Tuesday, May 3, 2011


Still feeling unready for hardcore sightseeing, so instead I took a walk along the river, probably about 6 miles round trip. There's sort of a boulevard that runs along the Kamo River (鴨川) ("duck river"! how appropriate) for probably five to six miles of its length, though admittedly I did not go upstream much of where my street hits the river.

During said walk I encountered all of the following wildlife:
  • Mallard ducks
  • Three or four Grey Herons
  • Four or five Little Egrets (yup, had to look both of those up)
  • A flock of very large crows eating trash out of the river (eep)
  • A pile of cats sleeping on a tarp outside a makeshift shelter under one of the many bridges
  • A very large Akita also sleeping outside a different shelter (double eep)
  • A small pot-bellied pig out for a stroll with its people
  • Swarms of gnats
  • A large dead eel that two people fishing had just caught and pulled in
  • At least three dogs riding in bike baskets: A pug, a King Charles Spaniel, and a Shiba Inu
  • Many other dogs playing in the water and doing other holiday-type things, including a Dalmation, a Lab, poodles, a Miniature Pinscher, a trio of long-haired Daschunds, several Shiba Inus, and a Whippet
  • Some turtles. Ahem. Technically the turtles were not wildlife, as they were made of concrete and functioned as stepping stones so people could cross the (very wide but also very shallow, ~1 foot deep in most places) river. Lots of little kids were playing out on these. There were also boat- and space shuttle-shaped stepping stones.
Overall one can tell it is a holiday. Lots of people were biking, walking, reading books, playing guitars and drums and a little triangular flute and also a ukelele, fishing, picnicking, wading in the water, and so forth.

I was thinking to myself, "Gee! Perhaps I should be a bit more careful. After all, it might have been sheer luck last time I was in Japan that I didn't get into trouble even though I didn't take any precautions." And that might be true, to a certain extent. However, one thing I've noticed is that no one here seems to use bike locks. They just park their bikes and go, something that wouldn't be a very good idea even in Boston. So, mark that up under the "Japan really is an absurdly safe country," column.

I reiterate: My apartment is awesome. Just. . . awesome. Everything works, everything is clean, and the furnishings even include actual sharp kitchen knives with which it is easy to cut vegetables. If I could find an apartment like this, for this price, in or near central Boston, I would be spinning around screaming in delight. (Of course, I'd need a job too, but . . . housing!) There's air conditioning too, but I'm not sure when I'll need it.

It's tiny, but a tiny, private space is pretty agreeable. (Also the bathroom is one of those that the whole thing -- tub, floor, walls, everything -- is a continuous plastic piece, which I find amusing.)

I'm re-watching The Lord of the Rings. It makes me feel extra homey, though I should probably watch some Japanese fantasy next so that my mind gets switched back on that grammatical channel.

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