Plank Pose

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I started running yoga classes twice a week at Satoyama Design Factory. Today nobody showed up, so I decided to combine my yoga practice with some much needed floor maintenance. It's amazing how many yoga poses you can do while cleaning the floor. I extended my usual 45 minutes to nearly 3 hours as I swept, mopped, steamed and waxed the wood floors in the main space. In the lower right picture, you get a before/after glimpse. Still not perfect, but much improved. Maybe next week, I'll do window yoga!

Corner Cow

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This is my friend and neighbor, Corner Cow. She lives at the dairy next door and watches over the intersection from her hilltop stall. From the road below, I greet her, talk to her about the weather, and sing her songs. She knows my voice and turns to watch me pass. She sniffs the air when I bring visitors to meet her.  Yesterday she heard us all coming along the intersecting road, laughing, and turned herself halfway around in her stall to see what we were up to. Good cow.

The dairy is closing next month and Corner Cow will go to another farm. I hope she remembers our meetings.


Friday in Transit

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20 min Walk
45 min Yoga
20 min Walk
30 min Bus
90 min Meander in Shops
30 min Walk
25 min Bus
15 min Walk
2 min Bike

There you go, that's my day. I had to get out of the house today. My bike's been busted for over a week. I pedalled too hard and broke the crank. Tod ordered parts and tools but they didn't arrive until this afternoon. Tod fixed my bike while I was out and now I am fully mobile again.


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Background: I'm teaching my first workshops at Satoyama Design Factory today. It's in my new rural neighborhood and I have no idea who, if anyone, will turn up. Could be little kids, could be elderly neighbors, all of the above or no one at all. I'm OK with letting things flow and I can take on whatever comes my way. Despite that, I am still a little nervous and I'll be disappointed if nobody turns up.

So in the shower just now, I was breathing out to clear my sinuses before doing jala neti...and I honked. I sounded like my father blowing his nose. He had a distinctive honking/blowing sound and when it came out my own nose, I giggled and smiled. Thanks, Dad, for visiting and reminding me that everything is always good. My workshops are going to be terrific.  I'm excited to be sharing circus fun with my new world. 

Courtesy Call

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Our local policeman, Matsuda-san, dropped by this afternoon. He spoke in gloriously slow and clear Japanese to welcome us to the neighborhood and make sure that he had our details for his emergency book. We've had these courtesy calls in Tokyo,too, but this one was a little special.

"If you ever have any trouble, like robbers or an accident or anything, give me a call," he told us. "But we don't have too many robberies around here. Do be careful of the wild boars, though. If you see one of those, run away."

Gotta love country living.

Takezawa Demystified

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Our questions about the mysterious Takezawa of the abandoned house were answered yesterday by Kawakami-san, who runs the gas station and LP gas business in the village.

Takezawa moved down into town and lives in a nice, new house near the barber shop. He truly did abandon the house with no further thought of it. Kawakami-san, who brokers the informal real estate deals around here, asked if we wanted to rent the ruins. Hmmm....

And the question about how the mail got through? Chris posits that there was a truck-accessible track that would take you in pretty close and the mailman walked the rest of the way from there. I guess we'll check that out next time we go up there to explore.

4 Plugs

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When Tod ran us our first bath in the new house, we discovered that the old bath plug was no longer sealing the drain - a slow leak meant that the water was noticeably lower upon getting out after a good soak. 

PLUG 1: Tod measured the plug - 34 mm - and we biked over to the nearest home center, Komeri. We also brought the old bath plug as a backup. Apparently this is a common thing, because the packaging for the new plug was designed to let you fit the old plug into an indentation to test the size. Very clever. Except that our bath drain is actually 36mm - the old plug's rubber had shrunk. 

PLUG 2: So we bought a different plug at the other home center, Cainz, a few days later when we were in town to register our move. Except Tod accidentally grabbed the wrong package and we ended up with another 34 mm plug. We promised ourselves we'd return this one (unopened) next time we went to Cainz. 

PLUG 3: In the meantime, a week or so later, Shreyas and Tod bicycled over to Komeri again and got a plug that was sure to work! It had a sloped design marked suitable for drains from 34mm - 38mm. Except that it didn't work because our drain has a little metal cross in the bottom of it that prevented the fancy plug from going in far enough. 

PLUG 4: Yesterday, we were in town again for "Beach Work Friday" and made a trip to Cainz. We exchanged the too small plug for one that works! We had a hot bath and it was wonderful.

So...if anyone needs a new bath plug, tested but never used, we have a size 34mm and a 34-38mm plug available for cheap. 

Bus Tickets

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Without a car in the countryside, we ride the bus pretty frequently. In fact, I have the schedule memorised now but it is pretty easy because there are only four busses a day that leave from our stop. Tod has invested in "kaisuken" discount bus tickets. They come in different denominations so you can pay your fare no matter where you get on or off. They look like Monopoly money!

Adventure Hiking

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A view from the heights above Kozuka

According to Open Street Map, up behind the Hackerfarm, past the Kamado no Hi bakery and the site of the Kozuka Art Festival, and there's a hiking trail. Google Maps doesn't show it. Akiba said there was nothing but his friend's house at the end of that road. But Arun, Shreyas, Tod, Osamu and I decided to go have a look anyway.

And we got lucky. The map was right and the trail was there. Leading away from the back of the house is a fence that shows the way. It leads to a lovely trail along a field and into the forest. Easy to follow until you hit the little ravine/landslide and then the abandoned house where the trail disappears in a pile or rubble.

Abandoned house! 

We decided to check out the house and grounds to find the trail beyond it. Tod peeked into the mailbox for clues about the property and was rewarded with a handful of old utility bills made out to Takezawa Kaoru and dated about 8 years ago. Well, that gave us a date and a name, but no more information. We explored the compound a little bit, simultaneously looking for interesting artefacts and also the trail out.

The sheds and storehouses were full of tools and equipment. It looked like the owner either fled or died. Arun liberated an ancient tennis racquet, complete with rotting catgut strings and a neatly painted TAKEZAWA on the handle. We debated whether this was theft or salvage but since we used the racquet later on, it turned out to be a good choice to carry it no matter what the liberation was labelled.


The way out was less than obvious. After a false start into an overgrown rice paddy, we found a sort of trail along the treeline. Shreyas figured out how to get over a giant fallen pine.  Arun used his racquet to push back branches and help people out of ditches. Tod blazed the trail through jungle, around a ravine, and with the help of his GPS map got us to the road on the opposite side of the hiking path before the sun set.

We came home with all sorts of questions. Who was Takezawa? What happened to him? And how did the mailman get there when there was no road?

Shoji repairs

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shoji collage 1.jpg
The holes and the old paper removal process

This old house is totally wonderful and it is full of projects to do. Today I learned how to replace shoji, the paper on our interior doors. 

First you take the paper off by dampening the old glue and peeling the paper away from the frame. Our shoji haven't been redone in a very long time and the brittle paper ripped rather than peeling. I spent a long time carefully peeling off the bits with a butterknife until the wood was clean and smooth. But I eventually got both sets of interior hall doors un-papered.

The next step is to put the new paper on. I sort of cheated and used iron-on paper. It's backed with a heat-set glue so I didn't have to fuss with a glue pot and drips. But it was still a bit of a challenge to get it smooth and to neatly trim away the excess paper. If you come over to visit, don't look too closely.

I discovered some writing on one of the door frames. A Yasuda grandchild must have practiced his name in pencil. It's invisible when the doors are closed; I wonder if that was on purpose? 

The final product looks pretty good. Fresher and tidier. And with luck it will remain hole-free for a while. 

shoji collage 2.jpg

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