23 October 2010


I tackled the hill again this morning with much greater success. I’d mostly attribute it to checking maps more thoroughly and having sunlight.

I also finally did keel over on my bike. I don’t know why one might be inclined to lean towards the foot that is not clipped out of its pedal, but hey. Inevitability. The worst of it is a tiny scratch on my arm and a small patch on my leg that’s feeling bruised. A slow soft fall by any standards. To add insult to tiny injury, however, I noticed a map that would've solved my directional problems last time. Face palm.

Anyway. Once again making my way through Ikazaki I had to give in to my recent rice harvesting obsession. Today I saw how the farmers were taking the rice that had dried off the poles and putting it through machines. The machine seems to slice the head off, where the grain is, and then the dry stalk bunch is pushed aside and the machine jumbles the grains around inside a bit and spits out more chaff.

You’ll also notice that the plant sprouts again where it’s been cut off, but I haven’t seen that this grows up successfully. I think in more tropical parts this second sprouting grows up and can deliver again.

On the hill I passed by the farm that I had reached the last time and noticed that the prevailing manure smell was in fact generated by cows. I also made it to the top where I could see the farmland that I’d noticed on Google maps. There were some persimmon orchards and vegetable patches. You’ll notice the very low electrified fence which is to keep the inoshishi out. 

I was somewhat alarmed to find myself in what sounded like the vicinity of loud shots. I’ve heard these in town before, but obviously they were a long way off. I whistled as I cycled, this time not to ward off the wild boars in the dark, but the people who, I imagined, were shooting at them in the light.

The trip down was of course very speedy. I worked in some more rice shots and a car and a workshop that seem to be used equally often. 

Total distance: 14.5km
Lowest point: 60m
Highest point: 320m

17 October 2010

Pink river

On Friday night my husband and I did what the world should do when they want hamburgers: we cycled the 8km to our neighbouring city’s Moss Burger to collect some dinner.

On Saturday I thought about tackling the hill again, but made my way out in the direction of Hijikawa instead. Not owning a car here means that there are just so many places I haven’t seen. But nevermind the places, I haven’t seen the way there either.

While still in Ikazaki I ran into a fellow photographer acquaintance who pointed out where some cosmos flower viewing was happening. The old ladies there freaked out about the supposedly beautiful being (美人)that had arrived in their midst. Seriously? In my cycle gear? Anyway, I also ran into some kids I’d recently taught. I could remember which school* they were from even if they weren’t sure who I was because the one has the most adorable freckles (obviously not very common in Japan). I’d noticed her at school thinking “you’re freckly like me!”

I stayed off the main route on the opposite side of the river and at one point I went off track up a hill for a bit. I passed some more elementary schoolers and their father walking their dog and I heard the sisters debating whether or not I was “Amy sensei”. After I trundled past I turned and pointed out that I was, in fact, her friend. I’m waiting to hear about when they report this encounter to her.

I made my way back down to the main route, dropped into the first part of Hijikawa, and took the main route back. I passed some wood I had to photograph. I just love me some modular things. I noticed that I’d seen the logging part of the yard from the other road.

Back in Ikazaki the sun was setting and the river was pink.

*Between me and our other ALT we cover ten elementary schools. Also we spend most of our time at junior high. Remembering details about elementary schoolers is hard!

07 October 2010

A rice obsession

My work-at-home-on-a-PhD husband had his daily need for some fresh air, so I took the opportunity to get some close-up shots of the to-be and the already harvested rice. Methods seem to vary, but usually the rice is cut down, hung up to dry, and then processed further later on.

06 October 2010

The hill kills me

On my second trip I decided to rush what I thought to be a doable hill in the neighbouring village of Ikazaki, also part of the greater Uchiko town. After some late afternoon sights—I was attempting this after work—I started to head up. Let’s just say I had some great clipping in and out of my pedals practice and that one must remember that walking is exercise too.

Once the sunshine had left me and even the town announcements seemed a million miles away I discovered more roads towards the top of the hill than I was quite prepared for. After some up and down struggles and indecision I decided to head down the way I had come—and not the other side of the hill as I had planned—because I wasn’t convinced that I wanted to meet an inoshishi in the dark. Can you clip out of your pedals in time to avoid an unfortunate collision with a wild boar? There’s a bad question to be asking yourself as you’re listening to the rustling in the undergrowth.

I’d like to go back up and check out the farmland there—during daylight hours. I managed to make it to the white roofs one can see on the map before turning back.

View Uchiko, Ehime, Japan in a larger map