Going to meet an old friend of mine since '60s

Jim, NN6EE, has given me an e mail. It told he would visit our country next month. We will meet in Tokyo after over 50 years friendship on the air. Even though there was an interval of no contact for a few decades. We used to be teen age boys when we met first. I was 17 years old while he was 19 years. A long time ago.

He was WB6BBC those days. He was running with a bug. I still remember his keying swinging like a banana boat.  He must have been a night owl. I could hear him around or a bit later than our sunset hours. 

He might have spent young days at a wealthy family. A big house and his own car. Impossible for me being rather poor with home brew 6AQ5 transmitter to imagine that way of life. Or was it a typical middle classed family in the US back in '60s.

He still calls me as Sin, which I used to use for handle those days. It's short spell, I thought, was beneficial for DX QSO on CW. Crazy! It was not correct pronounciationwise and I have changed it to Shin later. What gorgeous set up! Collins and Signal one? They were like rigs in heaven for me in Japan those days. Later, when coming back on the radio in 1980s, I was astonished that radios made in JA were overwheling in the ham radio market all over the world. Anyway, this photo again told me what well off lives they were living. 

Could we recognize each other all after this absence in June?


POTUS visiting our country

POTUS is visiting our country as a guest of the state. He and our prime minister won't be scheduled to publish the joint statement. It seems Trump would enjoy playing golf and watching the Sumo in addition to seeing our new emperor.

The bleachers seats of Sumo are supposed to have them sit down on the floor. POTUS and the secret service are going to sit down on chairs on the bleachers. No visitors from overseas have done that. They will occupy the area for 1000 people at the gymnasium. This is also exceptional. The important persons who have visited to watch Sumo games invariably stayed at the seats reserved for the special guests on the upper floor. Everything is unprecedented for Trump. I don't know who has proposed this way of treatment for him. At least, our prime minister is not a conservative politician. Because he is breaking all the tradition in Sumo for this guest. He is rather a revolutionalist.

One more thing. The secret service is getting nervous at thrown cushions. The people there would throw their cushion up in the air when there is a game unexpected to them. The secret service may be worrying some cushions could hit the president on his head. It may, I guess, reveal some secret of the state to the public.


Another sentimental journey to Shinshu

As I used to dream of in my working days, I aimlessly left for a drive trip 3 days ago. Exactly speaking, it was not aimless but was headed to Shinshu area again. It is the district of JA0 in ham radio term and located in the center of the main island surrounded with high mountains. It would be another sentimental journey.

Staying at a poor hotel near Kakeyu hot spa, I convinced myself I should book a bit better one next time if I have any chance for another trip. I am not so young any more and may deserve staying at a bit more gorgeous hotel. I left there for a destination of Kakeyu hot spa, that is, a hospital I have been to in med school days.

As alrady told before, I used to have a short term training as a medical student at that big hospital in Kakeyu 40 plus years ago. Together with several colleague students, I went to the hospital where one of the graduates from our med school worked as the president. He has invited us, the students of the med school, for training every summer, possibly expecting some to come and work with them in the future. I might have written about this training at the hospital before.

It was like an excursion with friends, 4 or 5 classmates, as told above, joining that program in a hot summer. We stayed at the same room in the hospital and had looking around in the facility in the daytime. The outpatient, the inpatient ward or the lab test dept etc. We have taken the histories of some patients at the outpatient. It was not much fun since we just oberved what the staff did. But, since the memory is still vivid in my mind, it might be an impressive experience to me, whether it might be exciting or not. 

The road to the hot spat. It runs in a valley. Rather few traffic. We went to the hospital on an old country bus in a summer of 40 plus years ago. On the bus headed to the hot spa, what have I thought of and what have I expected to come in my career?  

The outlook of the hospital. It is located among hot spa hotels. The hot spa has been famous for years and has attracted many patients with chronic illnesses. They might have gathered the hot spa for rehab etc. The rehab dept. was one of the most famous departments at the hospital.

It was not what we stayed then. It has been rebuilt and reformed. It was almost half a century ago. 

The street has not been changed so much. We have enjoyed walking after supper along this street. Talking something trivial and funny as students always are. As told before, the town is in a valley. It was breezing coming from the mountains. It was pretty cool yesterday. In the summer we were there, it must have blown the same breeze before sunset.

Further south, there is a big tunnel leading to Matsumoto city and Azumino. 

We should pay a toll to get through the tunnel. But a news tells the toll will be off next year as the construction fund will be redeemed. While most other highways take much money as toll, this rarely happens. The prefectural government has done a good thing. Anyway, I love driving this route through woods in a valley. 

A dam was seen in the bottom of the valley. A very quiet place.

Getting through Azumino area, I have reached the memorable lake named Aoki-ko. As I have told in this blog, again 40 plus years ago, I and some colleagues of the university orchestra used to swim in the lake while the orchestra practice was off. Very cold and no one was swimming. After having landed on the beach, we have found a sign telling swimming was banned due to sudden drop of water in certain area of the lake which could be dangerous to the swimmers. We were young and brutally courageous as the other young people always are. Seven or eight were with me at that time. I have lost contact with any of them. I really hope everyone is still doing well. 

After that adventure, we have walked over a mountain to the camp place. At the height, the pass was through a tunnel. Lots of laughter and scream on the way back. There is a bypass route in pararell with this road constructed now, so that the traffic is very little. It was also quiet and very few cars or people on this road is that summer.

Near to the camp place, which I used to post some photos in the past, there is the famous skiing resort named Hakuba. The skiing and jumping competition were held in this area in Nagano Olympic games. The area has become too gaudy around that event. But for now, the quiet beauty of this area is regained, even though it might mean the people in this area won't earn so much from tourism business as before. A recent news has told the local government has finally finished refunding the debt for the Olympic games lately. Olympic games is of fun. But, in the world where disparity of rich and poor is going on, we should consider downsizing such an event and spend the budget to solve such a problem. They are spending 2 or 3 trillion JPY for the Olympic games in Tokyo next year.

This Azumino-Hakuba area is along a river named Himekawa. It is the southern end of Fossa Magna dividing the western and eastern Japan. There have been a lot of hot spas along this valley of Fossa Magna. In 1980s, taking a long vacation, I used to drive this area alone before starting working at a local hospital. There was an outdoor hot spa at a riverbank in this river. It was so big as a pool. I bathed there and was embarrassed to see young girls coming in it. I quickly got out of it. It was not a fun as it is imagined!  

There is a town named Itoigawa where the road meets Japan Sea. There used to be a restaurant at the corner where the road is connected to another truncal road. I used to enjoy fishhead soup at that restaurant some 30 years ago. That full bodied soup I took in that long drive was unforgettable to me. Disappointingly, that restaurant has disappeared at the place. It seemed to be on business for the truck drivers travelling along that main road. But there must be much less traffic there since a high way has been constructed running pararrell to it and many drivers are going on that way now.

On the way, I have remembered of old friends whom I travelled together or whom I met in this area in my young days. Most of them have passed away or have been away from me. Away from daily routine, such a trip reminds me of those people. In old age, we should shift from the pre-last things to the last things in life. We could be free from all the desires and cravings for something in life, even though that shift is not perfect so far as we live in this world. I still believe the value to live in the last chapter of life is  to become free from them and to get ready to transit to the last thing related world. I know it is difficult for me to accomplish that transition. Such a trip to somewhere I spent young days sure helps me to know where I came from and where I should go forward to. 


Viva 49ers!

Without being conscious of that, I found I had not posted anything to this blog for such a long time, even though I decided to continue posting every day in the beginning of this month. There have been many things to talk about regarding myself as well as the society. The busy garden work, especially pulling the weeds, tires me a lot by evening hours. Having a glass of cold lager, I could not stay awake but fall asleep a bit. Then, at night, I spend most of the time with cello and listening to music. Not renewing this blog may mean everything is going on well for me.

Strawberry is ripe at present.

Harvesting them in the daytime, we enjoy them like confection at night. My wife has brought some to the staff at her office.

The news today tells the strawberry in the market in Japan has too much insecticides. Mine isn't polluted with it at all! Too bad farming products are contaminated with insecticides etc in our country.

Tomatoes are growing as well. Hoperfully, some of them will be ripened by the beginning of the rainy season next month. They hate too much rainfall. 

In 4 days, I will turn to be 70 years of age. Where have my young days gone? It is a joke. I won't complain of the past days but would like to enjoy what old age brings to me. This prospect for senility reminds me of my parents. I sure could understand what they thought of lives, the family and so on. How little I have sympathized to them! Anyway, whatever I might think of it, time is going on and we get older. Viva 49ers!! 


Fishhead soup

Fishhead soup of red snapper. Much ginger was added in it.

Around 40 years of age, in late '80s, I quit a job at med school hospital. Before starting at another hospital, I have taken a bit of vacation. I have made a drive trip to Shinshu area, a favorite place surrounded by high mountais and a memorable place where we used to have the summer camp of the university orchestra back in '70s. 

Driving along Himekawa, running in the western end of Fossa Magna, I have gone through a steep valley. Very few cars were running. There used to be a bad damage from massive rain fall thereafter and the road was modified to a straight route from central Nagano to Itoigawa city at the coast of Japan Sea. At that time of my drive trip, the road was going on the bottom of the valley or the slope of the mountains in either side. Driving that winding narrow road was a bit risky. I still enjoyed it. On the way to Itoigawa city, there used to be a open air hot spa at a river beach of Himekawa. The big bath tub like a swimming pool, a dug one, was filled with hot spa water from elsewhere. Very few were bathing there. A small plain area was spread at the end of the way. It connected to a truncal road running along the Japan Sea. At that place, there used to be a restaurant mainly for truck drivers, named Goyoh Suisan. After a long tiring drive, I have taken lunch there. The menue was fishhead soup. I can't remember what kind of fish was featured in it. It was still gorgeously delicious. Sure I felt revived with that dish.

This menue reminds me of that drive. I wonder if the restaurant is still running there. Someday, I would visit there again.  


Faure and Kuebler-Ross

Nocturn by Faure, or exactly, piano solo music by him has been a genre in his repertoire I have not listened to much. The other day, I was caught by a clip of his nocturns played by Doyen. Faure has composed 13 nocturns at various stages of his life. The last 3 composed in the end of his life have interested me a lot. Among them, the 13th sounded the real best one to me.

The 13th starts with a fugue of 4 voices. Sounds like standing on a bleak and lonesome hill where cold wind is blowing and sunset is coming soon. Of course, it is not a program music but essentially an abstract music. In the intermideate part, it flows fast. Throughout the music, it utilizes discordants and sometimes sounds close to atonality. What difference from the works in his young days! His music was full of sweet dream and romanticism in the beginning of his composer life. In the late years, he has changed it to this bitter and aparently unaccessible style. I used to be surprised to find this same kind of motion in piano part of his piano trio, not just jest but even insulting to the audience, on the background while the other strings play long lasting melodies with yearning for something. In his last years of life, it seems to me, his mind must be rebellious or desparate to life. Getting through those years, he could reach the calm and serene style of his 2nd piano quintet or string quartet at the very last time of his life.

This idea brought me to "Death and Dying" by a psychiatrist Kuebler-Ross which I have read in young days. Death and dying process had been rarely handled in clinical science until this excellent psychiatrist did in '60s. Her works have been the backbone of hospice movement afterward. She has classified the process of acceptance of death in seriously ill patients into 5 stages. As a psyciatrist for dying patients, she has observed there was always a process of rebellion and denial to their lives. This might be generalized to how to accept senility when unavoidable death looms in the near future. This last works by Faure may reflect that process of rebellion and denial in his life. Despite of its apparently gremacing and difficult outlook, but still beautiful, it may still synchronize our mind through the universality of life as Kuebler-Ross described.

I used to listen mainly his chamber musics in my young days. Those have been a treasure in my life. As I get older, I could understand his these music as it was composed in his later life. Getting older is not always bad but sometimes giving us presents in life.

I will turn to be 70 years of age in 11 days.


Wearable computers and haptic stimuli

Wearable computers and haptic stimuli might help us to learn Morse code as this paper suggests;


It is amazing that "subconsciously" it has been done in most cases.

I don't like playing computer games, though.

In addition, it is another story to master head copying.

The conclusion on this paper should be that this won't make CW survive as a communication mode.


The old tomb in spring

I have been trying to learn when and how this ancient tomb, named Bentenduka, was constructed, which I had posted on this blog for a few times. Unfortunately, no definite info was found. Comparing it to the other tombs with the same size and at the location near to it, it might be built in 6 or 7th century. In the last age of ancient tombs. It is always amazing how many such tombs are in this area. Dozens in the norhtern Kanto area.

Recently, I have learned about a military commander named Masakado Taira, a descendant of the emperor Kanmu, who used to be a power in this area and to have died tragically after rebelling to the emperor in Kyoto. He is believed to be one of the origins for Samurai. It seems there have been a lot of wars or of conflicts between powers in this as well as the other areas in Japan those days. People were, intentionally or unintentionally, involved in the wars/conflicts. I believe people have had a pessimistic view of life in the age of wars and might depend more on religions, whatever it might be, than the later ages.

As I told before, in such a hard age, people in this area might worship at this tomb for their ancestors as a primitive religious behaviour. Knowing of the history a little bit, I could not help feeling this old tomb closer to me. It has seen so many people who got tired of or discouraged living in this world.

The farmers have watered in the paddy around this tomb. They have started planting rice by now. This photo was taken in the end of last month.


A memory of sushi dish

When I visited my wife's family in Shikoku for the first time in this season in a year, her mother made a great sushi named Oshinuki for me. It is the dish shown above. It features spanish mackerel and green pea. Both materials were in the best season in a year. Oshinuki might mean something pushed through. I believe it was made with a "mold".

It has tasted very good even though I could not fully enjoy it before asking them to let me marry with their daughter. Having only two daughters, they wanted us to live with them. Her father used to mention about a newly founded med school close to their home, which he seemed to want me to work as a resident. It was hard for me to accept that plan. When I didn't say yes as for the training plan as a doctor, he answered to me he would consider of our marriage with a kind of gremacing on his face. He looked serious to me. How could I enjoy that sushi in that situation?

Later, my wife told me they had already agreed with us as for marriage at that time. Father in law has made things in right order not answering to me immediately. Those days, there was no bridge between Shikoku and Honshu. While seeing my wife saying good by to me with a big smile, I thought that could be the last trip to Shikoku and she had been too innocent.

Anyway, I could have this Oshinuki 2 or 3 times since then. Sometimes, I asked my wife to learn how to cook it from her mother. She always answered it had been her role to enjoy it but not to make it. At least, the tradition of cooking this sushi in this season would be abandoned at this stage of the family tree. Mother in law is still too old to teach this dish to the others for now.

In stead, I have tried sushi with minched tuna. Ugly shaped but still pretty good. Should I learn cooking Oshinuki by myself?


How I got through engineering major

I have attended to a college in Tokyo before going into medicine. It was Tokyo Metropolitan College of Aeronautical Engineering in a downtown area of Tokyo.

I had been crazy for ham radio in jr. high days and was told by my parents to study something of practical science which could help me to be engaged in some job as soon as I graduate the school. I didn't have any distinct idea or dream at that time. Vaguely thinking to major in engineering or something, I have admitted  the mechanical engineering faculty at that school. Later, I knew I was more interested in human being than milling machine.

Anyway, I have spent 5 years at this school from age 15 years. Most of my friends since jr. high days were quite busy preparing for the entrance exams for universities, while such hectic competition was a thing in another world for me and class mates at this college. The professional subjects at this school class were levelled as high as the mechanical engineering course in universities. I was not interested in those professional subject class and the practice of machine operation at the factory in the school. One time, heavily tired with the work with milling machine, I took a bit rest sitting down on the floor. It was when I was kicked from behind by a teacher instructing us at the factory. I knew engineering was not my profession in the future. Among various books I have read at that time, some of the books concerning psychiatry have attracted me. Such as Jaspers, Frankle, Minkovsky etc. It was an interest in the psychology or, rather philosophical anthropology. It might be a phase of wandering in adolescence. Whatever the reason might be, I have given up studying those professional studies but, at the 5th year of the college, have started preparing for the entrance exam for med school. It was the time when I quit operating radio as well. I must be quite serious at preparation for the entrance exam or could not be successful at it. It took me another 10 years to come back on the air and to meet many old friends again.

This kind of college system is historically pretty new. Around 1960, there have been political enthusiasm among young people, especillay, university students, who were strongly against renewing the Japan US Security Treaty. I believe the business leaders didn't want young people to be too political, especially, against the capitalism. Younger engineers without any consciousness of political issues were highly needed from the standpoint of the business and political leaders. And they have invented this kind of college where students would study profession as much as the university faculty students did while they were given minimum liberal arts studies. I am sure they have tried to educate young engineers who won't complain of or even strike out for labor dispute etc. It seems the aim has been half accomplished. But nowadays, more than half of the graduates from such college would go to university for further study. It might be too short for them to study their profession sufficiently.

I don't know what has happened to me if I went on studying engineering. If not medicine, I might go to a university to study the other subjects. Maybe, I would have spent my life as a school teacher. It was another interest for me. No one knows which was better for me. It might be meaningless to imagine that. Now going on to the last chapter of life is what I should do.

This is a photo of the college, a bit modified from the days I attended there. The campus still brings me back to those days.   

It has had a big garage for air planes. As the name of the school used to mean, the origin of this school was a school for aeronautical engineering before WWII. Though I was a student of merely mechanical engineering, I had a few classes on air plane design etc. By a stupid governor of Tokyo, the name has been changed to another one without aeronautical engineering. I hope this school will maintain the tradition of aeronautical engineering.



Azalea along the entrance has passed its peak of blooming. They could have been more luxurious. My wife says we should prune the branches in order to have more room for air flow in the tree. I would do that when flowers are all over.

This azalea in a row was planted over 20 years ago when my father was alive. I can't remember who has done that. Or maybe we have asked some gardener to do that. My father had cared for it until his health issue didn't allow him to. 

This photo shows the row of azalea about 10 years ago. It bloomed gorgeously.

When I started own practice in a city nearby 24 years ago, my father was enthusiastically caring for the plants and trees in the property even though there was no large room for that. Azalea was planted again in the flower bed on the sides of the parking lot. This photo shows that about 10 years ago.

He has worked hard for us there. It was the place for him to work for a family member, that is, me. He has been yearning for such work with me at my own clinic since I became a medical student! I didn't care for a life as a country doctor far away from research etc. But, aside from my wish those days, things have lead me to this countryside and have made me live as a general pediatrician there.
Throughout his life, father has served at the other hospitals and clinics in Tokyo after coming back from the WWII. It was not always easy for him to work being instructed by the owners of those facilities. I was sometimes told by him about how difficult it had been for him to work at such places. At my own practice, now, he could do whatever he thought good for me and for the patients, even though he was not a full time worker. He might be happy to be treated as the father of the boss by the staff. If I could ever boast something I have done for father, it was the only thing that I gave him a chance to work with me at that time. Actually, his work has been a great help to us.

This azalea brings me back to those days. And it also tells time is passing fast. So far it goes on blooming every spring, it is a token father used to live here.   


At the enthronement of new Emperor

Emperor Naruhito enthroned yesterday. It was the beginning of the new era in Japan. Emperor emeritus Akihito has faithfully as well as eagerly played the role of Emperor symbolizing the people defined by the Constitution. His efforts should be acknowledged by all of us. Standing on the position of pacifist, together with Empress emeritus, he has devoted himself to get Imperial Household closer to the people. We could not forget they had been everywhere suffering disasters in Japan and had talked to the people refuged at the same eye levels as theirs. They have visited a lot of places, especially Okinawa, to commemorate those victimized in the WWII, but never to the Shinto shrine of Yasukuni, where the dead soldiers had been deified during and after the WWII.

It has been sometimes reported that the Abe administration has occasionally interefered to the Imperial Household. Emperor emeritus used to express his desire to abdicate a few years earlier. The government has ignored and has not discussed about that at all. Emperor emeritus, being conscious that he has become too old to continue the role of symbolic emperor, thought to retire sooner. In the end, his desire for abdication has been scooped by a media. He has announced what he thought on abdication on TV to the people a couple of years ago. It was when the scheme to the abdication had finally started. 

The government has utilized the process of abidication for their political purposes. The new era name determination has been politically used by the government. PM Abe insisted it was him who had determined it. At the publication of the era name or even at the abdication ceremony held at the imperial palace yesterday, he behaved as if the main person in charge. He has made propaganda for "the achievements of their policy", which have been seriously questioned by economists or the other critics. The administration is believed to censor what Emperor emeritus would express at the ceremony. Insisting our imperial system is historically different from those in europe, they have not allowed him to compare it with the latter. That was based on the ultra right idea of eliticism the present government has had.  

I am afraid the new Emperor Naruhito may confront to the tense relationship with the government. He has, however, declared in the enthronement ceremony that he would take over the way Emperor emeritus Akihito has done with his responsibility as a symbolic emperor in Heisei era. With our support to him as a pacifist, he may accomplish his duty in the new era.

The imperial system in Japan looks inhuman to me. Emperor has no freedom in his life. He is confined to every duty as an emperor until age over 90 years. Since Emperor is not devine dominator in this society, he should be able to live as a human before he is deemed as a special being. Naruhito is alreay 59 years old, which is the age most people consider of retirement. The responsibilities Emperor takes should be lessened. He should not be bound to his duties all the time. Most of the rituals Emperor hold at the imperial palace were founded in the era of Meiji in order to authorize the Imperial Household. Some of them could be simplified or even abandoned. Every effort should be taken to reduce Emperor's burden. It may help the Imperial Household to get closer to the people.


In the garden

German Iris is a species tolerant to both heat and cold. They show beautiful flowers in spring. We have 3 kinds of them, white, yellow and this deep purple. This purple one is growing just in front of the dining kitchen at the house where our parents used to live. Through the window, they might have enjoyed them blooming in this season.

I might have posted the same kind of photos of this flower before. I love this so much. Mysteriously beautiful.

Has it passed 2 years since I asked the gardener to cut the branches of this Japanese zelkova. It was planted in order to have shades to the house in summer over 20 years ago. Soon, it has grown like a giant tree which made the rooms in the house a bit dark even in daytime. That was the reason why I asked cutting branches. The vitality of this tree is really remarkable so that it has grown this way. Zelkova is a common garden tree in this area. Most farmers' houses have this kind of tree, so high and beautifully stretching branches in the air. I have seen them on the way to the office. It seems they have been cut sometime ago. It might be difficult for them to maintain those high trees. It is a loss in the scenary in this area.

It will get warmer day by day. Plants and trees are growing enormously. I should plant veggies now. Weeds are waiting for me as well.