Family of Bootleggers

Nov 9th, 2008 Family & Friends, Travel Douglas 1 min read

It was no idle boast to say that they owned the mountain. And how they ended up with so much land was weighing on my mind as another round of drinks were poured. My wife’s uncle, now 75 years old, explained their samurai roots. In fact, one of the family relics, an ancient sword, was even in his possession as a child. Not realizing its…

Living a Memory…

Nov 8th, 2008 Travel Douglas 1 min read

We’ve now been in Japan for little over a month (with 3 weeks to go). This past week I had an opportunity to dance with the famed Tokushima dancers, cross accent rope vine bridge, journey in a small boat down a winding canyon river, sleep in a 200+ year old Japanese house, fish a remote stream, climb a treacherous footpath up a lush green mountain,…

The Proud Yakuza Mamma

Oct 25th, 2007 Family & Friends Douglas 1 min read

In Japan, there is a term pronounced “oy-yo-baka,” which means stupid parent and used to describe people who brag about their kids. Our story involves one mother who was anything but boastful. As my father in law (“Otousan”) tells it, he was working at an ice cream store when the owner announced that he was going out of business, so Otousan raised money from family…

Correction: A Land of Welders

May 18th, 2004 General, Travel Douglas 1 min read

OK… if surgical masks are a must have in Japan then so are elbow-length white gloves and hats with plastic protective shields in front. Apparently, as much as the common cold is their enemy, so is the sun. I noticed this phenomenon the other day when I witnessed one obaachan riding a bicycle down a narrow sidewalk wearing long white burlesque gloves, a surgical mask,…

A Land of Doctors

May 16th, 2004 General, Travel Douglas 1 min read

Many people in Japan wear white surgical masks when our in public on trains, buses, even when driving alone in a car. From the look of things, one would think that Japan is a country full of doctors. But I’m told in these crowded conditions, colds are easily passed along which is why people wear the white masks. Ironically when I visited the hospital, no…

Song Stuck in My Head

Apr 3rd, 2004 General, Travel Douglas 1 min read

Ever had a song stuck in your head? How about for more than a year? I’ve been walking around Japan with the same tune rattling around my skull for some time… “Motto motto, Takemoto! Piano utte choudai!” For godsakes, I don’t even own a piano so leave me alone!

Watch Out for Fire!

Dec 29th, 2003 Family & Friends, Travel Douglas 1 min read

Sometimes traditions refuse to die even when no one can quite explain them. Tonight I walked with the “Hino Youjin” (he-no-yo-jean) choir. At the end of every year, citizens get together to patrol their neighborhoods warning everyone to watch out for fire (as the paper-homed Japan had a long history of burning down). It’s an eerie sound to those of us who do not understand…

Pills and Placebos

Nov 27th, 2003 Family & Friends, Travel Douglas 1 min read

Funny thing about the flu season in Japan. Since the houses are so close together, walls so thin, you can usually hear the first outbreak in the neighborhood days before it reaches your house. Sounds like the Tanaka’s down the street got it. That’s about the time that everyone is instructed to scrub their hands raw anytime they enter the house. You’d better gargle as…

Big Sale on TP!

Mar 13th, 2003 Family & Friends, Travel Douglas 1 min read

There’s something about a sale that seems to cause the women of the house to get excited. Today you could feel the energy from the moment the morning newspaper arrived until Okaasan finally dragged us all to the supermarket. Toilet paper was on sale. An unbeatable price but with a limit of three per customer. So everyone in the family lined up, each with their…

Daddy Taxi

Nov 26th, 2002 Family & Friends, Travel Douglas 1 min read

In America, I was respected. I helped lead a successful software company, played in bands and even hung out with the occasional celebrity. If what you drive is any indication of your status, oh how the mighty have fallen! It wouldn’t be so bad if it was only a bike but nothing says “not cool” like a sissy bar, bell, and basket. And apparently, Yumi…