Friday, 18 June 2010

Rainy Season is upon us - and the wildlife knows it!

Barring Hokkaido up north, most of Japan has a "rainy season." Officially, this is a 6 week period, from June to mid-July of, guess what - rain! At times, torrential rain. And thunder, and lightning. And humidity. And mould. And bugs!!!!

The Meteorological Agency puts out "Warnings" and "Advisories" coloured respectively red and yellow. At the moment, most of the prefecture I live in is yellow. Yellow for heavy rain, floods and thunderstorms. Ah yes, a sign of things to come........ though there were rumours that this year's rainy season might be a "dry" one. The last couple of years, it has been starting late, starting out dry and then well and truly making up for it in the latter half of its alloted period.

Japan sits along a line of volcanoes (and we have an active one up the road - more another time) and so is very mountainy, the soil is not very stable, and there are lots of earthquakes. So, every year, during the rainy season, and then during the summer thunderstorms, and then during the typhoons, there are a lot of landslides. These can be little things, blocking a bit of road, or these can be huge disasters, where the side of a mountain slides and villages or parts thereof can be basically wiped out.
When I first came to Japan I lived in Minamata, in the south of Kumamoto, and 7 years ago, there was a huge landslide which killed 19 people. A bit too close to home.

Rainy season also brings out the wildlife. Animals are said to be able to tell the weather, and there are lots of old wives tales that say, if you see so-and-so doing such-and-such, it's going to be a hot/cold summer/winter or a bad/good rainy season.
Well, all I know is that before every rainy season and before every winter, the bugs, especially the horrible ones, try to get away and come inside.

There are the usual spiders - of various sizes. Some are the size of a fingernail, others the size of your hand. Then there are the "mukade" - poisonous centipedes that seem to travel in pairs. These things can be long, and fast. Some of the ones around here have orange or purple legs - lots of them, obviously. Then, there are the gejigeji, for some reason translated as "house centipede" and its name shows up in the Japanese translation of "bushy eyebrow," so that'll give you an image of what they look like! These are horrible things. And they are fast!!

And then, my most recent shivery sighting was a snake that must have been close to 3 metres long!!
Ugh. Thankfully, it wasn't anywhere near the house and so wasn't trying to come in (others have done so - tried to come in!) but still, ugh!

I was driving to work on a road with wooded hills on the left and fields on the right. It was just after some really heavy rain and the bamboo was bent over under the weight of the water. Some way ahead of me I could see there was something on the road, and thought it was some broken branches or grass. There were a couple of cars parked on the right, so I couldn't change lanes.

All of a sudden, the long thing reared up and slithered off into the grass on the left. Brrr.... I probably avoided driving over the snake by a couple of seconds. Thankfully its radar was working, but I really wish it had considered somewhere else for a rest spot.

The closest to a BIG snake I've been was through the front door, so, what ... a foot or so?
I was inside and Y had gone out to the shop. I went down to the front door to unlock it for him, but saw something weird on the outside of it. Our front door has a window in the upper half and there is a lattice covering it. Spread across this lattice, was a big, fat snake!! Obviously, I couldn't see how long it was, so I went into the room beside the entrance and tried to look out without opening the window - didn't want to risk opening it....... Couldn't see it. So, I tried to bang on the door from the inside to scare it off, but it wouldn't budge.

I knew Y would be home soon, and didn't know if it was a poisonous snake or not, so I waited at the room window ready to yell at Y not to go near the door. When he got back, he never noticed the snake (?!!?) and couldn't work out why I was frantically gesticulating at the window, but wouldn't open it ;-)
He then saw it. And got a stick to make noise to get it to move off. I was watching the door from the inside and saw it start to slither away, it took a good while to disappear off. Ugh.

Now, one of those old-wives tales involves snakes. Apparently, a sighting of a snake means there's money coming your way .................. I'm waiting...........

Just so nobody leaves the blog with images of horrible slithering snakes, I'll post an image of one of our cats spread luxuriously out over 2, not 1, but 2 cushions, on the back of the sofa - so comfortable looking!

Wednesday, 9 June 2010

It's a beautiful day!

It's an absolutely gorgeous day today - after the morning clouds and haziness cleared off, the sky turned a fabulous blue. I brought my camera with me to work this morning and took some photos on the way home - the long way, as I wandered around for a while.
I have always loved the view along this river. There was a lot of traffic today so I didn't go up on the narrow bridge to take photos, but rather drove down beside the river a bit. It's a narrow road, but luckily no other cars came along. There was no place to do a U-turn, so I ended up on a dirt track to get back out on the main road.
The mountains you see straight ahead are the Aso range, with the volcano, Mt. Aso as its focal point. By the time I got to take pictures, it wasn't very visible, but on my way to work a couple of hours previously, the volcanic steam had been very obvious. Mt. Aso is an active volcano and also boasts itself to be the "world's largest caldera."

I love, love, love where I live. The space and the views are great. We are near the mountains, but a 45 minutes drive to Kumamoto city centre, or less than 30 minutes drive to any number of shopping malls, or "new towns" that have been built over the last 10 years.
This is (if I can get the photo up in the middle of this post - here goes ...) the view from our bedroom. This is looking southeast.
Photo keeps going to the head of the post ......... ummm......... do I keep trying or do I give up? ..........

Got it! Right, I see.......... do you really have to cut and paste the html every time, or is there an easier way of moving photos......?

Thursday, 3 June 2010

Well, hello there!

I know a lot of people who keep blogs and I love reading them. Some are by people who I've never met; some are by friends of friends; some are by people who I meet quite often. I enjoy them all.
As for myself, friends have told me that I should write one. That I'd enjoy it. That they think I'd "be good at it" - thanks for that ;-)
But I really don't know if I have enough to say. No, scrap that. I could ramble on for ages about various things. But I don't know if I have something 'worthwhile' to say - whatever that means.
So, I'm going into this blogging thing telling myself that it's for me. It really doesn't matter what I say - or does it? After all, I haven't decided yet whether I'll tell anybody about it yet! ;-)

So, if you stumble across this, or if later on, I do let it slip, then please forgive the irregularity, the grammar, the mess, and in the early days, the looks of it all as I find my way around writing and laying out my first blog!