Thursday, March 12, 2009

"Ladies of paradox, ladies of measure."

According to my desktop calendar which has additional notations such as the lucky and unlucky days, last Thursday was the day when bugs crawl out of the earth. I have yet to observe this, but right on the dot birds have started to appear around the school. It's strange but for everything I knew I would miss before I came, there's something that I took entirely for granted. Being able to identify the local birds is one. When I came here last spring, I would see things swooping outside - my desk faced the window - and wonder, "What on earth is that?" So possibly the best Christmas present I got was a "Birds of Japan" book <3. Now if I see something on the balcony railing during class, I try to remember its main features, and look it up when I get back to the staff room. Then I stick a post-it on that page with the date and place I saw it. I get pretty excited when I see a new one, so expect to get amateur bird-watching reports from now on along with the amateur everything else. So far the ones that make me happiest are the ones that are unmistakable, as the ones that could be a few different breeds and I didn't really see them close are frustrating. One that there are plenty of around the school, bathing in puddles and drying on trees, are Eurasian Tree Sparrows - notice the little black cheek spots? It likes to chirp during tests until frustrated students mutter, "Shut up." Another unmistakable one is the Oriental Turtle Dove - I love the dark feathers with orange edging. It hangs around in the bushes on my bike route to school. At first I thought, "Oh, just some kind of pigeon with scary red eyes." I suppose I thought doves have to be angelic white. I'm thinking of spending the break before school starts in April looking for good bird-watching places in the prefecture. Unfortunately all the information about such things online is in Japanese...

I live right next to a Kentucky Fried Chicken, or "Kentaki" as it's known here. It makes a good reference point when people ask for directions. But invariably people ask if I eat there, like, all the time. Because everyone knows how much Americans eat, it has to be either steak or friend chicken. I haven't gone there once in a year, even when I'm too exhausted to make dinner and good smells are wafting over. I'm often amused by the statue of the Colonel out front, which they bring in at night and wipe down when it rains and dress in a Santa outfit. Well, apparently one such statue has a history. It was pulled out a river in Osaka, where it was thrown 25 years ago celebrating a victory for a baseball team - and blamed for their subsequent losses.


Poem of the Day: Not all Japanese related, but I'm always a big fan of whatever Neil Gaiman writes, whether it's witty fantasy or the best blog online or sweet children's poetry, such as this:

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