Life in Japan, food, music, whatever…

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.

Farmlog 13th July 2009 18 July, 2009

Filed under: countryside — johnraff @ 2:44 pm
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  • Gets hotter and stickier all the time. This week the theme was damp. Sticky, squelchy, slippery, slimy, squishy… You get the idea. Water somehow naturally appears on surfaces, just out of the air. Mould everywhere – anyway, as long as it’s not actually raining you can see why we prefer to have dinner outside.
  • The Snake Incident!
  • The uguisu was singing away all weekend.
  • Minimum temp. 20°C, mavimum 26°C.

Snakes! 17 July, 2009

Filed under: countryside — johnraff @ 2:44 pm
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Snakes making love?

Snakes making love?

There are quite a lot of snakes in Japan; mostly they keep to themselves, to our mutual relief, and only a couple are poisonous: the deadly Habu in Okinawa, and here in mainland Japan we’ve got the Mamushi, a kind of adder, which is only dangerous if you don’t go straight to a hospital after being bitten, and the Yamakakashi which was thought non-poisonous but turns out to have venom in its back teeth… The only time you might run into one is in the Spring, when they’re warming themselves in some sunny spot and still too drowsy from hibernation to get away.

A few weeks ago I lifted up the shutter of our garage in Nagoya to see a big snake was sitting on that ledge at the bottom, so had been raised right to eye level… I think (hope) it was a harmless Aodaisho. Then last week out in the country there were the two snakes in the photo coiled up in front of our back door. One larger one with dark patches, and a smaller smooth brown one. I’m presuming the larger one was a female. but they might just have been two different species. It looked as if they were having Snake Sex, with lots of writhing, biting and coiling – very passionate. When they noticed we were looking the female grabbed the male by the head, dragged him to a slightly more secluded spot and ate him. Just swallowed him whole, from the head. I was so surprised that by the time I thought of going back to get the camera again there was just an inch or so of tail sticking out of her mouth. She then raised her head, gave us a defiant look and slid off into the bushes to sleep for a few days I suppose.

Pretty kinky eh?


Farmlog 6th July 2009 8 July, 2009

Filed under: countryside — johnraff @ 2:28 pm
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  • Hmm the weather forecast was off – it was supposed to rain on Sunday, but was nice and clear most of the day, and we could have dinner outside again. The crickets started up a little chorus around sundown, but nothing compared with what we should be getting in a couple of weeks when the cicadas join in. Saw a couple of fireflies, but it looks as if we missed the peak two weeks ago when we didn’t come up.
  • More leeches! T. got bitten (if that’s the word) on her ankle; it didn’t stop bleeding for a couple of hours and was still itchy a three of days later. They seem to have increased in recent years, maybe due to the rising wild animal population and this is really the peak season for them.
  • A few more hours of weedcutting, but there’s lots more to do. I’d like actually to be able to see the little stream that runs just past our house for example.
  • A big moon, but not quite full
  • Minimum temp 19°C, Maximum 26°C.

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.


animals 13 September, 2008

Filed under: countryside — johnraff @ 3:14 pm
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Out in the wilds of Gifu it’s really the animals’ territory not ours; we’re a sort of Last Outpost of Civilization and as soon as we let up our guard for a moment the jungle tries to take over. The plants and the animals are both cooperating in this and it’s all we can do to try to keep even. Meanwhile, in a pitifully small way, we try not to destroy the environment more than our laziness demands and one example is that we keep most of the organic refuse from Raffles’ over the week, take it out to the country  in a Compost Bucket and try to make compost instead of throwing it out for Nagoya City to dispose of. Making compost itself has turned out to be harder than you might think – it seems to be important not to let it get too wet – but before that can even start some of the local animals would rather go over it, pick out some of the choicer titbits for their lunch, and spread the rest in a smelly mess around our garage, where the bucket’s contents mature for a week before joining the main compost heap.

The garage shutter doesn’t come quite down to the ground and there’s about 10cm clearance at the bottom; room for a small animal to get in and mess with the compost bucket inside, which is exactly what’s been happening recently. The other week we discovered the probable culprits. While we were having breakfast outside T. suddenly went “EEEK!! A wild boar!!!”. Wild boars can be dangerous and I jumped up in a hurry but it had already gone. “Look under the house!” – so I had a look (Japanese houses are raised up a bit) and saw three little tanuki sneaking away. (not wild boar fortunately) Apparently they had put their heads out from under the house – must have looked cute, but T. didn’t appreciate it.

Anyway, they were probably the ones opening the rubbish (the bucket has a lid) and making a mess in our garage. I tried putting a biggish stone on top, but the next week they’d still managed between the three of them (or maybe with help from their mum if she was able to get under the shutter) to knock over the bucket. OK, this time a really big stone – even three tanuki together won’t be able to knock this down or get the stone off:

big stone on bucket.

big stone on bucket.

Ah, but…

The following week:

lid off, stone still in place

lid off, stone still in place

How they did it beats me.

Anyway, I’ve now got a big barrel over the bucket with the stone on that, which seems to be doing the job so far.


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