I’m rereading Bruce Chatwin’s The Songlines after an interval of two decades. The great thing about rereading this book in the 21st century is that whenever I come across something I am unfamiliar with, instead of skipping over it as I would have 20 years ago, I can instantly look it up on my i-phone or computer – whichever is to hand. It has greatly enriched my reading experience! Towards the end of the book Chatwin describes hiking through the Austrian alps,
The days were cloudless. I spent each night in a different Alpine hut, and had sausages and beer for supper. The mountainsides were in flower: gentians and edelweiss, columbines and the turk’s cap lily. The pinewoods were blue-green in the sunlight, and streaks of snow still lingered on the screes…
Isn’t it nice to be able to see what the flowers look like? Chatwin also describes how everyone called “Grüß Gott” as they passed.
Grüß Gott (literally ‘Greet God’) is a greeting, less often a farewell, in the Upper German Sprachraum especially in Switzerland, Bavaria, Franconia, Swabia and Austria. The greeting was publicized in the 19th century by the Catholic clergy and along with its variants has long been the most common greeting form in Southern Germany and Austria. The salutation often receives a good-natured sarcastic response from Northern (and thus mainly Protestant) Germans such as “When I see him” (“Wenn ich ihn sehe”) or “Hopefully not too soon” (“Hoffentlich nicht so bald”). [LINK]
Throughout the year succesive waves of colour break upon the city. Plum and peach blossom heralds the more famous cherry, after which follow azalea and iris. In summer come hydrangea, water lily and lotus, while in autumn there are the “seven famous grasses” followed by the changing maple leaves. Winter sees the camelia as well as the rich red berries of the nandin. The annual round has won much admiration, for each season has endearing traits : the white-and-pink blossoms of spring; the glistening moss in the summer rains; the brilliant colours of the autumn leaves; and the sprinkling of snow on the winter mountains…
So you see, this is a very beautiful city I’m living in! It’s azalea (or つつじ；tsutsuji) season now. They come into bloom right after the cherry blossom has fallen and as they are commonly used in hedgerows about the city, the sheer quantity of the blossoms is awesome. Here are some I snapped at Nishi-Honganji on my way home from work last week.
I love these flowers. They seem to glow even on the gloomiest days with a soft light of their own. Something to cheer you up even on a rainy day like today.
Well, I’m afraid I still can’t be bothered blogging for proper, as I’m tired and sleepy and I already wrote this once and then half-way-thru the server went down and I lost most of what I’d written and you know things I want to blog for proper about, I want to blog for proper about – proper like… So, tomorrow, ok? There’s so much I have to tell you! In the meantime, here are some pictures from Gosho (the “Imperial Palace Park”) yesterday (day before yesterday now…). It’s the tale-end of the ume-blossom season so I went and strolled around and took some pictures until the worst hayfever I’ve had so far this year drove me indoors. If you double-click on the pictures you can see them bigger (and perchance better).
Also found on Boingboing, are these marvellous quotes from the most charming member of the “British” royal family; Phil the Greek.
And finally, last year I remember reading about Arthur C. Clarke’s 90th birthday and thinking “Golly-gee!” (or words to that effect) “Is he still going?”. And then also being amazed that my dad is the same age. Well, though happily, my dad is still with us (and still sprightly) the old Grand-daddy of Science Fiction has passed on. He had a bloody good innings though. I first encountered A. C. Clarke under a parasol on a beach in Shri Lanka debunking mysteries for his marvellous “Mysterious World” T.V. series when I was a kid. And then I read his novels and found them – thrilling. Mr. Neil Gaiman put a link up today to a super short story by Mr. Clarke (it’ll take you five minutes) that although, not really Science Fiction, is a super, simple and superb sample of the short story form – enjoy: The Nine Billion Names of God.
I’m beat. Been walking all day, round Yoshida and Kurodani, with a big bag of books on my back. Now various parts of me are aching like an old man. Well, if you double click on the pictures below you can get a better look (and there is some explanatory text too). There are some nice ones in there, so be patient. It’s not all “yukiyanagi” flowers (though they are quite nice too).
Here are some more plum blossoms form my neighborhood. Just double-click on the pics for a better look. This album is powered by BubbleShare – Add to my blog There’s a definite spring-like feeling in the air these days… birdsong is noisier. Students are friendlier, in fact… everyone’s friendlier… and livelier and sort of… bouncier. Yep, it’s spring all right, There’s a strange magic in the air.
Unfortunately there’s a lot of pollen in the air too and since yesterday I’ve been Mr. Sneezy with the itchy eyes. Anyway, I have plans for this weekend. Exciting plans. Be prepared. All, will be reported.
Time for another eatery recommendation! Little Bamboo on Shirakawa Dori serves nice healthy organic foodage with whole grain brown rice cooked in yoghurt. The yoghurt gives the rice extra nutritional value; lots of those all important B vitamins, good for your skin, stomach… and lots of other bits I can’t remember. This is quite close to where I live (a 3 minute walk) so we’ve been going there quite a bit.
I’m afraid I forgot to take a pic of today’s lunch (sorry Rik). I was so hungry I just gobbled it all up… But here’s an artist’s impression: All that for ￥900, eh? Take my word for it, it’s tasty, healthy and cheap and the master of the establishment is quite a friendly chap too. Here he is in his element: He used to have a mobile healthy-fast-food van serving lunches in Osaka, but now he’s married and settled down in Kyoto. Little Bamboo as we know it opened for business just last year. Little Bamboo is situated on Shirakawa Dori just past Mikage Dori. If you get as far as the bookshop you’ve gone too far. Anyway: RECOMMENDED. The 梅 plum blossoms have started to bloom. These are near my house…
Anyone see Japan play Australia last night? I tuned in for the last (and most important) 15 minutes and what a funny game eh? I especially liked the scenes after the match of the delighted dancing Aussie fans and the speechless Japanese. Today, at school, I kept accidentally dropping the name “Australia” into different contexts. Tee-hee.
Last week, (Monday June 5th) Hyon Joo, Yu Gyong and I went up to Hiezan and had a lovely day. Here’s a picture of me looking gay among the poppies at the Hiezan Garden Museum.
I’ve been meaning to get up to Hiezan for the last two years but have somehow never managed it – until now. Anyway, last week the weather was perfect. You can see more pictures of flowers and temples and other recent stuff (sakura and so forth) if you click to my Flickr site here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/46253270@N00/sets/72157594164482825/
As it turns out that’ll be the last Monday I have off for a while as there’s been a major upheaval at my main place of work. Leilani has had to quit her full-time job so she can go home to New Zealand and look after her sick mum. As a result, my hours have increased from 12 to 19 a week… and though I’m a lot busier, it does mean a big increase in my monthly wage. And I still finish no later than 2 o’clock (and sometimes 12). It’s a shame to see Leilani go but good news for my bank balance.
Here are some pictures you won’t see on my Flickr site of Paul Spark’s 10th Beer tasting party held last Saturday at his Tokyo pad. Once again Mr. Sparks excelled himself, getting all the beers, keeping us all fed and well imbibed and funtertaining us with his impossible quizzes. Sadly he was so busy running in and out of the kitchen I didn’t get any pictures of HIM. Still, thanks for another good night Paul!
Below, left to right: Graham Chave, My Clam, and Chris Cotter. We’s tasting the beers, innit. Graham looking coy… True Chave comes out and finds new uses for chocolate “Pocky” sticks.
It’s June, it’s getting hotter and stickier and my lolling students are melting all over their desks. “Hot” they murmer, “Sleepy… hungry…” they gasp, and that old favorite “I don’t know…” is often whimpered as their heads sink deskwards. None of this is said in English of course. No fear of that.
I’ve started growing stuff on my balcony, herbs and flowers and things. Right now I have a carnation, some chamomile, rosemary and an orange flowery thing I don’t know the name of but it took my fancy when I spotted it on the way home this afternoon. “Is it a present?” said the shop assistant. “Yes,” I said, “It’s a present for ME.”
Oh, and I’ve bought a webcam and a speaker, so if you get onto Messenger you can actually SEE me and if you have the right stuff too, I can see YOU and even SPEAK with you, like I did with my good buddy Dave Rogers in Canada, the other night. Why, it’s almost as if we’re living in the 21st century. Now where’s my flying car?
Also if you haven’t seen Tim Burton’s “The Corpse Bride” yet, you should. http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/corpse_bride/
It’s a lot of fun. I especially liked the puppets with the voices of Christopher Lee (Christopher Lee! – What a chap!) and Albert Finney. But I shan’t tell you which ones they are, ‘cos half the fun is in the guessing.
Here, we’ve finally had some nice weather. So I took the opportunity to take a stroll down to the river yesterday evening and take pictures of some spring flowers along the way.
There’s something very calming about looking at flowers…
These pictures aren’t half bad considering they were taken with my phone in fading light.
鯉のぼり - Carp streamers. They signify something or other and they look nice too. Despite the terrible weather we’ve had of late, the sakura has held out very well… Sometimes they look so lovely I just want to take a big bite out of them…