Winter 2013: Tombs, Rotten Fish and Rain. . . lots of rain!


It has been one of those winters. You know, the ones where everything just seems to go in a direction that you would not have expected. Yes one of those winters.

The whole situation started about six months ago when I witnessed a ceremony happening at one of the tombs outside my house. (Now just to note I realize that six months ago it wasn’t winter but nevertheless this is when the situation started so hang in there with me and it will all make sense eventually.) Living in the center of what is basically a grave yard I wasn’t particularly surprised by the number of cars that were around on this day, although it was unusual. It was very possible there had been a recent death in one of the many families who lay their families to rest here. What was surprising what that the ancient clay jars holding the ashes and nones of the long ago dead were being taken out of the tomb. This was very odd and I could not help but watch, respectfully, from my window. The ceremony continued for a few hours until all of the family was gone. The next day trucks rolled in and eventually came the bulldozers which would eventually rip down the very old style tomb. For me, knowing what I know about the styles of tombs here on Okinawa, this was sad to see. In years past I had seen other tombs renovated but torn down like this? . . . never. Aside from my disappointment at the loss of a piece of history and culture what I did not know is that this would be the beginning of what would turn into a 6 day a week operation 8 to 10 hours a day for the next 6 months.

Now if you live in Japan you know that this sounds ridiculous. I can only imagine that you are thinking that I must be exaggerating purely based on the fact that a family mark can be torn down and turned into a two story duplex in less than 6 months here in Japan. How on earth can a tomb take that long? Well I was wondering the same thing day after day. The construction started at 7AM (650AM on some days) each day as the bulldozer slammed away at the stone, then the cliffside below, then loaded trucks filled with dirt so on and so on. For me and for many of the people who live in this neighborhood this construction meant non-stop banging and hammering from early in the morning (much earlier then most businesses even start opening here on the island). After about 4 months of this and when the first “mold” for one tomb was built they had to tear the whole thing down and start again for some reason. I remember seeing them do this and my heart nearly crumbled. It took them 4 months to get this far and 2 weeks to tear the whole thing down again. . . . it felt like it was never going to end.

Now here we are about 6 months later. The entire tomb is done and yesterday was the first morning of quiet that I have had in months. But then today banging and the loud hum of a generator again this morning. I have been looking out the window all morning trying to figure out what they are doing but there is no improvement. I can only hope that they are making finishing touches but then again at this point who knows.

As all of this was happening the rotten fish situation began to unfold. It all started in mid November. It was just about time for my in-laws to come visit and we noticed a sign on the door of my downstairs neighbor. My husband wasn’t sure what it was all about but I immediately knew that it was a business sign based on the way it was formatted. There was a business name, a phone number and our address. The only other word that I could recognize was the word that is used for sea snake meat. (Sea snake meat is something used in Okinawan dishes.) YAY! I thought to myself and asked some of my Japanese friends to help me translate the rest of the sign. I soon learned that the sign says that the downstairs apartment is now the distribution office of sea snake meat.

Although I was pissed (based on other problems I have had with this particular neighbor in the past using my parking area as a parking lot for her friends) I figured that it really wasn’t a huge deal, at least not yet. If it became a deal we would make sure we took care of the situation but until then whatever right? A few weeks pass and then all of a sudden as I am getting into my car I smell the nasty stench of trash. It smelled like rotting meat. YUCK! Because it was coming from near our housing area we tried to find out where it was coming from and immediately saw that our downstairs neighbor had failed to trow out any trash. It was all sitting about 10 feel from my car/parking area rotting away. Immediately we called the housing agency disgusted. Then the next day there were flies all over the place. It is hard to describe but it was as though there was a fly breeder near by who let them all loose. Some flies even made it into the house and we needed to lock down doors and windows to prevent any more from coming in. Disgusting! About a week later it rained torrentially outside and the smell was worse then ever. You could smell it all the way up and down the street. We called the housing agency again and explained the situation, how it smelled like rotten trash and now like fish which seems to make sense because she is a distributer of sea snake meat. The housing agency was surprised to find out that she had made her home a distribution office of sea snake meat. They then informed us that there isn’t much they can do right now because they cannot get a hold of the land lord.

This makes me wonder: What is the point of having a housing agency if they don’t do anything but contact the land lord to find out how to solve problems? I mean I would think that the housing agency would take the initiative to talk to the neighbor and explain that there is a problem and/or mandate that they take out the trash. I would also think that they would be the ones to in force the fact that there is a distribution office downstairs that claims to sell snake meat in a house that was not meant to be a business. That’s just me though. . . . .

The icing on the cake of the whole situation though is the rain. I am not particularly opposed to rain but the fact that it has been raining means that I cannot really get out of the house to go out and explore like I usually do. If I could then I could at least not have to listen to the slamming construction of smell the stench of rotten fish all day but the rain has been a slight problem in that area. That being said I have not had the ability to make OkiNinjaKitty videos like I would like and I have not had the will to make the videos that I would and could make right in the house.

That’s all for now folks. How has your winter been going so far? Let me know in the comments below!

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