Life in Japan, food, music, whatever…

Chikaramachi Church 30 December, 2013

Filed under: city,places — johnraff @ 11:52 pm
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Last May an old friend passed away. Bob was a very special person, in many ways. His lifelong ambition had been to visit every country on the planet and, the last time I asked him, he had got the remaining list down to what could be counted on two hands. His last year had involved some travelling so I have to ask his wife to find out if he finally ticked them all off or not.

The funeral was held on the kind of beautiful spring day that made you truly thankful to be alive, in a beautiful old church that I didn’t know about. The Chikaramachi Church is over 100 years old, built soon after Christianity was permitted, in a similar style to the older churches we had seen on the Goto Islands. The next day I went back and took some photographs.


Body chemistry or something 20 April, 2011

Filed under: food & drink,places — johnraff @ 1:54 am
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I’ve just got back from three weeks in the UK. It’s the place where I was born and grew up and I love it; the buildings that were intended – in contrast with earthquake-prone Japan – to last for years and years, the green green grass everywhere even in winter, the TV, the humour, the relaxed mixture of cultures you now enjoy, the warm beer, and, yes, even the food.

All that said, I’ve now been living in Japan for 35 years – more than half my life – and my body must have adapted in some way. Maybe it’s the air, maybe the water: I don’t know but this morning my breakfast – the same fruit + yogurt + muesli + pot of tea I was having while in Britain – just tasted so good.


Showa 12 December, 2008

Filed under: places — johnraff @ 3:03 pm
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Japan still uses the “era” system for counting years, based on the current emperor, so this is year 20 of the “Heisei” era. The previous emperor’s reign was known as “Showa” and started in 1925. Amazingly, when I got here in 1976 it was still Showa and the emperor was the same warlord who had presided over the Japanese military regime in World War 2! Now there’s a “Showa village” theme park not far away (maybe I could get a bit of side work there as a “Showa foreigner”?) and Showa is becoming history.

Beautiful old buildings like this are disappearing fast.

Beautiful old buildings like this are disappearing fast.

If you live in Nagoya, two events that might be of interest:

  • If you’re reading this today (2008/12/12) a bunch of “Showa foreigners” are getting together at a bar just up the road from here called Country Joe. It’s on the Raffles’ Map (at the bottom of the page).
  • A long-term resident, Jim Goater has been making beautiful drawings of local buildings for some years. Having just returned from crossing Australia by bicycle (!) he’s got an exhibition at a Nagoya Gallery called Daikokuya from the 17th to 23rd of this month. Well worth checking out.
This one's being held up by the posters on the walls.

This one's being held up by the posters on the walls.

Jim’s drawings capture beautifully the Japan that I remember when I first got here. Of course they already had the Bullet Train and enough high-rise buildings for anyone, but away from the main streets that’s how it was. Now everyone seems to live in plastic prefabricated boxes that look like Legoland, and anything not immediately needed is knocked down and replaced with a car park. The system of land tax seems deliberately set up to force people to make money from their property in order to pay the tax. Even Kyoto hasn’t escaped.

Now the bottom’s fallen out of the economy the pace of destruction might let up a bit, but there’s not that much Showa left these days.


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