The roads to Sado – Day 5

The roads to Sado – Day 5

I had my morning carton of coffee, microwaved hotto cakey and fruit-cocktail-suspended-in-jelly on a bench overlooking the bay, and was soon joined by a man out walking his dog. He looked to be about sixty, and wore large-framed spectacles, a floppy hat and a fishing vest, while his labrador had a pronounced limp and the biggest, dangliest pair of dog’s bollocks I had ever seen. I was disappointed to find out that the dog was called Park (as in, er,…

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The roads to Sado – Day 6

The roads to Sado – Day 6

After the morning commute, there is a period of about four hours during which most of the buses on Sado are idle, so sleeping late rather scuppered my plans for sightseeing. After studying the timetable in some detail, I decided to head for Futatsugamé at the far north-eastern tip of the island (seen from above, Sado is shaped like a kind of laterally elongated figure of eight, with four corresponding ‘corners’), and after catching the bus from Sawata to Ryotsu,…

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The roads from Sado – Day 7

The roads from Sado – Day 7

The hard-to-understand and hard-to-deal-with caretaker was back from his holidays, and had been collecting rubbish on the beach with some colleagues of his from the local council. They had been up since four in the morning, he said, and I realised as I was packing my gear onto the Rock Spring that in my eagerness to clean up the barbecue area a couple of days earlier, I had thrown away their toothbrushes, having mistaken them for the lost property of…

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The roads from Sado – Day 8

The roads from Sado – Day 8

I woke up at about 6.30, got dressed, rolled up my sleeping bag and camping mat and unzipped the tent flap, only to find myself completely surrounded by school children. There was a sort of Mexican stand-off moment where we all stood and stared at each other, before I broke the silence by whispering a polite ‘good morning’ (somehow it didn’t feel right to raise my voice) and almost tip-toed my way to the car park to start loading the…

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The roads from Sado – Day 9

The roads from Sado – Day 9

This photo was taken at 5.30am, because, quite frankly, I was a bit anxious about the whole nojuku thing and hadn’t slept very well. For that added touch of surrealism, I had managed to pitch the Snow Peak directly behind Bokushi-dohri, a shopping street constructed in the Edo style as a kind of living museum, so there was some nice architecture to look at as I cycled off into the sunrise. Stopping for my usual convenience store breakfast, I met…

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The roads from Sado – Day 10

The roads from Sado – Day 10

As I was passing through the outskirts of Numata City, Mrs M called to ask if I wanted her to come and pick me up.‘I’ve got to work tomorrow,’ she said, ‘but I could drive to Nikko today and we could put your bicycle in the back of the car.’I have to say that for a moment or two I was tempted by the offer, but male pride can be a powerful thing. If I accepted, I would officially have…

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The roads from Sado – Day 11

The roads from Sado – Day 11

Even after leaving Nikko I was still going downhill, and the road to Utsunomiya was an unexpected treat. Route 119 is known as Nikko Suginamiki (日光杉並木 / Nikko Cedar Avenue), and is listed in the Guinness Book of Records as the longest tree-lined thoroughfare in the world. Way back in 1625, a local bigwig called Masatsuna Matsudaira began planting cedar here, and there are now more than 12,000 over the course of thirty-five kilometres. The only downside to its 400-year…

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Thoughts on the occasion of Muzuhashi Junior’s first birthday

Thoughts on the occasion of Muzuhashi Junior’s first birthday

I once read an article in which the psyche of a new-born baby was likened to that of someone who is falling in love for the first time in Paris, every single day. In other words, as a baby one has to cope with almost continual sensory and emotional overload: every experience is new, every object is mysterious and every interaction with another human being is potentially revelatory, or ecstatic, or heartbreaking. As M Jr reaches her first birthday, I…

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Glad tidings

Glad tidings

Mrs M is pregnant! Actually she’s been pregnant since late last year, but I’ve waited until well past the antei-ki (安定期 / literally ‘stability time’ – ie. the point at which it’s OK to tell your friends, relatives and readers) before writing a blog post about it. Surprisingly enough – and in the first of what will no doubt be numerous differences between the British and Japanese experience of child rearing – while I would describe Mrs M as beings…

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Preggers pt 2

Preggers pt 2

Mrs M is now seven months’ pregnant (or eight if you count them the Japanese way), and we keep ourselves amused of an evening by watching Muzuhashi Junior on the move. She seems to be most active just after we’ve eaten and just after we’ve gone to bed, and like a cat in a sack, when she kicks her legs or wiggles her arms, little comedy bulges appear in Mrs M’s bump. Late last year, though, when we had only…

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