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Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Camping In Japan

It seems that all the women I know really like camping - to which I say have a great time and let me know when you might be coming back so I know if I should bother requesting a cadaver dog.

Even though I hate camping - I do enjoy getting out to see the sights, the sounds, the smells… but when it's time to crash for the night, I prefer to do it in comfort… 2015 or better comfort.

I am bug bait… bugs like to taste my yummy blood - mmm, diabetic sugary AB-negative…

I don't like spiders and snakes and I don't care if it sounds like a song from the 70s, but out there in the tall grass can be found Lupus or Lyme Disease…

Paranoid? Sort of... but sometimes... the paranoid is correct.

This week, the wife and boy have gone up to a relative's cottage (which isn't roughing it or camping), and yet despite being on a lakefront beach I see no thrill in sweating in a new locale with uglier insects and a plethora of people looking to get wasted or toss a frisbee in someone's face.

For Alice and the rest of you people who like to travel through intense traffic to sit and relax in the great outdoors where you can use a rock as a sofa to watch a sunset (we have those in the city AND suburbs)… or to perch on a hard wooden deck or sit around a gasoline-lit bonfire (did you really start the fire by rubbing two sticks together?), or catching a few Zzzzs ensconced in mosquito netting and soaked in deet (that can't be good for the skin) and sunscreen 1,000 (comes with a suit of lead armor) so you don't burn that delicate skin (I've heard that's not fun) all so you can get up early to see a sunrise. I've seen the sun rise. Wonderful. Andrew sleepy now.

I'm the kindda guy who likes to stay up late and get up later. You can get up to so much more fun and trouble at that time of the day.

In Japan, the sun rises at 4AM… Many is the time I've staggered home drunk from a club or hopped on my 18-speed bicycle (I only ever used two gears) and pedaled from some woman's apartment at that hour while bowing my head in greeting and shame as the farmers hale me and then haul me out from their rice paddy.

Of course, for people like Alice who might only get up at 5:30 in the AM to see a western sunrise... great... I had no idea there was a 5 o'clock in the morning!). By the way... watching that sunset and sunrise... you know you shouldn't stare at the sun, right?

How about that cooking? Mmm... being outdoors sure works up the appetite for some reason. Did you bring steaks? You know you didn't kill your own food. Hot dogs? What is in that food? Mac and Cheese? You know it's best when baked in an oven with a thick slice of red tomato atop it...

You could go fishing - hopefully that tumor in the fish isn't too large… in Canada… that's a real problem… I know… I used to be involved in the Fishing Guide for the Ontario Government when I worked for the Ministry of the Environment and Energy and the Ministry of Natural Resources.The guide listed the sizes of each species of fish in each provincial lake indicating which fish were safe to eat. I don't like to eat fish, unless it's a catfish... but have you ever seen a real catfish? Ugly! Someone get me a fillet!

You could go hunting… but who's going to clean a bear? Hell… who wants to gut and descale a fish? I prefer crustaceans to fish, anyhow… but I wouldn't eat a crustacean from a lake or even from my garden.

Mmm… toast and coffee in the morning… no one milled their own flour or grew their own coffee beans…Freshly squeezed orange juice - where the heck are you camping? Florida?

You aren't getting away from squat. You are merely bringing convenience with you to make roughing it less rough. I thought you liked it rough?

I'm only kidding around. If I really hated camping, I would have written about it in my other blog - the one about things I hate.

I've been camping. Aside from seeing the stars… no big deal… someone is always snoring (me), so everyone else wakes up grumpy (not me). Crappy breakfast, lunch and maybe a steak dinner… that first night only, though - because later than that the ice has melted and the meat would go bad.

I suppose you could just go into a nearby town and eat - and I know some of you do that… but… then why are you leaving the comfort of a home to do that? I suppose it's cheaper than a hotel. Definition of a hotel? Where one pays good dollars for poor quarters. I read that in a Richie Rich comic book from 40+ years ago.

My father enjoys camping and fishing... but I don't even want to hook a worm. It had seven hearts. I've spent a bit of time fishing... people say it give you time to think. I think quickly and move onto the next subject. And then I write about it. Slapping at mosquitoes and drowning worms is hardly a topic I get off on.

I know... I can think about other things. Trust me... I have no problem thinking about other things... which is why I'm usually in a foul mood when left alone to think. No... I need to do so I don't have time to think. Too much thinking is bad. I'd rather write thoughtless blogs like this.

Oh well… maybe getting away from it all is a way of harkening back to one's past - on a small farm in Quebec… or to a time when one's ancestors plowed the land… or all the way back to when Homo erectus (erectus… ha-ha! There's nothing funny about the word 'homo' - at least not in a politically correct manner) used a rock as a pillow (it bears repeating)…

I have no idea why any of that is appealing. All I know is that our ancestors would have loved air-conditioning, mattresses that didn't have a spring poking you in the small of the back, no fleas or bed bugs.. no plague... proper indoor toilets and plumbing... and all the free porn on a computer... comforts.

I'm only joking around... but aside from a few odd ducks who would have shunned such future technology as witchcraft, the comforts of home would have been widely celebrated.

Whatever... at least you know you happy campers aren't alone. The Japanese really seem to like 'getting away from it all', too.

There is a fair bit of green space in Japan - regardless of pundits who claim it's been paved over to create more roads to get to the nature reserve…

(Japan did once chop down a grove of trees to clear an area and make some stands for people, plus a paved road - just so an audience could see the Emperor plant three trees to show Japan loves its nature.)

Let's see… Japanese work their ass off 6 days a week (partial day on Saturday)… so on Sunday.. freedom… and everyone hits the road to get away from it all.

Sunday was my favorite day in my city of Ohtawara-shi, Tochigi-ken… it was empty… as everyone had left the area to sit in traffic as they drove up a steep mountain road with everyone else… man… I got so much looting done on those days.

But surely one day off… or even leaving sometime in the afternoon on Saturday, but having to be back to work on Monday is hardly conducive to having a lot of fun camping…

Let's face it… the Japanese don't take vacation time off like you and I do… take a week like I did last week? Are you kidding? Their workplace would achieve thermonuclear meltdown by the third day.

I came back on Monday and it was like I never left. Which is both good and sad. 

Japanese teachers? They hang out at school all summer long looking after all the kids (all of them!) who come in to partake of club activities (every kid is in a school club, whether it's sports, music, languages or the arts) … you JETs or western teachers… there's no time off if you are a Japanese teacher of English (JTE).

So when can they (the Japanese) go anywhere? Maybe during Winter break? No... it's too cold for most of Japan to go camping.

During Obon in August? Naw… you have to pay your respects to your ancestors, so the Japanese travel back to whatever town they are from.

Maybe during Golden Week in the Spring?… which is when everyone else in Japan goes on vacation. Never travel during Golden Week.

So it strikes me as strange that Japan would have an auto show (this past March) that catered solely to vehicle manufacturers of camping… for those who like to 'escape'.

The Japan Camping Show 2015 - specifically targeting Japan's three Camping Car markets, include the:
  • Micro K-Camper;
  • Combo;
  • Cab Conversion.
These aren't individual vehicles, but rather are the three styles of vehicle the Japanese currently prefer when they get out into the hills and forests looking for mushrooms that are more likely poisonous.

These Micro K-Campers are small and inexpensive (as car as camping vehicles go) that have pop-up roofs and compact interiors… which is great if you are 5'-4" naked, but but not for bigger, wider-shouldered foreign men like myself. In other words, this works well for the Japanese. I suppose I could find a rock to sleep on.

The Combo is larger than the Micro-K-Camper and is priced accordingly - middle of the road… and while they can easily carry a family in their daily routine, it can be converted into an overnight camper for that Saturday night getaway. Traveling with the family and spending time together? Who are you people? The Walton's? I spend enough time with them... this week, with everyone at the cottage... I'm on a real vacation. Just me, the cat and some tasty Chinese food. The house never looked cleaner, by the way. In Japan, of course, with dad always working long hours, he never gets to see the family... so spending a night with them can be considered something 'new and exciting'.

The Cab Conversion is like a very small version of a standard North American RV… and despite it being a lot smaller, it is still a house on wheels, Japanese-style. As such, there are more creature comforts that remind one that they have indeed conquered nature while they drive along searching for nature.

I know I wouldn't want to do any camping in Japan... would you want to go to a Japanese camp? What? Too soon?

For a full look at the past event, check out the article written and photographed by Stephen Clemenger for www.gizmag.com.

The full article is HERE.

Oh... and that photo at the top - that's not even close to being anything weird at this Japan Camping Show 2015.

Camping - stupid Auto Correct - kanpai,
Andrew Joseph

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