In the mornings, I like to enjoy my morning coffee on the balcony, where I can stand in my underpants and take in the view. This sometimes includes the top of Mt Teine if the weather is clear, but also the surrounding blocks of flats, the high school in front of us, its sports grounds and the world’s slowest construction site.
In fact, the school’s layout confused me for a long time until I realised that Google maps satellite photo was several years out of date for this area.
Luckily I’ve managed to figure out where I live now. So in the mornings, between contemplating whether to ride up Teineyama and trying to get the schoolkids to wave back to the pasty foreigner in Mr Tickle underpants, I watch people in hard hats walk about the construction site and I wonder what they are building and when they re actually going to get started. However, this week an announcement on the notice board of our block of flats told us that it’s not a construction site at all but an archaeological dig. And we were all invited for a look on Saturday.
Hokkaido is a relatively new part of Japan and wasn’t really settled until roughly the 1870s and this was done mainly to stop the Russians from expanding into the area. Sapporo was officially founded in 1868 but the area had been settled for many years before that by the native Ainu people.
Until the Japanese moved in, Hokkaido was home to the Ainu but they must also have lived as far south as the northern part of Japan’s main island of Honshu as an account I read this week mentioned a battle between Ainu and the Japanese about three-quarters of the way up Honshu in the sixth century. I haven’t read any further but imagine they must have been slowly pushed north over the centuries as Japan expanded.
Minority groups don’t get much of a look in in Japan. It’s hard to find work or be accepted if you are not Japanese so members of minorities will often take on Japanese names and don’t talk about their backgrounds. I once had a Japanese student in Perth whose name on all the school’s paperwork was Korean because that was the name on his passport. He said he often didn’t realise the teacher was talking to him because he wasn’t used to being called by his Korean name. The Ainu have tried to blend in in a similar way so according to Wikipedia, the official estimate of the Ainu population is 25,000 while it may in fact be as large as 200,000.
So I think someone came across some Ainu pottery when the school over the road from me was being rebuilt and that resulted in the current archaeological dig. Kazuko and I went for a morning ride yesterday and then went across the road for a look.
And during the morning ride, I thought of Ch’ong as we went past a Royce’ factory/shop so I snapped a pic of the front:
And then noticed they had a lovely slogan/poem on the front:
The reflection makes it a bit hard to read but it’s just like one of those things they used to make you write at primary school where you spell something down the left-hand side:
Respect for the fertile land – Hokkaido
Obtaining the abundant pure ingredients
Year after year
Continued to put all our aspirations into practice
Enjoy our “Royce'” products
It’s as bad to me as my haiku must be to them. But when I start writing haiku in Japanese I will get my revenge in the terrible poetry contest.