Category: Unknown Nichigo

Sending a Message

Gokokuji Temple

Alright, I hadn’t known this before, but when I arrived in Japan in the mid-1980s, all bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, I stayed in Bunkyo-ku, not far from Gokokuji Temple.

Unbeknown to me at the time, and not until today, in fact, right around the same time, Australia’s biggest band, and then one of the hottest acts globally, INXS, had also filmed the music video for their hit, I Send a Message, at the same temple.

Japanese crow

I’d come to Japan with few expectations, but among the images I had were those from a couple of INXS videos from around the time.

I had no idea that it had been so close. Gokokuji was the first temple I ever visited in Japan.

Australian crow

To this day I remember two things from the visit….sponsorship signs from Hitachi (at the time, Japan was still in the midst of the bubble era and appeared poised to become the world’s largest economy); and the Japanese crows.

The size and fierce countenance of the birds took me back, especially as I had found Australian crows to be quaint.

INXS – I Send a Message

I’ve grown to love crows now, but I can still remember that seeing my first Japanese crow gave me a bit of a shock.

The other INXS video from the era, incidentally was for Original Sin, for which there were two versions made, actually.

INXS – Original Sin (mainstream version)

One of these featured dekotora, which were still then a comparatively common sight on Japanese roads.

INXS – Original Sin (alternate version)

These videos were shot in the Oi Wharf area.

Although I stayed near Gokokuji for about a year, I never really went back after that first visit. I’ve never forgotten it, though (maybe because it also gave its name to the subway station I most frequently used). I remember the huge crowds lining up for miles to go there for Yutaka Ozaki‘s funeral a couple of years later, and a kyoiku mama who murdered a little girl who made her daughter look bad at a kindergarten in the area in the late 1990s.

Up There, Kazari!

Australian Sports Day was a fantastic event held at Komazawa Olympic Park yesterday, and I got to go and enjoy some of the proceedings that were a decorative display, (or should I say kazari?), of some of Down Under’s favorite pastimes.

The day itself was a ripper, starting with explanations, demonstrations and games of cricket, moving on to games of footy and then ending with a netball exhibition, with sales of Aussie foods, wear and fare such as meat pies and banana bread and cuppas from Club Australia‘s Tad Watanabe and the Australia Cafe van.

Needing to deal with duties in the garden and home and able to enjoy lunch with Mrs. Kangaeroo and our pet dinosaur, I was late starting out, but still got to see the last half of the final game of footy.

It was an entertaining match and the skill level was fantastic!

The fast-paced game was good to watch despite the swirling wind making judgment in the air a difficult proposition that challenged even the most skillful players.

A memorial to the Komazawa Golf Club, which had originally been planned as the main stadium for the cancelled 1940 Tokyo Olympics (Aussie plant <bush rosemary> planted beside it, too!)

I stayed for some of the netball, but it was getting cold and dark and I needed to get home as I was riding the Death Machine, on which my average speed tends to drop by about 5kmh compared to a roadbike.

Being close by, however, I took advantage to drop by Punk Doily and say g’day to Kif for the first time in a while.

Along the way, I found the marker commemorating the old Komazawa Gol Club, where the park is now located, but which is notable for having been slated as the main stadium for the 1940 Tokyo Olympic Games, which ended up being cancelled.

Kif has Punk Doily looking fantastic, having added a rooftop terrace and plenty of Aussie plants decorating the diner. His food was tremendous! I partook of a scrumptious lamb sausage roll and salted caramel brioche donut. It was top notch stuff, and wonderful to see how Kif’s business is doing so well. He has worked like a dog to get it this far and I look forward to seeing Punk Doily become even bigger.

Coming home was a really pleasant ride despite being into a fierce headwind. I was glad to have ridden a recumbent as they are less susceptible to headwinds than upright bikes, but it was still a hard slog.

At times I felt like I was going to get blown off the bike, so put safety first and was delighted to make it home unscathed.

Riding along through the streets I was enjoying the fact that I would be getting some decent footage, which was also giving me good vibes.

Less pleasing, however, was making it home to discover that I hadn’t set my video camera to upside-down mode and that the battery had run out almost immediately after leaving Punk Doily.

A Bit of a Roo-ed Shock

Kangaroos are back in the Kangaeroo limelight

Kangaroos have always taken center stage in this blog (which I started almost 13 years ago to try to tap into the then recent introduction of Australian English into TOEIC testing), so it was a bit rare yesterday when I had the chance to write about roos but didn’t (albeit giving prominence to quokkas, another member of the marsupial family).

Yesterday, the Kangaeroos had a wonderful time at the Saitama Children’s Zoo, which has an Australian animal area., and attracted us because Mrs. Kangaeroo wanted to see its quokkas.

I know a lot of people aren’t too keen on zoos, but I love them, even though I feel for the poor captive animals.

I always console myself by saying that they are at least being freed form the savagery of life in the wild, even though that is the ideal reality and we should be looking to preserve ecosystems.

Anyway, enough of my pontificating.

Today, the macropodidae are front and center again, but kangaroos are back in the limelight.

Here’s a gallery of animals we saw at the zoo.

Chocka Quokka

Quokka took center stage today as the Kangaeroos hopped over to Saitama Children’s Zoo to see the little marsupials.

The zoo’s Quokka Island is chokka quokka, including a joey born in late January.

Quokkas have become something of an Internet meme after a photo showing one of the little fellers with a huge grin went viral a few years back.

The only place to see a quokka in Japan is at the Saitama Children’s Zoo.

Mrs. Kangaeroo has a stuffed toy quokka and yearned for years to see one, so dragged me out of bed and off to deepest, darkest Saitama.

It was a magical day and more will follow tomorrow, centering on a huge gallery of Aussie animals.

When we’d finished at the zoo, it was a quick rush over to garden and cafe prunus in nearby Higashi Matsuyama for a scrumptious afternoon tea (served with a sprig of wattle, Australia’s national flower!)

All in all, a magnificent day, a national holiday because of the Emperor’s Birthday.

A Seed Of An Idea

As I touched on over the weekend, I’ve started trying to grow plants from seed and I completed the first round of the process this morning before heading off on my bike.

Blend of potting mix, peat moss and pearlite

Dwarf wattle seeds that I soaked in boiling water last night were the final group of seeds that can be planted in the winter.

I managed to spread the seeds over a tray and put them in the humidity pod.

Most of the work was finished yesterday after the ride.

Potting mix

The process so far started in September and October of last year (2022) when I collected Australian native plant seeds, mostly from Bunnings.

Native Australian plant seeds purchased from Oz

Managing to get the seeds through Customs in Oz and Japan, the next toughest step was stopping myself from getting over eager and trying to plant them before they were ready.

Plant starter kits

I did start preparing, mostly by buying plant starter kits, which are lit and heated humidifier pods. They came equipped with diggers, cards and a scoop, all of which I’ve put to use.


Just before Christmas, I put some waratah seeds in the fridge and kept them there for the subsequent six weeks, as advised by the growing instructions.

Some study revealed that I was on the back foot.

Australian native plants often need to be smoked or exposed to boiled water to replicate natural conditions before they germinate.

I didn’t study that until now, so I missed the opportunity to get starter granules or smoke water, either of which aids in the process, and I couldn’t find them for sale in Japan.

But I did learn about pearlite and vermiculite, so I purchased a bag of both and got to work.

First, I sorted the seeds, setting aside those that could be planted in the winter.

Humidity pod covers with openings to let out the humid air

In addition to the waratah, the seeds were the dwarf wattle, Australian Christmas tree, red cap gum, honeysuckle banksia, orange banksia, everlastings and one of the two sets of kangaroo paw seeds that I have. I had kangaroo paw growing in Kangaeroo Corner from the outset, but I killed them through overwatering, so I am particularly keen to make a better fist of growing them this time around. Another set will go on a tray of their own in another month or so.

Labeled seeds

I took turns sowing each of the seeds in a blend of potting mix, pearlite and peat moss, then covered them with vermiculite.

Each time the seed was sown it got a card with the planting date added so I will be able to tell how long it takes to germinate: if they do, indeed, begin to sprout.

Humidity pods for growing seeds

They were then laid out in the humidity pods in the spare room.

The humidity pods are exposed to daylight (albeit north-facing), but get pumped up with artificial light overnight.

Lighting the humidity pods at night

I’ve never grown anything like this, but am having fun.

In the meantime, I’ll keep checking and updating.

The Fountain of Strewth!

The Fountain of Strewth

Has Kangaeroo mentioned that he’s got a garden?

And he loves it!

Just in case he hasn’t, let me remind you again that Kangaeroo Corner is a little Aussie plants garden in comfy outer suburb of Tokyo.

And playing a prominent role in that Aussie garden is the Fountain of Strewth.

At first glance, there seems to be nothing untoward about the fountain (which is actually a bird bath with a solar-power water sprayer, but still….).

Except, of course, that few Tokyo homes have a fountain.

But this is a little special, and that’s where the strewth factor comes into play.

Despite looking like a classical antique work, the bird bath is made of plastic and was as cheap as chips.

But it’s the actual fountain (well, water sprayer), where the real wonder is.

Kangaeroo has tried several of these solar-powered sprayers over the year or so since the garden first sprouted.

They were bought from, purveyor of puerile plastics, and most of them performed with the lack of reliability that could be expected.

Except for the current fountain, which went into operation in August last year and has not stopped pumping whenever sunlight has hit it since, even after being frozen over in the sub-zero temperatures last month.

And the birds love it! We get pretty much daily visits from the birdies, though the neighbors aren’t too keen on that development.

Without doubt, the Fountain of Strewth is one of the Seven Wonders of Kangaeroo Corner.

The Day of the Chicken

Today, February 8, is The Day of the Chicken in Japan, according to the Japan Anniversary Association.

The anniversary was chosen because of one phonetic reading for the date.

In Japanese, phrasing today’s date would be 2月8日, which is literally the “second month and eighth day” if rendered in English.

One way to phrase the two days making up today’s date in Japanese is “ni,” symbolizing two, and “wa,” for eight.

Chicken in Japanese is niwatori, so the bird (tori) of the ni (2nd) and wa (eighth) is clearly the chook, thus The Day of the Chicken.

The Association says the anniversary was proposed by Torizen Foods Co., Ltd., a company based in Fukuoka that is famous for its hanamidori brand of chickens. The company proposed the date to commemorate and thank the chicken that we eat on a daily basis without great thought for the lives the birds have dedicated to us.

Incidentally, the Japan Anniversary Association designates a commemorative event for each day of the year.

Other occasions being commemorated today are the Day of the Camelia, the Day of the Wooden Coathanger, Toothbrush Exchange Day and Japanese Chocolate Day. Fascinating stuff!