Life in Japan, food, music, whatever…

Farmlog 1st February 2010 1 March, 2010

Filed under: countryside — johnraff @ 3:39 pm
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Overcast, wet, chilly, soggy, windy… just like the UK where I came from – forget all that stuff about how delightful the Japanese Winter is! Even the birds have gone away somewhere.

Even so, some shoots are coming up through the melting snow…

Min. temp -7°C, max. 5°C


Farmlog 18th January 2010 29 January, 2010

Filed under: countryside — johnraff @ 2:20 am
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It’s still cold. The climate septics (sic) must be having a field day with this Global Freezing we’ve been having lately, and two weeks after our snowbound New Year there’s still snow on the ground (maybe it melted once in between) and we had to leave the car at the top of our drive because the slope is too steep with snow on it.

Monday was beautifully clear, but at ten in the morning yesterday’s slush was crispy at minus 2 °C. Those migratory birds were still flying around like a swarm of bees.

NB From this year I’ll be recording the maximum and minimum temperatures for the week up to the day of the post, not for the previous 24 hours as was the case last year.
Min temp -7°C, max 4°C


Farmlog 21st December 2009 30 December, 2009

Filed under: countryside — johnraff @ 1:12 pm
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One day in Amsterdam some 35 years ago, with a heavy grey sky overhead and the wind blowing the sleet into my ears, I swore I’d never again put up with a North European winter… and so it has proved to be, barring a couple of Christmas visits. The wind, the wet, the short dark days: sorry, it might appeal to the poetic side of some people but I set out for Asia that Spring. Greece, Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India: each country was warmer, and cheaper, than the last and eventually in the South of India I was living in paradise, on about $30 a month.

Of course that can’t go on indefinitely and I wound up in Japan in search of some gainful employment. Now here there is a winter I have to admit, but it’s much more tolerable, at least in Nagoya. For a start, it’s dry with plenty of sunny days when it can be quite warm outside in the daytime. With the latitude of Crete, the sun here is a good bit higher in the sky than in the UK. It can be windy sometimes, but it’s really not so bad, and quite short- from December to February, roughly. On the Sea of Japan side it’s a different story though: there the wind comes in across the sea picking up lots of moisture which it drops when it hits the mountains, and that region gets some of the highest snowfalls in the world! Just in the last two days they got over a metre in the north of Gifu prefecture, not all that far from our country place; that same cold wave gave us a foot or so at the farm and even Nagoya got a sprinkling.

So when we drove up on Sunday it was still overcast, and as we got into Gifu there was more and more snow on the fields around. Luckily the snowploughs had been through and we didn’t need tyre chains – putting those on in freezing winter weather is one job I hate – but the entry to our side road needed clearing with a spade so we could park the car. Once you get inside and the oil heater cranked up it’s quite warm enough though.

On Monday we were back to the norm – a beautiful day in fact without a cloud in the sky and the snow was dazzling. It was worth driving out after all!

Min temp -3.5°C max 2.5°C


Farmlog 7th September 2009 10 September, 2009

Filed under: countryside — johnraff @ 2:58 pm
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Those of you who live up in the Northern latitudes know all about this, but the shadows are slowly getting longer, and the days a bit shorter. It’s nothing as extreme as in the UK, for example, though- even in the Winter we get a fair amount of sunshine. Still, the sun that blazed almost straight down a month ago has levelled off a bit, and there’s a hint of gold in it, a cool wind is blowing from the North: Autumn. It can be one of the best times of the year, as long as a typhoon isn’t messing things up, and this year looks set to be a nice one, if the long-range weather forecasts can be trusted at all. (hmm…) Well, down on the farm:

  • One dragonfly showed up; there should be more to come, and the Autumn evening insect chorus is building up nicely. Every week it’s a bit different.
  • Another voice from the evening darkness was the unholy screech of a deer in the mating season. Not a cute sound at all, and too early really. They just couldn’t wait.
  • T. found three more leeches, just when we thought the dry weather had got rid of them. One bit her, and it’s still itching.
  • Along with worrying about deer eating my chilli plants (nothing yet, touch wood) a major feature of life up here is trying to keep the weeds under control. Put in a couple of hours more slashing with a sickle, somewhat enjoying the mixed aromas that some of the more fragrant plants come out with as they’re cut down – sansho, dokudami and something that smells a bit like “curry leaves” (if you know them).
  • min 17°C max 28°C

Farmlog 10th August 2009 14 August, 2009

Filed under: countryside — johnraff @ 3:05 pm
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  • Well, here in Nagoya a couple of days later we’ve finally got a bit of Summer, but last weekend was yet more rainy, muggy, wet, slimy, mouldy, sweaty, sticky… (you get the idea)
  • Hey, enough leeches too, OK? A real plague of them this year; up to now I’d hardly ever seen one. I had no idea they could be this common in Japan. I read it could be something to do with the tendancy for wild animals like deer and wild boar to show up more around human settlements. The leeches ride into town on their backs. Anyway, both of us got bitten this week. This time I tried sprinkling salt to make them fall off, which seemed to work at the time, but by bite, although small, got itchy the next day. According to the Wikipedia you’re supposed to ease them off with your fingernail, which sounds tricky, but I’ll try it next time. I’d just as soon there wasn’t a next time to be honest.
  • Some more gaps in the net round the chillies, which the deer might have been getting in, hastily patched up. If they ever start eating the chilli leaves it’s a disaster for the plants, which are already a bit unhappy from lack of sunlight.
  • Min temp ?°C (the magnet stuck, but about 19~20) Max 25°C

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.



Farmlog 20th July 2009 23 July, 2009

Filed under: countryside — johnraff @ 2:33 pm
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Not much to report this week- more of the same really, ie:

  • More sliminess, damp, wet (had to put newspaper on the porch floor to soak some of it up), humidity, lush vegetation… and more leeches! We seem to be getting a plague of them. I found one under my T-shirt just before it had got its teeth (or whatever leeches have) into me, and T found another one in the bathroom. Ugh!
  • Another, biggish, snake in the drain ditch by the road. It’s getting so it’s hard to go outside without feeling nervous about what might be about to go for you. I’ll be quite happy when this Rainy Season is finally over.
  • Usually when we head back to Nagoya on Monday evening to I hate to leave, but this week it was like escaping from a hostile jungle…
  • Minimum temp. 20°C, max. 26°C.

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