I was expecting that Boston would have lots of snow today because the weather information came yesterday, but it did not accumulate as much as I expected which made me relieved. The end of last year we had terrible snow in my area, in the north east part of Shiga, and it damaged a lot of roofs of many houses which included my house. Now, I am afraid of the cost to repair.
Since Boston is a cold district like Hokkaido, each house and the city takes countermeasures against snowfall well. The roof of the house is very different from a Japanese house which doesn't have much snow on it, and the city provides snowplows very often so as not to have problems with traffic. Most of the families have snowblowers, so they can easily eliminate snow but we shovel because we don't have a snowblower. An iron thin dog is located outside the entrance door. It seems people came to the house with snowy shoes to eliminate the snow which sticks to the bottom of the shoes. I like this because it exists only in shoe culture countries.
Saturday, February 26, 2022
Friday, February 25, 2022
There are times I am surprised at the fact that Boston is different from the last time I was here. One of them is the garbage collection. Before, we put the garbage in the bin which was provided by the city, and a man from the garbage collecting truck picked up the bin and threw the garbage into the truck. It means there were two people, driver and pick up person , working together. This time, each family has a huge trashcan instead of a small bin.
Today was collecting day and I was very curious about how they pick up the bin and take the garbage away. Since my husband let me know the truck was coming, I rushed to get out of my house with my smartphone, but the truck had already finished picking up our garbage as well as the neighbors'. I ran after the truck so I could take pictures of how the truck works. Surprisingly the truck stopped and the driver came outside and said to me "What's wrong ?". He might have thought that I was running after him to tell that there was something wrong with his job. I said "No,no, I just wanted to take pictures because I was very interested in how you take the garbage away." "Oh, sorry" said the driver and got back to the truck. I felt sorry to stop his work and I laughed at myself because it must have looked like an unusual thing to do when I ran after the garbage truck with my camera and it made him surprised.
The garbage truck comes once a week to take the regular trash once or twice a month for the recycled one. It was really amazing that the driver handled the arm from the truck very well to pick up the big garbage bin and after throwing in the garbage he retracted the arm, then went to the next garbage bin quickly.
Tuesday, February 22, 2022
「WHOLE FOODS MARKET」という自然食品と有機食品を主に売っている人気スーパーがあります。普通のスーパーより値段は高めですが健康食ブームにのったアメリカ人が多く利用しています。昨日行ってみたら相変わらず珍しい食品が並んでいてへえ〜っ？と思いながら見ていました。広い店内はコロナ前と変わらず大勢の人。チーズコーナーで試食ができなくなっていたのは残念でしたが。面白かったのは豆腐コーナー。色々な豆腐と豆腐製品がありました。アメリカのSilken Tofu（絹ごし豆腐）は日本の木綿豆腐より硬めです。Firm, Extra Firm と順に硬くなっていきます。サラダに入れるには硬い豆腐のほうがいいからです。高タンパクのHigh Protein Tofuや味付き焼き豆腐（Baked tofu)、燻製豆腐?（Smoked Tofu）。tofu Shiratakiというのは豆腐とこんにゃくを合わせて作った低カロリーのパスタのようです。またTofurky（トーファーキー）は見た目と味を七面鳥（turkey)に似せた豆腐製品のようでベジタリアン（菜食主義者）やヴィーガン（肉魚卵乳製品など動物性食品を口にしない人）が買うのでしょう。テンペ（Tempeh)という大豆の発酵食品も色々な味があってベジタリアンやヴィーガンだけでなく一般の人も買っています。豆腐は普通のスーパーにも売っています。MISO（味噌）も豆腐のそばにありました。私はこれらの豆腐や豆腐製品をほとんど食べたことがありませんが、「アメリカ人は皆肉を食べる」というステレオタイプの認識はもはや古いのかもしれません。
WHOLE FOODS MARKET is a supermarket which mainly sells natural foods and organic foods. The prices are a little higher than other common supermarkets, but it is very popular among people who are conscious about the healthy food. When I was there, I was very curious about the foods which we don't see in Japanese markets. I saw many people were shopping in the spacious shop as the same as before. It was too bad that we couldn't taste free samples any more in the cheese section, but I was interested in the variety of products in the tofu section. Silken Tofu in the US is harder than Japanese Momen Tofu (firm tofu), and Firm, Extra Firm Tofu are more hard. They prefer harder tofu for their salad. There are High Protein Tofu, Baked Tofu,Smoked Tofu. Tofu Shirataki seems to be low calorie pasta which is made of tofu and Konjac. I checked what Tofurky is on web info, and it is a tofu product which tastes and looks like turkey. Those are maybe for vegetarian and vegan. Tempeh is fermented soybean food and several kinds of Tempeh were there. We can buy Tofu in a common supermarket, as well. I saw Miso paste on the shelf near tofu. Although I haven't tried most of those tofu products in this market yet, it is time for us to remove our stereotypical image that American people like meat and eat it everyday.
Sunday, February 20, 2022
I am in the US for the first time in two years since I left. I have been living calmly almost the same as before the corona matter in the countryside, Shiga, and was very surprised to face the reality of the corona restrictions when I left.
First, the bus which is from Tokyo Station to Narita Airport had only three people including me whereas usually people are lining up to get on the bus. At Narita Airport, most of the counters were closed and very few people were in the terminal. When I went up to the second floor where shops and restaurants were located, most of them were closed and the scenes were not lively at all and made me very sad. At the delivery counter where I needed to receive my suitcase which I sent to the airport beforehand, the person in charge said that the vacancy had been continuing for two years since covid-19 matter happened. After boarding the airplane, I knew that only a couple of people were in the cabin, which might have been less than crew members. Although I received very good service during the flight from every cabin attendant, I sympathize with them as it is now a rare opportunity for them to have their duties as flight attendants. I was also very concerned about this economic prostration in Japan due to the Covid-19.
On the other hand, at Honolulu airport where I made a transfer, I saw many people walking lively there, although I guess it was not the same as usual. In the airplane which I transferred to Boston, nearly 80 % of the seats were filled, which seemed the same as before Covid-19 except everyone was wearing their masks.
Well, I am now in Boston. When I arrived at Logan airport four days ago, the temperature and weather were very different from Honolulu. It was covered with snow and the temperature was −10℃. Even though I am transitioning into a normal life, I am still sleepy, maybe because of jet lag.
Wednesday, February 16, 2022
Sunday, February 13, 2022
I finally replaced shohji paper which looked awfully bad before. Usually when I do this, I take the shohji frame first and wash to take the paper off, but this time since the snow which had accumulated a couple days ago still remained outside and the shohji frame was big and heavy, I decided to spray the paper stuck on the wood to make soaking wet and took the paper off. Then pasted with a brush to put on Shohji paper. I measured the length and cut the paper beforehand but it was actually a little bit too short from the size I expected. On top of that, because the paste was too thin or the paper was too strong and didn't stick to the wood, I was struggling with this work. I would never say that it was a good job, but since it was so cold and I wanted to end the work as early as possible, I was forced to quit my work.
In the afternoon, I went to a grocery store in Hikone. Both the wind and sunlight were mild which made me feel happy. Even though the mountains were still covered with snow, I felt that Winter is going away day by day.
Saturday, February 5, 2022
When I went to Taga Taisha to get the "warding off of evil" this morning, I saw many people there and knew that it was a holiday for the end of winter. I heard that the annual event of scattering perched beans by men and women who turn 60 years old was cancelled this year to prevent the spread of coronavirus but I saw people sitting in a front shrine hall for worship to celebrate and they were supposed to scatter beans on the stage outside. Shortly after, they came out and started scattering them saying " Good Luck in! Bad luck out!". The difference between previous year and this year was that usually onlookers were scrambling to try to catch the pack of beans which are called "Lucky Beans" from the people on the stage but this time onlookers had to stay far from the stage and just look at them scattering beans. It was peacefully done but I enjoyed that rare event. After scattering, we received a couple of packs of Lucky Beans from shrine people. I also enjoyed scattering beans at home with my friends in the night and celebrated the welcoming of spring.
By the way, Since Buddha died on Feb. 15th, I hung a scroll at the alcove and it is an image of the Buddha entering nirvana .
Wednesday, February 2, 2022
RONE & Gigi, a Japanese theater clown duo who came to Taga last year in October and gave us a big laugh and superb performance, will come to Taga in February to give a clown workshop for us. We welcome beginners of all ages, and anyone can participate. RONE & Gigi will teach part of clowning gentry in an easy way step by step. We will invite people to this workshop who are free in the daytime, and who want to surprise someone. The title of the third day is "Become Clown" and you will put on makeup and clown clothes, then afterwards pose and take a photo. You will see an unexpected world and many people love this. Apply early, please!