Kitakami Photoblog

Daily photos from Kitakami, a small town in Northern Japan, and its surroundings.

Monday, April 30, 2007

Sunday morning, 10°C

Kitakami's famous cherry tree avenue, seen from a hill nearby.

Already at eight on sunday morning, lots of people were taking a stroll under the blossoms.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Cherry blossoms, wherever you look

Today: Cherry blossoms and sports:
Cherry blossoms and soccer.

Cherry blossoms and baseball, the most popular sport in Japan (well, perhaps second popular, after sumo).

Cherry blossom after-sports souvenir photo.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Small hanami picnic

No idea why they chose to sit there on the floor rather than somewhere on the grass! Probably to use the bank as a table.
Very important at picnics: The shoes have to be taken off, even for sitting on a plastic mat.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Finally: Hanami

I can't hide this any longer, cherry blossoming has finally arrived in Kitakami.
On this shot, you can see a neatly arranged picnic place; people often
come already in the morning, to "reserve" the best spots, by setting up their picnic equipment.
Today, full bloom is announced. Infortunately,the weather is nasty, cold wind with sometimes rain - poor tourists who come from far away by hundreds of buses, some even from Tokyo.
Why? Kitakami is officially classified the third most beautiful cherry blossom viewing spot in Northern Japan.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Another dog

This dog lives on the way to my japanese lesson. It's quite young, and very friendly. When I came by today, there was a beginning thunderstorm, and the dog was trembling with fear, pacing all the time back and forth in the rain, in the hope of getting away from the thunder. While I was talking to him and fondling him, he stopped and calmed down a little - only to run around quicker when I left.
What a life.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

A perfect place ...

... to abandon old cars, even though it's in the middle of a lively residential quarter. They don't look particularly old; but they havent' been moved since many months, and have several flat tyres. And while on the adjoining parts of this parking, not the slightest little bit of gras is growing, here nature is evolving almost freely. The owners often don't even bother to remove the license plate. Apparently, the japanese law isn't excessively strict about this kind of delict.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Pet shopping cart in a homecenter in Kitakami.
In case your dog is accompagnying you, you just put it in this cart, to avoid him or her to fool around in the shop, annoying other customers and put dirty paws on the store's clean floor.
It is not meant to put in the puppies you can also buy in the store - if you purchase one, they put it in a closed cardboard box. The other day, I saw a family buying a puppy and then putting the box in the back of the car for going home; I just cannot believe how you can't take this new family member in your arms to bring it home. But probably they bought it for chaining it in the back of their house, like so many dogs live here in Japan, so it better get used to not living close to the family soon.
I will NEVER understand the japanese attitude towards dogs - either they treat them like babies, dress, hairdress and even manicure them, or the chain them up or put them in a cage, take them (not all) for a short walk once a day, and that's all.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Kaiten sushi

Our favourite kaiten sushi restaurant in Kitakami (with the very japanese name "Sushi gourmet"). You just pick up what you like from the belt, but you can also order directly through the sushi chef, if you feel you are waiting too long for the dish you are hoping for.

A sushi type which is definitely not my cup of tea: uni (sea urchin). It's considered a delicacy here.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Futons in the sun

On sunny days, the housewifes drag out all their family's bedding to expose it for some hours to the sun, to get ou the humidity accumulated in the last days. Otherwise, the futon matress and the tatami, on which it is generally placed, will soon get moldy in the humid japanese climate.
All japanese apartments have at least on small, narrow balcony - not to sit there, of course (nobody here ever sits on his balcony, just like nobody ever sits in his garden), but to dry the bedding.

Friday, April 20, 2007

The old bridge over the Kitakami-gawa

In the background Mt. Hayachine, still snow covered.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Unusual design

Many, but not all houses are grey in Japan!

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Small fire engine and men in costumes

I am not sure what they were doing, but there were other cars around having been decorated in a way that indicated that probably some ceremony had been celebrated (sorry for the photo looking so misty, but I had no time to open the - dirty - car window).

Friday, April 13, 2007

After the election

The gubernatorial race is over, but here and there you still see some placards, like this one from the Democratic Party, matching so nicely with the yellow house.
Actually the democrates won, and now the 42-year old Takuya Tasso (not the one on the picture) is Japans youngest governor. The Great Sassuke (see post April 2nd) lost.

PS: Nothing new about cherry blossoms yet - but for loads of spectacular photos from cherry blossoming in Kyoto, see here.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Intruder from outer space

Even though you see those silly "space cars" so often here in Japan, they continue to make me laugh.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Ready for the cherry blossom festival

Kitakami is ready for the party - the blossoms not yet.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Sea grapes

I have eaten this very special dish for the first time yesterday evening in a small restaurant serving specialities fom Okinawa, the island in the very south of Japan.
It's called umi budo (sea grapes) and it is a delicate, light-green seaweed with small bubbles covering its branches all over. It's scientific name should be Caulepa rentillifera. When you eat it, the bubbles pop nicely in your mouth, leaving a salty sea taste. They are rich in minerals, and I read they can inhibit the growth of cancer and boost immune system.
If you want to know more about Okinawa and this seaweed, go here.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Drinking fountain with hotspring water

... seen (and tasted) in Airinkan hot spring. Slightly salty. Unfortunately I don't know the properties of this water.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Canned wine

I saw this advertisement this morning in the newspaper - is that possible in other countries too?? Sacrilège, non?

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Sick pines

Almost everywhere in Japan, you can see pines dying from the pine wilt disease. It is caused by a very small, wormlike organism called the pinewood nematode, Bursaphelenchus xylophilus, and has been introduced in Japan in the beginning of the 20th century. Since then, it has first spread along the coastal areas of Japan, and is now covering almost all areas in Japan, except the cold regions of Aomori and Hokkaido.

Friday, April 06, 2007


This famous rock formation is not directly located in Kitakami, to be honest; but being only one and a half hour away, it's the closest (and most beautiful) coastal point from here. We go there quite often.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

The mushroom can hunt edible wild plants

I really do like this onsen (public bathing house with hot spring), and perhaps even a little more after reading the english information about this place. I guess they just sent their japanese text through some translating program, and the result is just lovely.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Félicitations au TGV!

... for its speed world record (574,7 km/h) - but the japanese Shinkansen (here the model Yamabiko) is still the way sexiest train ever constructed, you have to admit. Compared to it, doesn't the record TGV look a little bit like a tin can?

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Old hotel bus with new passenger

This old hotel bus has been abandoned (the fate of so many old japanese vehicles) in the back of the hotel parking lot. If you have a closer look, you will notice the open window and the improvised ladder. When you get closer, you discover that at least this old bus is still useful to someone. Bus recycling at its best.

Monday, April 02, 2007

The governor candidate Nr. 5

These are the official billboards for the Iwate governor election (taking place on April 8). Every candidate has his designated space. The guy top right is not a manga character, but one of the candidates, "The great Sasuke" . He's a former wrestler, wearing his mask already while acting officially as a prefectural assembly member (with special authorization) - and intends to continue wearing it if he is elected governor. He hopes "to revitalize Iwate" and wants to cut the governor's salary by 80 %.
I wonder if many people take him seriously - on the other hand, the Japanese just love manga and eccentric people.
I'll let you know his result!

Sunday, April 01, 2007

April Theme Day: A public mail box

Can you find it, between the vending machines?

64 Daily Photo sites are participating in the 1st April theme, "A Public Mail Box", please use the links to below to visit them. Due to time zone differences and other factors, the theme photo may not be displayed until later if you are viewing early in the day.

London (UK) -Grenoble (France) -Rotterdam (Netherlands) -Greenville SC (USA) -Hyde (UK) -Villigen (Switzerland) -Albuquerque NM (USA) -Mazatlan (Mexico) -Montréal (Canada) -Stayton OR (USA) -Shanghai (China) -Jing -Arradon (France) -Sequim WA (USA) -Newcastle upon Tyne (England) -Seattle WA (USA) -Kim -Bastia (Corse) -Minneapolis MN (USA) -Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia) -Joplin MO (USA) -Sharon, CT (USA) -Cottage Grove MN [USA] -Houston, TX (USA) -Candice & Megan -Singapore - by Keropokman. -Guelph, ON (Canada) -Menton (France) -onte Carlo, Monaco -aples, FL (USA) -Kyoto (Japan) -Tokyo (Japan) -Aliso Viejo, CA (USA) -Cape Town (South Africa) -Jakarta (Indonesia) -Kitakami (Japan) -Tel Aviv (Israel) -Vantaa(Finland) -Guadalajara (Mexico) -Auckland (New Zealand) -Nelson (New Zealand) -Tuzla (B&H) -Brussels (Belgium) -Anderson, SC (USA) -Lubbock, TX (USA) -John, Melbourne, (Australia) -Stavanger (Norway) -Tenerife (Spain) -Stockholm (Sweden) -Boston, MA (USA) -Not Strictly Seattle, Susan -New York City, (USA), Ming the Merciless -Paris [Eric], (France) -Ampang (Selangor) -Sydney (Nathalie) Australia -ailea , HI (USA) -Manila (Philippines) -Sydney (Sally) Australia -Cork (Ireland) -Saarbrücken (Germany) -Saint Paul MN (USA) by Carol -San Diego, CA (USA) -Mexico [POLY], (Mexico) -Budapest (Hungary) -Singapore (Singapore by Zannnie) -Madrid [Dsole] (Spain) -Nottingham (England) -