*** This page might not be translated. ***

Vietnum Ho Chi Ming in June

2018-10-04 18:33

Late in June, I had a chance to visit Ho Chi Minh city (Saigon), Vietnam, with my sisters and a friend.
We arrived at Tan Son Nhat International airport and just stepped out from the arrival lobby. Suddenly, I was surrounded by that hot, humid air that is very characteristic of Southeast Asia. I like this feeling.
On the way to the hotel and also while taking an evening walk after hotel check-in, we saw unimaginable traffic conditions in the town. I and my party couldn’t cross the road in front of the hotel because the huge number of motorbikes and cars did not stop for us even though the traffic light for us was green. The hotel doorman said that in Vietnam, traffic priority was in this order - motorbikes, cars and then pedestrians!

 

For dinner, we went to a local restaurant. The meal was a very typical noodle made of rice flour.
Our first day was over, we were very tired - caused by the stress of traffic in the town.

 


On the second day, we joined a Mitoh Mekong Delta cruise (Thanh pho My “Tho”).
Mitoh is a new city well known for producing fruits.
The Mekong river is almost 4000km in length starting from the Himalayan Mountains and flowing down to the Indian Ocean.
We enjoyed the fruits and the boat cruise through the jungle.
Our stress on second day was caused by the Vietnamese currency, the Dong. We are not accustomed to prices with such a big number.

 
 
 
  

 Mekong river, Kone island in the river, tasting of honey and fruits produced in the island and boat cruise through the jungle


On the third day, we enjoyed shopping and sightseeing. The town is a mix of modern urban buildings and old Vietnamese buildings full of history and nostalgia.
 
 
 
  
 
  


On the fourth day, after breakfast, we went for a walk around the hotel and by chance, found the local market. It was a very interesting place for us. We thought this market was typical of much of the Vietnamese life style.
In the morning, we had the experience of a Vietnamese-style massage. It costs 540,000 Dong, We felt the cost was very expensive compared to most other Vietnamese consumer prices.

 
 
 
Local market

For lunch, we had good Vietnamese meal at a restaurant named “Vietnam house”. The restaurant gave good service and had a Vietnamese style interior and atmosphere.


 
 
 

Before going to the airport, we had a little more time, so we went to a Puppet theater.
The show was a traditional play and music.


 
The Puppet theater show

Vietnamese people had hard time, enduring French rule, then civil war then the Vietnam War. Given this devastating history, they have achieved remarkable development.
Through our trip, I felt their strong energy and national pride and got the feeling of a bright future for the Vietnamese people.

佐田岬の春 ささやかな、そしてリッチなサロン

2018-05-08 16:53

今年の冬はとても厳しい寒さにみまわれた。それだけに春の兆しは心もつぼみのように膨らんでいった。そんな春の日に、ささやかな、そしてリッチな気分を楽しむサロンを開いた。

まずは、三寒四温に戸惑う3月半ば、カフェ・ふ~ちゃんで、フルートとキーボードの音色を楽しみながらティーサロン。
8畳と3畳の小さな部屋で、触れ合える距離でたっぷりと楽しめる豊かなメロディー。よく晴れた一日、海の青も木々の芽吹きの緑もともに体を揺らしてその音色を楽しむ。



春爛漫,’春のお茶会~花とウクレレをたのしみながら~’とタイトルをつけたサロンはやはりカフェ・ふ~ちゃんで。
隣の庵寺の桜が見事に咲き、めいっぱいの春を花とウクレレと花ちゃんの歌声が演じた一日。半島の人々になかなか馴染みのないウクレレの軽快な音楽と花ちゃんの力強い、そして感情を込めた歌声が小さな部屋の壁を破り、人々の心の殻をやぶり、春霞のように柔らかく、自然に溶け込んでいく。



4月、さくらは終わり、緑が流れ出す。まさに自然の舞台、コンサートホールに、瀬戸内海に面する大江の山々が音響効果を、入り組んだ深い緑色をたたえた海が舞台の背景を作り上げた。大江の里の意味をつけた、’江里花だん’で行われたフルートとキーボードの音楽会。この日のために佐田岬半島の自然が全身で協力してくれたような、素晴らしい快晴、柔らかな春風、背にぬくもりを感じる春の日差し。江里花だんのご主人が速攻でこしらえた簡易舞台。奥様の丹念な手入れの行き届いた自然味豊かなガーデン。昼下がりのひと時、何にも増して自然芸術が繰り広げられた。




佐田岬の自然は何も真っ青な空、海が象徴するものではない。風の通り道、そして、太平洋と瀬戸内海に挟まれたスリムな岬はその海の影響を受けて、霧が発生しやすい。佐田岬のほぼ中央、山の上にリゾートハウスが並ぶ一角があり、風と霧の名所のようでもある。ここに’自然の庭’と名付け、プライベートの庭を一般公開している一軒の家がある。
4月の深く霧が立ち込めた一日、ここでもフルートとキーボードの美しい音色が山々を覆う深い霧の中に溶け込んでいった。晴れた日の木々や自然の花々に囲まれた時も素晴らしいが、こんなに雨の日、深い霧が似合う場所は多くないと感じた。





かつて、19世紀頃のヨーロッパ、あるいは日本の大正ロマンのように、手の届く位置で、音楽と会話、親しい人々との交流を深めるサロン文化は、富豪の屋敷の一室ではなくても、自然の中のささやかな場所で、そして、マスコミにしられた著名人でないが、こんなにも豊かな演奏家が身近にていて素晴らしい感動を与えてくれることを、私のように小さな村や町に住む人たちに知ってほしい。多くの人に楽しんで欲しいと願う。



An old temple in my village

2018-02-20 20:40

One of the characteristics of country life in Japan is a focus on annual religious events. For example, the Autumn festival for celebrating good harvests and some events wishing for good health.
Ever since I was a young child, I have participated in such events with other villagers of all ages, even though I did not understand the meaning of such events at that time.
One such event held at an old temple in my village is ' Nembutsu hajime' - the first day of praying to the Buddha in each new year. This old, small temple is associated with a larger temple in the district. We can discover similar small village temples throughout Japan.
My old village temple functioned as a school in the Edo period until Elementary schools were established in the Meiji period (late 19th century).
Until the middle of the 20th century, a priest lived at the temple and the temple was used by village elders and others as a village communication center but unfortunately, we cannot see such a sight nowadays.



A villager places a cloth on the Jizo (a Buddhist stone statue) The main statue at the temple is Senju Kannon.


        Make a huge straw sandal (Waraji)


   

Playing to the Buddha


The day before Nembutal Hajime, villagers make a huge straw sandal (Waraji) and display the sandal at the village gate. This conveys the meaning that you should be careful not to do bad things as you cannot escape the big, big giant! Most villages in the area have Waraji on display near the village gate to ward off crime. These days villagers who can make Waraji or chanting are disappearing. In few years there will be no one left to carry out the events. It is an inevitable change, I suppose.

Season of Mikan (Japanese tangeline) harvesst

2017-12-10 22:26

Mikan (Japanese tangerines) were first grown in Wakayama and now grow in Shizuoka, Kumamoto, Nagasaki and Ehime as well as other locations in Japan.
The mikan grown in Ehime are, I believe, of the highest quality and the best to be found in Japan.
It is thought that mikan grow best where there is sunshine, sea breezes and where they get reflected light and warmth from surrounding rocks. This creates the warm dry soil that the mikan enjoy.




Cut stem two times not to damage the other mikans.

One of the most hard work is to deliver the harvest from the farm. Lunch on the farm.

Magnificent view of Uwakai (the pacific ocean) from the farm. Damages by wild boar,
typhoon, and birds


The farmer's work on Mikan farm throughout a year.
In January each year the trees are sprayed to protect them against insects and disease. This spraying is repeated at various times until just before the mikan are harvested in September. Old trees are cut down and removed to clear and tidy the orchard.
In June some of the mikan are picked and the trees are pruned to improve the size and quality of the remaining crop. The grass in the orchard is cut throughout the year to keep it tidy.
I have been working at my friends farm, where mikan are grown, for three years and would like to tell you about my time there.
A day in the life of a farmer’s wife during the harvest season:
5:00 am Get up and prepare food boxes for father-in-law’s breakfast and lunch.
6:30am Drive to the farm.
7:00-7:30am Start work on the farm.
10.00am Serve tea to the other farm workers.
4:00pm Finish work on the farm.
She then returns to the house to prepare dinner.
After this she will go to the warehouse where she will sort and pack the mikan.
9:00pm She will have dinner and a bath before washing clothes and any other housework.
1:00-2:00am She will be doing the accounts.
For the two months of the harvest season the farmer’s wife will only have three or four hours of sleep per night.


After work on the farm, work in the warehouse. Sort mikan needs the experience for long time.


The farmer knows how hard farm work is and thinks about their son being a farmer as he wouldn’t like to be a farmer again in his next life.
Mikan farms are now reducing in numbers and are going to waste. They are vulnerable to damage by wild boars and other animals as well as severe weather. This year much damage was caused by a typhoon.
I think any country in which farmers can’t make a reasonable living or are not supported by government to protect agriculture is not good and has no future. After all food is the source of human life.


The Autumn Festival held in Shionashi.

2017-10-16 16:12

The Autumn Festival in my village, Shionashi, is held every year on the second weekend of October. Saturday is Festival Eve and Sunday is Festival Day.
On Saturday morning the Itsushika dance (5 deer dance) and the Karashishi (lion dance) are performed at the local shrine. This is followed by the dancers performing at each of the houses in the village one by one. It is similar to the scenes seen in the film “Fu-ten no Tora san” produced by Yoji Yamada.
When I was a child the Itsushika dancers were boys from the junior high school whilst Karashishi dance would be performed by men. Elementary school boys would dance the Taiko dance.
Now, due to depopulation, the dances have to be performed by both men and boys of all ages.





A man once told me that the Itsushika dance is also performed in Tohoku prefecture in the north of Japan as well as here in Ehime. Tohoku and Ehime are the only two places in Japan where these dances are performed because Ehime was once ruled by the son of Date Masamure. Date Masamure was one of the Edo period Shoguns and came from the Tohoku region. His son moved to Ehime to rule here so it is believed the dance came with him. Since the dances first arrived here the dancers costumes have altered in each village depending on the character of the village.
The festival continues on Sunday afternoon, there is a parade which begins on the street by the sea. It consists of people carrying Omikoshi (portable shrine) and Ushioni (cow monster). The participants are rivals and Neri (play fighting) takes place. There is also the Yotsudaiko , a carriage with four children playing drums.




The festival is popular and attracts visitors increasing the population by almost one third and turns a usually quiet village into an exciting youthful weekend spectacle which the villagers want to continue.