humidity and sounded very distressed.... I approached and was warned off by a policeman waving his baton saying "Kiken" (danger.) Then I saw that there were more parked vehicles nearby with more dogs... all out in the sun and the sweat running out of the cages and down the street in rivulets. There were tourists all around who though this was just wonderful as their cameras whirred to the woeful sounds of the distressed dogs.
Nearby, outside a building, I saw a fat woman sitting astride a life-size replica of a dog covered in fake blood and gashes, (the dog, that is, unfortunately) and she was smiling for her husband and his camera. Behind her there was a line of people that included small children, waiting to buy tickets. Miyuki said "Don't look John...this is not for you". It was a dog fight and I could not hide my horror and disgust that not only would they tolerate such a thing in a so called civilised society but even take their small children to see that extreme barbarity. The cages out in the sun were all part of the game to make sure the stressed dogs were driven to madness before the fight.
I met more than one person who seemed to want to legitimise the Japanese whaling which seems to be talked about a lot these days - "Why not?" they asked, though I never even wanted to discuss such politics - "You eat cows and goats!" And I remembered telling my friends there, who had never even seen a cow "How nice it was to hug a cow and smell her warm, milky smell and touch the delicate softness of her mouth and feel her breath on your face." I never told them that, in my travels, some of the best friends I've had were pigs. Pigs that just wandered up to me in Central and South America and we sat there watching the sunset together as we scratched each other and grunted our pleasure.
Almost as surprising as the lack of animals is that in all the hundreds of miles travelled around lakes and along the coasts I've hardly seen a sail of any description even though the weather is perfect for sailing. I did see a handful of yachts tied up though. We just spent a few days around the Island of Shikoku, (Pacific coast), and still no sailing except for one tiny speck out on the horizon. "Too busy working", I was told.
Japan has just had it's annual summer holiday of only one week and there were millions queuing for everything but luckily they're more interested in the `theme park` kind of stuff and leave the rest to
crazy 'gaijins' (foreigners), like me...if I had more time to see it, that is, or the nerve to upset my hosts and do what I REALLY want....like have a swim or just jump into a castle moat if only to cool down. After two weeks I have about 50 words of Japanese but feel it easier to pretend complete ignorance when "it is not permitted."
Saturday night in Hiroshima we went to the city centre along with over a million other people to see the fireworks to mark the beginning of the summer holiday week . Many people dressed in national costume, beautiful girls in kimono. There were hundreds of tiny food stalls all along the river and as we sat on the bank to eat the rain started; torrential rain that never stopped and lent a sort of lunatic atmosphere to the event and for the first time all order, peace and harmony went out the window! As we sat on the steep concrete embankment scores of people trying to make their way along soon slipped and fell onto the people below who then slipped even further down, crashing into more people in a terrible tangle of limbs, cameras, spilled drinks and kebabs and noodles, covering each other in sauce and mud. But there were no hard words and (as I've said) I never heard any at all while I was in Japan, the never ending chant of polite phrases is like music everywhere.
Then the thunder and lightening started and it was better than any fireworks as we fought the million people and their umbrellas to get a train home. I was doing my Gene Kelly impersonation with my umbrella, 'Singing In The Rain' in all the clamour and I slipped and slid down some steps but never felt a thing with the deluge of water beneath me, it was like going down a waterslide. The thunder was deafening and the loudest bang of the fireworks just couldn't compete as it echoed round the valley and the surreal glimpse of the rain-swept mountains thru the mist and low, grey-white clouds was magical in the flashes of lightening. Nobody does it like god, or whoever she is!!
My host on the Island of Shikoku works for a rural supply company. He is a 'salary-man' and though his official working hours are 9 to 5, five days a week, he has been working 7 days per week now for months. As is the case most of his working life he leaves home before 7 each morning
and gets home anytime between 7 and 10.30 pm. His two children aged 9 and 5 hardly see him.
He was on his annual summer holiday when I visited, he finished on Saturday, (as did the rest of Japan), but after two days his boss called him in to work two days, (no extra pay), and then it was time to get ready for the BIG camping trip...two nights away. We drove south to the pacific coast...mostly underground because of the tunnels through the mountains and spent the first night in a log cabin resort beside a small stream where you could bathe your feet (I got right in and lay down to relieve the heat.) Then we fought the mosquitoes all night...I slept outside on the hard floor of the veranda just to keep cool. There were no fly-screens on the windows anyway.
Next day I was looking forward to my dream finally coming true...I would get into the sea and cool my