New TV cabinet

TV cabinet with lighted curio shelves, TV

It’s taken me ages to persuade Nana to get a new TV, but the moment she’d done that she wanted a custom cabinet made to go with it. We went to the same designer who did the bookcase / folding bed unit and desk for my den. In addition to the new TV cabinet, we wanted to ask for ideas to earthquake-proof the bookcase, which I’m using mostly for CDs.

It didn’t take long for the designer to come up with a cabinet we liked, and he gave us a couple of ideas on the bookcase. We agreed to have a low wooden lip installed on each shelf. Then it was just a matter of agreeing on the price and having a worker visit to verify the measurements, and after that the wait for it all to be ready.

When we visited the showroom they were featuring a grey color scheme that Nana liked, but once we were back home and she saw how well the bookcase matches the flooring and wooden doors in our flat, she agreed it would be better to have the TV cabinet match as well.

It’s magic!

The designers had measured carefully to fit the cabinet between the blinds and the TV, with cutouts for the wall socket behind and the utility outlet up near the ceiling (intended for an A/C we will never have installed here). We were supposed to have the TV mounted midway between the right edge of the cabinet and the opposite wall, but I was at the office the day it was installed and it somehow ended up smack in the middle of both walls. But no mind — it fits.

TV cabinet glass-and-veneer door
Magic veneer door

The DVR and region-free DVD player are in the bottom of the cabinet. To allow the remote signal to reach these devices, the door is made of glass with a very thin veneer of wood — just 2-3mm. Nana has already tested it and indeed the devices respond to their remotes with the door shut.

Enough of your lip!

On to the bookcase! For some reason I’d imagined the cabinetmaker would use some kind of router to make grooves in the shelves for the lips, but in fact he just screwed them onto each shelf as it was (after carefully measuring, of course). I’m happy with the result, and Nana is breathing easier.

The final bit of work today (it was the first undertaken, actually, and the one that took the most time) was to level up the two halves of the bottom shelf. In the two years we’ve had the bookcase, one of the shelves has warped and sagged noticeably compared to the other. Now, after the cabinetmaker’s efforts I’m sitting at the desk and can hardly make out the seam. (Seen from above, as in this photo, there’s a darkened edge on one shelf which makes it look uneven, but when I run my finger across it I can hardly tell where the seam is.)


Empty wooden shelving unit

Nana finally got a new TV, and we ordered a cabinet to go with it. We’re getting the cabinet from the same designer who built the desk and bed / shelving wall unit in my den.

Ever since I stocked up the shelves with CDs, Nana has been worried about what could happen in an earthquake — particularly if someone was sleeping in the fold-out bed beneath the shelves. So we asked the designer for recommendations, and he suggested adding a low wooden lip to each shelf.

The cabinet will be delivered next weekend, and the workers will modify the shelves at the same time. So in preparation, I had to empty the shelves and clear out the space around the unit.

Stacks of books and CDs on wooden floor
No quakes, please!

All my books and CDs will be stacked up in the dining room for the next week. I sincerely hope we don’t have an earthquake during that time!

Takahata Fudoson Kongoji

Ajisai (Hydrangea)

Takahata Fudoson was built about 794 by Jigaku Daishi Ennin by the order of Emperor Seiwa as a sacred ground in the eastern mountains of the realm. Following the destruction of the temple by a storm in 1335, Gikai Shōnin I rebuilt the Fudō-dō Hall on the current site in 1342. This Important Cultural Property was followed by another, the Niōmon Gate.

Most of the original temple buildings were destroyed by fire in 1779. Reconstruction occurred slowly and continued until 1975. Okuden Hall, just behind Fudō-dō Hall, enshrines the repaired 1,100kg statue of Jōroku Fudōsanson.

In addition to the rich history and many important cultural artifacts, the temple grounds are open every year for the ajisai (hydrangea) festival.

The temple grounds also feature a pilgrimage route inspired by the Shikoku region’s pilgrimage to the 88 temples. The route features large number of hydrangea in June and cluster amaryllis in September, as well as momiji, famous for their fall colors.

Momiji (Japanese Maple)
Momiji (Japanese Maple)
Ajisai at Takahata Fudoson Kongoji

Fukuchiin — stay in a Buddhist temple

Decorative dragon panel


Koyasan in Wakayama Prefecture, home to Shingon Buddhism, boasts more than 50 temples offering shukubo, an overnight stay featuring onsen baths and a traditional vegetarian meal. Fukuchiin, one such temple, lies just a few steps from some of Koyasan’s more famous temple complexes and just a 15-minute walk from Garan, the central temple complex.

Amenities include wifi, onsen baths and private dining rooms, and alcohol is available upon request. The temple includes many artistic treasures. An overnight stay includes an invitation to join the 6 a.m. prayer service.

Entrance to Fukuchiin

Rock garden
Rock garden

Shojin ryori
Shojin ryori


Receiving the benefit of the doubt

Just back from the doc, getting a refill, where the following conversation happened:

You’ve lost a kilogram! That’s good!
Guy Jean
I’ll bet you’re not going out drinking as much these days because of the Coronavirus, right?
Er … right.
A lot of people are drinking out less, and losing weight as a result.
Interesting theory …

Well, we’ve cut down going out a little bit. But it’s not as if we’re not making up for it at home …


[The following conversation happened entirely in Japanese.]

(Grouses at TV)
Guy Jean:
(Grouses something else at TV)
Guy Jean:
You keep saying “Right? Right?” But you don’t understand a thing I’m saying, right?
Guy Jean:

Rat? Or a middle-aged man?

My colleague gave me this hand-written card along with some sweets for the new year. I tossed the card on my desk and there it remained for a couple of days, turned sideways.

I glanced at it one day and made a startling discovery:

Hand-drawn illustrration of Year of the Rat greeting
Mouse, or ojisan?

This was definitely unintentional, as when I pointed it out to her it took her more than a minute to realize what I was talking about. And then she said, “A western ojisan, possibly! Not a Japanese one.”


The twin bridges of Godaido


Godaido was built by Jikaku Daishi in 807 to enshrine the five deities of wisdom, said to be carved by his own hand. The current shrine, reached from the shore by arching red bridges, was built in 1604 by Date Masamune to celebrate his victory at Sekigahara, which brought the civil wars to an end and laid the foundation for the Tokugawa shogunate.

Godaido is the oldest example of Momoyama period architecture in northeastern Japan.

Red arching bridge leading to Godaido