Travels in the Kansai

View of Yoshinaga

After leaving Hattoji, I went down to the base town for Hattoji, which is called Yoshinaga (it's also Yoshinaga ward). As you can see at left, Yoshinaga is a mountain valley town, with the river and the railroad running right down the valley. The best item in Yoshinaga (apart from the richly anticipated grocery store) was the sign at right. This sign, posted near the railroad corssing, is a pictorial representation of the safety warning, "Don't raise the bed of your dump truck and then back up into the overhead electric train wires." Now you talk about a visual society!!!!

Common Warning Sign

I took the train from Yoshinaga toward Ushimado, my next stop. Okayama prefecture in general and this town in particular are famous as the birthplace of the legend of Momotaro, a.k.a. "Peach Boy". Well, at left is a statue of Peach Boy, on his way to defeat the demon, but someone has given Peach Boy a valuable new pair of demon-fighting sunglasses to aid him in his quest. Pretty cool.


On the outskirts of Ushimado I encountered this roadside coffee/tea house, which I thought was one of the best Japanese/English puns I saw in Japan. OK, bear with me here. The Kanji on the left is the Kanji for tea, which is pronounced 'cha'. The phonetic character in the middle is the character for the letter 'i'. In Japanese the vowel blend 'ai' is pronounced like the English long I sound. The Kanji on the right is the kanji for dream, which would be pronounced 'yume' by itself, however, it's pronounced 'mu' in compounds, and under it there's a furigana indicating that's how it should be pronounced here. So... the name of the place is "chaimu", or 'chime' -- which also means "tea dream". Whew! Complicated pun.
All I can say is... Wow.


Now, I didn't go to biwa-ko (the huge lake next to Kyoto) on this trip, but since I'm from Flint, Michigan, I might have to go there after seeing this promotional flyer. This is a flyer for a showboat that cruises Lake Biwa during the summer. It looks like they have a lot of dining rooms, and live bands. They're trying to recreate that showboat experience! I couldn't tell if they had casinos aboard or not. But of course, the really funny thing is that there were never any showboats in the state of Michigan -- Michigan doesn't access the Mississippi, Missouri, Ohio, or other rivers (it does have the Great Lakes, but that's not where the showboats were). The funniest part of this flyer is that at the bottom it says, "Go! Go! Michigan." Of course, that lame slogan was the official state tourism promotional slogan back in the 80s... Obviously somebody wrote to the Michigan State Tourism Board before naming their boat!

previous Shizutani Gakkoo map Hattoji next Ushimado
  © 1998 Leo Hourvitz