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

“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
English

Short haircut and frozen hair

Last Saturday, I visited the barber nearby my house to get a haircut. A lady helped me settled my haircut as I briefly told her that I would like my hair to be cut short. This was done as she had cleaned the seat that was used by the previous customer.

The hair cutting session between the lady and I went smooth and silent. A guy who sat next to me, while getting his hair cut, engaged in a small conversation with his barber about the problems that COVID-19 caused. I shut my eyes while listening to the conversation they had while getting my hair cut.

After the haircut was done, I briefly chat with the lady barber about the upcoming weather (it was forecasted that it will snow and rain heavily the next day). She told me that it’s gonna be cold, and I promptly agreed. As she said while adjusting her face mask,

“Luckily you had your hair cut short, otherwise the hair might get frozen tomorrow! Hahaha.”

That was definitely a good one, until I chuckled at it.

As I went to the counter and paid for the brief session, she said, “I see that you had came here last month.” (note: she was the same barber who cut my hair last month), while checking my previous visit. Shortly afterwards, she stamped at my member card, making me eligible for a discount forthe session.

As she handed back my member card, she bowed to me and said, “Hope to see you again next time!”.

I will definitely see you again, next month.

Categories
English

Good job!

Student: Bakku-gurowndo?

Teacher: Oh, you mean, background. Good!

I was using my laptop in a local coffee shop recently when I heard an audible conversation that naturally caught my attention. It was an English speaking practice session between, presumably, an English teacher with her student. I found it unusual as it took place at a public area, however it wasn’t loud until it could interfere the others. Or maybe it is because I sat a few tables away from them.

The English teacher went on explaining what “cover of a book” meant as the student continuously explaining something about a book — presumably explaining about a book that he recently read, or a story that he stumbled upon recently.

As the conversation progressed, the teacher switched back to Japanese to explain further about the topic that the student was learning. This evoked the times of intensive speech training that I underwent many years ago.

Without a clear guidance, it seemed that I was in a collision course. Indeed, when I first arrived, I stumbled upon walls and dead ends before I finally steered away from them. Learning something new is not easy; when a guru guides you, you will sure can avoid stumbling upon the said course.

Categories
English

The tunes of the dusk

Everyday, a tune lasted for 1 minute is played through a huge speaker set outside the company building. Even though the windows were tightly shut and people were talking, a certain broadcast still can be heard faintly (it can be heard louder when it is autumn or winter — the windows were opened to allow cool air to flow in).

The first tune, an instrumental version of Yuuyake koyake 「夕焼け小焼け」 (“Sunset”, a Japanese kids song, shown below), is played at 4:45 p.m.. A broadcast is also included by the local municipal council while the tune is being broadcast, announcing that it is almost 5 p.m., and urging kids to go back home as well as asking the locals to look over the kids as they went home.

Yuuyake koyake (“Sunset”)

I also noticed that the time the tune played changes over season. As night fell earlier in the autumn and winter, the Yuuyake koyake tune is played at 4:30 p.m. during autumn , and 4:15 p.m. during winter.

Whenever the tune is being played, it is also an indication that it’s almost time to go home (not quite so in the winter). I felt relaxed and became slightly energetic as I continue pounding the keyboard throughout the afternoon. When the need for overtime work arose, it essentially became my motivation for the dusk.

Gaijinpot blogged that Yuuyake koyake is a tune being broadcast everyday through the speaker systems being set up. The purpose of the speaker systems is to convey disaster information to the residents, but when there is no disaster (thankfully), the relaxed tune will be played instead.

This system is widely applied across country, and the period of the tune being broadcast varies between region, typically between 4 p.m. to 6 p.m..

At 5 p.m., another tune unique to the region where I worked at, Yuube hoshi 「夕べ星」 (“Evening stars”, shown below) played. The atmosphere and the tune in its entirety was very relaxing; as if the stars in the sky can be brightly seen. Nevertheless, it marked the last 20 minutes before calling it a day. Update: noteworthy – this tune only plays at Wednesday.

Yuube hoshi (“Evening star”)

At days other than Wednesday, the Narashino city song (orgel version) is played instead in the 5 p.m. slot (shown below). Nevertheless, its unique variation also appealed me.

The Narashino city song in orgel version

In the place where I stay, the tune played at 5 p.m., titled No bara 「野ばら」(“Wild rose”, shown below). I found it amusing that different places and regions have their own variation, like the train jingles.

No bara (“Wild rose”)

When these tunes were broadcast in the weekends, it signified that the day is almost over. Depending on the day and context, either I happily pack up for the day, or quietly prepare for the new day ahead.