Life in Japan, food, music, whatever…

Where’s our Summer? 27 July, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — johnraff @ 8:26 pm
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Hey, come on, the Rainy Season should have ended around the 20th, and by rights we’d now be basking in day after day of blistering sunshine, with temperatures peaking in the high 30’s (°C). Hmm… well there’s been another outbreak of devastating floods in Kyushu, with people killed, houses destroyed and over 20,000 taking refuge in school halls. Meanwhile, yesterday we gave up trying to drive out to the farm as the road had been washed away in one place, and here in Nagoya it’s been rain every day, as the humidity goes up and up.

According to the weather forecast we’re in for another straight week of cloud and rain, and no particular guarantee of Summer starting even after that! There’s an “El Nino” phenomenon going on apparently, so the usual Pacific high pressure area is not doing it’s stuff.



Season of the Itch 19 June, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — johnraff @ 1:48 pm
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“There’s a mosquito in the room” says T, throwing me an accusing look. (If she gets bitten it’s generally my fault in some way.) It’s true that the humid Japanese Spring and Summer seems ideal for insects, and there are some biters and stingers among them. For example:

  • mosquitoes The city ones come out at the end of May or so and they’re small, fast and hard to squash. The itch only lasts an hour or so, but they can certainly get to you, and our lush jungly garden in front of Raffles has a fair supply. Mosquito coils help, and there’s some stuff in a spray can which doesn’t do a bad job of keeping them away for a while.
  • buyo These are a small black fly – looks almost like a tiny beetle – and are nasty. They hang about in the grass by a stream in the countryside on a muggy , overcast day and draw blood. Really. Much worse than mosquitoes in spite of their tiny size, and the bite stays with you for a week or so. Fortunately I’ve never seen one in Nagoya.
  • dani or mites, live in the tatami mats and bite you when you’re asleep. Just have to fumigate the tatami sometimes, or lift it out of the room to dry in the hot Summer sun. (This is such a pain no-one does it these days.)
  • nasty green caterpillars I don’t know the proper name for these, but you see them on trees sometimes. (One year they chewed all the leaves off our persimmon tree.) They’re a nasty yellow-green colour, have no legs and move about like slugs, and are covered with hairy spines. If you touch one the microscopic spine will stick in your skin, which will swell up for days and itch horribly. Imagine a poisonous cactus…
  • centipedes: fortunately not so common – they live in rotting wood and the like – but the big ones can give you a very nasty bite indeed.
  • There’s more – jellyfish, adders, poisonous lacquer plants, the deadly Okinawan “habu” …

but I’ve probably put you right off ever coming here. If you actually live here of course you know it’s not really that bad. Still the insecticide and itch ointment makers probably do OK at this time of year.


…er, as I was saying… 3 June, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — johnraff @ 1:50 pm
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There are millions of blogs out there on the Wonderful World Wide Web; every day a few thousand of them presumably just quietly fade away so you couldn’t be blamed for thinking the same thing had happened to this one. Not so much laziness, or lack of things I wanted to mention, but the fact that every time I switched on the computer there seemed to be something else I wanted to do first, and in a flash it was time to switch off and do some work in the so-called Real World. Anyway, what’s happened in the two months since the last posting?

  • Spring arrived! It always seems to take you by surprise, but comes as if someone had turned a switch and suddenly, starting with the justly famous Japanese cherry blossom, there are flowers everywhere. Our country place, on a sunny April afternoon, can be like a corner of paradise.
  • I upgraded my computer’s operating system – Ubuntu Linux if you’re interested. Still an ongoing process – this isn’t a Linux Blog and I won’t bore you with the details – but the Perfect Computer is one of those never-attained goals I suppose. Still, anyone who feels like escaping from Microsoft and would like to try Linux, Ubuntu’s not a bad place to start.
  • The band went to Osaka to play at the Haru Ichi Ban festival again. This is a really nice friendly event and apart from the rain that hit the last two days (not us, luckily) everyone seemed to be having a great time. There were maybe fewer big names than last year ( except Daihachi Ryodan of course ) – actually this seems to be something of a Kansai event; Tokyo people know nothing about it…

Well, a bit of a catchup. The next post will be sooner – promise!


… again? 10 January, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — johnraff @ 1:13 am
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Watching our usual news programme on the box today just before opening up the shop, and as usual there was a promotion where some company offers a free sample of their latest product for the first so many viewers to send in a postcard. I suppose it’s good market research or something, and occasionally I might have got a case of beer if I’d been quick enough to read the address off the screen. I keep meaning to get a postcard ready for such times…

Today the “present” was 20 packs of Toyota Museum Curry.

Er, … what?  As you know, Toyota is a huge car manufacturer based at Toyota City, just down the road, and they’ve got a museum just outside Nagoya, with cars, I suppose. “Oh yes”, says T, “the Toyota Museum cafeteria’s curry is famous.”  (!)

So, having gone into the red for the first time since the war on their car sales, I suppose Toyota have decided to diversify a bit.


Happy New Year! 9 January, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — johnraff @ 2:37 pm
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Still blooming on Christmas Day, hibiscuses just need plenty of sun.

Still blooming on Christmas Day, hibiscuses just need plenty of sun.

The hibiscus flower is a sort of Okinawan emblem, but will do well here in Nagoya  – they just need a sunny spot, and a couple I had in pots in front of Raffles just kept blooming right through the summer. The recent cold weather was starting to get to them though, so after getting this shot of a Christmas Hibiscus I moved them indoors for the rest of the winter. They’re looking happier now.

Anyway, a belated Happy New Year to everyone, and all the best in 2009!


Bah! Humbug! 12 November, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — johnraff @ 2:11 am
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I mean, really, surely this is a bit soon? I feel more like Scrooge every year, but it’s still early November, Christmas is a month and a half away and already we have to listen to Xmas tunes in the supermarket, be wished “merry Christmas” in commercials on the telly and see illuminations and Xmas trees going up everywhere. Times are hard and I suppose the shops want to sqeeze out every yen they can, but I’m not looking forward to six weeks of this. The final insult is that when 25th December finally arrives there won’t be a trace of any of this Christmas stuff to be seen! “Christmas Ib” as it’s known here is the climax on the 24th, Christmas day doesn’t exist and the countdown to New Year will be underway.


Che lives 8 November, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — johnraff @ 2:19 pm
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Nagoya Grampus (football) supporters on TV today were waving posters with a picture of Che Guevara and the slogan “Pride of Nagoya”.

Thought you’d like to know.


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