Tuesday, August 01, 2006


Saga, Kyushu, Japan

Japan, I'm visiting my cousin, Marisa who is here teaching English in Saga-shi (She's really from the LA area), which is an hour south of Fukuoka, the biggest city on the southern most of the four major islands of Japan, Kyushu. She and her boyfriend, Ben met me at the arrivals hall at the airport last night and took the train back to their place.

Marisa took today off, so she and I visited the nearby city of Nagasaki, an hour farther south via the Sonic Limit Express train, that sort of resembled a smaller "Bullet Train". By the way, the real "Bullet Train" or officially called the Shinkansen, only goes as far south as Fukuoka.

It was sweltering day, the sun was intense, the humidly high and there was very little wind. We saw a few temples, Chinatown, the Atomic Bomb Peace Park, ground zero, its museum and the waterfront via the city's streetcar network, though many times, we felt we could have just as easily walked since the distances were a lot shorter than what it looked liked on the map. We also tried Nagasaki's specialty food, as every city in Japan claims to have some "specialty" dish, for Nagasaki, it is champon, a bowl of noodles with lots of seafood and a Chinese flavoring. And for being a strict vegetarian Marisa is, she even had it.

We found ourselves done site seeing by 5pm, and from the heat we were dying, so we headed back to Saga-shi, where we met up with Ben, who just got off work. We later cruised downtown on retro bicycles, with baskets and all, viewing the Saga nightlife. Ben also pointed out, as we rode by the "Snack Bar Girls", who stood out in front of their "establishments". Earlier, he tried explaining theses Snack Bar Girls to me, as I have never heard of them.

1 comment:

Juan Balas said...

Hi Forrest. Juan Balas Here. I read your blog with great interest because most of the home construction I did back in Argentina was actually using confined masonry. I know the INPRES (National Institute of Seismic Prevention - Argentina) Has a good sized lab and has done extensive testing in the matter. West side of Argentina is a high seismic risk area, due to the pacific plate/ Andean plate activity. I remember our best practice was building the plynth beam, then the masonry FIRST, alternating reinforcing rebar every three brick courses and then forming two open sides and pouring the columns once all the masonry was up. Irregular surfaces of brick would provide additional bond and a more tight system. Our details for column/ ring beams/ masonry connections were pretty tight, and of course, strictly enforced by the INPRES. I wish I could get those details. In any case, I will do some research and try to get them from a friend of mine.

I can see you are having fun. Take care! Juan