Spring in Ueno 上野の春

Ueno Park April 2014Today I took a walk through Ueno Park, very close to where I live. Since last week there have been all kinds of people, Japanese and non-Japanese, flocking to the park for cherry blossom viewing.

It seems like there are more birds out too. The common gulls (Larus canus) are now out in addition to the slightly smaller black-headed gulls (Larus ridibundus) that can usually be seen at Shinobazu Pond. They’re all getting along quite nicely. Pretty soon the insects will be back too. Spring is here!

Parties on Blue Tarps, Ueno ParkDrinking sake and nibbling on food under the blossoms sure is nice. Today too, parties were sitting on their blue tarps, cheerfully carrying on. I noticed that everybody takes their shoes off before sitting on the tarps. I suppose it’s best to keep the area clean and cozy since some people end up drinking too much and falling asleep.

Common and Black-headed Gulls, Shinobazu PondJapan sure is nice in spring.

今日は近所にある上野公園をちょっと散歩してきました。先週から花見のためにものすごい人がいます。日本人も外国人もいて、にぎやかです。

Ueno Park, 2014人間だけじゃなく、鳥も増えている気がします。ちなみに、不忍池にいつも見かけるユリカモメだけじゃなく、もうちょっと大きいカモメも来ています。皆仲良くやっているみたいです。もう少ししたら虫も出てくるでしょう。(おけら、毛虫、ゲジ〜 ♪)春ですね。

Ueno Park, April 2014花の下でお酒を飲んだり、つまみ食いをしたりするというのはいいですね。今日も、ブルーシートの上に座る皆さんがとても陽気でいい感じでした。一つ気づいたことがあって、皆ブルーシートに座る前に靴をちゃんと脱ぐんですね。まあ、飲み過ぎて寝てしまう方もいるので、きれいに気持ちよくやった方がいいですね。

日本の春は本当にいいですね。

My Brother Loves Japan’s Plums 我が弟梅好き

Yesterday Philip and I went to Osaka Castle Park to enjoy the beautiful and fragrant plum tree orchard, which is now in full bloom. So far he has enjoyed trying new foods, riding trains, and exploring supermarkets, but he seems to have loved the plums trees in full bloom more than anything. He was thoroughly impressed and took many pictures.

Today we will go watch day one of the Osaka Grand Sumô tournament.

We will also be thinking of all the victims and families affected by the 3/11/2011 Tôhoku Megaquake and subsequent tsunamis and nuclear disasters. Today marks one year since the tragedies, but there are still many people displaced, and affected areas are still in the process of recovering. Please consider making even a small contribution to relief organizations such as the Japanese Red Cross (link on side bar →).

Hanshin Madhouse 阪神混乱

Today we went with Somemaru Hanshin, a major department store in Umeda. We had to buy ingredients for osechi, traditional Japanese food to be made and eaten over the New Year’s holiday, the first few days of the new year. I’ve heard that the idea behind osechi is to give mothers and wives, who are generally busy in homes throughout the year, a break from the kitchen at the beginning of the year. Since Somemaru does virtually all the cooking in his house, the time off will be his. I’ll write more about osechi and New Years at Somemaru’s in the coming days.

Because the country all but closes down for the first few days of the new year, everybody seemed to be out taking care of their year-end shopping. The trains were packed outside of rush hour, and Hanshin was a madhouse! It was all fun for  me though, because I usually don’t get to see such sites. It really reminded me of the situation in American shopping malls immediately before and after  Christmas Day. Instead of doing last-minute Christmas shopping and gift returns, people in Japan are buying up food that keeps well, and New Years decorations.

今日は染丸師匠とお節の材料などを買いに梅田の阪神百貨店に行きました。どこかで聞いたんですが、お節を作る意味は普段キッチンなどで忙しい母・婦人をお正月の期間に休ますためであります。染丸師匠の家では、彼はほとんどの料理するので、お正月にできるお休みは師匠のためですねぇ。師匠の家でのお節やお正月過ごしについて明日も明後日ももうちょっと書きます。

お正月の期間、4日まではほとんどの店が閉まっているので、今日はその準備のために日本人のミナは年末の最後の買い物に出かけていた感じがしました。ラッシュアワーじゃないのに電車に人がいっぱいし、阪神百貨店も大混雑していました。しかし、普段はこんな景色は見れない僕にとっては、大変楽しかったです。実は、アメリカでのクリスマスのすぐ前と後のショッピング・モールの状態を思い出しました。日本のお正月前では、ぎりぎり最後のクリスマスショッピンッグやその後のプレゼント返品などするより、日本の皆さん方は長く保存できる食べ物やお正月の飾りを買うんですね。

 

Narimono kyôshitsu 鳴物教室

Today Aisome and I drove Somemaru to the Hanjôtei rakugo theater. Today was narimono kyôshitsu (yose instrument class) day. Somemaru gave a dance lesson to some eager zenza (lit. “first-seat,” storytellers in training who go on first during rakugo programs). Fortunately, Somemaru allows me to participate too. Today we learned the dance “Fukugawa,” and reviewed one that we had learned previously, “Kappa.” Some of the zenza are so good, while I’m still having a hard time remembering all the moves. I couldn’t take any pictures during the lesson, so I took one in the car on the way back to Somemaru’s house.

Once we got back, I took this picture of Somemaru and Aisome. This is a Japanese maple tree that they planted earlier in the year, and they are thrilled to see that the tree to doing so well to put on such a colorful display. Somemaru and Aisome also look great in kimono, don’t they?

今日は愛染さんと車で染丸師匠を繁昌亭まで送りました。今日は鳴物教室の日でした。師匠は熱心な前座に踊りを教えていらっしゃいました。有難いことに、僕もその中に入れていただけました。今日習った踊りは「福川」で、先月習った「カッパ」を復習しました。とてもお上手な前座は何人かいるけど、僕はまだそれぞれの型を覚えるのはちょっと難しいです。お稽古中に写真は撮れなかったので、帰りに車の中で撮りました。

帰ったら師匠と愛染さんの写真を撮りました。今年彼らがこの紅葉を裏庭に植えました。生き生きしていて、そしてこんなに派手な色に変わり、二人はとても喜んでいました。師匠も愛染さんも着物姿でとても素敵じゃないですか。