Since returning to Japan I haven't been able to receive e-mails so yesterday I took the bull by the horns and called our computer server (I guess that's what you call them) to get help. As I've mentioned before, Tetsu and I are computer illiterate but Tetsu more so than I am. Thus the dilemma. Do I call the people and try to explain things to them in my limited Japanese, or does Tetsu call them and try to explain what is wrong even though he hasn't touched the computer in weeks and has no idea of what a tool bar is from a desktop. I called. I let the man know ahead of time that he was in for a long haul with me. I explained my problems and gave my questions and he was very clever about comprehending my non-technical terminology for my situation. He gave me advice. We determined that a lot of the problem could be alleviated if I'd get a new e-mail address so we started that process made more difficult since I was using English software rather than Japanese so I couldn't follow him step by step. After a long hour I had a new e-mail address for home and for this blog (in case anyone doesn't recognize any incoming mails from me, yoo-hoo, I've got a new one!) I hope I can get back to e-mailing and blogging as I did before I went to the States.
I don't know if this is interesting to anybody but I'm posting a picture of a Japanese altar set up for the Obon season. Back in December my friend (Mrs. Yano)'s mother passed away and this is the first Obon for her so the ceremonies are quite elaborate. Obon is a holiday celebrated from August 13 to 15 to honor the departed spirits of the family ancestors. During Obon, most families will have a reunion and make visiting the grave site a central point of the time together. The first Obon is the most important and so a special altar is arranged and family and friends bring gifts and money and burn incense to welcome the spirit back. I think the paper lantern in front of the house lets people know that this is the first Obon for the family.
I stumbled on this quite unexpectedly since I'd forgotten it was Obon and I had just gone over to tell Mrs. Yano that I was back from the States. She was just heading out to go buy a disposable camera so that she could take pictures and I offered to run back and get my digital, thus the pictures. You can see the picture in the middle (which conveniently reflected glare for my blog picture) of Obaachan (Grandma) in the middle. On either side of the picture are mounds of pounded rice cakes and under the gold flowers even farther out are baskets of canned fruits. In front of the picture is a table with the Buddhist spiritual name (spirits are renamed) and in front of that is the little area for burning incense. All the stuff in front (next to the cushion where you kneel to offer incense) are gifts. I think I even see a case of beer there!
Ok. That is what Obon is though my knowledge of the Buddhist customs is sorely lacking!