Monday, February 11, 2008

Walking the River

My Host City is bordered on the west by a large river, and near the city center, a smaller river joins the large one. I'd been told about paths along the rivers, and today was a gloriously beautiful day out, so off I went. Today is National Foundation Day, a national holiday, so no classes; all the more reason to take a long walk. I found my way to the smaller river, and from there to the big river, and it was great. The smaller river is paved. Yep, as weird as that sounds. (If you've seen pictures of the Los Angeles River when it actually has water, you have the basic idea.)

There are weird looking things built into the water. This, for example. I think it's a sort of fish ladder, to help fish get up against the current. It's unlike any fish ladder I've seen before, but that's my best guess. (If you have other ideas, feel free to let me know, please!)

And, of course, I took some bird pictures. I saw some Green Winged Teal, and some European Widgeon, and some other birds, including a total mystery bird.

Here's the mystery bird. I actually broke down and ordered a Field Guide to Birds of Japan today, to the tune of almost $100. I've been limping along, and it's frustrating, and I'm really not good enough at birds to do well without a fairly specific field guide.

Along the smaller river, there are several bridges, and under some, it looks like homeless folks have set up housekeeping. I also saw that along the river in the imperial city; somehow, I guess I didn't think Japan would have homeless people. But of course, every place that has homes probably has homeless people. And along the larger river footpath, there were also some small tent sites that looked like they were inhabitate pretty long term.

The most unusual thing I saw along the path, though, was a small shrine looking thing. Some (Shinto, I think) shrines are basically small stone statue things, or marker things. I saw them before in the temple complex in the imperial city. Sometimes there are offerings of various sorts in front of them.

So here's this fairly typical looking little statue thing, and offerings? Soccer balls? Bottled water? The flowers and fruit (in back) seem typical, but soccer balls?

I may be totally wrong about the offering thing, however. This little shrine thing was only about 50' away from a tent set up, so maybe there's some storage going on here? Or maybe the offerings are brought to be used?

I'm not sure.

I met another teacher here the other day, and he invited me to a party this evening with some other teachers, which was a wonderful treat. But I have to admit, I feel like a completely boring person when I compare my life to theirs. I don't know how they've traveled and done all these amazing things, live abroad here and there, learned this and that, all sorts of coolness.

We discussed favorite cities, and they had some amazing international choices. I don't know any international city well enough to have it be my favorite, alas. And only a couple cities I know at all really enter the competition. Still, it's an interesting question, no?


  1. With you history, I don't think you've had a boring life.

    I think my favourite international city is Berlin. Not that I've been to *that* many. But of the big world cities I've been to, that one, which I've been lucky to visit three times (have a friend who lives there) takes the cake.

  2. It's funny when you say that about homeless people in Japan, because, when I was reading what you wrote, I thought, "I thought Japan wouldn't have any homeless people."

    Those are pretty pictures from the river. :)