Ha! Already Christmas breathing down our necks, and you still haven’t been told about all the thrilling happenings out on the farm in October and November. Hmm… well, here’s a bit about October to be going on with.
- “Japan has four seasons” I remember being told in numerous drinking places soon after arriving here. Everyone wanted you to know just how unique this place was. It got so annoying, you started to make a point of saying how similar Japan was to wherever you came from: “Yes, we also use polite language when talking to someone older”, “Yes, we also have pickles…”, you get the idea. They’d smile politely but you could tell they didn’t like this sort of talk at all. You could criticise the country as much as you wanted, as long as you reminded them how different they were from you. But, to tell the truth, Japan does have four seasons, well five if you put the detestable Rainy Season in between Spring and Summer. I remember returning to the UK once for Christmas to find it a warm 15°C or so, another time shivering at 5°C in May, but here Summer is hot and Winter is cold. Each season is quite distinct, and the other day we switched from Autumn to Winter. It’s cold. (is what all that was about)
- The tatami replacement project is getting under way. Ikemoto san the builder has been round and will start the actual work next week or so, so we’ve got to clear all the stuff out of those rooms, moving it upstairs. It’s at times like this that you realize how many things you acquire over time. Half-read magazines, souvenirs from Guam or somewhere and wounded musical instruments that can’t really be played, but there’s no way you’re going to throw them away. Luckily we haven’t run out of space yet.
- Min temp. 10°C max 24°C
- A perfect Autumn day. The sky is that gorgeous translucent blue that the Japanese have the cheek to call “Nihon baré” (Japan clear) as if noone else had blue skies…
- Not quite as cold in the evening as it was last week. We build a good fire and sip warm shochu. T drinks too much and wakes up in the morning with a hangover. This is unusual for her.
- Monday morning is perfect too. There’s a noisy flock of birds in the trees opposite, till they move off further down the road. Immigrants from the Northern Winter somewhere?
- Must clear the house up ready for the carpenters. All the dust sets off a sneezing fit.
- The focus on weedcutting in the summer has left lots of other unwanted growth untouched: the “susuki” pampas grass and ferns growing between the tea bushes (this must be cut down before the snow comes), bushes round the entrance drive, wisteria vines trying to strangle everything, plum, camelia and maple trees to prune…
- There’s pretentious “progressive” rock on the FM radio all day (Atom Heart Mother, Yes, Deep Purple with an orchestra…) it’s a special programme for the holiday. I like the early Pink Floyd, but clearly the Good Old Days weren’t always all that great. Turn it off.
- The leeks in the supermarket are from China. They could have been grown in the empty fields around here, but it’s cheaper to import them.
- Overall, a nice Autumn day, with gentle background music from the crickets.
- Min temp. 6°C max 21°C
- The ferns grow between our tea bushes. They die off in the winter but when it snows they flop over the tea to make a cover like a balaclava helmet. The tea bushes don’t like being kept in the dark like this, so those ferns have to be cut down now. Big black hornets are doing the rounds of the last tea blossoms. They’re OK as long as you don’t bother them. Whatever constitutes “bother” to a wasp…
- The “goya” vine is finished.
- Ikemoto san has almost finished the reflooring in the house. There’s a lot of scrap timber in front of the house so we can have a good fire and stay warm outside. Dinner al fresco won’t be possible much longer though.
- Monday starts off with a chilly mist, but warms up.
- Spent an hour picking a kilo or so of those hot little “Ishigaki” chillies. This would obviously not be a commercial proposition.
- Min temp. 9°C max 20°C
- A strange return of the summer humidity after the rain. Sweating!
- Every week without fail, when we pass their favourite spot the police are booking someone for speeding.
- Burn more timber and eat outside – stars, insect voices and a heavy dew.
- There are still leeches around!
- Our friend Yamada san has heard about out reflooring and phones to offer advice – we should polish it with rice bran in a cloth bag. T used to do this as a child and says it’s incredible hard work, so we ask Ikemoto san to wax it instead.
- There are smelly “kamemushi” insects everywhere.
- T picks persimmons for drying.
- The Habanero and Ishigaki chillies are still looking fit, as are the big mild peppers, but the “Malay” medium chillies haven’t done well this year for some reason.
- Min temp. 7°C max20°C
- We drop in on the way back from a trip to Eiheiji and Fukui.
- The chillies are still looking happy.
- Our new floor looks nice, nails hidden and stained to match the rest of the room.
- The weather has cleared after a rainy Sunday, but by 4:30PM it’s thoroughly chilly.
- My favourite “3rd beer” Mugi to Hoppu now has a Black version which isn’t bad at all, but only a limited issue apparently.
- Min temp. 5°C max 23°C