point across. Unfortunately for me not being able to cuss cuts my understandable English vocabulary in half.

それはでたらめの娼婦をクソです!
Sore wa detarame no shōfu o kusodesu!

(hope that translates to nonsense, if not, no offense intended please delete)

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date May 7 2013 21:33:58
 
estebanana

 

Posts: 7502
Joined: Oct. 16 2009
 

RE: Dispatches from Akune (in reply to estebanana

quote:

それはでたらめの娼婦をクソです!
Sore wa detarame no shōfu o kusodesu!

(hope that translates to nonsense, if not, no offense intended please delete)

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Yuko said the grammar is so, so bad that it makes no sense at all. She said once in a while Japanese say the word 'bitch', but otherwise no swear words really.

Now, can I sell you some Alien Stickers? I printed Special Orange ones for you.

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date May 8 2013 6:42:52
 
Ricardo

Posts: 11074
Joined: Dec. 14 2004
From: Washington DC

RE: Dispatches from Akune (in reply to estebanana

quote:

ORIGINAL: estebanana

quote:

それはでたらめの娼婦をクソです!
Sore wa detarame no shōfu o kusodesu!

(hope that translates to nonsense, if not, no offense intended please delete)

_____________________________



Yuko said the grammar is so, so bad that it makes no sense at all. She said once in a while Japanese say the word 'bitch', but otherwise no swear words really.

Now, can I sell you some Alien Stickers? I printed Special Orange ones for you.


Please!!!!


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CD's and transcriptions available here:
www.ricardomarlow.com
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date May 9 2013 0:41:07
 
estebanana

 

Posts: 7502
Joined: Oct. 16 2009
 

RE: Dispatches from Akune (in reply to estebanana

Where the rubber geta meets the road



We checked the river this afternoon to see if it was muddy. It has been raining hard off and on since last night. The river is still clear, the tide will be coming in early in the morning. Rain, a full clear river and an incoming tide with the sunrise mean the bigger squid will come deep into the harbor near the river mouth where we can catch them using a small dead mackerel for bait. The squid grabs the aji, and then a contraption that looks like it's made from a coat hanger with a heavy fishing weight is threaded onto the tight line by the fisherman and allowed to slide down the line into the water until it reaches the pulling squid. The squid rig has two sets of unbarbed hooks, when the weight on the rig hits the dead aji it means the hook sets are right in the squids face. As the fisherman feels the rig hit the end of the line he gives a slight tug to take the aji away from the squid, the squid being an aggressive hunter grabs back and gets itself snagged up on the hooks.

There’s some sort of euphemism for relationships or a morality tale there, but I’m not sure what is, or I or simply refrain from elucidating it. To tell too much spoils the yarn.

The past few days I have been stalking a space to turn into my new workshop and today I landed it. Not sure if I’m the squid, the fisherman or the aji, time will certainly tell. The call came in about 9:40 am to meet the owner of the property and the real estate agent to hammer out a contract. We were to meet at 10:00 am at the owners coffee shop, meaning they own the coffee shop.

At 9:50 am as I was looking for a pair of clean socks to slip on before lacing up the Topsiders I had bought in California and had only worn once in Japan. Yuko asked why I needed socks, I replied: “To put on under my shoes.” ( Where the hell is my English going? ) I jogged down the stairs and figured I’d put the Topsiders on with no socks East Coast style as if I were attending a hoity-toity summer social party back in DC. Yuko took one look and scowled at me and in that woman voice said “You are NOT wearing that sweater!” I ponited at my favorite orange sweater and said ”This sweater? What is wrong with THIS sweater?”

“It has holes in it and you may not go to a business meeting in attire that has holes in it, favorite sweater or not. Period.“

I defiantly stated “I am wearing the sweater, where are my clean socks?”

“Wear your flip flops and take that sweater off.”

“Flip-Flops? You want me to wear flip flops to a business meeting? In the US we don’t wear flip flops to a business meetings, it would be insulting.”

“This is a casual business meeting and flip flops are acceptable in Japan for casual business meetings.”

“ Oh okay, and my sweater that has a tiny holes is not? “

“Nope, it would make you look like you came from a poor family and it would reflect badly on me for not making you wear better clothes.”

“But flip flops are Okay, blue rubber flip flops? “

“Yes, because it is a casual meeting and it has been raining all night and is raining now.”
“Fine I’ll wear the flip flips.”
“Take off the orange sweater, which I did not want you to bring in the first place and put on one of your black dress shirts, you can even wear the one made of the baggy Tencel fabric. On second thought, put on the one made of cotton, it fits better.”

“Aye Aye mon capitana, black dress shirt and blue flips flops.”

As we unfurled umbrellas on the front steps it began to pour down in heavy warm drops. I sploshed through the lightly pocked asphalt the two short blocks to the coffee shop, my black dress shirt getting wet rolled cuffs. We made it spot on time at 10 am. The real estate man was dressed in a light blue button down shirt, neatly pressed and wore grey slacks with black dress shoes. The owners were a mother and son duo, she wore a house dress, a colorful over the shoulder apron, she runs a cooking school. She wore sensible beige shoes suitable for a cooking instructor in her sixties. The son wore a light grey hoodie sweat shirt and holds an elected position on the city council. I he was wearing jeans and sported a nice new pair of Nikes. I think it was his day off. Yuko wore tight blue jeans, black leather platform clogs and a tight red blouse. And I sat there looking resplendent in blue flip flops while the difficult to understand intricacies of the agreement were translated to me.

After the meeting we suited up on the street again with our umbrellas and I sploshed back through the rain holding hands with Yuko, thinking about squid fishing.

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date May 10 2013 13:27:25
 
Richard Jernigan

Posts: 2602
Joined: Jan. 20 2004
From: Austin, Texas USA

RE: Dispatches from Akune (in reply to estebanana

Welcome to foreign customs. I'm sure you have experienced foreign customs at considerable length before now, but you are in for a long, steady dose.

Beware of culture shock. But I'm sure you have experienced that, too, and realize that it is inevitable, and when it is a true attack of culture shock, you are simply helpless. You have no alternative but to ride it out.

On the other hand, culture shock has provided me with a few good stories....

Have fun!

RNJ
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date May 10 2013 17:55:17
 
BarkellWH

Posts: 2826
Joined: Jul. 12 2009
From: Washington, DC

RE: Dispatches from Akune (in reply to estebanana

Your experience attending the Japanese business meeting in flip flops reminds me of my first official trip to the Marshall Islands, Micronesia, and Palau, except I experienced it in reverse. I was Deputy Director of the State Department Office responsible for our relations with the Pacific Island countries, with my primary portfolio being the three Freely Associated States above. In 1992, I embarked on an orientation trip to all three. I took along a suit, but knew I would not need it in the Marshalls and Micronesia (Palau was problematical), where an island shirt was sufficient. First appointment in the Marshalls was with President Amata Kabua. I wore a nice island shirt, slacks, and shoes and socks. When I was led into President Kabua's office, he greeted me wearing a nice island shirt, slacks, and flip flops!. We had a pleasant half-hour meeting, at which he slipped out of his flip flops and sat with one leg crossed under the other. Later, meetings with the Foreign Minister and other officials proved likewise. Micronesia was the same. President Bailey Olter, the Foreign Minister, and other officials all wore flip flops, while I met them in shoes and socks.

Palau was the only place where the President (at the time, President Etpison) wore a suit and shoes and socks. Since then, I have been out to the Pacific many times. Of all the Pacific island cultures, the Palauans are the best businessmen, the most entrepreneurial, and the most aggressive in taking advantage of opportunities. They remain so today. In 2010 I pulled a four-month consulting assignment for the State Department as Charge' d'Affaires at our Embassy in Palau. President Toribiong met me in a suit, shoes and socks. In 2011 I pulled a three-month gig as Charge' at our Embassy in Samoa, and last year, as you are aware, I was assigned for three months as Charge' at our Embassy in Kolonia, Micronesia. In both Samoa and Micronesia, the Presidents greeted me in island shirts and flip flops.

I don't know if there is a strong inherent correlation between an entrepreneurial spirit and the leader wearing a suit and shoes and socks, or if it was strictly coincidental. But there certainly was, at the very least, a superficial correlation between the entrepreneurial Palauans and their Presidents wearing suits and shoes and socks, and the more "laid back" (to be charitable) Micronesians and Samoans in their island shirts and flip flops. Come to think of it, that might make an interesting subject for someone's Ph.D. dissertation.

Cheers,

Bill

_____________________________

And the end of the fight is a tombstone white,
With the name of the late deceased,
And the epitaph drear, "A fool lies here,
Who tried to hustle the East."

--Rudyard Kipling
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date May 10 2013 18:56:06
 
estebanana

 

Posts: 7502
Joined: Oct. 16 2009
 

RE: Dispatches from Akune (in reply to estebanana

Bill,

I remember from my days in Kolonia Town that the Micronesian Senators would often be seen going to the governmental chambers in suits wearing flip flops. Just had that fun exchange with Yuko over the difference between holes in my sweater and flip flops. Surprised me flip flops are okay here, but hey, islands are islands and we were not meeting Mr. Abe. ~ He must wear flip flops at his country home too...

Richard,

I'm waiting for the big one, 6.5 on the Richter culture shock scale. So far I'm fitting in pretty well. The older local guys like me cause I can drink and keep up with them. People don't stare at me in the street, even when I turn to try to catch them. It's just mellow here and I actually look forward to setting to work.

Tomorrow we are going to the twice monthly farmers market, which includes fresh fish. Sort of like a micro version of Tsukiji fish market. We are going to try to get some fresh uni.

Until later, I give out one of my new pals:



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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date May 11 2013 14:41:59
 
Richard Jernigan

Posts: 2602
Joined: Jan. 20 2004
From: Austin, Texas USA

RE: Dispatches from Akune (in reply to BarkellWH

On Roi-Namur, at the north end of tropical Kwajalein Atoll, most people wore shoes and socks to work, for a variety of reasons. Where I worked, at the radars, it was cold--I used to say electronics cost more than engineers. Others were required to wear steel toe safety shoes for their jobs. Going without socks was a bad idea in that case.

There was about a 15% turnover per year among the American employees, as people moved on and replacements came in.

We used to joke at the chow hall, if a guy was wearing shoes and socks after work two months after he came, he wouldn't last a year. But if he was still wearing shoes and socks after work after a year on island, he would stay the rest of his life.

I transitioned to flip-flops fairly quickly, and ended up staying 18 1/2 years. Other names for flip-flops were: slippers (Hawaiian), zorries, go-aheads, and "Marshallese safety shoes."

When I bought my first pair of Island Slippers brand flip-flops, at the store in Honolulu, the guy told me his room mate at the University of Hawaii made it through four years of college all on one pair. They are the best I have run into. Still wear them to my pool for the daily swim.

RNJ
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date May 11 2013 20:46:23
 
BarkellWH

Posts: 2826
Joined: Jul. 12 2009
From: Washington, DC

RE: Dispatches from Akune (in reply to Richard Jernigan

As mentioned earlier, in 2011 I pulled a three-month gig on Samoa. Samoan men (and women) all wear the traditional wrap-around "skirt" known as a "lava lava" and flip flops. The lava lava is shorter, courser, and less refined than the sarong, which is worn by Malay and Javanese men and women in Malaysia, Sumatra, Java, Bali, and pretty much throughout the Malay Archipelago.

At any rate, Sundays saw practically everyone on Samoa in church. And they dressed up for church. The men would be wearing a white shirt and necktie with a suit jacket, and a lava lava and flip flops. At first it seemed like an incongruent combination, at least to this Westerner. But after a month, it seemed as natural as a man wearing a suit at the Roosevelt Hotel in Manhattan.

Cheers,

Bill

_____________________________

And the end of the fight is a tombstone white,
With the name of the late deceased,
And the epitaph drear, "A fool lies here,
Who tried to hustle the East."

--Rudyard Kipling
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date May 11 2013 21:20:15
 
estebanana

 

Posts: 7502
Joined: Oct. 16 2009
 

RE: Dispatches from Akune (in reply to estebanana

Directional Taboo

In Japan one is admonished not to sleep with ones head at the North end of the room. If the head sleeps at the North end it shortens the life of the owner of the head.

I asked Yoshimorisan if this is a superstition, he laughed. “Oh of course it's superstition.” After a moment he thought about it and said it probably comes from the time up until 1950 when most Japanese were buried in cemeteries instead of being cremated. The body was placed in the ground so the head was pointing north. It makes sense, why would you want to rest at night taking the same compass heading as the dead sleep?

During the Heian period, about the time the Battle of 1066 was fought, some of the people in Japan conducted business according to directional taboos calculated by astronomers. These taboos were observed mainly by highborn people who could indulge in such superstitious niceties. The average farmer had to get up and slop the hogs regardless of what the sage of the stars reported, but a noble man would be bound by social obligation to at least observe some of the differences between auspicious and inauspicious days, months or directions as a way of showing good breeding.

Sometimes a young man of an important house used the excuse of a directional taboo to dally longer at a young woman’s family estate once he had traveled a long distance to get there. This is very sly and very transparent at the same time. He consulted the oracle of the stars to confirm which days traveling towards the young woman’s territory would be auspicious and timed his visit so that the day after he arrived it would be a bad idea to travel back towards his home prefecture. By implementing this strategy all concerned would have to show good breeding and awareness of the directional taboos observance. The girls father or patroness of the house would have to, willing or not, lodge the young lad for the duration of the bad travel juju or risk being seen as contributing to the lads disharmony with the stars. Just thinking about the intrigues one could manifest using these direction taboos in feudal times gets my mind percolating with comic plot twists. If one someone would write a book about feudal Japan that was a send up like Monty Python or the Black Adder it would be a big hit Everything I know of written about feudal Japan makes it seem so heavy handed and melodramatic, a sarcastic comedy about Lord Tokogawa is way overdue in this correspondent’s opinion.

It would be funny if say, the people in Goya’s portrait of King Charles of Spain’s insipid looking family met up with the Shogunate family in a comedy film and plotted to join forces and overtake Russia. King Charles was not as dumb as he looks in Goya’s portrait, his personal interest and hobby was plumbing. Yes, Charles El Rey was an amateur plumber always in contact with his architects and insistent on being kept up to speed on the latest techniques in indoor plumbing. Plumbing in the 18th century was no joke however because it was not a matter of connecting plastic or copper pipes together and calling the building inspector to stamp it good to go. (That was a pun) Plumbing circa 1750 in royal castles of Spain was a situation of moving water through a building by means of miniature aqueducts made of mortar and brick. Angles, steepness, pumps, means for cleaning clogs or stoppages all come into play. Where to hide the troughs of fresh running water, behind walls under floors and how to raise water to upper stories were all fascinating little feats of engineering.

Imagine El Rey lecturing the Shogun on the proper elements and construction of indoor plumbing between strategic sessions of planning to unseat Peter the Great. When the lesson is over the shogun grunts with satisfaction and Charles would stare bug eyed out into space as he does in Goya’s picture. It’s too bad John Belushi is dead; were he alive and that script could be written, he could play 'Samurai Plumber'. It would be a marvelous swan song. An aging Keano Reeves would play Charles El Rey de Espana.

Directional taboos were not just a Japanese hang up. The Romans were afflicted with it as well. I remember seeing a TV program prior to the second Gulf War in which none other than Camille Pagila delivered a lengthy and insightful excoriation of President Bush for not heeding an omen before mounting a battle against Iraq. She said a right and proper Roman general would have seen the sign as an omen to not go into battle. What the exact omen was I forget at the moment, but it was portentous at that time. As if Pres. Bosch needed an omen to hit him on the head to make sense of directions.

To sum it up:

Garden of Earthly Delights gets bombed, Shogun poops in toilet 350 years too soon, Spain captures clique of Russian nesting doll smugglers, never fall asleep unless you have a compass with you to determine where your head may lay.

Until later,
Estebananasan

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date May 16 2013 4:10:49
 
estebanana

 

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RE: Dispatches from Akune (in reply to estebanana

Not feeling very touristy so I have been walking around town looking at ordinary things. I do have fancy shots of a beautiful waterfall in the country, but it is on my better camera and the USB cable for that camera is somewhere floating on the Pacific Ocean on a container ship. There is no Radio Shack or store I can buy a USB cable here in Akune so the beauty of saturated color of the Japanese countryside will have to wait until the ship arrives. In the mean time I hope it's not boring the crap out of you to see the town through my cell phone.

The way they stack the fish crates fascinates me so it is easy to be here. It does not take much to engage me so I am lucky.



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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date May 16 2013 7:10:04
 
estebanana

 

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RE: Dispatches from Akune (in reply to estebanana

I have been eating a lot of fish. I've learned more about sashimi in the last three weeks than in 25 years eating sushi and sashimi in the U.S.

Kibinago with Oba leaf. Kibinago is a small fish found in the waters around Akune and the southwest coast of Kyushu. It has delicate white flesh, looks like a mini anchovy in shape, but has a striking silver bar on its side.



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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date May 16 2013 7:16:01
 
estebanana

 

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RE: Dispatches from Akune (in reply to estebanana

This is the twice monthly seafood farmers market on Sunday morning.



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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date May 16 2013 7:18:09
 
estebanana

 

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RE: Dispatches from Akune (in reply to estebanana

At the market one of the local uni fisherman set out a table for people to try opening uni themselves for free. They gave everyone a rice ball and you just open the uni and spoon it on the rice ball and pop it in your mouth. Fresh, fresh uni smells like the sea to me.



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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date May 16 2013 7:25:19
 
Richard Jernigan

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From: Austin, Texas USA

RE: Dispatches from Akune (in reply to estebanana

Here ya' go Stephen. I'm sure this will come in handy. It gets better as it goes on...

RNJ
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date May 18 2013 19:02:51
 
estebanana

 

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RE: Dispatches from Akune (in reply to estebanana

Ah so, Richard that is most lacsist!




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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date May 19 2013 3:15:50
 
aarongreen

 

Posts: 367
Joined: Jan. 16 2004
 

RE: Dispatches from Akune (in reply to estebanana

Oh you are making me drool. I love, love, love Uni. Can't get enough of it. That picture along is enough to make me take the trip

Have fun in Japan
A
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date May 19 2013 17:06:07
 
estebanana

 

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RE: Dispatches from Akune (in reply to estebanana

There is so much good uni here at such low cost that we mix it in our scrambled eggs for breakfast.

Oh the Tako, octopus, is also plentiful and twenty times as good. Then again a good taco truck with carne asada and al pastor tacos would be nice. Being raised on Mexican food I am lacking;don't know when I'll see a bowl of ham spiked pinto beans again. Not that I'm complaining, but I don't have the ingredients to make my
Meican food. If I am lucky I'll find enough stuff to do hand made tortillas.

There are world class potatoes here which an Andalusian housewife would love for making tortilla de patatas ~ and I have made a few which went over very well with the Japanese family.

Yuko just held up a couple gallon jar of 2 year old homemade plum wine. I submit.

Life is full of trade offs I reckon and it's a lucky person who chooses between good food and good food. If you got good pastrami eat it, if you have good pickled diakon and hamachi eat it.

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date May 21 2013 14:28:36

Morante

 

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Joined: Nov. 21 2010
 

RE: Dispatches from Akune (in reply to estebanana

Strange to see in Japón what are called erizos in Cádiz. At their best is February, they are a staple tapa in the streets during Carnaval. El Faro (best restaurant) invented a tapa: clean the half shell, saving the orange meat (which is really roe), then present it with a mixture of herbs, raw langostino, the erizo roe and extra virgen olive oil. Fabulous. Just realised that is is pure sushi!
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date May 21 2013 14:42:18
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