I Want to Ride My Bicycle

Following up on my previous post, I picked up my badass new bike on Wednesday evening, and it has been pissing rain ever since. As such, I’ve ridden it to the grocery store, two minutes away by badass bike, twice, in the dark. The forecast, naturally, is calling for rain tomorrow. My dream was to get up early, crack-of-dawnish, and ride off into the sunrise to take pictures. Fingers crossed that Kanazawa’s wacky weather will defy predictions. Sort of. I don’t really want to get up that early, but I do really want to ride my new bike.

But enough about my woes. Look, it’s Ray, who recently loves carrying shit around in his mouth, especially mini-bowling pins which make him drool all over the damn place. (There’s my per-post quota for swearing, in one sentence! )

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New Wheels

I’ve been deliberating about buying a new bike for a few months now. Juggling the car between the two of us is difficult sometimes, and have a good bike to get around on will add one more element of exericise into my life. I have the carcass of a nice mountain bike that I bought about 15 years ago that for a few hundred dollars could have life breathed back into it. At the same time, I figured for a few hundred more I could get something new and shiny.

I considered getting something other than a mountain bike this time around. The majority of riding I do now is on the road, so I wanted something that was more suited for that. I didn’t want a strictly road bike, and was looking for something of a mix; they call them cross-bikes here. In English, maybe they are commuter bikes?

I ended up buying a Giant Tradist. As far as I can tell, it’s not available outside of Japan. I dig the minima, retro styling, though the first order of business will be to remove that ugly metal disc that covers the crank. It’s only an eight speed (no front derailleur), which is not what I had imagined purchasing when I started shopping around, but the bike is light (21 pounds) and has road tires, so I should be able to go pretty good.

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I ordered it from the bike shop this afternoon and should have it sometime this week. Looking forwards to getting around a little more swiftly than I do on the mamachari. Anticipation.

Back to work tomorrow, which I’m sort of OK with. Good night.

Over The River And To The Woods

I know I mentioned having a long weekend in my last post, but can’t remember if I explained why. This weekend is the school festival, and today is the day that students are setting up their stalls where they will sell food, along with preparing the campus in a bunch of other ways. The festival itself runs tomorrow and Sunday, and Monday is a cleanup day, so there are no classes. I don’t plan on being party to any of it, though I feel somewhat guilty since one of my students emailed me and asked me to stop by his stall ‘if I have time.’ Perhaps if it’s lunchtime and we have nothing to eat.

Chieko and I took advantage of having Ray in daycare to exercise our childless freedom. She went out to lunch with a friend and spent the afternoon hanging out with her.  I had to go into work for a few hours this morning but was done by 11. I got a haircut, took the train home, crashed on the couch for an hour, then jumped on the bicycle for an extended ride.

Regarding haircuts, I rarely get them, but I absolutely love getting them. My hair-mistress and I spend the first ten minutes or so catching up (I only go about 3 times a year, but she knows by basic situation), and then I close my eyes and zone out while enjoying the sensory experience of someone slowly chopping off my hair. I don’t even care so much what the end result is, since I am generally not happy with haircuts. More than anything I just enjoy having someone touch my head for 30 minutes. Sounds a bit weird, but really I just find it relaxing.

But back to the bike ride, which is the whole point of this posting. When I need to go to a home center I have two choices. One has more stuff, the other is smaller but in a more scenic place close to the mountains. I go to the latter whenever I need something that I’m sure they will have. It takes about 10 or 15 minutes to get here, and along the way there is a little town wedged between the foothills and the river that catches my eye every time I drive by. Today I made the 25-ish minute bike ride, with camera in tow, to get a closer look at the place.

A view from the opposite side of the river:

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There’s a big, busy road that crosses the river, but there’s also a nice pedestrian/cyclist-only bridge. The view is alright.

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This picture is looking back on the neighborhood/town. I was a little hesitant, as I usually am out of respect, to venture too close to anyone’s house or garden and start firing away with the camera, although there were a lot nice photo opportunities. I certainly stuck out to anyone who saw me though. This is a pretty isolated little hamlet, despite its proximity to civilization, and I doubt they get too many foreign dudes sporting cameras rolling through too often.

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A lot of the space between houses and on the outskirts is taken up with gardens, and there are only a few rice paddies between the last of the houses and the forest.

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And that’s where they set up the bear traps. There is a tantalizing, single-lane road that runs from the back end of this town up into the mountains, and I did ride my bike a little ways up. Japanese bears are little and not all that intimidating, but they can still do some damage. That reality, coupled with the fact bears are in ‘eat as much as we can before we hibernate mode’ at the moment, and thus venturing closer to humans and there gardens and garbage, kept me from going too far up the road. I’d like to go back in my bear-proof car and explore a little more.

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I rode a little bit down the narrow roads that run between the houses. The one person I greeted seemed a bit put out that I was there. There are some really old houses here, a bit of a time warp from where we live just a little ways away. As I rode through the side streets there was a faucet running into a bucket that caught my eye. I took a few pictures, then continued on only to realize that all of the houses had their spigots running, some with hoses attached and stuck into drainage canals on the side of the street (sewer isn’t the right word, but I’m not sure what is). Not sure what was going on there.

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This is the kind of place I would like to live if we are in Japan–close to all the necessities, but closer to nature. Might be a bit of sell for Chieko, but we could work something out.

That’s all I’ve got for the evening. Happy Friday!

Liftoff

Ray’s gyroscope is finally working, sort of. He can’t actually move from this position, so if he wants  to go anywhere crawling is still the preferred mode of transport.

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One of the milestones of parenthood that means nothing to those without kids.

Next up for Ray, if he’s anything like the newly-walking kids at his daycare: lots of face plants.

Four-ish day weekend underway (the -ish being that I have a meeting tomorrow morning, but otherwise don’t teach until next Tuesday). Nothing on tap other than making Ray stand up repeatedly while I try to take pictures before he collapses, taking pictures of non-Ray things, drinking wine, gardening, not getting up at 5:45, watching baseball and football, and generally loving fall.

For now, sleep looms.

Sunshine

I’ve spent a long time uploading and editing the pictures in this post, and will spend much less time writing since I need to get to bed.  I slept in yesterday, so morning Ray duty fell upon me today.  We were up around 7:30 or so, and after watching some baseball and getting at least a serviceable dose of coffee, Ray and I went out for a walk.  It was a spectacular weekend — perfect fall weather.  The light in the morning was beautiful.  I find that when I take walks on the weekend through neighborhoods is when Japan still holds the most mystique for me.  I’ve been here long enough that the major differences between Japan and America are no longer visible to me, but I always get a very novel sense of Japan on these walks.  I could expand on that idea but this paragraph is taking me forever to finish, and I should be in bed already!

Pictures from the morning.

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The afternoon was productive with another walk and lots of cleaning, followed by a little more picture taking in the afternoon light.

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Our neighbor gave Ray this little car that belonged to their son when he was little.  He digs the horn but can’t really propel himself around too well, yet.

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Bed time.