Family Pages


Introductory Remarks

Zachary wanted some thoughts on our trip. I gave some shortly after we returned (in my Xanga blog for June 4, 2003), but I'll give some more. Actually, I'm in the process of writing up a long, boring report on the trip, much like I did for our visit in 2002. Also like 2002, it will undoubtedly show up on my cheesy web site [as of June 2007 the long-boring version is still being contemplated/written — I did make a start, but ...].

[Note: If this page doesn't render properly, check out my nerd note below]

Without further adieu, here's my list:

  • Seeing Zach was cool
  • Hanging out with Zach was cool
  • Seeing someone related to me communicate fluently in a language that baffles me totally was awe inspiring
  • Our day at sumo was amazing, from the little, skinny guys in the lower divisions to the hail storm of zabuton when Asashōryū lost to Kaio. Oh, and as a singer, I was really impressed with the anouncing style of one of the yobidashi in the Makushita division. He was quite lyrical. Most of the others were prosaic. I hope he gets promoted soon.
  • I rather enjoyed listening to the chanting of the sutras at the Sensoji in Asakusa. They had an interesting and very distinct tonality. I heard it again from some pilgrims in Kōchi. As a church musician, I'm always interested in the style of other people's spiritual music.
  • Seeing Fujisan from the shinkansen window between Tōkyō and Nagoya was exciting, even if it was clouded in haze. My picture of it sucked. Go look at Zach's Fujisan instead.
  • Seeing my nephew, Dave (he also goes by Paul) is always fun. We stopped off to have lunch with Yuki and him at the Kappa restaurant in the Nagoya train station on our way to Kōchi. He is one of the most sociable and likable people I've ever known. He doesn't take after his uncle, I can tell you that. Everyone except my mother, Zach included, views me as being a crabby old bastard.
  • Getting to meet Dave's new wife, and thereby my new niece, Yuki was a treat. Her new grandmother (a.k.a Mom) likes her, and now I know why. Apparently, Yuki thinks I mumble. Get used to it sweatie, I've been mumbling for more than a half century. Some of my earliest memories are of my father's yelling at me, "Speak up, man!."
  • Meeting Katy for the first time at the EZE Palace Beer Village in Kōchi. Katy must be cool: she didn't run away screaming after finding out what Zach's parents are really like.
  • Driving across the Seto Inland Sea, hopping from one bridge to another, was quite fun. The 19 tunnels (plus a couple bonus ones they forgot to mention) heading out of Kōchi got a bit old after a while.
  • Wow, who'd have ever thought there were so many kinds of roses as we saw in the rose garden at Yoshiumi, on one of the islands along the Shimanami Tokaido between Shikoku and Honshu.
  • Yeah, we were lost when we got onto Honshu, but the countryside was quite lovely: houses, gardens, rice paddies, road side flowers....
  • The endless row of boats tied one to the next on the river through Hiroshima was quite a site.
  • A-Bomb DomeThe A-bomb dome. I finally figured out what was on the cover of the book I was reading (Black Rain by Ibuse -- read it). Miraculously, I got some very nice pictures of the A-bomb dome.
  • oridzuru The massive amounts of paper cranes draped on all the monuments in the peace park. Also, the paper-crane mosaics in the cases around the Children's Peace Monument. I found folding instructions even a dummy like me can figure out. So, since coming back, I've taken up folding them myself. We now have little flocks of おりづる (oridzuru) all over the house. I'm beginning to sprinkle flocks of nerd cranes (made from graph paper) all over my office. Some day I'll figure out how to string them together.
  • The school kids lining up before the Children's Peace Monument and singing their song. First the kids in the white hats. Then the yellow hats, .... I want to learn that song.
  • Miyajima with the Itsukushima shrine and the world-famous "floating" torii gate! We followed the changes in lighting off the torii gate as the day preceded from mid afternoon to evening. We fought off the ravenous deer (they liked straw hats and whatever was in women's purses). We ate the local delicacy, もみじ まんじゅう (momiji manju: little filled cakes shaped like maple leaves).
  • Back to the "community center" [コミュニティー・センター] in Umaji. I dunno, it feels and sounds so peaceful there. I don't suppose I could live there, but a few more days wouldn't be such a bad gig. You sit and watch the cedars and bamboo on the mountain sides for a while. Listen to the Yasuda river for a while. Go soak in the onsen for a while. Snag a ごっくん (Gokkun) from the vending machine. Take naps. Not a bad gig.
  • Lunch at the やまなみ (Yamanami) in Umaji. I didn't spill anything in my lap this time and the food was still great! For the uninitiated, you can understand the reference by reading p. 3, col. 2 of my long report from 2002's visit.
  • Zach's neighbor's trying manfully to get me to overindulge in strong spirits, yet again. He has a great heart. He also tried doing this in 2002 (long report, p.9). You can find a picture of that attempt (notice many large beer cans on the ground and many sake bottles on the table) in my 2002 pictoral summary.
  • Zach's student with the large dictionary and knowledge of many English words, but who couldn't manage even the simplest sentence.
  • Watching the mist and rain swirl around the mountains in Umaji during the typhoon. I'm not sure I ever saw horizontal sheets of rain outside a book. They do indeed exist.
  • Snagging another of the 88 temples of Shikoku (no. 31 -- Chikurin-ji). Only 86 to go!
  • The catcus collection at the Makino Botanical Garden.
  • Learning about Fuku-chan at the Yokoyama Manga museum
  • The よさこい (yosakoi) dancers in the "mall" in Kōchi
  • expanding my collection of colored stones from Katsurahama Beach. I got a great one that looks like a piece of dog poop. Yes I do know the difference.
  • Dinner at Flopsy's Kitchen (twice!). Some things are worth the wait.
  • Traditional Tosa dinner. The seared bonito in yuzu sauce was fabulous, the yamamomo sherbet wonderful, the natto, unforgivable.
  • Seeing Fujisan again, popping out of the cloud layer, as we flew out of Osaka provided a wonderful exclamation point to end our trip.
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Nerd Note

I have put a few special symbols on this page. Mostly they are the Os and Us with horizontal lines over them to indicate long vowels. I think they're called macrons. Zach says it's the only proper way to do long vowels in romanji (writing Japanese using our conventional alphabet). I also put some things down in katakana and hiragana, the two Japanese syllabaries. I did this all by typing in the special unicode characters, and noting in my header that the page was to be rendered in unicode (utf-8, I believe). It works fine on most of the browsers I checked. Then I noticed that stupid IE on my office computer didn't render the macrons properly, although it did do the katakana ok. IE on my home computer is ok, so I don't yet understand the problem. Whatever, it works fine in Opera 6 and 7, Netscape 4.7x and 7.0, and Mozilla. So why knuckle under to the meglamonia of Mr. Bill and use his crappy software anyway when you have options? You won't have options for long if Mr. Bill has his way.

Actually, I think the problem might be some kind of set-up issue. It doesn't make sense because IE on my office computer renders Japanese just fine. Anyway, to learn what to do to make your computer deal properly with unicode, or to learn to do html in unicode, check out Alan Wood's Unicode Resources. I did.

By the way. As nearly as I can tell, the only two common fonts on Windows computers that render Japanese characters properly in people's browsers are called Arial Unicode MS (ARIALUNI.TTF is the file name in your fonts folder) and MS Mincho (MSMINCHO.TTF) (MS Gothic also supports Japanese encoding, at least in IE). Make sure you have at least one of these, and select it for your default Japanese font in the browser's properties menu. You used to be able get them free from Mr. Bill's minions. They still come free with Office 2000 and Office XP, but if you have an older operating system, I'm not sure what to do. I'll contemplate the matter.

You can, of course, install multilanguage support, and then the fonts will come along with that. That should be a free download from the rapacious rapscallions in Redmond. If you have Win XP, you need the XP IME. Otherwise, go for the old-fashioned IME. IME stands for input methods editor. You also must avoid being a bonehead like me, Somehow I installed the IME, but didn't select some property on "settings/control panel/ regional and language options". Eventually Zach bailed me out. Hey, what do I know? I'm only a half a nerd. This wasn't a problem when I installed the IME on a Win98 computer. But since WinXP has been designed to be less user friendly, naturally things have become more difficult

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Last update: Saturday, December 01, 2007