Monday, May 7

Golden Week Report

Vacation time in Japan means only one thing: Shinkansen! That's "bullet train" to all of you not in the know. Off to Kyoto again...but this time for a funeral. My girl's uncle passed away. We didn't know him that well...but he seemed like a decent guy. It was my first straight up Japanese funeral. I had been to a wake before. And compared to the ones I have been to in the, was it different. (And long!) A two day affair. The wake the first day and then the for real ceremony the next day. It might have been a language issue...but I think they were pretty much same.

They did have really nice flowers, in an abundant Asian kinda way. (I snagged this picture when no one else was around.) After the last rights were a Buddhist chant...the staff came in and cut all the flowers off. They put all the flowers in baskets and then all the family & guests filled the coffin with the flowers. It was a beautiful thing. Very sad, yes...but beautiful. I didn't get a picture of that, for obvious reasons. (And yes...I know it might be a bit tasteless to even post this picture, but I seem to be ok with it. But just barely.)

Then we hightailed it back to Kyoto Station. It was not a peak travel day, but it was still pretty crowded. As you can see, the transit cops like to keep above the riff-raff. More power to 'em. Keep those trains safe! The trip back to Tokyo was smooth and trouble free as always. Back in vacation mode there was more relaxing and eating good food to be had. As for relaxing...

I knocked off these two books over the vacation. Absolute Friends by John le Carré was ok. Not nearly as worthless as I thought it would be. It made me think a little. Shocking! I think I am a bit confused about him. I think I should read more of his book...because he did not give me what I expected. I expected all guns and spying and 007 style action. Not so, at all. Mr le Carré had other plans. What I got instead, I did like. The story was a realistic chronical of a mid-level spy in Europe during the Cold War and up the present so-called War on Terror. A friendship begins and remains over the years and through the different political changes. Not a bad read.

The Final Solution by Michael Chabon is a book I started and put down more times than I can remember. It seams there was a rather big hump around chapter 2.
Once I got over was a quick mover. A good little book. I say "little" cause it clocks in at 131 pages. But what it lacks in length it makes up for in style. Written as an homage to the Sherlock Holmes style mysteries. It is almost too well written for me to enjoy. But I much as I could. If you see it while you are out and about, I do recommend it.

While we are talking about books, here are some other books I have polished off in the last couple months.

I love buying crap fiction in Japan. They give you book covers so no has to know what utter nonsense you are entertaining youself with on the train. It's brilliant. This cover was pretty girly...but I didn't hate on it. It did it's job well to cover up this:

This monster of a book was pure popcorn poppycock at it's best. The Swarm that Frank Schätzing is talking about in his title is an intelligence living in the world oceans that gets pretty pissed at humans for f-ing up the environment. It is very well researched with tons of facts and descriptions of scientific and environmental issues. You can find it in the Science-fiction section but it is definitely heavier on the science. It could be one reason that it is 900+ pages. Long in the tooth? Yes. Boring? No. Worth you time and energy? Yes.

And last we come to Philip Roth's book The Plot Against America. The most serious literary fiction I've read in many moons. And serious ain't even adequate in the least. You should read this historical "what if?" now. It is pretty amazing. It had me mesmerized from the first chapter. But, get ready for one heavy and tension filled story. That is all I will say about that one, don't want to spoil anything for anyone.

So besides doing a spot of reading...I did some eating. Sadly I didn't snap pics of all the goodness I ate. Sometimes I can't be bothered. Sometimes the food is just screaming to be eaten post haste. And I submit to my cravings without taking any pics. But in one case...I was able to control myself. And it happend to be the one thing I was demanding to eat over the break was yakiniku.

And I got my way. The galbi was this restaurant's specialty. It was damn tasty: all tender and juicy and succulent. This, and all the other meat made for a great dinner. A bit too expensive...but wonderfully delicious. But it was not all sunshine and roses over the final days of my vacation.

This was taken around 2pm on Sat from my apartment porch. It was not pleasant out in the least. And what, you may ask was I doing to keep myself entertained at home? Watching movies? No. Reading? A little. Writing a book? No, not yet. Playing with my shoes? You betcha.

If you remember, these were my latest purchase in their original form. I had been considering what other laces would look good in them. The options are wide open...seeing as it such a clean and simple colorway. And once I started experimenting...I kinda got carried away. See for yourself:

So people...which color are you feeling? Let me know what you think. I have some other ideas, but I need to make a run to the shoe store to get the colors I have in mind. This might be an ongoing project. Sorry.

And lastly, a musical hit. This one is for those of you who like the dance floor fillers on the electro tip. The video will also be enjoyable for fans of dope t-shirts.

[via Electric Zoo]


Anna said...

my brother...i am sorry i have not been online more. here are my comments for yet another delightful post: goregous train pic...those flowers were fastidiously arranged....not in bad taste to post that one photo...funny cop...i wish we could trade books more....that meat looks so good...for laces i prefer the white, black, and purple. keep it mean. p.s the first appeal has been made (of course!)

Lisa said...

I made a comment at home, but I see it isn't I will try again.

Are the flowers in the picture actually covering the casket as it looks to me? Or is it just an arrangement? They have such wonderfully symbolic rituals in Japan!

As far as the "sneaks": My favorite has to be the teal. What can I say, I'm just a BLUE-loving lady!

The beginning train picture is awesome!

Great post, John!

John said...

Le Carre is heady reading indeed. His spy thriller stuff is all psychological in nature and can be dreadfully slow at times to get through. That being said, I have enjoyed a few of his works (like house of russia which was an awful movie but good book).

Gretchen said...

i like the white laces and the red red laces...the flowers--huh, don't know what to say about those, blew my mind.