Foiled Again

So much for writing anything during the week. Some 3rd grade (i.e. 9th grade) students are applying to a high school that has special international courses, and I stayed late after class this week to help them prepare for the English interview that they’ll have to take. I’ll be doing the same thing next week, but I’ll try to make two posts this weekend. I really do need to get caught up.

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Picking up from where I left off . . .

The last picture of my previous post was taken from across the valley, to the northwest of my apartment. The view is a little deceptive, as you can’t see the actual valley between the houses and the apartment buildings, but it’s there.

The area where I took the picture is a patch of family farms and neat, old-style houses. I don’t have any pictures that really capture the feel of the neighborhood, but this is better than nothing:

Kamitanigami 1

It’s a shame that the soulless, cookie-cutter duplexes and apartments that you can see across the valley (lower and to the west from where I live) are a more common sight than tile roofs. Although old-fashioned doesn’t equal old:

Kamitanigami New House

Agriculture is a heavily protected industry in Japan, so some small farmers do quite well.

There is a Buddhist temple in the area. It has a mechanical bell-ringer, although it looks broken.

Auto-Bell

I don’t know which branch of Buddhism the temple belongs to, but I’m pretty sure it’s not Zen. Having an auto-bell would just be too lazy.

There is also a Shinto shrine.

New Year’s Decorations

The arrangements of pine, bamboo, and mandarin bitter oranges are traditional New Year’s decorations.

Well, it’s time to make dinner. I’ll write more later.

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Edit: Apparently, bitter oranges are used, not mandarins, although mandarins are common substitutes when the real thing is unavailable.

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2 Responses to “Foiled Again”

  1. Nicole Says:

    Thank you for the newest pictures – I especially like the first one, with the old house and the garden. Looks like they can grow some winter crops (and I’m assuming it’s not in the teens and twenties like it is here!). Do you know what a house like that would look like inside? Is there any particular significance with the pine, bamboo and oranges? They are quite handsome.

  2. kevinjames Says:

    Regarding the decorations, I’m not familiar with all the details, but I believe that pine symbolizes longevity and bamboo is resilience.

    I did a little research, and it seems that bitter oranges ripen in the winter, but will stay on the tree and turn green again in the spring if they aren’t picked. Their name in Japanese is “daidai,” which means “from generation to generation” (although the fruit is written 橙 and the phrase is 代代), so the symbolism is pretty clear.

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