Categories
English

Heat with a hint of approaching autumn

Clouds with uncertainty level of storm coming as August quietly ended.

How days have passed – it’s September. In the third week of this month, there is an Autumn Equinox Day public holiday, which somewhat marked the beginning of the autumn season.

Last month was a record-breaking month — the heat spread across the month and across Japan was not easy to cope with. The plum rain season ended at the end of July, and thus transitioned into the sunshine (think blue sky and white clouds) and hot season. Yet, this was hard to cope with due to the risen temperature in a short period of time, along with other factors. High number of deaths caused by heat stroke and continuous and grueling high temperature across Japan were the main highlights of Japan, not to mention the cancellation of fireworks and summer festival events due to the pandemic.

I just found out that a grand fireworks event not far from my city was cancelled due to the pandemic, what a pity! The cancellation of the iconic Nebuta Festival event in Japan’s Aomori prefecture caused me to temporarily halt plans to fly to the northern part of the country.

A hint that marked the beginning of the autumn season — typhoons. News of typhoons began spreading around as one typhoon after another are being reported. The supertyphoon “Haishen” (known in Japanese media as typhoon no. 10) is looming on the horizon as it heads steadily towards southern Japan, which is expected to make a landfall this coming Sunday night to Monday morning.

While walking back home a few days ago, I noticed the sun had set much earlier for every few weeks passed. Temperature in the evenings weren’t that low (below 30 C), but it was tolerable and it felt cool. Despite the surroundings gotten dark earlier, I had not fail to realize the slight hints of autumn in the trees – leaves showing a tint of golden color. The same goes to the trees near the street as I took the bus to work in the morning – the number of fallen leaves clumped together at a spot not far from the tree were noticeable.

I had longing for the autumn foliage, especially looking at them at various sites in Japan, but it is still months away before the breathtaking sights can be formed. I definitely am looking forward to the coming autumn season!

Categories
English

The case of 2013: Sung Siew’s website

I occasionally stumbled upon a Quora entry, with an eye catching title, loosely translated as follows:

A foreigner told me, “Look at Japan’s websites. Especially Abe Hiroshi’s website (link followed). So this is Japanese’s level.”. What does this mean?

Quora

This question had me intrigued because it was ambiguous enough to let the reader interpret which aspect(s) of the website the foreigner had judged.

I recalled my Form 4 and Form 5 years (year 2012-2013) where I formed a team to revamp my secondary’s school (Sung Siew Secondary School) website led by my then ICT teacher. As of current writing, the domain was not in use by the school.

In the beginning of the project, I looked for ideas by taking an unusual step to checking out the websites of Japanese schools (primary, secondary schools included).

A Meguro based secondary school website (example for this article. I did not referred to this website.).

Admittedly, the designs were dated, but the contents were intriguing. They wrote in detail about the events and happenings in their school. Despite the dated designs, I decided to adapt their designs and went ahead to produce the new website and manually update the contents to its FTP server (the contents were produced using a combination of static HTML and dynamic PHP web pages).

After decided that manually update contents by hand was tiring, I chose to use the Joomla! content management system (CMS) to power the website instead. I fondly remember spending days testing and comparing between Joomla! and Drupal in my home PC.

The Sung Siew Secondary School website as of October 5, 2013, captured via Wayback Machine.

Prior to this version, the previous layout managed by a more senior team (who I do not know) than I had a fancier look (it even had music!). I may write about this in the future.

Categories
日本語

あの目、見る勇気さえなかった

数年前の冬。

地元の空港で自分が乗る予定飛行機の搭乗をまっていた。その日に僕の連休の最終日を迎えた。長い列の人が飛行機の搭乗を待っている。時間をしばらくおいた後、やがて、港内アナウンスにより、人が搭乗口の方に移動し始める。僕がゆっくりと前に進む同時に、あの人の海に、ある人を気付いた。

「その人」。

遠い昔…いや、今でも、僕にとって大切な人。もう、昔のようになれないだろう。今までも、きっと、僕のことが大嫌いだろう。「その人」を気づいても、その人をあえて見ずに進むようにした(余計に嫌われたくないから)。

運が悪く(良く?)、進んでいた列が止まり、ちょうどその人の隣に僕が止まらせざるを得なくなった。空港のスタッフが僕のチケットと身分証明書を確認したいらしい。僕の前の乗客の資料確認がそんなに時間がかからないのに、僕の方は若干時間がかかっていた。

まるで、その人と喋るチャンスを与えてくれるようだ。「話したいなら今のうちに!」と。

そのスタッフは僕のパスポートをめくって、名前と写真が載せたページを照会した。“もし隣に立っていたその人が気づいたらどうする?”と僕は考えた。

期待する一方、自分が妙に焦り始めた。「その人の機嫌を悪わせたいくない」と自分はそう思った。もし僕が早くこの場から消えば、その人は僕の跡を気づかないだろう。だからその焦りを感じたのだろう。

実は、その人を通りかかるときに、僕はちらっとその人の顔を見た。“本当にその人なのか”と自分の中にそう確かめたかった。

案の定、一瞬だけだが、「あの人」に間違いないと確かめた。あの顔、あの髪。ばっちり。

心の底から嬉しく思ったが、表には表せなかった。嬉しい気持ちを抑えるのは辛かった。

「その人」ーあの目の主人。その人への気持ちは今までも変わらぬが、ステータスがいつの間に変わっていた。目を見るさえ勇気はなかった。昔、自分はどれだけ酷くその人の傷つけたのだろう。その罪悪感が未だに心の中にあふれている。

僕は大切な人がいて、その人もきっと・・・

結局、僕たちはなんのコンタクトもせずに、同じ飛行機に乗った(その人の席はどこなのか知らないが。)。

目的地はマレーシアの首都ークアラルンプール。

そこは「その人」の最終目的地かもしれないが、僕は当日、到着後にクアラルンプール国際空港を出ずに、国際線の出発ロビーに向かった。

結局、なんの話もせずに別れた。

結局、「その人」は僕の存在を知らないかもしれない(はず)。自分が意識過剰かもしれない。

“まぁ、これでいいじゃないか。少なくとも、その人の機嫌を悪わせなくても済む。”と僕はそう思った。

当日の午後に、長袖の上着を着て自分は飛行機に乗り、日本へ向かうことにした。羽田空港についた時はもう深夜で、外は寒かった。家につくまではまだ距離があった。数時間の電車とタクシーの後に、やっと家についた。

ヒーターがまたオンにしていなかったが、僕は少し暖かく感じた。「その人」に、偶然に会ったからだ(アイコンタクトや話もしなかったが)。

偶然かもしれない。仲直りした日は遠い昔の同じく2月だった。少し暖かい、2月だった。

(しばらくの間日本語で書かなかったので間違いだらけかもしれません…ご指摘はコメント欄まで。どうぞよろしくお願いいたします。ー コー)

Categories
中文

四季的魅力

我出生在一个没有四季的国家。在365/366天都是夏天之下,真正存在的季节应该是旱季和雨季。在各种作品里展示的四季的各种季节的魅力里,我不太了解。硬要说的话,我比较了解夏天(毕竟每一天都是夏天)。但是,在夏天慢慢移转到秋天的那段时间和真正进入秋天的情况是怎样的,我不了解。看着画面,我看作品中的人物渐渐的穿起长袖和外套,树叶也跟着从深绿色变成深褐色。

来到日本的那一年,我第一次体验季节更换。

那是从夏季到秋季。在夏天穿长袖的服装对我来说已是一件习以为常的事情。不过,穿着长袖在大太阳下步行确实有点辛苦。然而,进入9月、10月时,气候慢慢转凉,树叶也慢慢的改变颜色。我看了直高兴,毕竟没真正体验过这个季节的转换。和父母聊天时,我不时提起这件事,他们也纷纷表示不可思议。

“今天的最高温度为16度——”

通过电视机获知秋季初期的某日的天气预报的温度时,我听了不亦乐乎。不必开冷气,也意味着可以省电减少不必要的开销。这仿佛是24小时在吹冷气。

尽管如此,昼夜时间也开始有所改变。夜晚渐渐的比白天长。原本傍晚接近7点才开始日落的时间也被1~2个小时提早日落。原本在公司的放工铃声响时看窗外仍然看得见停车场的夏天,到了秋天和冬天时看窗外的时候,早已黑漆漆。

我不懂得如何为季节调整服装和打扮,因此我特别注意身边同事和服装店所摆设的季节性服装。我也意识到,每当换季节,在服装方面的开销也有一定的增加。夏季之际选择凉爽快干的短袖或长袖衣服,秋天以后就注意要穿好几层,才不会被冷死。很幸运的,办公室内有设置暖炉,因此不必穿那好几层的服装。(尽管上厕所时候会是个小折磨。)

“下雪了!”

下雪也许是冬季中最高潮的一点。某日,我隐隐听见玻璃窗有很微弱的哒哒声。起初我以为那是雨滴,于是我打开窗帘以确认外面是否在下雨。

直到我看见摆在阳台的洗衣机上有一层很薄的白色东西。

是雪!仔细一看玻璃窗,原来是融化中的雪。我住的地方是平地,据说是很难会积雪。不管怎样,看得到雪我感到很高兴,接着就打开玻璃门。然而,因为外面的寒风和低温度(接近0度)因此吹进房间,即使是穿着长袖睡衣的我也耐不住这个寒冷的温度,于是就缓缓的玻璃门给关上。

日本北部的一些地方是著名积雪的地方,因此容易看得见所谓的一大片的白色。所累积下的雪有数十厘米厚,对当地人来说,要处理起来极为不便又麻烦。然而,对我这个“游客”来说,看了这个现象(暂时性的)开行得不得了。

好想要逃到郊外静静的看那片雪地。

四季充满魅力的日本

日本作为一个拥有四季的国家,各个季节都有其特色。同样的地方在每个季节都展示出不同的魅力和色彩。光是这一点,对我来说真的很不可思议。在冬季里爬山的这件事更是让我感到好奇。

我本身最喜欢那个季节变化的那段短暂的过渡期。比如说,春季到夏季,或者是夏季到秋季。从寒冷到温暖、从炎热到凉爽。在这个过渡期期间,心境也跟着变化起来。

四季当中,我最喜欢秋季。🍂

Categories
English

Soba & Coffee

On a trip surrounding Chiba’s Boso peninsula, some friends and I stopped by JR Hama-Kanaya station to take a trip to the area’s Mt. Nokogiri via the famous Nokogiriyama Ropeway. While we are going back to the station to proceed to our next destination, we stumbled upon this cafe just a few minutes away from the station.

Soba & Coffee restaurant
The “Soba & Coffee” cafe shop

What struck me as odd and unique is its title – Soba & Coffee. It featured soba, Japanese buckwheat noodles, as one of its main offering, as well as other Japanese and western foods and beverages (click the photo above to view a larger version). A unique blend, possibly go very well between the two, especially under the hot sun.

Categories
English

A follow up: picking a world to live in

After completing reading parts of a work, I finally understand the “alternate world” the protagonist wandered into.

It is a never ending world, essentially a loop, one can say. The artifacts — remains of the past stayed there. Conversations between the protagonist and the related characters took place in the alternate world, which were centered on things that one couldn’t let go easily. Things that were precious to the protagonist, as if they were a source of reliance when the protagonist escapes to the alternate world.

At a latter part of the said work, the protagonist was presented an ultimatum — either to abandon the alternate world and move forward, or to remain in the alternate world and circle endlessly. He chose to move forward, and as a result, dependencies between the alternate world and the reality began to collapse. Whether the event occurred is a good thing, it was up to the reader, I assumed.

Essentially, it boiled down to this.

Rather than clinging to the past, accepting it and moving forward is the way going forward if one wishes to progress. However, easier is said than done. I caught myself into this dilemma which lasted for a long period of time. Crawling out of it isn’t easy, admittedly, but it did provided me a fresh, new perspective of a certain matter.

Categories
English

Wandering into the alternate

Heavily filtered image of a bridge near Keisei-Narita station.
A heavily filtered image of a bridge near Keisei-Narita station.

An eye shut is what it all takes to wander into the alternate world. No matter the boundaries and conditions one face, when you wake up, you will be brought back to the reality (the real world). And I’m not mentioning about life and death situations.

I read recently of a work depicting a scene about the protagonist wandering into the alternate world. A world where he doesn’t seem able to reach, no matter how far he walks to the horizon, as if it is never ending. A familiar voice, coming out from nowhere, reminded this protagonist that he would not be able to reach this world for some reason. What were the reason(s) behind this, I still don’t know yet.

However, this depiction reminded me multiple occasions of dreams where I wandered into the realms of alternate world, only be rudely pulled back into the reality the next day. On my way to work, I noted of the brief memories in the alternate world into my note taking app. It showed a pattern, as if I’m discovering puzzle pieces. Piecing them together might show up something, I don’t know. I haven’t yet see the dreams these days.

Categories
English

“Year 2000: Japan”

I was randomly searching the internet for some iconic images of Tokyo entering the new millennium after encountering a work that was released years before the year 2000. A quick search on Google Images revealed a Flickr album containing photos of this user visiting Japan in a world tour (envy!).

tkshibuya08 Shibuya Street Fashion Boots, Tokyo, Japan 2000
The “Year 2000: Japan” album by Flickr user CanadaGood G.Melle.

Many of his photos screamed 2000s (because those photos were really taken in that era!), however, I find it surprising that certain aspects of Japan haven’t changed much, like that the area of Akihabara, shinkansen bullet trains, etc.

The photos do provoke some kind of nostalgia that I do not possess as a kindergarten kid. At that time, I was still in preschool, occasionally accompanying my mother watching Japanese dramas in front of the TV during the primetime hours of 7-8pm (remember Power Office Girls?).

Categories
中文

带着乌云的大晴天

8月。东京一带的梅雨已经下完,终于转入晴天了。尽管每一天都炎热,但是在7月几乎每天下雨和满天乌云的情况下,连续看得见蓝天白云和刺眼的阳光实在是让人欣慰。衣服的晒干的时间也变得相当短,让我觉得很高兴。

然而,在今年,尽管是夏天的蓝天白云之下,许多人的头上都挂着一片乌云。

由于COVID-19疫情持续的关系,人们在生活里也难免过得不安。已提前进入盂兰盆节假期的我,依然和往年一样过得平淡。“在此呼吁各位,尽可能限制跨县的走动,减少不必要的外出,并且继续避开三密的生活方式。”打开电视看新闻时,听得见东京都知事,县知事和市市长等呼吁人民在假期期间尽可能不回乡,平日间避开人潮多的地方,等等。在日本各地的确诊人数和病情陷入严重状态持续增加的情况之下,自由移动和旅游依旧风险很高。

人们渐渐失去某种东西时候才懂得去珍惜。

“Stay (at) home” (待在家)期间已持续好几个月。尽管情况依然严峻,但是这并无法阻止人们出门享受那久违的大太阳。

我的夏季假期正好在8月头开始,也就是日本全国(几乎)开始经历大晴天的时候。第一天的连假,我搭了几个小时的火车到县内的锯山,在炎热的天气下爬到了接近330米的山顶。

Sign of the top of Mt. Nokogiri
锯山的山顶。

既然来到了千叶县的著名圣地之一,当然也没错过了“偷看地狱”。从此处看海、蓝天、小镇和森林,觉得很舒服。由于是周末星期六的关系,自然的,游客人数也相当多。

View of Jigoku Nozoki
锯山著名的旅游胜地之一 – “偷看地狱”(地獄のぞき)

写着此文章时,盂兰盆节的假期已经进入后半。是接近调整好心情的时间了。尽管受到疫情限制的关系而不能出国,但是能借这个时候去各种大地方和小地方,这个假期可以说比起以前过得更加充实和愉快。我希望身边的人,和亲爱的读者身体健康。

Categories
English

Observation: Traveling outside metropolitan areas

The past few days were consecutive holidays in Japan due to the scheduled Tokyo 2020 Olympics (which were ultimately postponed to 2021). As a getaway from the pandemic heavily hampered Greater Tokyo area, I travelled to parts of the Tohoku region of Miyagi, Yamagata, and Fukushima prefectures with main focus on Miyagi prefecture’s Sendai city.

I made some observation notes as a traveler who hailed from the metropolitan area (and maybe will be helpful for you who intend to travel in areas that are less populated), shown below.

  1. The number of trains available per hour greatly varies depending on location and its status (whether it is a tourist hotspot, etc.). Planning ahead is greatly recommended especially if one doesn’t want to waste time and/or at a tight schedule. The usual frequencies range from one per hour to one every 2-3 hours. It is always a good idea to factor in the departing hours if you are in a tight schedule like I was.
  2. Not all JR stations accept the use of IC cards (e.g. Suica). It is always a good idea to check the noticeboard / plaque cards, etc. placed at the departing station for the IC cards usable/covered area. If the destination station is not covered within the IC cards usable area, purchase a paper ticket (Hence, it is not the case where IC cards should always be charged beforehand in terms of using the trains!). Having living in Greater Tokyo area for the past few years, I have been completely got used to using Suica in daily transport until I find it indispensable.
  3. Certain train lines in cities do not accept the major IC cards (e.g. Suica, Pasmo) but only the local IC cards, e.g. Fukushima’s NORUCA. In this case, falling back to paper ticket is one’s safest bet without purchasing the local IC card (except if you are a frequent user).
  4. Travelling via Shinkansen bullet train still allows the use of IC cards to exit a station where Shinkansen bullet train is served, but not local trains (depending on region/area). I observed this at JR Yonezawa station where shinkansen travelers can exit the station by “tapping” to exit. Local trains, however, still rely on paper tickets for manual inspection by the train station staff.
  5. Cash, cash, cash. Cashless transactions may had become mainstream in urban areas, but in rural areas, such as town and small cities, cash is king. Get stuffed with a reasonable amount of cash whenever possible beforehand.
  6. Unplanned stops result in unexpected discoveries. Cliché, but true. I finally visited the area where NHK’s Asadora “Yell” is based at, which is at Fukushima.

I might write an elaborated post for some of the points shown in the future. Travel is always fun, but not in the case of a global pandemic ongoing.