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Adventures in Shiiba - August 1995
Erik Kassebaum

Shiiba is on the INTERNET!

Before I begin, I have to tell you a secret, my editor (Kouichi Higuma) wouldn't let me write about computers and the INTERNET unless I promised to make my article easy to read. As I've mentioned before, one of my hobbies is using the INTERNET for communication around the world. During June, I created a multimedia Guide to Shiiba Village and made this guide available to people who use the INTERNET. In the two weeks since I made "Erik's Guide to Shiiba Village" available I have received EMAIL (electronic mail) from people in America, Japan and Europe. One of the letters was from a gentleman in England whose wife is from Miyazaki. In September I will add more pictures of Shiiba to the guide and I am thinking about making it possible for people to listen to "Hietsukibushi" while they read the guide. I would like to know what you think people in other countries should know about Shiiba?

Rainy Season...Which One?

According to the news, Japan's rainy season ended on July 24. Why then did I need my big rubber boots, a raincoat and an umbrella on the morning of the 24th? One interesting cultural difference between Americans and Japanese is the Japanese tendency to follow the calendar rather than the weather. In America people are more likely to dress in accordance with the weather than the calendar. If it's warm in February, people will wear clothing suited for warm days. And if it's cold in August, people will put on sweaters.

Sometimes, I like to joke about how my concept of a Japanese rainy season was formed during my first month in Shiiba (August 1993). Remember, that was the month when Japan was hit by some of the biggest typhoons in 50 years. That's what I regard as a " Japanese rainy season." It's common for tourist books about Japan to comment on Japan's different seasons and to give advice as to how to prepare. The funniest comment was that "Japan has 365 different rainy seasons every year!"

In Japan, the use of the calendar extends beyond clothing. I remember one cold day last November. The temperature was zero. The school's heaters were in the classrooms, and the school had a supply of kerosene, but we were not allowed to use the heaters because we still had a week to go till the day that we could turn the heaters on. In America, rather than waiting for a particular day, the school policy would be to turn the heater on when the temperature dropped to a certain point. One system is very predictable and the other requires a bit more flexibility. Neither is perfect.

Summer Vacation

By the way, I'll be back home (Petaluma California) spending time with my family during August. Don't worry I'll be back in time for school. My hope is that you've had a chance to relax and to enjoy some time with those you love. Take care and I'll see you soon.