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Monday, December 5, 2016

I Don’t Give A Dam - Or Do I?

I am a collector by nature… perhaps if I was messier and less organized I could be considered a borderline hoarder.

But I’m not. I think.

I collect comic books, have a plethora of Japanese ukiyo-e, millions of LEGO bricks because I like to build, my Hot Wheels cars from the 1960s, I collect sports cards (or did) of hockey, baseball, basketball, and various television or TV shows like Planet Of The Apes, Superman, Mork & Mindy, and Star Wars and Battlestar Galactica, not to mention one on martial arts, and automobiles and hot-rods.

I have for the past 10 years been collecting when I can various tobacco cards… but really only those made in 1911 and earlier and again only those that involve aviation.

While in Japan, along with the ukiyo-e, I also collected the inaugural set of its J-League soccer cards and the first three years of its baseball cards from 1991-1993… which is why I have an Ichiro Suzuki true rookie card. His second year card, also.

I also have coins and stamps, two things I also collected in Canada.

But… would I collect a 500-card series about dams?

If I was in Japan? Probably.

I think I just like the challenge of completing things. Whether it’s getting 100% in a video game (it’s why I prefer adventure games as opposed to standard shoot’em ups like Halo or Call of Duty), finishing every story I begin, I like the challenge of beating the game.

Heck, if Pokemon had been a real thing where I had to go out and catch pocket monsters… I would have to catch’em all.

So… a 500-card series on Japanese dams? I might consider it. But I might also cheat to do it.
In Japan, visitors can travel the entire country and visit dams and then go and see the dam’s management office and receive a single collectible card. Damn.

Each of the 500 cards features a color photo of the damn and surrounding area, with the reverse containing dam specifications… and if you wanna catch’em all… you have to visit each and every single damn location.

If it was up to me, I would set it up so that dam visitors could get extras of the same card (not everyone is a collector), and then trade them with others across the country who may not easily visit a faraway dam location.

It is available as one per person, but like I said… you and your wife only need one… so trade the other.

The cards look like they are the size of a standard baseball card—slightly larger than a meishi (business card), and along with the photo and specs have letters on them, such as G = gravity dam, or F = flood control denoting the dam style and the purpose of the dam at that location.

For example, in the damn card above of the Otaki Dam in Osaka-prefecture, the card’s reverse has the F and G notations, and reads: “The dam’s design featuring a row of arches capping its upper part was selected through a survey for locals, the nation’s first attempt of this kind.”

I’ll be honest and admit I have no idea if the card is 50-50 Japanese and English, or if it’s only Japanese.

These Dam cards have been available since 2011—initially at 111 dam locations, but have, since August of 2016 been upped to 500 locations.

Now... because these cards are being distributed by the government… both municipally and provincially, it is recommended you call ahead to ensure availability… sometimes they are out of cards… sometimes changes are being made to cards… blah-blah-blah.

There are 18 dams in Tochigi-ken, for example… but perhaps not every place has a card.

Andrew Joseph

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