Sunday, August 24, 2008


Voice in the dark

DAN and the VMM walking through darkest Neyagawa in search of "Octopus park" (thus named after the garish monstrosity which dominates the play area.) These are strange and scary parts, walking down by the river in the inky murk, the air heavy with the threat of rain above.

DAN: Hey, can you hear someone singing?

VMM: Yeah, I think so.

DAN (into the darkness): SHUT UP!!!


The barbecue was a dud, despite being held under the bridge, out of the rain. Some odious tosspot from Toyama (strike one), now living in Kyoto (strikes two and three, plus loss of endorsements), was bending the VMM's ear with his flawless, boring English. When I tried to lend a hand, asking whether Toyama was a nice place, he humourlessly told us that it was, taking care to inform us that the tap water was safe to drink.

We gave him the slip at that point. If the best thing that can be mentioned about Toyama is the quality of its tap water, I think we can see why the guy didn't grow up to be a rivetting conversationalist.

Flawed though my Japanese is, at least I've got something to say. I entertained some horrified listeners with the following tale of the old days in Hirakata:

Dan in the toilet, doing his thing. Large mosquito buzzes past. Dan kills large mosquito. Mosquito really is quite large. Dan takes large, dead mosquito back into the teacher's room (neglecting to wash his hands in the process.) Dan shows large, dead mosquito to Adam. Adam puts large, dead mosquito in the loathsome manager's half-full can of cafe au lait. Satan sharpens his pitchfork and waits for the day the pair of us try to cross the road on a red.

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"26 cases of stolen ashes reported in Toyama Pref."

24 Aug 2008: The Yomiuri Shimbun, pg.2


"TOYAMA--Twenty-six cases of urns containing the ashes of women--most of whom were elderly when they died--have been reported stolen from graves around Toyama Prefecture, police said.

Notes were left on some graves that indicated that the culprit's objective was to collect ashes, but police have yet to determine a motive.

Toyama prefectural police are investigating the incidents as suspected thefts of ashes and other crimes.

According to a senior prefectural police officer and other sources, the thefts were first noticed at the start of the month, mostly by relatives who were visiting grave sites.

About 10 graveyards in seven cities and towns, including Toyama and Kurobe, in the east of the prefecture have been reportedly hit by the thief.

Vestiges of the grave robberies can be seen, and an urn was left behind in one case.

The police believe it is possible the culprit selected certain urns for reasons such as their posthumous Buddhist names or the names of the cremated people while alive."
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