New Year’s Day.
January 22, 2016
July 16, 2013
January 21, 2013
January 6, 2013
January 4, 2013
From Snow Country Tales, Life in the Other Japan by Suzuki Bokushi
“Born in the snow, raised in the snow, the children here have all sorts of snow games … . One of these pastimes is building snow castles. First the children build tall snow mounds. They pat them down with toy shovels and make the tops smooth and flat by stamping them down with their feet (children in the snow country always wear straw boots when playing in the snow). Next the children gather snow to make a great wall around the mound, just like the earthen wall that surrounds a village. Inside this main enclosure they build smaller walls, all of snow, and make entrances in them that lead from one ‘house’ to the next. In the great wall a main entrance is opened, and a ‘shrine’ is constructed inside the compound. Steps leading up to its ‘main hall’ are made from snow, as is the figure of the god of the shrine … . The children spread mats on the floors and make a cooking place in the snow as well, for you can start and keep a fire burning in the snow by scooping out a hollow and spreading a layer of rice bran in it. The entire construction is called a snow hall or a snow castle. The children gather inside the walls of the snow hall and cook food. Some of this they also present to the deity, and the rest they eat together. They play house in the little walled areas they have made, visiting other ‘families’ and playing all sorts of imaginative games. When they become tired of their snow castle, tearing it down becomes yet another great game. Sometimes they rally together and launch attacks on neighboring snow castles, built by other children in the same way; sometimes they live in peace. I was a great one for these snow games when I was a boy, and quite a little general during an attack. But now the years have slipped by, and those days seem as distant as a dream.”
November 11, 2012
Contraption for scaring off wild animals. Most of the cans were beers.
Sam is obsessed with getting pictures of smokey fires. He must be an arsonist at heart, he admits. A conversation upon returning home: Sam says, “Give me back my thing,” and I answer, “I put it in with your stuff.” One of the advantages of living with someone for decades (besides having a bed-warmer in winter).
October 13, 2012
October 7, 2012
June 29, 2012
My grandfather’s letter from his mother while attending Concordia College in Minnesota. I can’t read it, it’s in German. He died when I when I was very young and all I really remember is his love of exotic stinky foreign cheeses. They smelled like poo. We’d take a sniff and run away screaming. Now I like stinky cheeses very much, yet I still haven’t warmed up to natto. I think it’s because natto is beans. Fermented beans are less exciting and rich than fermented milk, and cheeses are eaten with nice breads and crackers and fruit rather than with rice, although I know some people do eat natto with bread. It’s different, it just is. When asked by Japanese persons if I like natto, I used to be honest and say I didn’t, but now I lie and say I do. I find that if I say I don’t, this confirms the stereotype that foreigners can’t eat natto, and if I say I do, nobody believes me because foreigners can’t eat natto. So it doesn’t matter. In a gross-out smell battle between stinky cheese and natto, natto is the lightweight, let’s natto fool ourselves here.