Tuesday, February 28, 2006


Our townhouse complex recently posted this sign - just to let us know what we're missing. :) Posted by Picasa

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Fujifilm F11

Here I am on birthday number twenty-nine, not including the original, taken with my brand-new camera! It's compact, easy to use, with all the functions I thought I wanted and more! I haven't had a lot of opportunity to play with it yet, but I really like it! Posted by Picasa

Da Mauro

My birthday dinner was at our favorite Italian restaurant, in Nagoya or anywhere - Da Mauro! Small and intimate and ranging from very reasonably-priced pasta dishes to special-treat meals of several courses, Da Mauro is one of our sure winners. The Italian chef speaks English and comes out to take our order. The first time we went there, he came out and asked, "What do you want to eat?" Mike told him he was looking for something with sausage and a cream sauce; did they have anything like that? The chef said, "Yes, of course, I make! I make the pasta, I make the sauce, I make the sausage, I put it together, I make. Whatever you want, I make." Wow! Have you ever heard of service like that in America?? Mike's looking a little uncomfortable here because my camera has a bright green light that lights up in low-light settings. Posted by Picasa


Continuing Birthday Coverage

Happy birthday to me! Chuck and Fraya sent me some beautiful flowers, Mom and Dad sent me some shirts and a movie, and Mike got me a new camera! We've enjoyed them all already: the flowers are beautiful, the movie was fun, and the camera is just what I had in mind! Posted by Picasa


Friday, February 24, 2006

The Primrose Path

Actually, Mike is walking along a Japanese camellia path. I upped the color saturation in this picture so you can see them a little better on the right side of the path. These plants are blooming everywhere right now, in everything from little shrub shapes like you see here to carefully-formed trees. The variety is pretty incredible. Incidentally, this was the last photo I was able to take at the gardens on this day because I'd used so much of the battery power at Hadaka Matsuri. Oops! Posted by Picasa

Posing with Peonies

Here I am posing with the peonies. It sounded like there was something special about the straw "tents" that the peonies were in, but I don't know what their significance is. It may be a combination of the practical (protection from light frost) and aesthetic (framing the flowers). Posted by Picasa

Tokugawa Gardens

Last weekend, Mike and I took a winter tour of Tokugawa Garden. They had a special display of (I think) Japanese peonies, which were pretty. The flowers were similar to American peonies but less dense, and the foliage, too, was a bit more delicate. Posted by Picasa

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Two Years Old!

Here I am on my second birthday in the bedroom that was mine until we moved when I was five. Ben and I shared it after Mark was born. I remember that the tigers used to move on the wallpaper, but I don't think anyone believed me. :) Posted by Picasa


Grandma and Meika

Here I am hanging out with Grandma Zoet on my first birthday! Posted by Picasa


Mom and Meika

Here we are in the hospital, twenty-nine years ago. Twenty-nine years!!! Yikes. See the teddy bear on the nightstand? That's Jill, and she was a gift from my daddy on the day I was born. I still have her, though I stopped sleeping with her a few years ago to keep any more of her limbs from needing to be held on with safety pins - or her head, heaven forbid! Posted by Picasa


Today's My Birthday!!!

And I've never been one to keep that quiet! :) Since Mom and Dad were kind enough to send me some baby pictures... here's a little show on birthdays past! Here, the original birthday! Look, I already have a double chin. Posted by Picasa


Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Raw Shellfish

Mike and I went to the rotating sushi bar in Yagoto this week! Yum, yum, yum... We sat there wishing that we could order in Japanese, because the people sitting beside us got all this nice fresh stuff. We were completely dependent up on what the conveyer belt brought by! At any rate, Mike took this picture of me on his phone. I'm about to consume some raw shellfish... I think that this is scallop on rice. It's actually much more tender and flavorful raw. You should definitely try this at home! Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, February 21, 2006


This is a scene that I first thought was really entertaining, but the more I think about it the more sad it is to me. After everyone else had left, this man remained - an older guy, at least in his seventies I would say. He sat on his knees outside the door where the shin-otoko had entered, shouting...pleading. I only understood one word: "oneigashimasu." This means, roughly, "please do this for me." If the waitress comes around with a coffeepot and asks if you'd like more coffee, you say, "onegaishimasu." If a deliveryman comes to your house, you say "oneigashimasu" as you buzz him in. As far as I could tell, this man was begging the shin-otoko to return and let him touch him. "He's had too much sake," I thought, amused. But he wasn't giving up; he kept sitting there, kept yelling. Amusement replaced with pity: this old man sitting naked in the mud, either so guilty or so unlucky that he's willing to humiliate himself in the slim hope of having this burden removed from him, this desperate fear of the gods' malice. What's so ironic is that he has the right idea - there is a shin-otoko, a god-man, who really can wash away our evil deeds, our unkindness and anger, and even our fear. "Day after day, every priest stands and performs his religious duties; again and again he offers the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But when this priest [Jesus] had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, [his job done]...For by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy." (Source here.) Year after year, men gather here in a vain attempt to shed their bad deeds and bad luck, some for sport and some from fear - never knowing that the deed has been done! There's no need to stand out in the cold (fun as it is): all of our badness has already been heaped upon the real shin-otoko, Jesus; he was sacrificed and punished and actually killed on our behalf; he showed that this dark, powerful force of death could not conquer him... He loved us - and still does! - with an absolutely perfect love that drives out all fear. (More on this here.) Stand up, little man! This isn't a gift you need to beg for! The real shin-otoko loves you with a love beyond anything you can imagine. Posted by Picasa


It Ain't Over Till the Fat Lady Sings

Or so these guys seem to think. Give up, guys! Go home! Put some clothes on! Does your mother know that you're out in this cold without a coat on?? :) Posted by Picasa


The Thinker

Just contemplating the events of the day... Posted by Picasa


And that's it!

Before I really even knew what was happening, it was over and the place was clearing out. Can you believe how wet the courtyard is? Posted by Picasa


Get him!

The crowd goes wild... Posted by Picasa


I'm curious...

Such incredible effort to reach this guy! I wonder how many of the participants did this on a lark and how many really believed that the shin-otoko could take away their "bad luck and evil deeds." For more background on the Hadaka Matsuri festival, click herePosted by Picasa


After him!

Can you imagine being the man in the middle of all this? It's a great honor to be chosen to be the shin-otoko - and more than a little terrifying! Injuries are not uncommon, and I think I even heard that deaths, while rare, are not entirely unheard of. The shin-otoko is selected by lot. First, anyone who is willing to be shin-otoko sends in their name. From all the willing, a few candidates are selected. One is chosen by the drawing of lots, thus allowing the gods to decide. There are some photos of last year's ceremony here. Posted by Picasa



Things start to get rowdy! The shin-otoko is coming! To be honest, I wasn't actually sure what was going on at this point except that the crowd got a little noisier. The courtyard was so packed that I really couldn't see a thing! All of these next pictures are "point-and-prays" - I held the camera over my head and hoped that one or two would turn out! Incidentally, do you notice the steam rising from the crowd? No fog machines here, baby, that's the real deal - cold buckets of water on hot naked bodies! Yikes! Posted by Picasa


In the Name of Efficiency

But buckets must not have been enough, especially near the door where the shin otoko was going to enter. This unique sprinkler system ensured that no dry person would touch the shin otokoPosted by Picasa


River of Life??

The bucket brigade wasn't slacking off! They splashed so much water around that they created a river in the spectator area - and soaked almost as many spectators as participants! Posted by Picasa


The Line

The arrival of the bucket brigade announced the end of all sanity. Up to this point, I thought the festival was a little nuts, but not all that much crazier than the guys who paint their bodies blue and go shirtless at football games in late November. Then the bucket brigade started tossing water over all the participants, supposedly to chill them out (haha, pun intentional!) before the shin otoko arrives. No thanks! Posted by Picasa


It's all fun and games...

Until somebody has a little (lot) too much sake and can't stand up anymore... This is the second guy we saw who had passed out. The first one was lifted over the plywood retaining wall right in front of us. I couldn't figure out why no-one really seemed to want to help him at all - he was being dumped onto sharp gravel, ouch! When he came to, though, he went nuts, running, screaming, waving his arms around. Yikes! Posted by Picasa


Waiting Comfortably

Next time he'll tuck his folding chair in his loincloth. Posted by Picasa