Bamboo Redo

A little while ago I posted some pictures of the bamboo forest full of snow. They were nice, but they weren’t the pictures that I had hoped to take, so since then I’ve had this urge burning in the back of my mind to go back to the bamboo forest and try my luck again. There are so many good pictures just waiting to be taken in there, with the light dancing around and the crackling and popping of bamboo going off every few minutes, making me think there must be a bear or a deer or an axe murdering poking around a little deeper into the forest than I happen to be. It’s an atmospheric place that can make the hair on the back of your neck stand up pretty quickly.

Apparently there’s a pretty short window of time for me to venture into the bamboo forest. A few weeks ago the snow was too deep, and a few weeks from now the place will be tethered front to back with spider webs and giant spiders, which freak the hell out of me. So now is the time, just before spring. The snow is gone and the spiders have yet to hatch.

To get to the bamboo forest you have to walk a short distance through a traditional forest. Both the trees and the bamboo are heavily groomed, so it’s pretty easy to move around. The border between the two is stark.

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And then you’re in.

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Today was a beautiful day, but the bamboo really comes alive when the wind is howling. I’ll have to try and get back when the weather is less ideal. The sounds alone must be beautiful.

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A lot of mythical creatures in Japanese stories exist in the forests, and for me the bamboo forest the quintesential Japanese forest, so when I’m in here I get the sense that I’m not alone and that I’m bordering on some kind of supernatural world. Perhaps reading way to much into things, but something about these forests gets me. I dig them.

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Other stuff…

Chieko is now 36 weeks pregnant and not having a good time. She’s having a recurrence of morning sickness (which really should have a different name since it occurs 24 hours a day), coupled with the baby kicking the shit out of her insides on a regular basis. According to the doctor, the baby is big enough (2500 g) to be safely born, and seems to be doing everything within his power to get out of Chieko. I don’t see how he will remain inside of her until the April 10 due date, but of course I have no idea what I’m talking about.

I don’t think the reality that we are about to have a second child has set in yet, for me at least. Chieko is of course fully aware of the situation. Ray takes so much of my energy and attention that I haven’t really bothered to process the fact that our life is about to get twice as busy. Part of it is that I have the experience of raising one kid so far, so what’s one more? Part of it is also my attitude that we’ll figure it out, even if we aren’t mentally prepared for having a second kid. And part of it is that I’m enjoying this last gasp of a relatively simple life before it gets ratcheted up another notch on the scale of complications. One benefit of all these feelings is that I’m sure to be blown out of the water when I see this next little boy for the first time.

Oh, and last week I submitted my application for permanent residency. Hopefully that will be resolved soon and without incident.

Otherwise, same old same old going on here. Spring is in the air!

When in doubt…

I really need to do something interesting to breathe some life back into this blog, especially since I’m on vacation. Alas, I’m busy doing everyday stuff that is deeply satisfying to me but not very interesting to write about. It’s supposed to rain for the next week, but I’m determined to take a drive up the Noto Peninsula as soon as the weather clears. Stunning pictures will surely follow. So when in doubt and your blog is collecting dust, why not dump a bunch of pictures of your lovely spawn? At least your mother will be happy.

We took a trip to the beach yesterday to let Ray frolic amongst the sand and dog carcasses. Winter is surely caput here but it’s still deceivingly chilly out, especially with a good wind kicked up.

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When we got home, Chieko promptly lopped off the majority of Ray’s lovely locks. For once, he didn’t flip out and cry like a baby the entire time. It could be that a trash bag is less smothering than the usual large, wire-framed hair-catching contraption that Chieko usually drapes over Ray during hair cuts (which, at a whopping 100 yen, didn’t last very long).

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But the real story in my life is that last week, after pestering my wife for several weeks, I finally took delivery of my home gym: power rack, bench, 100 kg of barbell plates and 60 kg of dumbell plates.

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Having this setup in my our tatami room, I have increased the intensity and frequency of my workouts, so we’ll see what kind of effect it all has on my bodice. The down side is that I’ve also been slipping back into my bottle-or-so-of-wine a night rut that I inevitably revert to during vacations. Need to ratchet it up the will power in that regard, just as soon as my current stash is gone.

Today I picked up my renewed work visa, and at the same time got an application for permanent residency. After that, since we had time, Chieko and I went by work and then the city hall to get the documents that need to be submitted with my application (a form from work stating that I am employed for eternity, and papers from the city hall showing that I pay all my taxes and live where I claim to live). Chieko also needs to get a form from her hometown that proves she is really Japanese and that we are married.

I was surprised that applying for permanent residency was so easy. When I looked into applying for a spousal visa they wanted all sorts of forms and pictures that prove we have known each other for an acceptably long amount of time — a bunch of stuff that seemed like a pain in the butt to track down. It’s really easy to get hitched in Japan though, and I suppose a lot of people try to take advantage of that to get a visa. The paperwork needed for permanent residency is much more straight forward and harder to fudge. If you meet the requirements, it seems like a pretty smooth process though.

Other exciting stuff? Hold on tight for this! Washed our car over the weekend for the first time since the fall! Opened a new bank account today, and get this….closed a different bank account! After that we ate at Subway, and it sucked! (Really, pass on Japanese Subway if you have any expectations.) You want more? At the end of the month I’m reading English story books to little kids at the library! But in all seriousness, it was good to get out and make a dent in a long list of small things that I have been wanting/needing to do…things add up.

Finally, if your sense of humor is in the gutter like mine and you have an hour to kill, please listen to the Comedy Bang Bang podcast, especially the recent episode titled ‘Climbing the Ladder.’

OK, pictures of Noto coming soonish. Hope all is well.