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stardust expect me when you see me


On the Road to Edo

The Shrimpman of Happiness

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stardust expect me when you see me

Japan update

I have pretty much been sick for the past three weeks - ever since I left Tokyo. I wavered between 'just sniffly' and' coughing up my lungs' until I finally gave up and started taking some antibiotics I had. I'm still sniffly but I feel like I finally have my energy back and have been getting things done. The problem with trying to get better here is a) you have no heat at night so you're breathing in cold air (you can turn the heater on but it's as expensive as running an air conditioner and I can't cover my mouth due to my asthma) and b) despite not being paid, I'm pretty much expected to work 9-5/6 every weekday after biking for 15 minutes in the cold to get there and back. Plus, I had to go through a ton of site reports and photocopy relevant bits and the photocopier was out in the unheated hallways and the library itself wasn't much warmer. It's a lot warmer than Wisconsin here but I'm used to having regular heating available. *sigh*

So the archaeological center I work with found me an apartment. It's a typical one room with a single hob, closet and a tiny bathroom. It's a 15 min bike ride away through a major shinto shrine and past a lake full of birds. Quite a peaceful ride, but I look forward to it being about 10 degrees (F) warmer. I have a lovely bamboo grove behind my apartment. This is the view from my balcony. It's not very good for getting my laundry to dry but it's excellent for keeping the sunlight out of my apartment (I can't sleep when it's too bright so really it's ideal). I live about 30 seconds from a 7-11 so it's always convenient to get things even though I wish I were closer to some of the more major stores. I am on a major train line into Osaka though so it's easy to get places if I need to.

When not languishing from the colds, I have been getting things I need and seeing what I can and can't cook in available space and with available ingredients. I'm happy to say my repertoire has grown since last I lived in Japan. And kimchi is readily available so I can do Korean dishes as well. Despite eating well, my pants are getting loose. Thankfully, I anticipated this and brought a belt. Entertainment wise, I've been rereading the Star Wars Thrawn trilogy and considering what might have been. Been watching the new X-files which has so far been one good episode, two okay ones and two bad. We shall see how the finale is.

Two weekends ago, I needed to go to Ikea so I caught the train into Osaka and the free bus to Ikea. Then since I was at the proper station, I went to Den Den Town which is Osaka's Akihabara. It's smaller but that made it easier to find things and things were much cheaper in places. I ended up picking up two Natsume Yuujinchou statues for 1/3 the price I saw them for in Tokyo. I totally recommend it but it was rather hard to find, especially since it was pouring rain. Also, I somehow stumbled on a whole store of doujinshi for women that wasn't mandarake... I really need to stop buying doujinshi lol. But they had some ones from rarer series so I had to indulge.

Over the past few weeks, I have gone through every Kofun period site report for Nara prefecture, photocopied relevant bits and compiled a list of all their stone beads in Japanese. Then I started researching mineral localities. I should get at the actual beads this week or the next. They like to take us (ie the foreign researchers - two Koreans, one Chinese and me) on archaeology field trips every Friday. So the first one we ended up climbing all over one kofun tomb, then climbing into another one and visiting a nearby museum for a third. Last Friday, we ended up being brought around the prefecture to look at all the current excavations. Nothing too relevant to my research but it was cool to see Yayoi period rice paddies and a Nara period palace. Oh, and we visited another museum. I've actually been to all the museums around here before but it's relaxing and a good break so oh well. This week or the next we head to hyoruji temple and another museum. I've visited them both before but it'll be nice to see the tombs at the museum in the winter and I haven't been to hyoruji in over a decade. Ja ne!

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Can I run a question by you? I'm trying to find out what sewing implements (needles, pins, etc) were available during the Nara or Heian eras. I'm not sure where to start looking for that--could you point me towards any sources?

Hmm. This isn't something archaeologists in Japan focus on much, but I can tell you that by the Nara period they had copper, iron, bronze and lacquer readily available and Japan was known for it's textiles even before the Nara period. So while metal was available for making sewing needles, my guess would probably be that they used bamboo and bone.

The good news is that Japan has a long history of preserving their traditional crafts, so I pulled up the Kyoto Museum of Traditional Crafts website - http://www.miyakomesse.jp/fureaika/about_eng.php and if you scroll down to 2. Traditional Crafts, the first section is on Nishijin-ori, or woven textiles starting in the 5th century, and there's a little video which shows two different type of looms, the first of which looks more traditional and all bamboo tools. There's also the Nishin Textile center's brochure http://www.nishijin.or.jp/eng/brochure/ They seem to have modified their process over the years but they started 1500 years ago so that checks out. If you can't find a book on the process (library if you don't want to spend any money), I would recommend emailing and asking the Kyoto Museum of Traditional Crafts for advice. (The worst they would do is ignore it because it's in English).

Hope this helps!

It does, thank you! Most of the books I have found only concentrate on the textiles and decoration, and not much on how the garments were put together.

Natsume statues! I've finally managed to watch the first three seasons -- I'm in the middle of season 4 now, and am seriously thinking of picking up the manga. (I think one of the local libraries might have the English translation, but I'd have to check.) It's such a good series.

It is a great series. The anime is lovely and I love the manga as well. It's so sad at times but also hopeful. Also, one of the few mangas that acknowledges how the adoption system is in Japan.

They made two sets of quality statues for it a few years ago which I have been slowly collecting. Look at how pretty this is? http://www.amiami.com/top/detail/detail?oldscode=157511 Not that I can afford that one, but the cheaper ones go for $20-40. It's still popular enough here that they're still releasing capsule collections which mostly seem to focus on Sensei for some reason.

There's a couple of quality fanfics out there on A03 and even ff.net as well once you run out of canon. I've recced most of them - http://ficrecs.livejournal.com/tag/natsume%20yuujinchou. And written one of my own after plowing through the manga:)

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