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Month: November 2012

A walk in the woods

A walk in the woods

Before embarking on my cycling-tour-stroke-endurance-test to Sado Island last summer, I decided to build up my stamina with a spot of hiking. On a typically sweltering August afternoon, I parked the car at a michi-no-eki (道の駅 / roadside services), took a precautionary photo of the route – as displayed on a nearby information board – and headed west along a narrow valley road. The footpath I wanted was so well hidden that I walked straight past it the first time,…

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Karoh-shi 過労死

Karoh-shi 過労死

Many of us have had reason to complain about our job at some point or another, but the next time you feel like handing in your resignation and storming out of the office in a huff, spare a thought for the subject of this recent news story:Death by overwork: only three days off in thirteen months – charges filed against presidents of confectionery company The supervisory office for labour standards in Mito City and the Mito City public prosecutor’s office…

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Shiohigari / 潮干狩り

Shiohigari / 潮干狩り

Okah-san grew up by the seaside, so from an early age she would go foraging for shellfish and crustacea, an activity that is known as shiohigari (潮干狩り / literally ‘tide hang-out-to-dry hunt’). While the in-laws live a few miles inland these days, okah-san still tries to go shiohigari-ing at least once or twice every summer, and last week she took Mrs M and I along to show us how it’s done. With their combination of rock formations, pebbles, sand and…

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Soba-uchi 蕎麦打ち

Soba-uchi 蕎麦打ち

The kocho-sensei at my junior high school was originally a science teacher, and under his guidance, the four special needs students do more gardening and botany-based activities than anything on their official timetable. A few weeks before Christmas I joined them in the school allotment to help harvest the soba (蕎麦 / buckwheat) crop, which was then left to dry in the sun. A few days later the soba seeds, which are wrapped in shiny black husks, were separated out…

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