Cooling Off

Last Thursday the temperature reached 38°C (100° F) here as a high pressure area lingered off shore of the Kanto region. During the previous week, over seven thousand people suffered heat stroke in Japan and a few died. Earlier in the month, former Japan international soccer player Naoki Matsuda died, at age 34, two days after suffering a cardiac arrest during training.

One 75 year old man died as he was waiting for an electrician to install an air conditioner in his apartment scheduled for the following day. Not having air conditioning or even a fan, he had suffered heat stroke events in previous years and had decided to do something about it. A day late.

We don't use air conditioning, but have plenty of electric fans. We just stayed indoors with windows shaded by awnings and fans blowing - reading, taking naps, and sipping cold mugicha (roasted barley tea). A tenugui (printed cotton towel) helped to mop our brows - or sometimes we wore one with a cold pack in the folds.

Me wearing a tenugui at Lake Ashinoko in 2007. That's Mt. Fuji that you don't see in the background. If you want to see it, visit this post: Pirates of Ashinoko

Since it was cooler on the patio than in the house, Momo slept under the bench on the front porch which has been cloaked in sun tarps that cut the temperature considerably. I also cool it by wetting down the ground in front of it using a sprinkler. At times, she even has a fan to move the air out there.

Meanwhile, at the zoo, a distant cousin, an orangutan, had a similar strategy. We've never visited Tama Zoo, but we hear it is great, with animals exhibited in natural habitats...

"Laugh with glee at a chimpanzee, he reminds you of someone in your family" - lyrics from "Never Smile at a Crocodile" ~ Disney's Peter Pan (1953).

The weather changed drastically on Friday, with rain bringing much lower temperatures 22° C (71.6 F). Quite a drop! Momo, with her summer cut, found it a bit too chilly for her, and spent today in her indoor cage.

The coming week will see slightly higher temperatures , but cloudy weather will keep it reasonably comfortable (29° C).

We have another trip coming up - heading north on the newest Shinkansen train (the only way to fly) for a couple of days in the Tohoku region - yes, the area worst hit by the Great Earthquake and Tsunami of 3/11. Stay tuned...


On Course

I like food as much as sailing, so perhaps I can be forgiven for thinking that the blog "Proper Course" was about dining etiquette.

I don't know if this is considered "proper" for a sailing blog, but we had no sailing pics today for the Sweet Bluesette blog. Perfectly fine here, "of course".

We had thought of sailing with Martin (see Viking Invades Hinuma about Martin) and his brother who is visiting from Sweden, but they made other plans (a baseball game at Tokyo Dome). Good call, as the day was a hot one and the trains and roads they'd have to ride to get here were crowded with Bon season travelers.

Then we were going to take our niece to lunch as she returns home tonight and her mom had to work today, so she had naught to do. But then her grandmother brought her sushi, so lunch with us was off. Another change of course.

We decided to go to lunch on our own, to one of the many Italian places we like - Trattoria Buona Fortuna. The set lunch sounded good. We were warned it took an hour or more, but that just made it more appealing to us as we could linger in the air conditioned restaurant longer while outside the temperature was 93°F and the heat index was hitting 100°.

So, today we just have food pics. Choose your favorite course - proper or otherwise.

click on a photo to zoom in

Lovely appetizer plate of veggies lettuce and potato salad topped with prosciutto, followed by spaghetti with eggplant and tomato sauce, trout stuffed with mushrooms, and bread with olive oil.

Dessert was ice cream with caramel sauce, two cakes - one made with earl grey tea, the other with green tea and chocolate chips - and a small pastry.

We did dilly-dally, and spent a good hour and a half (or more - I lost track).


Full Moon Tonight

There is something special about a full moon, especially in August. In the northern hemisphere it is harvest time, for Buddhists it is Obon - a time to express appreciation for those who have gone before us - and everywhere it marks the endless cycles of life and love. Or perhaps it is just that a full moon gets our attention by reflecting the sun so brightly and we stop looking down at our earthbound workaday lives, and start looking up to the heavens and are inspired by what we see.

Here is Imai Miki singing "Moonlight Lovers"....

"Hey, boys & girls, don't be afraid, look at the sky
Can't you see the full moon? Tonight's the night"


Let Me Take You Up

'Cause we're going to Lavender Fields.

Nothing is real...

and nothing to get hung about...

Lavender fields forever...

We flew to Hokkaido in an attempt to beat the heat. Momo the Wonder Dog stayed in an air conditioned doggy hotel while we were away. It was only a few degrees cooler in Hokkaido, so Momo got the better of that deal. We did see some beautiful scenery. It was my first flight in almost 7 years, my first domestic Japanese flight, and Kimie's first ever domestic flight as well. (Normally, we take the Shinkansen). And our first time to see Hokkaido. It seems so big! About the size of the State of Maine. It is 20% of the land area of Japan with only 4.4% of the population.

We were gone a week and saw lots more than flowers. Waterfalls, lakes, horses, sea ports, an Ainu village, and more. For those who are interested, see all the pics plus videos and comments, at this page on Picasa: Hokkadio 2011.

Lavender fields forever.

*top photo: John and Yoko, Sean and (?) at Fujiya Hotel (Hakone) in 1978. 2nd photo - Pandabonium and K, same spot, 2007.