I really should scan my New Year's photos and do another photo-essay, but I haven't really felt like it lately. Spring is in the air, I'm semi-sorta seeing someone and I'm feeling really antsy and restless, which makes it difficult for me to concentrated on anything long enough to see it to completion.
The nights are still cold, and we're having on and off again rain showers but recently the days have been mild. Just a little cool and breezy. We're approaching one of the two best times to be in Japan, spring. The other is fall.
Hina Matsuri is this month. This is the girl's doll festival. Girl's Day, March 3rd. Toys-R-Us has had a big display of dolls for sale for a while now. In some homes across Japan, families have set up displays of traditional dolls for their daughters. They have to remove them before night on March 4th or the girl won't marry before next year.
Which is less of an issue, I suppose, for the younger children. At least one of our post-university students still enjoys putting out her dolls each year.
And we're slowly sliding towards Golden Week. April 29th kicks it off, a holiday known as Greenery Day. This used to commemorate the Emperor Showa's birthday, but after his death it was renamed. This year, however, Greenery Day is being moved to May 4th and April 29th will be redesignated Showa Day. May 3rd is Constitution Memorial Day, May 4th has been traditionally known as People's Day and May 5th is Children's or Boy's Day.
I think the Hamamatsu Matsuri was originally established to honor Boy's Day, with kite flying and celebrations. Now I think it honors getting drunk and making lots of noise. Either way, it's 3 days of Golden Week fun.
Golden Week is peak traveling time here, with hotels booked and trains packed and the roads full of office workers let off the leash and in search of fun and relaxation with their families. Few societies work as hard at having fun as the Japanese. Relaxing and having fun is serious business here.
And Peter Payne of J-List has a nice entry today on his blog. It talks about the original foreigners here in Japan, goes on to discuss the real-life inspiration for the Anjin-san character from James Clavell's Shogun, and then covers a crime wave here. Interesting reading, so check it out! It's illustrated with a really cool photo you should see, but warning... at the bottom there will be some product pictures there inappropriate for little people and shocking for people more sensitive than, say... myself.
But don't sweat those. J-List has plenty of other cool stuff. And this guy has been here a lot longer than I have, so he really knows what he's writing about. It's worth your time to keep scrolling down past the funky pics and read some of his other entries. If you want to know what it's like to live here for an ex-pat, it's a must-read, plus he's really been on a roll with interesting things lately and I've been wanting to link a few but I've been suffering from...