Monday, September 22, 2008

Neighborhood Parks

Parks seem to always have a dirt surface here. Not always really attractive, but it probably saves a lot of money in watering and maintenance.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Urban Planning-ish Observations

  • Traffic lights here are blue rather than green when signaling "go." (I think it's really more of a teal...)
  • It seems like power lines aren't ever buried here, because streets are just loaded with them overhead. It drives me crazy to look at, because I think it takes away so much from the aesthetic of the street. Purty, huh?
  • Within our neighborhood, even within a couple of blocks, there is a big mix of housing types. From lower-end apartments to large (for here anyway) estate type houses. The drastic difference would be hard to find in the US, but anything nicer than the lowest-end apartment building is gated, which I'm not crazy about. I think it takes away some of the allure of the 'mixed' environment - because is it really mixed if everyone's behind a gate?

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Fill 'er Up

After grocery shopping last night, we headed to a nearby gas station to fill up our car (aka 'Peri'). You can choose to go to a full-service or a self-service station, and since there isn't a price difference, I'm not sure why anyone would choose a self-service station. At the full-service station, a worker comes running at your car and helps direct you to a pump. Then they will clean your windshield and mirrors, take away any trash you might have in your car, and give you a damp cloth to clean off your dashboard with. And, like everywhere else in Japan, there's no tipping - now that's service!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Summer Sun in Seto

Yesterday A, M, & I went to Seto and met up with Y & N for the city's annual pottery festival. It was a great event, and all of us found a lot of great deals.

It happened to be a very warm and very sunny day, so the vast majority of Japanese women were covered head to toe in clothing and carrying parasols, while I was a human puddle in shorts and a tank top. N was wearing long capri pants which left maybe 4-5 inches of leg exposed, and she told me that the sun was hurting her skin. I ended up with a good sunburn even after loading on the spf earlier in the day, but I just can't imagine trying to wear long pants and long sleeves in the heat and humidity here.

The women here even stay shielded from the sun while biking, there are special clips you can attach to your bike that your parasol can lock into so you don't have to hold it while you bike. I've also seen hand/arm protectors that are connected to the handlebars, so you can just slip your arms in and be protected from the sun.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Interesting Jobs

At almost any decently sized store here, whether at the grocery or the electronics store, you'll see parking attendants. Sometimes there are multiple attendants, all focused on their individual mission - whether it is getting you to the appropriate parking spot, helping you exit the parking lot, or stopping traffic in order to let pedestrians safely walk by.

I thought that job would be hard to top, but yesterday I saw a uniform clad individual scraping moss off of the edges of a parking lot. I had actually thought it was pretty.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Verdict - Our Green Thumbs Are a Very Pale Shade of Green

Our spinach and rocket greens have been covered with scale insects. After diligently washing them off daily they seem to be doing better, but the nasty critters seem to have found a more welcoming home on the basil. Arrrggghh.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Get in Gear

Despite the hilly nature of the land here most bikes seem to only have a gear or two, rather than the mountain bikes you might expect. They always have a basket on the front, often one on the back as well, and I have yet to see anyone wearing a helmet.