Well into the rainy season now. Heavy rain all day. But not to worry. I'm well prepared for mould and mildew, moths and cockroaches and whatever else the next few hot sticky months throw at us. Best clothes are back from the cleaners. The rest washed and packed into boxes and bags. Last year in an economy drive I bought old-fashioned mothballs and the smell still lingers. This year I bought odour-free. Being on the 7th floor thankfully I don't have a problem with cockroaches but out of habit scrubbed out the kitchen cupboards. I had to stop myself from buying a trap - cute little cut-out houses with red roof and shutters and mats for the cockroaches to get stuck on, called Gokiburi Hoi Hoi. I got in a supply of mosquito deterrrents. Every year they get more sophisticated. This year just one squirt from a bottle will last all night. In view of the current drive to cut electricity I bought a fan.
And today I've been to the hairdressers for that most miraculous treatment, the straight perm. Ladies, let me let you into this best kept secret. I can't believe I've lived in Japan on and off for thirty years and only two years ago found out about this. The first US whole-house humidifier (1954) specified that the sensor’s filament be human hair, but not just any hair; blonde hair, Swedish blonde hair. I'm not Swedish but at the slightest hint of humidity my hair turns to frizz. The treatment takes three hours and it's expensive but for the next few months my hair will be glossy and respectable. A miracle.
Things seem to be moving at last with regard to the recovery. A law was passed last week which sets up a special Ministry for the Recovery which is to be headed by the person who's been in charge of the disaster work so far. The Recovery Forum presented its report calling for local areas and communities to take the lead, for the recovery to revitalise the economy as a whole, and for the whole country to work together and share the burden. I think this means higher taxes. The report says this generation should pay the bill, not pass it on. For Fukushima it calls on the government to take responsibility for the accident and for providing compensation, though it falls short of specifics. It recommends monitoring of radiation, measures to deal with contaminated soil, new medical research centres (after all, we are guinea pigs and will need watching), the promotion of high tech medical industries, and alternative energy. Mr Iokibe wants the recovery to be 'a spring for growth'. Let's hope he's right.
Finally, here's a picture of me with my new hair and wearing my 'I love Fukushima' outfit. The suit was a white suit I bought for a wedding and only wore once. Last summer I spent a happy day with Kabuki-san in Kitakata dyeing it indigo. It's a mystical process and I think we dyed and stretched the fabric in the sun four times in all. The top I made from a piece of cloth, tenugui, dyed indigo at the same workshop (not by me). The pattern is from one of Kabuki-san's 30,000 Edo period stencils. (Kitakata used to be a centre for making stencils for dyeing kimono.) And the bag is woven from cotton kimono rags. In the old days once a kimono had done the rounds, been mended and patched, and couldn't be used anymore it was torn into strips and woven - the last resting place of the kimono. There are so many interesting crafts around here especially in the Aizu area.
Goodnight to you all,