July 18, 2009

an overview of my weekend in Nagasaki...

I haven't been able to check out many blogs this past week, I'm very sorry for being a "bad blogger".

I jumped back into my work schedule after returning from Nagasaki...and I also had a job interview! Yes, I am currently hoping to get a job where I can use my English skills and previous experiences as a teacher and in book sales.

I did my best and if providence is willing I will have a second round of interviews later this month...
Let's see what happens!

Now, here is what I did in Nagasaki...again, apologies...I wasn't able to take very many photos.
It was raining when we reached Nagasaki last week. There is a famous song in Japan...
sung by
It was a bumpy flight sometimes but we had a smoooooth landing...
There was a very strange looking (and gigantic) bowl of noodles in the airport to greet us.
It was supposed to be a model of the local delicacy called "chanpon" but it looks nothing like the real thing!
Here is a picture of the real thing...the picture doesn't capture the actual deliciousness of the dish though...sorry!
Chanpon is a bowl of noodles in chicken and pork broth with cabbage, bean sprouts, shrimp etc...
It is a combination of Japanese and Chinese food.

There are many Chinese descendants living in Nagasaki and that is why a lot of the Buddhist ceremonies and other festivities in Nagasaki have a very China-like atmosphere.

For example usually cemeteries in Japan are quiet...but the first summer after a loved one has passed away, in Nagasaki not be surprised if you hear a lot of people lighting firecrackers. The loud crackling sounds are supposed to scare off bad spirits.

Lots and lots of firecrackers!...this is from the Chinese culture that has become a part of Nagasaki.

(I'd show some pictures from 2 years ago, but I'm not sure everyone would be interested in seeing me in a dark cemetery lighted by an orange-ish flame...;-))


Speaking of flames....since it was raining most of the time that we were in Nagasaki and because our main purpose of being there was to "commemorate" the 2nd year after my father-in-law's death, we didn't go out much. So with the couple of hours of free time, I read some of my husband's old manga that he had in his room.
Hinotori (the Phoenix) by Tezuka Osamu.
All 5 episodes are set in different times but the main character, the Phoenix, appears in all of them.
I wanted to bring these back with us but our suitcase was next time I will try to post more about this epic tale of life!


In Japan there are many memorial services that are tied in with both Shinto and Buddhist religions.
There is the "tsuya" = kind of like a wake
the shonanuka=a memorial after the seventh day of passing
the shijukunichi=a memorial after the 49th day
the isshuki= a year after
the sankaiki = "san" means 3, but in this term it is actually the second year after...

I know, VERY confusing.

This year was the "sanakaiki" memorial service, the second year since my father-in-law passed away.

We listened to a Buddhist monk chant for about 40 minutes. My mother-in-law, my husband and myself had front row seats. I could hear people getting restless in the back...
I used this extremely long chant to "meditate". I closed my eyes, held my buddhist beads (like Catholic rosaries) and concentrated on my father-in-law's smile.

If someone stands in front of you, or waves their hand in front of your face when you have your eyes can tell, can't you? You can feel their presence without having to open your eyes...

...I had my eyes closed but I KNEW someone ELSE was there, right in front of me. Unless, the Buddhist monk was doing an unexpected jig around us...

Of course I can't be sure, but I wasn't scared. I felt calm and rather peaceful.

After the chanting, our party of 23 people sat down to eat a huge lunch.

Some relatives stopped by my mother-in-laws home. I had to shuffle around in the kitchen to prepare things to eat and drink. I can't cook, at least not for relatives...and ordered chanpon and other dishes from a local restaurant. I did cut some fruit though! ;-)

(My own "story" reminds me of a book I am looking forward to reading that should be released sometime this September. It is by Marie Mutsuki Mockett and she has written a very interesting essay about Buddhist funerals and Japanese society. Please click here to read it.)


..and then the day we had to leave wasn't raining anymore!
...and from the car ride to the airport I was able to take a few pictures of the beautiful countryside.
Nagasaki grows a lot of fruit and vegetables... some people have asked me about the effects of the nuclear bombs...they wanted to know if it was safe to eat food grown in Nagasaki..."isn't the radiation supposed to last for a long long time?" they asked me.

There was a news article recently about how a researcher found that people who were in the area of the bombings still carry some radiation in their cells. However, since the bombs went off in the air and not on impact with the earth it is said that there is not enough radiation in the soil to be lethal.
The airport is an hours drive from Nagasaki Omura City (Nagasaki Prefecture).
It is has recently been renovated! it is small but it's sparkly clean!

AND there is a new lounge!
This is what I saw from the lounge. You can see some of Omura City at the foot of the hills and the Omura Bay.
Before we boarded our plane back to Osaka, I noticed the green Nagasaki sign right behind our airplane.
It looks like our airplane is being sucked on by a huge elephant snout!
Hope you have a great weekend!


Carol @ TheWritersPorch said...

Well now Tulsa, this was really interesting!
I wish I was a travel writer and could just travel and review! That Chanpon looks and sounds delish!

lakeviewer said...

Lovely introduction for someone like me. I shall be back for more.

leks said...

Just a fast HELLO DEAR I"LL be back for more,I have to run and do some food hunting before the shops are closed,hugs Sandra

lucyslounge-dee said...

good luck with the job hunting. thanks for such a great post. also don't worry about us we're always here,

Alaine said...

Thanks, Tulsa, that was nice and all the best with the job interviews.

Delwyn said...

Hi little Tulsa

so nice to hear your chatty voice again...I suppose you have an American accent...When Poppy was going for work interview for teaching English in Japan they reinforced their preference for American English...Perhaps it's a status thing...and some Australians do have abroad Ocker accent...

Thanks for the inside into the Buddhist memorial services and family activities...I did go to a cemetery in Kyoto and view all the sticks with written messages...for extra homage (and costs)...

Frances said...

Tulsa, I am so fascinated by you posts, and delighted to have connected with you.

Best wishes to you as your career interviews continue.

Thank you for showing me so much about Nagasaki. As an American born in September 1945, with many friends of Japanese descent, I am always so conflicted about how to react to history "before my time." I so try to concentrate on what I can do in my own life span, yet know that radiation has a long, long life.

I have given your site's address to a friend who will be living some of the coming year in Japan. She is delightful and wise, and think that she will learn much from your posts, and also from those sites that you list on your page.

So many thanks to you, Tulsa. xo

I_am_Tulsa said...

Carol, I often wish the same thing...hopefully I'll get better at writing and hopefully I will get to travel a bit more!

Lakeviewer, thank you again for stopping by, I hope I can continue to write new info about Japan.

Sandra, thank you dear! I have been checking out your posts but like I said, I haven't been very good at leaving comments...I will be spending more time in front of the computer in a few days!

Dee, thank you! Loving all the outfits!

Alaine, thank you so much! I hope I can post some good news in the next few weeks!

Delwyn, I do have an American (west coast) accent! However, the company I am aiming to join is actually a British owned company!?!
I'll try to write about my teaching experience someday soon since you have raised a very important and interesting issue!

Frances, I know what you mean about how to react to history...I have a few "stories" concerning that from my childhood as well...hopefully I can write about that one of these days...
and thank you for introducing me to your friend, I would be happy to help anybody who is planning on coming to Japan! Please let her know that she can send me e-mails if she has any questions!

Lori ann said...

Hi Tulsa,

As always I so enjoy your posts! I've never been to Japan so everything is so interesting. But you are so charming even if it weren't, you would make it so. But it is! haha!

I wish I could have a bowl of that Chanpon for lunch today. Yum!

xx lori

I_am_Tulsa said...

Lori, thank you! Well, one of these days you are going to have to travel to Japan and find out for yourself! ;-) Hope you are having a great weekend!

julochka said...

what is it about those fake food displays? they never look appetizing!

i love your description of the ceremony and the meditation and feeling a presence. it makes me think we should make more effort in the western world to try to feel those presences. sigh...

I_am_Tulsa said...

Julochka! Some of the fake food displays can ruin your appetite! But, believe it or not there are some pretty good ones in Japan...I'll try to take photos of these better ones next time!

I think that just simple meditation, staring at nature etc can be very helpful to feel the "connection" we have!

Anonymous said...

Very nice and interesting post about Nagasaki. I enjoyed it a lot. I was never there but did get to Yokohama and Kamakura. I was in Sendai most of three years starting in 1953.

Pick a Peck of Pixels

Other Lisa said...

Oh, I should not have clicked on this post - the picture of the real chanpon reminded me of how little I've had to eat today...mmm...chanpon.

Good luck with your interviews!

Leigh Russell said...

Good luck with the job interview! Keep us posted. The photos are amazing. Like you say, it's a different world, but I think all the rituals and conventions must enhance life in many ways. Too much 'freedom' isn't always a good thing.
I wonder how long it takes English books to reach you? I was recently sent a photo of someone reading Cut Short in Istanbul. I'd love it if you could send me a picture of you reading my book in Japan!

Butternut Squash said...

Hello there Tulsa,

I was off in Virginia Beach while you were down in Nagasaki. I wish you the best of luck with the interviews.

Thanks for discussing the radiation. I've been to Hiroshima a couple of times and Nagasaki once. They are both vibrant cities, and I did wonder about the amount of radiation that might still be around.

You are a wealth of information. Peace.

I_am_Tulsa said...

Abe, it is wonderful to have you stop by! I am interested in the Japan you saw and hope you find the Japan I am living in now interesting too!

Other Lisa, I am glad that the real champon made you realize you had to eat something! I know you must be busy with your book being published soon but you really should eat!

Leigh, your book has been ordered and I will send you a picture as soon as possible!

Butternut Squash, you seem really busy right now! Thank you for stopping by! I am glad that you have had the chance to visit Nagasaki.

As for the interview result...still don't know!!! I will, of course, be pouring out my soul right here when there's more to talk about!
...thank you so much for the support!