*to Hanlon's razor: Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.
Κυνόσαργες

Monday, 4 August 2014

'Home'...

So I am home, or in Canada at my mother's at least.  Out of Tokyo after four years.  What is home?

This is my hometown, but not the house I grew up in, which I'd left at eighteen in any case, and which I had loathed all of my teens: the town and the family.  Father dying helped a great deal, but that's baggage and we all have it.

I've lived nineteen years in this Toronto suburb, one in another, one in St. Catharines, five in Montreal, four in Tokyo, three in a Tokyo suburb, and it must be eleven in Toronto.  What is home? 

For my heart, it is Montreal, but the heart is a fickle thing and not amenable to sense.  I have poor French, and I lived there in university for the most part.  Apart from what my heart knows, I cannot call it home, and I know if I lived there again I would be broken-hearted.

Common sense tells me it is Toronto.  It isn't any of the Southern Ontario towns I've lived in.  Even as a youth I did not feel that they were home: too limiting.  So is Toronto, though a little less.  It may be a home, but there is no love lost there.

Tokyo?  Or Kanto, at least?  A second home, but they're never going to accept me.  At best I am an odd-looking cousin.  An interloper.  Besides, Tokyo like Toronto is full of assholes: there are better places in both countries.

I do not have a home city.  I have a family, and they are home.  Where we live is just background to that.  If you cannot hold yourself apart from your surroundings you are as coarse as those who cannot from their emotional state.  Better to be a bit adrift than capped.

Sunday, 27 July 2014

33/100 百名山: 'Hundred Famous Mountains' (of Japan)


I did not expect to get them all, as I'm not that obsessed about them, but 33/100 is what I've got in seven full years and another two months visiting.  About one a month if you take out the winter months, but that's misleading because I've bagged one to four on each trip.  I've concentrated my climbs in the centre of Honshu both because I lived in Kanto and Chubu's where the taller peaks are.  I will be back for more, I expect.

The latest I climbed was Utsugi-dake, but it's almost put me off them: the humidity of summer extends to the peak even if the heat does not.  The high peaks are usually safe to climb June through October; however, June to mid-July is rainy, July to early September hot and humid (though less hot at altitude), typhoons can interrupt late August to early September, so really, mid-September to early November are best for the high peaks, but you're mad if you go on a weekend when all of Japan does.

Coming down from Utsugi I came across a bear in Japan for the first time in the wild, and on foot the first time ever.  Could have given the latter a pass.  Definitely an Asian Black Bear.  Not much bigger than my wife, shock of white on the tail (the bear's).  I happened to be talking to myself about the birch trees, which is as well as fifty metres ahead the bear suddenly came down from the canopy in a hurry, likely running away.  Besides that far more common than attack or mock-charges, there is a limited hunt on Honshu and you don't survive as a wild animal among 120 million people by bravery.  I took an alternative route anyway, as I was alone.

The hell with bears though, I got buzzed a couple times by suzumebachi, 'sparrow bees', which are actually hornets called 'sparrow' because they're the size of a sparrow!  I can live with those even though they bounced off the crown of my hat.  I just acted cool and kept moving.  Japan has something else called oosuzumebachi, 'giant sparrow bees', because the other ones aren't big enough?!  Saw none of those this time.  Good thing.  Scarier than bears and a sting will do as much damage.  You hear them before you see them.  You hear or see one of these you run.



If anyone cares, I've highlighted what I have climbed, in red if particularly recommended (not Fuji the touron cinder pit).  Do exercise caution and read up on a mountain before you go, and what transit runs in what season and the schedules.



Hokkaido



1)Mt. Rishiri (利尻岳)

2) Mt. Rausu (羅臼岳)

3) Mt. Shari (斜里岳)


4) Mt. Meakan (雌阿寒岳)

5) Mt. Asahi (旭岳) 2290
6) Mt. Tomuraushi (トムラウシ山) 2141
7) Mt. Tokachi (十勝岳) 2077
8) Mt. Poroshiri (幌尻岳)

9) Mt. Yōtei (羊蹄山)


Tohoku



10) Mt. Iwaki (岩木山)

11) Mt. Hakkoda (八甲田山)

12) Mt. Hachimantai (八幡平)

13) Mt. Iwate (岩手山)

14) Mt. Hayachine (早池峰)

15) Mt. Chokai (鳥海山)

16) Gassan (月山)


17) Mt. Asahi (朝日岳)

18) Mt. Zao (蔵王山)


19) Mt. Iide (飯豊山)


20) Mt. Azuma (吾妻山) 2035
21) Mt. Adatara (安達太良山) 1700
22) Mt. Bandai (磐梯山) 1819
23) Mt. Aizu-komagatake (会津駒ヶ岳)
24) Mt. Nasu (那須岳) 1915
Joshin’etsu


25) Mt. Echigo-komagatake (越後駒ヶ岳)
26) Mt. Hira (平ヶ岳)


27) Mt. Makihata (巻機山)

28) Mt. Hiuchi (燧岳)
29) Mt. Shibutsu (至仏岳)
30) Mt. Tanigawa (谷川岳) 1977
31) Mt. Amakazari (雨飾山)

32) Mt. Naeba (苗場山)
2145
33) Mt. Myoko (妙高山)

34) Mt. Hiuchi (火打山)
2462
35) Mt. Takazuma (高妻山)

Kita-Kanto


36) Mt. Nantai (男体山)2484
37) Mt. Okushirane (奥白根山) 2578
38) Mt. Sukai (皇海山)
2144
39) Mt. Hotaka (武尊山)

40) Mt. Akagi (赤城山)

41) Mt. Kusatsu-Shirane (草津白根山) 2171
42) Mt. Azumaya (四阿山)
2035
43) Mt. Asama (浅間山) 2568
44) Mt. Tsukuba (筑波山) 876
Kita Alps



45) Mt. Shirouma (白馬岳) 2932
46) Mt. Goryu (五竜岳) 2814
47) Mt. Kashimayari (鹿島槍岳) 2899
48) Mt. Tsurugi (剣岳) 2998
49) Mt. Tateyama (立岳) 3015
50) Mt. Yakushi (薬師岳) 2926
51) Mt. Kurobegoro (黒部五郎岳) 2840
52) Mt. Kuro/Suisho (黒岳) 2986
53) Mt. Washiba (鷲羽岳) 2924
54) Mt. Yari (槍ヶ岳) 3180
55) Mt.Hotaka (穂高岳) 3190
56) Mt. Jonen (常念岳) 2857
57) Mt. Kasa (笠ヶ岳) 2899
58) Mt. Yake (焼岳) 2455
59) Mt. Norikura (乗鞍岳) 3026
60) Mt. Ontake (御岳) 3067
Yatsu-ga-take Region

61) Utsukushi-ga-hara (美ヶ原)

62) Mt. Kirigamine (霧ヶ峰)

63) Mt. Tateshina (蓼科山) 2530
64) Yatsu-ga-take(八ヶ岳) 2899
Chichibu-Tama-Kai National Park
65) Mt. Ryokami (両神山)

66) Mt. Kumotori (雲取山) 2017
67) Mt. Kobushi (甲武信岳) 2475
68) Mt. Kinpu (金峰山) 2598
69) Mt. Mizugaki (瑞牆山) 2230
70) Mt. Daibosatsu (大菩薩山)
2057
Mt. Fuji Region


71) Mt. Tanzawa (丹沢山) 1673
72) Mt. Fuji (富士山) 3776
73) Mt. Amagi (天城山)

Chuo Alps Region


74) Mt. Kiso-komagatake (木曽駒ヶ岳) 2956
75) Mt. Utsugi (空木岳) 2864
76) Mt. Ena (恵那山)


Minami Alps


77) Mt. Kai-komagatake (甲斐駒ヶ岳) 2967
78) Mt. Senjo (仙丈ヶ岳) 3033
79) Mt. Houou (鳳凰山) 2840
80) Mt. Kitadake (北岳) 3193
81) Mt. Ainodake (間ノ岳) 3189
82) Mt. Shiomi (塩見岳) 3047
83) Mt. Warusawa (悪沢岳) 3141
84) Mt. Akaishi (赤石岳) 3120
85) Mt. Hijiri (聖岳) 3013
86) Mt. Tekari (光岳) 2591
Hokuriku Region


87) Mt. Hakusan (白山) 2702
88) Mt. Arashima (荒島岳)

Kansai Region


89) Mt. Ibuki (伊吹山)

90) Mt. Odaigahara (大台ヶ原山)
91) Mt. Omine (大峰山)

92) Mt. Daisen (大山)

Shikoku



93) Mt. Tsurugi (剣山)

94) Mt. Ishizuchi (石鎚山)

Kyushu



95) Mt. Kuju (九重山)

96) Mt. Sobo (祖母山)

97) Mt. Aso (阿蘇山)
98) Mt. Kirishima (霧島山)

99) Mt. Kaimon (開聞岳)

100) Mt. Miyanoura (宮之浦岳)


















Saturday, 26 July 2014

'Let it go...'

Would be any time you shouldn't sing a 'torch song': you're 'straight', not headlining on Broadway, or have no sense of irony - Japanese.

I got this idea from 'Relentless Writings' dog post.

We're meant to be mature enough to take being second bested, but it doesn't mean we don't feel it.  My son, now four, since birth has made it perfectly clear I was second best to mother, which I can understand.  I didn't carry him, don't have tits, and I'm hairier and smellier.  When he makes me angry I make him deal with his mistake and am not softened up by him until he does.  He's got the mother-con of most Japanese and hybrid boys I've known, from nature or nurture.  I'll have a Japanese, or at least Asian, daughter in-law (or son in-law).

The girl, a year and a half old, has played me far better from birth.  As soon as her eyes could focus she looked into mine and smiled, and owned me.  A more recent example, I was away hiking two nights and the kids and wife were staying at mother in-law's.  I went to meet them, walking with the wife from the station to MIL's house.  We met MIL and the kids on MIL's street.  The girl looked at me as if she suddenly remembered something, smiled, ran past my wife and into my arms.  Then when we got inside I tried to put her down to take off my shoes but she screamed and clutched at me, so I had to improvise another way to get out of them.

Ain't love grand?  Sure, until she remembered her mother has a chest.  After she was done with them I went to pick her up again and she screamed at me and struggled in my arms until I put her back with her mother.

Sunday, 20 July 2014

Cruising dreams

Do you think my Japanese wife will like my solution to our Toronto housing? Buy-in for about $100K for a luxurious 42' sailboat used in good condition,  $600/month dockage fees, and it travels. Sweet! More comfortable and larger than a Japanese home, or a Toronto condo. Where's the down side? 

Never going to happen...

I rather doubt my plans will go so smoothly for sailing a 27' boat, but I'd like to introduce my kids to isolated scenery in Canada before I'm too old, and they get busy as teens.  I'm fortunate to be a teacher having the two best months of the year off to sail.  The boomer teachers bought cottages, but they're all priced out now, and why would I want to spend my vacations fixing a second building (as opposed to a boat...).

2019, 49 years old, take a proper sailing course.

Buy a shared 27' boat.
2020, 50, children 10 and 7: Georgian Bay and North Channel
2021, 51, children 11 and 8: Georgian Bay and Lake Huron
2022, 52, children 12 and 9: Superior

Buy (or buy out) own boat, or get my co-owner to join the longer trip, possibly upgrading to a 32' boat, as much for room as for safety.
2023, 53, children 13 and 10: Huron, Eerie, Ontario, St. Lawrence River, to Saguenay
2024, 54, children 14 and 11: Gulf of St. Lawrence
2025, 55, children 15 and 12: Gulf of St. Lawrence
2026, 56, children 16 and 13: Newfoundland and Labrador

Much bigger plans would have to wait for retirement, which could have been sixty if I'd planned better, or had one fewer children to educate: more likely sixty-five; however, I can work a reduced year from sixty, so a four month summer is possible.

I'd love to take a boat further up the Atlantic to Baffin and Greenland, but even in summer that's an undertaking, even if I'd have the experience above.  Getting my Japanese wife to join and miss all of a summer's weather?  Be more likely to keep the marriage with a Vancouver to Juneau, Whittier or Anchorage passage.  Probably have to stow the boat and return the next year the same way.  I wonder about sailing Alaska to Hawaii...

Saturday, 19 July 2014

'First World problems': false consciousness



I lost patience with someone the other day.  She was moaning about the Muslim kids' attitudes in her school.  She's sensitive because her husband's in the Canadian military, and he's been 'helping' in Afghanistan.  Students asked:
Why does America hate Muslims?
Why is it ok for Americans  to invade other countries but it's not ok for anyone to fight Americans?
Canada is racist. Why didn't it bring in any Syrian refugees?
Instead of considering these kids might have family who have been killed because of America fucking the place up, and its bitch, Canada, joining in, she's concerned about her own feelings. 
In all my years of teaching and working with students from a variety of backgrounds, I have NEVER heard or witnessed such disgust for the West. It made me horrified, really. And I still don't know what the best response is to any of those questions.
Fuck your cossetted feelings.  Try empathy.  White, born in Canada, unilingual Anglophone...  I had to school her:
I happen to think we should all be disgusted with 'the West': we are hypocrites.  I don't need to be Muslim to see that Arab deaths are counted very cheaply in Washington, and that 'Western' governments not only don't protest, but enable.  You are younger than me so do not know that the Liberal Party of Canada sent no troops to Vietnam, or anywhere in SE Asia, and accepted American draft refugees.  Incidentally, Joe Clark's Conservatives accepted tens of thousands of civilian refugees from Vietnam.  Quite a different legacy than ours in the Middle East.  There were other choices to make.  The questions show students who are intellectually engaged with current events, even if their ideas are raw and unnuanced.  If I were a hot-blooded youth and anyone I knew had been harmed?  I can't imagine feeling less angry than I am now.  I would acknowledge their anger, and try to direct it to something effective, legal and non-violent.  The anger needs a positive outlet: better that than another option, for their own good.
The most shocking thing was that she entertained my ideas.  I didn't bother to tell her that her husband has blood on his hand, even if not at first hand.  Don't think she'll ever be that open minded.