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Showing posts from January, 2013

I'm off to sunny South Africa

I will be in sunny South Africa for most of February.

Yay. Sunshine, temperatures in the high twenties, long white deserted beaches, cheap fruit, friends, family, Afrikaans, earthy humour, crazy drivers, bad service, slow internet, chaos, crime and corruption! I can't wait!
I'm not being facetious. I think I've become way too complacent in Japan. You see, third-world countries …
Oh, I know I should be politically correct and refer to them as developing countries, but to hell with that. I need to practice blunt speech now that I'm going back. SA is a banana republic. It just happens to be exceptionally beautiful and relatively more efficient than other banana republics in Africa.
Anyway, you see, life in a banana republic has its own joys: energy, vitality, unpredictability, spontaneity, madness, laughter, creativity, warmth, no rules, no restrictions, no manners, danger, excitement, adrenaline.
SA is not a safety country, but it's my home, and it's good to be g…

The glory of classical music

The world turns in giant circles of civilizations. What dominates today will die tomorrow. Culture is relative.
Yet. Oh, yet.
Western civilization, which I have criticised so mercilessly while living in both Africa and Asia, has one glorious highlight that has never been equalled by any other.
What is this splendour whereof Ru speaketh?
Science? No. Technology? No. Philosophy? No. Democracy? No. Equality for women? No.
Literature? Shakespeare, Chekhov, Proust, Eliot and Tolkien rule, IMO, but no. War? You could argue that Western civilization has killed more effectively than any other rival, but actually, no, not war.
Music. Classical music.
Has any civilization produced anything remotely as magnificent as Corelli, Monteverdi, Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Mendelssohn, Verdi, Arvo Pärt?
No. I offer as evidence ...

However, let us not forget that Western civilization also unleashed Justin Bieber upon the world. Canada, why?! I thought all Canadian men were real men who wore dashing Mounti…

Got a thorn in your side? Here's help.

Tamura was a samurai who lived in Edo. He was a tough guy, as samurai had to be, but he was helpless against his wife's illness. Doctors couldn't cure her and she was pining away. So her husband prayed to Jizō, devotedly, asking for salvation.

Jizō answered in a dream. Tamura was told to draw pictures of the god and to float them on a river. When the samurai awoke, a block of wood with a picture of Jizō on the surface had appeared at his bedside. Tamura covered the surface in red ink, made ten thousand impressions and released the papers in the Sumida River.

His wife recovered.

Tamura thought the block of wood was too sacred to keep. He donated it to a temple called Kōgan-ji(高岩寺), which was located in the Kanda area at that time (late 1600s, early 1700s). It was moved to Sugamo in the 1800s and now stands in Jizō-dōri (地蔵通り), which I wrote about in this post.

Ready for the second part of the story? Let's visit another household, this time belonging to a lord of the famousMōri …

Sugamo's sexy red bloomers for little old ladies

This is sexy! This is sooo sexy that an accompanying pamphlet warns you: "3 cm or 4 cm below your belly button, there is a point called Tan-Den. Even a touch to here may makes your feel warm! Notice: When sleeping, Red Panty may cause you excite and make you sleepless."
This alarmed me so much that I prudently bought red socks for myself rather than red bloomers. Warm excite feet sound manageable.

I bet you're asking yourself, "What is Ru gaaning aan about?"
Let me tell you about Sugamo. Sugamo is a neighbourhood in the northeastern curve of the Yamanote Line that runs around Tokyo's centre. It's famous for a shopping street called Jizō-dōri(地蔵通り), also known as the Harajuku for grannies, but if you were to write it off as a geriatric graveyard, you'd be making a grave mistake. It's true that most of the shoppers can probably remember the Great Tokyo Air Raid of 1945 – heck, even the Great Kanto Earthquake of 1923 – but the beauty of this area …