Thursday, March 30, 2006

Cypress Road stream

I was up in Imaichi (which is now part of Nikko City) this morning. I stopped off at the waterwheel park and had a wander along the famous cypress road - just a section of it, of course. The water level of this stream is actually higher than the road surface.

Having mentioned that I couldn't download cryptic crosswords from the newspaper website without paying an exhorbitant fee, my father sent me a book of 75 cryptic crosswords from the smae newspaper.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Plums a-springing

I went to visit the education office in my new town of work this morning. There are now only three schools - two of them recently built, almalgamting several smaller schools. The town is quite rich, due to the Honda factory and the Canon factory. On the way home, I stopped off at a little shrine to take some photos with my new camera - a 35mm PINHOLE camera - which was included in a magazine kit. It even has an interchangeable lens ... and when I was changing to the lens from the pinhole, the shutter component came off (exposing the film) and I lost the little bit of plastic that has the pinhole in it. I still have to finish the film off before getting it process, though.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

A Japanese Lecture (boring)

I renewed my Japanese driver's licence this morning, which entails going to the licencing centre and attending a two-hour lecture. Well, the first half hour is a video talking about near-misses. Then an old guy talks for the rest of the time, spouting statistics and warnings, and how Tochigi Prefecture has taken over the number one ranking for traffic accidents (bad drivers here..). I spent most of the time reading a book. Lengua9

The photo is from Sunday, a guy fixing up his toy racing car.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Hard Rock Whirligig

On Sunday, I went into Tokyo for the Tokyo Game Market, in the Asakusa area. In Ueno Station, there's a branch of the Hard Rock Cafe, which has this guitar installation hanging from the ceiling outside.

Backtrack to Saturday

Hmmm, I've been rather busy and hadn't realised there was no entry on Friday. Well...

On Saturday I went up to a remote waterfall in a mountainous region. Remote - the narrow, rock-atrewn, precipitous road ended there. I didn't see the falls that were pictured in the tourist brochure, but I got some nice shots in and managed to get out without breaking an arm or a leg.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Hose (BLUE)

Last day of working, if you could call it that, in the town I've worked in for two years. It was an office day, but in the morning, I went to one of my schools as they had invited me for a farewell assembly. Very nice of them.

At lunchtime, Peter (the other English teacher) and I went to the old house museum which has been somewhat repaired since last I was there. However, this blue hose is still curled up on the pavement. Then, in the afternoon, Peter and I played a boardgame - Oltre Mare - in the back room. hehehe

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Plum Blossom

I went up to the plum orchard at the castle ruins site and took some pics of the blossoms. They're not all out yet, and seem to be much later than last year's by about a month. Last year I took photos of plum blossom in snow.

Anyway, today was my last day at my most-visited school. I had to go in much earlier than usuall as they held a farewell assembly for me. Then I had the second and fifth graders We played games and sang songs.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Snowy owl Spring

It was a public holiday in Japan today, it being the spring equinox. It was very windy again . I stayed home most of the day, just going out for petrol and some groceries. I wanted to go to the zoo for more photography, but it's 1000 yen and a crappy zoo, and I live with someone who wanted me home. However, it is just up the road.
Anyway, here's a snowy owl I took last year. Not bad considering it was through a fence.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Boardgame Day

Here's a picture I took for boardgamegeek Anyway, yesterday was boardgame day in Oyama. I got to play about seven different games; some guys were playing one "crayon" railway game that was still going on when I left. Looking forward to next Sunday - Tokyo Boardgame market.

Friday, March 17, 2006

22,658 Bows

That's the accumulative total of bows during the sixth graders' graduation ceremony, for everyone in the hall. Even to get their certificate, each one of the 66 students had to bow seven times between standing up and returning to their chairs.

Of course, they've been practising for weeks; not just them, but the lower grades as well. They sang several songs - there are a lot of graduation songs to choose from in Japan - and they sang very nicely. I think three of the students actually played the piano for the graduation songs, and very well. And when they all stood on stage and recited memories of their school life and whatnot - one boy would say a sentence, then another, then a girl, then all of them. (Hey, they even mentioned me...). The lower grades also had things in the script to say, too.

So, a very formal affair, and it was de rigeur for the parents to wear black clothes. The sixth graders wore their new uniforms for junior high school, which they start in just over three weeks. Most of them are going to the same school, joining students I taught at other elementary schools. Two or three wore different uniforms.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

All By Myself

I got to the office this morning and sat down and started my computer. A few minutes later, I was asked to go to the back room - because they were having visitors. Namely, the various school principals coming in one by one for a chat with the big boss. So I spent a solitary day alone in a small room by myself with noone there. I was taking a nap at lunchtime, but was disturbed by the office lady who wanted the money for my lunch...

The photo is from the other day, when it was really windy and cold.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Graduation coming

Here's a pic from last year of the school I've spent most time at in the past two years. I was there two day and asked if it was all right to come to the graduation ceremony on Friday (figuring this would be a good way to get out of an office day. Peter is doing the same for one of his schools so he won't have an office day.) They were really happy I asked, and made sure I understood that I should look as formal as possible, with a jacket at least.

I fixed up the links to my other website I posted yesterday - for some reason, this morning, they were set to this blog.... strange.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Busy? Was I busy?

Nah, not really. Just another office day ... I did a few pictures, and updated my nonsense site. I hadn't done anything to it since September 2004. Vert's On-Lign Magazine
So here's a photo from last year, a nice soothing sunset, with Mt Nantai looming in the glooming (above the clump of trees on the right)..

Monday, March 13, 2006

Towel drying

Here's a shot from the other day. Gosh, I hope I didn't post it already. Anyway, it's just a towel drying, hanging from the apple tree.

Today was an office day and Peter was there. He did the other elementary schools in the town (city, really). We went out for a walk after lunch. It was partly cloudy, but snowing in the mountains, and there was a fiercesome cold wind blowing. I took a couple of shots of the mountain but the wind was so cold and strong my eyes watered. There was a hawk flying around, and he seemed to be enjoying it.

Office days are pretty useless; we just have to be there for some unfathomable reason. I take my laptop in and edit photos. One of the guys apologised to us because they hired a different (cheaper) company for their native English teachers next April.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

First Insect Macro of the Year

This little fellow was out on the front lawn (which is still dried-out grass for the winter). He didn't seem to be a very good jumper, or maybe it was just the grass that caused him the trouble. Hey, that's kind of ironic, given his name. He'd make a short jump and end up in a funny position, like upside down, or head buried in the grass.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

The Pointing Frog Poster

It's not my frog photo, of course. It's on a poster about an exhibition showing the importance of rice paddy life - of which frogs are just one aspect. I've seen snakes in rice padies, too.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Friends Blend

I had lunch with the first graders today (I've only taught their class six times over the year at this school) and they actually asked me if I was going to take my camera out at play time. So I did. I did the line drawing editing technique in PSE.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

The Blue Bucket

Yesterday was Wednesday, so no time for editing photos. I took some good ones of the kids at school, but here's a bucket of gardening trowels.
I had the two 6th grade classes together for the last time. They gave me a book of letters to me, many saying how I'd changed their concept of English and some even wishing I could teach them in Junior High School.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

AIUEO Katakana Project

Katakana is one of the syllabary "alphabets" in Japanese. There are about 48 of them. I thought I might make a slow project of photographing a 3-D version of each one, in the order that they're written in a matrix. Thus starts the vowel series,  あ "A"as in "father", い "I" as in "pig",  う "U" as in "put",  え "E" as in "bed" and  お "O" as in "cot".

I thought I'd have trouble finding "O", but I drive past it most days - it's a part of a hedge spelling out wordson the side of slope at the waterworks.

It tok over a month to get these five - would have been quicker if I'd realised the hedge was doable.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Mops! (GREEN)

The mop handles are green, the wall is pale green, the kid got into the photo as I took it - I think it's kind of funny.

This is my last full week of teaching before the spring break, then I'll have a couple of weeks of office days with one school day each week.

Saturday, March 04, 2006


It just goes to show how my big my knowledge gap of flowers is on occasions. These flowers have been grown by the fourth graders, so I went along to take some photos of these scenty gems. I asked them what it's called and they said, "hianshinsu". It didn't ring a bell with me, so when I googled it, it comes up as Hyacinth. Now I know what a hyacinth looks like up close.

Friday, March 03, 2006

A Last Lunch

As I will be working in a different town from April, today was the last time to have lunch with this class. So I took my camera in, which I don't usually do. It was actually snowing at the time, though it didn't last long.

And thumbs up is better than the usual V-sign.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Blue Fish

One of the blue fish. They had put five into the tank, but there are only two left. Very difficult lighting conditions.

After school, I went to a temple near the expressway. It's kind of out of the way, but there are some trees there waiting for spring blossom time. I also went to the opposite hill-side to investigate something that lloked like a cemetery. It was a cemetery - for pets. There are four or five tiers, a Kannon statue ... and a grand total of four (4) headstones and a lot of empty plots. One of the headstones was dated 1999 ("Queen Haponess"). As a cemetery, I'd say it is a failure.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Owl Tap

A photo from the other day, one of the bird-shaped taps in the new drinking fountain place at one of my schools; I didn't take my camera with me atodays it was raining. I will tomorrow, because the school has some new tropical fish in the skunk shrimp's tank (the yellow striped angelfish wasn't there).

I signed a new contract today, but will probably be in a different town to work in as my current town has budgetry constraints, apparently.