Visitors

It must be the garden. Or just the fact that I’m now living on ground floor. I’m getting much more visitors of the crawly, unwanted kind than ever.

I suspect there is a whole cockroach colony living behind my kitchen cabinets. Besides putting up traps and keeping the kitchen as clean as possible, there is not much I can do about them. Pumpkin is used to have his nibbles over night (especially in summer, he ate mostly then). So, essentially, I’m feeding not just him, but the cockroaches too. Let me know if you have ideas.

Ants are also attracted to Pumpkin’s food dish, but they are relatively easy to get rid of. A bit of insect spray on their path, and they won’t return. For the most part, they stay in the garden anyway.

I have no idea how the spiders enter the house, though. Attracted to the light, they magically appear in the evenings. The little jumping spiders, no bigger than 2 cm, are cute, and I try to catch them in a tissue and put them outside. But there are others…

One night, I found a brown hunting spider the size of my palm perched on the inside (!) of the fly screen in the toilet. I carefully closed the window, and after a couple of days, it was gone – outside, hopefully. A few days later, when I went to bed, there was an even larger spider sitting on the door to the library. Pumpkin scared it off – or maybe it was my screeching? It was enormous, leg span around 20 cm, the size of my spread hand, and as it escaped over the tatami, it resembled the “Thing” from the Addams Family. I could even hear its footsteps.

So, instead of going to bed, I picked up the insect spray from the kitchen, then huddled on the top end of my futon, waiting. Three hours later, the spider re-emerged and nonchalantly placed itself on the wall less than a meter from my head. It eyed me with curiosity (obviously planning on how to eat all that.) I still shudder thinking about what happened next, so let’s just say my insect spray and I prevailed in the end. Let’s hope it didn’t install its family inside the house.

But not all the visitors are bad. I’ve seen geckos climbing fly screens and windows to hunt. The little fella here has greeted Pumpkin and me on our morning walk in the garden for the last couple of days. I wouldn’t mind if they were to bring their families!

Typhoon Aftermath

This season’s typhoon #14, “Nanmadol” has cleared Japan yesterday. It wreaked havoc as it crossed first through Kyushu from south to northwest and then when it returned from the west through northern Honshu. At the latitude of Kyoto city, it was far enough out on the Japan sea to only cause a bit of rain in the night to Tuesday. Looking at all the damage it has done in the rest of Japan, we were very lucky.

It could have been much worse. In August, we had a number of very heavy rainstorms. One of them caused more than 90 mm of rain in a single hour in northern Kyoto city, and at some point people there were even asked to evacuate. Note that Kyoto’s Kita-ku district reaches far into the countryside, so I’m not sure where exactly that was.

Given that I live fairly far uphill now, my area isn’t prone to flooding, at least according to the local hazard map I received when buying the house. However, during those rainstorms, the little stream at the back of my house swelled to a raging torrent, and what is usually not more than 10 cm of clear brook turned into a brown soup that filled half of the bed provided for it.

It took several days for the waters to recede, and the loud noise coming from the otherwise so quiet stream surprised me quite a bit. At that time, I finally understood why the agent mentioned it several times at the time of the sale.

But now, the only consequence of the typhoon is that the temperature dropped by about 10 degrees over night. Although we still have 23 degrees during the day, and the temperatures should rise again soon, it feels pretty cold right now. So much so, that last night, for the first time since this spring, Pumpkin wanted to sleep under my blanket. I guess we’re officially in autumn now.

Two-Holiday Week

It’s a super short work week, with only 3 days in the office!

Today is Keiro-no-hi, “Respect for the Aged” Day, where Japan honours the elderly. And there are plenty of them. For the first time, there are more than 90,000 over-100-year olds, all of which receive a congratulatory letter and a silver cup from the government. Or rather, a sake cup made from nickel alloy with silver plating, as the real silver would be too expensive. This year, 80,161 women are over 100 years old, with only 10,365 men reaching such an old age. The oldest woman is 115, the oldest man 111 years old, definitely something to strive for.

I was planning to visit a museum today, but we’re all sitting tight because of typhoon # 14 “Nanmadol”, which is coming up the western coast of Japan. There is even an extreme weather warning in place, and when I woke up in the morning, my neighbours had all their shutters closed. So far, however, the day was quite humid but with not much rain. Maybe tomorrow?

And on Friday will be Shubun-no-hi, the autumnal equinox, with another day off. The typhoon should have passed by then, so I’ll just move today’s plans to Friday.

Moonstruck

Just a quick heads up. A friend of mine from Tokyo came for a visit, and we roamed through Okazaki yesterday: Keage Incline, Murin-an, an exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art…

It was definitely worth it, but I was pretty exhausted afterwards because of the heat. And I need to play catch up with work. So, just a wonderful picture from our dinner on Monday night – the harvest moon, only two days after it was full. Courtesy of my friend.

I’m back!

What a summer! It was mostly relaxing and stress-free, this my first summer in my new house. And it wasn’t quite as hot in my bedroom underneath the roof as I had feared. The temperatures stayed mostly in the low to mid 30s during the days and dropped just enough in the evening to make sleeping possible most nights. I’m not sure if this is because of the “cool mountain air” “up here” where I live now, or if summer was generally a little cooler this year.

Pumpkin did suffer from the heat too and visibly perked up the few times I used the air condition. He spent most of July and August inside the oshi-ire in my office, and during the nights he slept on the cooler wooden floors, trying to catch even the tiniest breeze coming through the house. Now he’s back on his zabuton cushion next to my futon at night, a sure sign that autumn is coming.

As was to be expected, summer wasn’t super busy, but a few things did happen, and I will write about some of them in more details in future posts. Here a few titbits:

I am getting older… I’m back at the physio therapy for my hip pain, which took a while but was relatively easy to do. And I now have glasses for reading, which was quick but more complicated to achieve. At first, the doctor gave me the wrong prescription; the second one isn’t 100% correct either. By now I think that the first prescription was correct, just had the left/right eye swapped…

Thanks to the new glasses, I can now read furigana again, which is absolutely necessary in my Japanese studies I have picked up again. I am planning to take the next JLPT in December, starting small at the lowest level.

I learnt other new skills that will help me keep the house in order in the future.

Thanks to those skills, one more room is finished/furnished.

And then, there is Project 50 x 50…

But more of all this at another time. Nice to be back!

Taking a Break

Sorry for not writing for such a long time. I’ve had good intentions, but I need a break again. Things are busy, and I feel like I’m in a rut and sitting at the computer 24/7, even if I don’t. And with the summer heat that has finally hit Kyoto, it’s pretty difficult to work anyway.

So, I have decided to take a break from posting here over summer, probably even until the end of August. I have no plans of going anywhere – not that I have money to do so, and Pumpkin doesn’t like being left alone – but I may try a few fun things in Kyoto. So far, there are still very few tourists, and the locals enjoy themselves.

Speaking of local enjoyment, here are a few highlights of Kyoto’s Gion Matsuri 2022. This is the Saki Parade on July 17, I watched it with a friend of mine from Tokyo:

Tsuyu or not Tsuyu

raindrops on a window

Tsuyu is the Japanese name for the rainy season in early summer. Some people call it even the fifth season in Japan. It’s a stretch of time when it rains almost every day, but not necessarily continually. During the tsuyu, both temperature and humidity rise steadily, and when the rain finally stops, summer has begun for real.

Last week, the head of the Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA) declared this year’s tsuyu to be over, after one of the shortest and not overly rainy periods in history. And Friday/Saturday promptly turned out very hot and sunny already – just to be followed by another cluster of heavily rainy days until yesterday. According to the forecast, we’ll now have two or three hot days again, followed by more rain in the weekend.

Well, is it now tsuyu or not? Maybe the JMA misspoke? In any case, as long as I can stay home, I don’t mind the rain very much. It cools down the house quite nicely. Unfortunately, the humidity is already here to stay this year…

Summer is coming…

… kind of. The beginning of last week was so cold, I put on a thick sweater again. And Pumpkin slept in my bed – under the covers – for two days straight. So far, we haven’t had really hot and sunny days, at least not several in a row. It was overcast quite often, even when it wasn’t raining.

But this week, summer is speeding up. It’s actually starting to get humid, and for the rest of the week, temperatures in the low 30s are forecast. We’ll see. I’m curious if and how I will be able to sleep. My roof seems to be not insulated at all, and although I leave the windows open now, it can still get quite hot upstairs in my bedroom. I wonder how bad it will get in August. And how Pumpkin will deal with the heat and humidity. For now, he has found an elevated spot on some moving boxes (yeah, I know… go on, judge me) and sleeps there during the day. In the night, I often find him in his kitty bed that I place at the head of my own futon.

One thing I find quite interesting is that the sunlight, just before sunset, is now reaching into my office, which is on the north side of the house. At the moment, it’s just for a few minutes every day, but the light gives a beautiful orange tint to my white rooms. I didn’t catch it today, but I’ll try to take a photo and share it with you here soon.

Sneak Peek

I’ve been busy again with all sorts of end-of-the-month stuff and other things.

Catching insects in my bedroom, for example, with the help of Pumpkin, who apparently doesn’t like to sleep in a bug-infested space either. (I’m glad he doesn’t).

Getting money to all sorts of tax offices and membership fees to a whole bunch of groups I got into at some point – and letting those know that I’ve moved while I’m at it.

Trying to finish work as much as possible, so I can do fun stuff next week – it’s Golden Week again! There are more sights near my new place than I had thought, so I hope I can explore them soon.

And, finally, getting my latest DIY project finished. Here’s a preview, more photos to come soon:

Time Flies…

Goodness, where did the month go? Somehow I’m missing a whole week! Yesterday I noticed that it was the 20th already, when I had the feeling that the month had barely started…

Now I have to start thinking about end-of-month things for work and privately, and I feel I’m running out of time, even though some of the things that need doing don’t get done very long ahead of time anyway (shame on me).

In any case, I’ve been busy! The house is looking better by the day (I think I can post another finished/furnished next week) and just today, I was invited to a press preview of two museums, and tomorrow, there’s another one scheduled. These are the days when I love my job – even when it’s raining.