Thursday, August 20, 2009

Sights and SOUNDS of Japan

I've been upstairs sewing a bit with all the windows open wide and I can hear the sounds of cicada and birds and an occasional frog.

In the distance, gradually coming closer and closer is the sound of a bamboo salesman driving around in his pick-up truck.

"Bamboo~~ Bamboo poles for sale~~ Bamboo~~ Bamboo poles for sale~~"

He is quite melodic and sings the same thing over and over. Maybe he has a recording that he is playing but that doesn't seem quite so quaint. Occasionally he will go into a spiel about if you need a pole for hanging your laundry he has all sizes and some have been covered so that they are sturdier or waterproof or something.

Bamboo pole merchants come around quite a lot in my neighborhood. Or maybe it's the same merchant? Poles are much easier to use for hanging out clothes than laundry lines but a long pole is difficult to bring home from the store (actually I have a store bought one... I think it expanded). The bamboo pole man also sells sturdy cement blocks that hold the metal racks that the poles lay across. I'm sure buying from the merchant is much more convenient than trying to drag all that stuff home (but once in 20 years, right?) but I have a feeling his service is costly.

"Paper~~ Paper exchange~~ We take newspapers, magazine and cardboard~~ Paper~~ Paper exchange~~"

This is another melody that we often is heard wafting through the neighborhood. These merchants will also go around in a pick up truck and tell the world that they are exchanging toilet paper for old newspapers and cardboard. I have run out and stopped these trucks and asked them to take away a few stacks of newspapers and they are very happy to give me two or three rolls of toilet paper in return. (Picture from the Internet)

Other melodies and loud speakers announce trucks that will take away old bicycles or motorcycles or tires and we have used their services before also. A little expensive. They asked $8 to take a bicycle and $10 to take away a tire. Supposedly we could take our own garbage to the dump but one has to pay dumping fees anyway and Tetsu and I don't have a pick up truck so yearly we stop these drivers when we hear them coming in the distance.

We used to live in an area where in the evenings I would hear a thin tinny horn sound Pi~~~ Po~~~ and this would let me know that a tofu man was wandering around the neighborhood. He was an elderly man and he'd make his tofu and then strap a large container to the rear of his bicycle and with 30 or 40 blocks of cold tofu bobbing around in water, blow his little horn letting housewives know he was coming. Takumi must have been 4 or 5 years old and I would send him out with 100 yen (about a dollar) and a bowl and he would stop the tofu seller and buy a block to use for dinner. I miss the tofu man.

A not so great sound of Japan is the election truck that wanders around endlessly these days (election in another 10 days). I don't understand this custom at all. A white van with two or three young ladies wearing white gloves will blare the name of some candidate as the girls (and sometimes the candidate) wave at no one.

"Thank you~ XX thanks you for your support"

These sounds are loud and a great nuisance especially on weekend mornings when most people would prefer to sleep in. And when you get two or three candidate's cars passing on the nearby road, on my! What a racket. Tetsu grumbles,

"I'm not voting for ANYBODY that puts out that much air (sound) pollution!"

No comments: