Saturday, May 04, 2013

Goodbye Blogger... thank you for all the good times...


Yes, it is time to say goodbye to Blogger...

It has offered me a good platform to broadcast my views, my hobbies, my pictures, etc. to my friends in cyberspace...

If so, why 'goodbye'?

Well, the 'spark' is that silly thing called Google +1...

I had not paid any attention to it initially but it kept 'pestering' me to sign up...

So, one day, I casually signed up without reading what's in store...

After all, it is Blogger that we are dealing with here... they can't be that 'wrong', can they?

Or so I thought...

Yes, they said that with +1, all comments will be taken care of in one location... how nice, I imagined...

Imagine my horror when one blogger-friend told me that to comment on the blog posts, she needs to have an account in Google +1...

Yes, two or three new readers with +1 accounts commented... and I am happy that they did...
(Please accept my apologies as I honestly am quite lost as to how to reply to these comments through this +1 thingy.)

But, Blogger yanked off that comment moderation feature that I was used to... and I was not planning to spend more precious time playing games with Blogger on this...

So, what next?

Yes, get the heck out of this so-difficult-to-understand-and-handle +1 thingy...

Now, in Japan, I might be mistaken, but if a member of the 'yakuza' wanted out, he might have to chop off his little finger to present to the boss as a sign of 'regret'..

And what did +1 say to me if I decided to get out?

'All the comments will be deleted'...

Wonderful, said I... (and, with profound apologies to all who spent time to kindly comment on my posts)... so be it...

My first post with Blogger was in 28th October 2004...

Thank you Blogger, for all those nice things... but it is Sayonara for now...

To all my friends, I am bringing my horses to Wordpress...

The new url is here...

Would be a delight to see you there...

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Sakura scenes in the Aji neighborhood 2013...

April in Japan is quite a lovely sight...

This is a scene that we can enjoy from our property...
Each spring, we wait with anticipation, the wild sakuras on the hillsides...
The pond is used to store water for agricultural (mainly paddy planting) purposes...

Taken from our vegetable garden, with the 'somei yoshino' sakura tree and our house in the background....

Our 'somei yoshino' sakura tree in full bloom...

View of our place from a distance...

The wild sakuras on the hill slopes...

And a final shot of the wild sakura that is just adjacent to our property...
(For some close-up shots of the sakuras, please see here.)

Sunday, April 07, 2013

Lunch invitation from two senior citizens...

I feel rather weak today... 

Yesterday, we had the pleasure and honor to welcome 50 over new international students... 
As with all previous occasions, we have lined up a series of orientations and guidance sessions, culminating in a 'Welcome Tea Party' where we also invite (non-university related) folks who support our causes, to join...

It is tiring... but I think the real cause of my physical feebleness is, I suspect, bad elements or germs have entered my system... 
My body feels pain... my muscles ache... could this be a mild case of food poisoning, I wonder...
I had my 'suweeto haato' to gently yet forcefully step all over my back and shoulders, believing that this practice would banish away the harmful elements from my body...
Even if it were wishful thinking, it felt really good to be 'stepped on' as such...
I hit the sack last night an hour earlier than usual, and although I had recovered quite a bit, I still need to rest...

The weather since yesterday, had been typhoon-like and is still gusty and windy... 
I tried to force myself to go to the garden but I could not withstand the strong gales that blew in from the Inland Sea...
Approximately at the same time last year, powerful gales came in and uprooted our ten-meter high 'Christmas' tree... (see here)

Now, the real story of this post...

The Japanese folks, especially the older generation, still keep to the 'tradition' of sending new year post cards...
Being a resident in Japan, and picking up friends and acquaintances along the way, I was bound to get 'entrapped' in this practice... 
Before the advent of the email and such, there was not much to do except to return the wishes in kind...
But with so much development in the social network services, it becomes inevitable that we opt for this medium if not only for its convenience... 

However, it is not every day that one can receive a new year post card from a senior citizen...
I had known Mr. T (through the Lions Club that we belong to) for several years now, and he is such a joy to be with... and such a funny, hilarious conversationalist to chat with... 
Mr. T was born in the 12th year of the Taisho era, which is 1923 if we go by the Gregorian calender... which also means that he is about 90 years old...

The Japanese prose... 長楽無極 ご多幸 心よりお祈り申し上げます
My interpretation, 'Continuous enjoyment to no end' or something to that effect... and 'wishing you happiness from my heart'...

Immediately, I stood at attention... and responded... writing not with my hand but with the keyboard, and had the prose printed out...
He was so delighted to read about my many failures and sparse successes with my vegetable gardening... 
So much so that he invited my missus and for lunch or dinner at any time that is convenient to us...
Arrangements was made through Mr. O, another long time, 'fun to be with' member of the club...

Now, Mr. O is about 5 years younger at 85, being born in the 3rd year of the Showa era (which corresponds to 1928 of the Gregorian calender)...

Both of them are still driving despite their advanced age...
And I must say, they look very healthy and strong...
The invitation was to have 'bento' (lunch box) together with their spouses while viewing the blooms of plum blossoms in the garden of Mr. T's house....


Had a really fun time chatting with the two senior folks while chewing on tasty bento...
He is into calligraphy and I must admit that I am clueless in this area...
The stuff he showed us... wooh, was surprised at how much they costs... the brushes... the ink-stones... his works... the monetary value of these objects made my camera equipment look like child's play...


And finally as we were preparing to leave, my missus casually commented on a flower bush...
As if on cue, he took out a spade and dug a few plants for us...
I protested weakly... to that, he said, 'you better accept it before I change my mind...'
A very nice sayonara gift, I must say...
Back home, we searched the net and found out that this flower is called marsh marigold...

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Tokyo Skytree, Chanko-nabe, and Fuji-san...

Did a trip to Tokyo some time ago...
Decided to stay at a hotel near the Tokyo Skytree...

Just as I entered the hotel room, I was greeted by this scene...
Hmmm, nice...

Standing at 634 meters, it is the tallest structure in Japan at the moment...

For dinner that day, chose to have the 'chanko-nabe' which is a staple for sumo wrestlers...
The structure shot the next morning before sunrise...


And on the other side of the hotel is the green-roofed 'Ryogoku Kokugikan' (National Sumo Stadium)... 
In the far background on the right, beyond the high rise buildings, stands the snow-capped Mt. Fuji...


Sunday, March 17, 2013

Japanese Four-lined Snake, or Japanese Striped Snake

Was inspecting my garden one day when I saw this snake creeping out...
It moved very slowly...
So slow that I had more than enough time to go inside the house to get my camera...
The Japanese Four-lined Ratsnake, or Japanese Striped Snake (shimahebi) is native to Japan and is non-poisonous. 
It supposedly feeds on frogs, lizards, insects, rodents, and even small birds and their eggs.
This one was a little over one meter...
Looking at its slightly bulging stomach area, I imagined it must have swallowed a mole as we do have moles frequently digging in our garden...
That afternoon, my missus saw a Japanese black kite perched on one of our wood shacks, clearly eating a snake, she said...
And I stumbled upon this half-eaten specimen near that same spot the next morning...

First time for me to see a happening in our garden....