Quick Response

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This event took place on the banks of the Toki River in Tamiji Friday morning. From what I could see, it seemed to be a demonstration of the fire department’s typhoon/flood rescue capabilities, with people entering a mobile rain(bow?) simulator with umbrellas, rides in inflatable rafts, a cookout and Unagappa encounters.

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No sooner had they done this than Mother Nature obliged with a thunder-boomer deluge of her own. We do seem to have had more storms this summer.

Alien Life Forms

As aliens, unless we’re married to Japanese or have a permanent visa, life in Japan means getting, changing or renewing our visas from time to time. As the form-filling-out requirements aren’t necessarily consistent, and they unfortunately can’t tell you on the spot whether you need to submit more documents, the process may involve multiple trips to the Nagoya Regional Immigration Bureau (mailing is sometimes an option, but you risk missing strict deadlines if something gets held up in transit; Better safe than sorry).

Also, as the Ministry of Justice has done away with the alien registration card system, everyone will have to pick up a new resident card at the Bureau office to replace the temporary paper issued last year by your local city hall. And don’t forget to get a re-entry permit there before you leave Japan to travel – without one, your visa expires as soon as you leave. When you come back, you’ll just be a tourist on a three month permit with no right to work or study.* Anyway, it pays to know the way to the Bureau.

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From Tajimi or Toki, take the Chuo Line to Nagoya Station. Exiting through the central wickets, there’s no option, as far as I know, but to walk all the way to the west exit of the station, and then, staying inside the station, walk southward as far as you can until you get to the Aonami Line entrance toward the left.

Buy a separate ticket for ¥260 to Nagoya Keibajomae Station. Trains run about every 15 minutes. There are signs leading you to the immigration center from Keibajomae Station.

When you enter the building, there’s a general help center on the first floor to make sure your papers are in order. The main offices are on the second floor. Take a number (most likely on the right) and wait.

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On a recent trip there, I stopped at the Nagoya Station Towers, noticing that the haze made Nagoya Castle stand out (normally from there, I think it’s hard to pick out immediately). Other people took note, as well.

*Update: One benefit of the new system: In most cases, foreign residents won’t have to get re-entry permits anymore. You will have to notify Immigration any time between visa renewals (extensions) that you move or change jobs, which is different from before.

Sounding Board?

I’ve written before about the serendiptous effects of background chatter in public places, but this article at Grubstreet.com made me wonder if the wooden slats you often see in area restaurants are part of this New York-born noisier-is-neater trend the article chronicles.

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These boxes on the wall at Secret Time Cafe are the closest thing to slats I have handy on my camera roll (more typically slatlike boards along and behind the counter at this post).

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Another place that comes to mind is Shinsui Cafe (the rounded corner between one whole wall and the ceiling is made up entirely of slats with gaps).

I don’t know. I think there’s a tradition of using wood slats in Japan, whatever the reason. I’ll ask some architect friends. In the meantime, though I often make use of the ambient indiscernable “rhubarb,” I think I’m glad I don’t live in New York.

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Home Fire Burning

All around town this evening, local families could be found standing and squatting around tiny ceremonial fires built to send the spirits of deceased relatives back to their afterlife abodes. These were “okuribi,” the complement to Saturday’s “mukaebi,” fires lit to usher ancestors back to Earth for their three-day Obon stay. Tajimi marks the event from July 13th to 15th, a month or so earlier than many other places. People prepare food placed at Buddhist altars in the home to feed their lost loved ones during the three day observance.

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On the north end of Tajimibashi Bridge, brightly lit paper lanterns were hung to flutter in the breeze and show departed souls the way home. Ceremonial boats made of eggplant to look like horses used to be sent down rivers like the Toki to send the souls off, but they’re now banned as an environmental hazard.

At the south end of the bridge, where Oribe Street heads into the Tajimi Ginza, stalls were set up for a mini-festival atmosphere. I was working and was only able to catch a few glimpses of all the activities as I drove home. Maybe I can bring you some photos next year. The shots below are of homemade outdoor mini-shrines near work.

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Tomorrow, more local ceremonies will be held to pray for good health through the summer. Several people I ran into were kind enough to explain all these traditions to me, but unfortunately I couldn’t understand everything they said.

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A Novel Lunch at Cannery Row

Reader’s Digest

I went to a pasta/pizza restaurant in Meito-ku, Nagoya, called Cannery Row recently. Here’s a condensed recollection as I try to get a few words in while tonight’s lightning seems kept at bay.

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To start, all lunches include the loaded salad bar, which is really an antipasto bar. Very nice variety, all good. I realized I must not have had vichyssoise very much before because it was an enjoyable taste I wasn’t really familiar with. You may need two trips to the buffet. A drink bar is also included.

The regular pasta lunch menu offers several pasta dishes, many quite original, in each of several categories, ranging from around ¥1300 to ¥1800. Pizza lunch menu choices, all about ¥1600 to ¥1700, number eight.

There are also fondue, chicken and fish course lunches available at a premium of around ¥4000. “Dessert sets” are a simple matter of tacking on either ¥150 (one item) or ¥390 (three items) to any lunch set.

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Mm, Mm, Good

From the special Summer Fair Menu, I chose the avocado and shrimp chilled spaghettini. Cold soba noodles are a common cool option in the summer heat, but this was a rare pasta version. I guess I was expecting something like gazpacho, but what I got was a truly new taste sensation I’ve never had before. The mango-pineapple fruit vinegar-infused tomato sauce worked very well with the cold thin pasta, accented with a zingy kick of fresh basil. I might not have thought a cold tomato sauce spaghetti would work, but this definitely did.

Despite its name, Cannery Row doesn’t particularly specialize in seafood (the locale in the Steinbeck novel was a major canning center before the surrounding waters became overfished). Lunch is served from 11 to 3, open year-round. Map link here.

Summer Hotter Than Others

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Rainy season clouds have parted, giving way to a more typical summer variety, pointed out here by a pair of anemometers atop Tajimi Station. Below, the sun loses the battle of the blue and the grey for the last time. Now it’s here to stay.

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Large (behe?)moths have descended en masse, my neighborhood supermarket has started eel cookouts, folks are breaking out the fireworks along the river near work, and Toki has already begun water shortage warning announcements. Summer is here. Yesterday and today reached 99° F. I’ve heard this year may be a hot one for the ages.

Update: It was almost 102° today. Good enough for number two in the nation.