Adventures in Isahaya

"You can't stay in your corner of the Forest waiting for others to come to you. You have to go to them sometimes" - Winnie the Pooh

場所: Burnt Hills, New York, United States

I'm a SAHM to a little girl born October 2003, a little boy born August 2006 and another little boy born January 2012.

火曜日, 4月 26, 2005


We had to say some goodbyes this weekend. The other company family that was living in Isahaya returned to the US (via Australia) on Sunday.

We spent a glorious afternoon at the park saying good bye. We had lunch in the azalea park and the blooms were wonderful. It was a short hike (about 300m) up the hill to the park. The blooms were delightful and covered the hillside. We had to wait for a space big enough for all of us to clear to have lunch.

The kids ran around and played. RC and I shared some onigiri (delicious). After some nice chatting and wonderful picnic food, we came back down.

Chrys and Owl ended up playing with the boomerang in the field. They were doing pretty well with it. They pitched it into the bushes a few times but always got it back. Roo had the best time running...and running...and running. She talked with a couple of other babies.

We came home to find a box of goodies on our doorstep. We had been warned of the delivery by the "Sayonara Fairy." Lots of useful things (the bags were the right ones, D) and some stuff we'd never tried before. There were also some bonus packs of mac 'n' cheese powder - yum! We had missed that.

We will certainly miss having the I's around. They were great help getting us going here and for that, we owe them so much. There was a little bit of envy that they get to go home and we weren't yet 50% of the way through, but our time will come. We've much more to explore just fewer people to explore with.

金曜日, 4月 22, 2005

Azalea Festival

Last weekend, we went to the Isahaya Azalea festival. It runs for most of the month of April down at the Isahaya Bridge Park. It wasn't a big thing. Many of the vendors were the same as the Fire Festival (more on that later). The guy hocking Anpanman waffles even recognized us, I think.

There was a little flea market/garage sale on one side of the street. Mostly junk by the time we got there (11am or so). All of it was cheap, but so cluttered that I didn't have the patience to go digging.

In the back, there were vendors of pottery, tools and plants. My attempts to get Chrys to buy a Japanese maple for the back porch (1000?, how could we go wrong?) were unsuccessful. (He claims to not want to get attached to a plant he may not be able to get back to the US). I avoided buying another bonsai (this time a sakura, as opposed to my beautiful plum that I thought was a sakura).

On the other, there were the flowers and water and it was just breathtaking. Azalea bushes blooming in shades of pink and purple and had taken over one side of the park. They were quite a sight to behold.

We had a nice walk, enjoyed some beautiful weather, ate crepes stuffed with fruit (strawberries for me, bananas for Chrys) and chocolate for lunch. I couldn't have asked for a nicer outing with my family.

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月曜日, 4月 11, 2005


I had my first tutoring lesson last week. It was fun. It went by quickly. She speaks Japanese very quickly so I did lots of "Please repeat that". I got two new key words out of it, though. "O namai" (sp? I'm too lazy to get my dictionary right now.) which is name and "ikutsu" which is another way of asking age. Both have already helped me answer questions in the park - yay!

She also had me read a lot of kana. I stink at this, still. I'm getting better (I decoded Prius the other day on the Toyota sign), but it's a long road. I was reading fruit and vegetable names since I told her I needed things to help at the grocery store. I don't really remember any of what I read, which stinks. It's all in repetition for me. I don't have the book so I can't keep going back to it. I'll get there eventually, though. I did learn that "kobansha" just means squash/pumpkin so I have to stop calling the acorn squash (hehe...learned what it was, too, I guess) just "kobansha", not that I remember the word for acorn. D'oh!

She also walked me through how to tell people where I live, where I'm from, when I got here and when I'll leave. I don't remember much of those, but I wrote it down. I'll probably have to get her to go through them again.

Someday, I do realize that I'll want to have a conversation without just listening for key words. I'm SO far from that right now, though, that it seems like a ridiculous idea. Right now, I'll settle for a couple of new key words and the 'right' response to them. It can get me in trouble. If I know the response correctly, they assume I know more than I do. Oh well...there's always "wakarimasen" to bail me out.

土曜日, 4月 09, 2005

Those are sakura...

Yeah...turns out the gorgeous, purple, sweet smelling blossoms at Shimabara Castle weren't sakura. Nearest guess is that they were plum blossoms. Amazingly enough, they are still noteworthy. Nevertheless, on to the main attraction.

We have watched closely over the past few weeks. We've been waiting, like everyone else, for that perfect time. Waiting for the sakura to bloom, to reach their peak. They've baited us, bare trees in the park for so long. Spindly branches with little appeal. One didn't even really notice they were there. Then, there were the first tiny buds and now...

The trees are literally everywhere. They just pop and take over whatever you are looking at. The blooms are wonderful, delicate beauties. The color is white, but pink, but burgundy depending on the angle. The scent is not overwhelming, but if you find a grove in which to spread your tarp and sit, you will be wrapped up in the warm, subtle scent of cherry. If you stick your nose in a cluster of flowers, you will swear there is nothing better.

It's a shame they are so short lived, but maybe that makes one appreciate them that much more. If you want to enjoy them, you have to take the time when they are ready. They don't fit in your schedule. They come when they want (this year's were apparently late) and leave before you can ever have a chance to tire of them.

Tonight, partly following Japanese tradition, we took our tarp to the park and spread it out under the trees. There, we had a simple picnic dinner purchased from the store down the street. We just enjoyed the smells and view and small petals already beginning to flutter to the ground between our bites. We skipped the traditional Japanese sake or beer in favor of Mountain Dew. It was glorious.

We've decided that we'll continue to picnic in the park when the weather will allow. I think I'll always remember the first picnic under the sakura canopy. I don't think any of the others will be so beautiful, but I'm sure we'll still enjoy them.

Mount Unzen Disaster

Turns out we're only about 50km from a volcano. It's pretty. We called it Mount Snowy Top all winter (when the clouds let us see it).

Back in the early 90s, it erupted. Naturally, it caused quite the stir. The pyroclastic flow was surprisingly slow so they were able to get most of the people in its path evacuated. They lost homes and buildings, but those can be rebuilt.

Well, apparently pyroclastic flow shouldn't be slow. Volcanologists from around the globe came to check it out. They went up the mountain to look. Chrys has been told it was about 95% of them, the best in the world. They studied it and were surprised. They couldn't figure it out. Apparently Mother Nature took the hint while they were up there looking around and sped things up. Next thing you know, 95% of the world's volcanologists aren't around anymore and they're calling up the last 5% to come study what happened. Hmmmm...

In Japan, this warrants the label "disaster" and the dedication of a museum. The museum is in the path of the flow from the last eruption. If I understand correctly, it's built on 'reclaimed land' that resulted from the lava flow into the ocean. You can look up the mountain from the museum and see the walls they erected to direct the flow to that very spot. Hmmmm, again...

They've got interesting information about volcanoes, in general. They've got a HUGE pop-up book on volcanoes. They've got a strip of devastated land down the center with lights that depict the flow rate of the lava - this 'erupts' every 10 minutes or so. They've got another area with various lava destroyed debris. I believe the center strip and the area with debris are actual pieces of land that were isolated and "preserved." (They seem to be big on showing what the actual land looked like before they restored it - Unzen, bomb museum. Interesting.) They have a movie showing the eruption with moving floors, but Roo couldn't go in because she didn't meet the height requirement. They have an outside area with pieces of a redirected stream/river and some of the lava rocks for viewing - very pretty.

Return of the Lantern Festival

Thank goodness we went back. Turns out, it got WAY better than what we saw (and much more crowded).

Lanterns had taken over Hamanomachi. There were small lanterns at the extreme ends that were handmade (likely by local school children). There were gorgeous ornate hanging lanterns throughout the rest of the street. Then, there were the fabric lantern sculptures - fish, people, animals, trees. They were huge and just amazing to behold. It was a festival of light. I had no idea such things were made.

There was even a little parade that went through. They had an emperor and empress (I'm guessing here...) and a bunch of children with cymbals and gongs and lanterns. Roo loved waving at everyone as they walked back and many of them were, of course, thrilled to wave back.

We walked through the arcade, up to one of the temples, though Nagasaki's Chinatown (where we got our own paper lantern to take home) and back down another street past Meganebashi (spectacles bridge).

Election time

Isahaya is coming up on, at least, a mayoral election. When we came back from Boston, there were large wooden grids up in various places about town. They had two segments: one with 6 entries, one with 60 (I think). They have 4月10日 written on them.

On Sunday (4/3, for anyone keeping track), there were people out plastering posters on the grids. They ended up with 3 posters on the 6 grid side and not filling 4 slots on the other side. Interesting to note...there are 4 women running for whatever the 50 something people are running for.

Then we noticed the vans. Everywhere we go, even the "privacy" of our own apartment, we are bombarded by people yelling at us. They are campaigning. Chrys reasons that with a dense population, driving around in a minivan with a loudspeaker on top is pretty darn cost efficient. I've gotten stuck driving behind a couple, and it makes me want to rip my ears off. They are loud. They are obnoxious. They start between 7 and 8 am and drive around into the wee hours of the night. Today, they have all been even louder than before (their amps must go to 11).

All in all, though, I will confess that one week of loud vans and posters organized on grids is MUCH better than 9 months of annoying television ads and posters everywhere.

金曜日, 4月 01, 2005

Shaky shaky

I'm starting to feel like this is all I write about, but they shake me up a bit so it's best just to get it out there. Smallish one up by Fukuoka, just felt a little swaying here. So why am I all shaken up? Stupid seismic area and small island...