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Adventures in Shiiba - January 1995
Erik Kassebaum

The Fire

The biggest thing to happen in Shiiba during December was the Forest Fire. Coming from California, I am no stranger to forest fires and grass fires. In the Western part of the United States, because summers are hot and dry, forest fires are usually very large. The difference in scale is difficult to describe with words, and numbers are a poor substitute. Forest fires are dangerous regardless of how big or small they are and need to be treated with respect.

What amazed and impressed me was the way people responded to this event. There was a clear sense of urgency and purpose. The efforts to fight the fire and to support those who were fighting the fire were very organized. People worked very hard for long hours in order to get the job done. It was quite clear that this was a community effort.

I would like to thank the women who taught me how to make onigiri. I learned a lot about community spirit from them. I'll consider the invitation to become a volunteer firefighter if my Japanese improves enough so that I would not be a danger to myself and to others. As my office is VERY CONCERNED as to my well being, odds are I'll still be an "Onigiri Man" next year and not a Volunteer Firefighter.

Shopping After Bonus Day: DON'T IT'S HELL!

I made the mistake of trying to shop during the weekend after bonus day. I felt like I was inside a pachinko machine and that there was no way out. The crowds, the noise, the traffic, the smokers - it was hell! I was very glad to leave Miyazaki and to return home to the peace and quiet of Shiiba. The sales were designed to separate folks from their money. I almost fell victim to the bonus day madness. Luckily I was able to overcome my desire to buy a Laserdisc Player that was marked down by 25%.


I'm going home to spend Christmas with my family. For my family Christmas is a time to come together. Though I was able to escape the Bonus Day Madness I'm not going to be so lucky back home in California. When I go back I'm going to have to go Christmas shopping. For my family and many others, Christmas shopping is not about buying expensive presents, it's about finding special gifts which are from the heart. When shopping for these special gifts one must be clever and imaginative. This type of shopping is not easy and takes years of practice.

I hope that you and your families have a "Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year."