Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Pan in a Can

In Japan there is a vending machine for just about everything – newspapers, flower bouquets, ties (black for funerals, white for weddings), underwear, cold drinks, hot drinks and, of course, all manner of comestibles. I found this delectable treat, “Pan in a Can” (= canned bread), in a machine on the bullet train platform at Tokyo Station. The product comes in multiple bread-like varieties, each one neatly packaged in its own metal cylinder with a pull-tab top. Paired with steamy “Georgia” coffee dispensed by another machine nearby, the individually sized bread is a veritable continental breakfast for the brave! I wonder if anyone has ever tried to subsist on vending machine victuals alone …… could be the subject for another blog …..

Friday, September 25, 2009

Architects & Eyeglasses

You can always spot an architect in a crowd. If it is not the uber cool shoes that give it away, it's the sensational specs. Lasik surgery? No way. Why would anybody in their right mind give up glasses? Japan has so many fantastic optical shops. And the frame possibilities are endless! This country is made for wardrobing.

Yesterday I met with an architect who had the most marvelous eyewear. Swirls of thin, matte black metal, the frames gracefully encircled the almond-shaped, clear glass lenses. The overall look was art nouveau meets architectural model shop. Though assertive, this pair of peepers did not overwhelm nor demand attention.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

The Genuine Article

OK. I know this only my second post and I am already breaking my own unwritten rules but please bear with me. The event I am about to describe preceded the dead deer incident but it definitely merits mention in my blog. Here's the deal. So we're driving through the town of Oshino, foraging for food at farm stands when we come across a hand-painted sign that read "Morokoshi ippon Y110" (corn Y110 per ear). So we take the plunge and park the car. After a minute or two the farmer shows up. And what a farmer he was! This guy was strictly "Central Casting? Send me one 'farmer' please." He had an ear-to-ear grin (no pun intended), a bandana around his neck, and a straw hat to top it all off! Plus he was pushing a .... WHEELBARROW! Yes! An actual wheelbarrow! After taking this all in, we requested 10 ears of corn. The farmer told us that he would be right back .... he just had to go and slice them off the stalk for us! While Farmer Joe was off wielding his sickle, Abby went into the greenhouse to pick cherry tomatoes straight off the vine. Standing in neat rows, each plant was laden with clusters of the luscious fruits in various states of ripening. Nature's bounty at its best! Upon his return, the farmer opened each ear to make sure we weren't buying any extra protein. Then he gave us a raw ear and had us each take a bite. So sweet and juicy! Finally he apologized for the high price but assured us that this would be best the corn we had ever tasted. And you know, I think he was right.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Endings are just Beginnings in Disguise

Yesterday Abby, Pippi and I were hiking on the Yamanashi Prefectural hiking trails. It was our last hike before relinquishing our country house and we were feeling a bit morose. But I digress. So we were on our ascent back up to the "radio tower" (not really a radio tower but it looks like one) when we spotted something, uh, unusual about 30 feet in front of us. We stopped dead in our tracks (no pun intended). OK. So you can probably tell where this is going. ANYHOW, there were some hooves (yes, HOOVES!) jutting out into the trail. The question was, what were they attached to? Being the good mother that I am I said "Abby, go check this out." Abby, being the intrepid hiker that she is, went to take a gander and then reported that the rest of the animal was a .... (scary movie music) DEER! Needless to say, I was enormously relieved that it was not a wild boar (three weeks ago in almost the very same spot David, Eve, Pippi and I saw an inushishi [wild boar] and her three babies). I was also happy to learn that it was dead. Well, not exactly happy but relieved. Until I started to get the heebie-jeebies. I suggested to Abby that we turn back. Right then. Right there. But Abby's clear reasoning prevailed and we decided to mush on. Deep breath.

Instead of leaving Pippi to her own devices, Abby held her by the collar and we set out. Naturally I had to take a look at this critter. It was a very Coen Brothers moment. The deer was decidedly dead. It was also big. We estimate it weighed in at about 200 lbs. It was a deep brown/grey color that blended perfectly with the foliage. Well done Mother Nature. And it had some serious antlers. Its eye was still very clear leading us to believe that it had not been dead for long, under 60 minutes I guess (but what do I know about death times and wild animals?). Abby's diagnosis was that it had a broken neck because its head was at an odd angle in relation to its rather corpulent body. The sight was both incredibly beautiful and incredibly scary at the same time. Definitely seared in my memory forever.

So there you have it. The dead deer sighting (my first in Japan) (maybe my first ever) marked the end of our time in Yamanaka-ko. I took this experience as a sign that it was time to high tail it out of there. Maybe find a new weekend home. Maybe not. But endings can be new beginnings and so I decided it was time to start my blog.