Friday, October 29, 2010

Ehime EV art

I can't help myself. The photos of the Ehime EV just inspire me to get out my crayons and make pretty pictures.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Ehime Electric Vehicle Project

On Friday, I put on my suit and went to the first meeting of the Ehime EV Promotion Council, of which I'm now a member. The goal of this council is to promote the Ehime EV Project for establishing an electric vehicle business in Ehime.

This is a very grassroots sort of endeavour, represented by the concept of 'Small Hundreds' put forward by Yoshihisa Murasawa of the University of Tokyo. 'Small Hundreds' stands in opposition to the 'Big Three' of U.S. car making, and instead of a few large corporations slowly moving to introduce EVs, hundreds of small organizations will convert the existing vehicle fleet to electric use.

Yoshihisa Murasawa checks out the interior

And since this is an Ehime-based project where fishing and agriculture are major industries, it's not limited to cars. The goal is to electrify fishing boats and agricultural equipment too.

Kazunobu Saito of Ehime University has already converted a small, high-performance electric car from a Daihatsu petrol two-seater.

Murasaw-sensei and Saito-sensei talk to the local media

This is a very positive development. When Matsuyama started promoting the Saka no Ue no Kumo project, I thought at the time it would have been better to have begun some sort of sustainability-related project based on resources available in Ehime. I'm glad that something of the sort is now under way.

These scooters are also electric. See = Want

Another conversion job being recharged


It was festival time again, so we all got out our koikuchi pyjama suits and did the whole crazy thing of drinking from 6 am and hauling heavy wooden god-boxes around the neighbourhood again.

Here are some choice scenes of the occasion.

The first day, Saturday, was rainy, and it was touch and go whether the evening's trundlings would go ahead or not. However, the local god ensured that the rain lifted so that we could celebrate his generally quiet presence.

Less cooperative was the generator on our danjiri. It kept huffing and puffing and cutting out, and it smelled very petrolly. All the chaps who know about these things (only one in fact), gathered round and got the backs of their happi coats soaking wet from squatting down. (The Wikipedia article says "It is believed that spirits or gods reside in the danjiri." However, I checked, and all that resides in our danjiri is lots of empty Asahi Super Dry cans.)

When the generator got sorted out, it was time to roll off into the sunset.

Things quickly got fairly raucous. People from all around wheeled their danjiri to the local Fuji supermarket car-park where we pushed the wagons up and down, lifted them up and waved them in the air, and feigned concern when a rather fat and drunken youth from another district fell off one. What's nice about the festival is that all sorts of charming people who you don't normally see around much get all chummy with you.

Another day, and more of the same. Rendezvous at the shrine at 6 am for sake from a big barrel. They have devils in red-face masks so that those who tend to colour -up after a single drink won't feel abashed. (Note to beginning students of Japanese culture: don't take my word for this.)

After light refreshments at the shrine, there was more trundling. The sun came up over Takanawa-san and it instantly got really hot.

However, the young people didn't seem to mind. They blew their whistles, waved their batons, and shrieked "Yoi-sa!" fit to burst.

On the last day, Monday, we did the omikoshi thing. The children had theirs, and we had ours. Ours is a lot heavier. We hoicked the boxes hither and thither, stopping at various houses to sup and enjoy more Asahi Super Dry.

Typically, the two omikoshi are taken to newly built homes in the village. It's alarming enough having heavy wooden things being moved about right next to your new windows and siding and all by people who are not exactly sober. But then after some slight debate, somebody called out, "Sasun-zo!". This roughly translates as "Stick 'em up", and it involves raising up both the omikoshi at 45 degrees and crossing the poles in the air. Bearing in mind that these boxes weigh a ton anyway and just carrying them around is hard enough, you can picture for yourself the amount of desperate staggering and grunting that goes on to get them up in the air. And this is in somebody's front yard. The new householders looked on with barely suppressed horror. (I wasn't able to help this time because I had to take a photo...)


After terrorizing the new people, it was time for a rest. Adults and children alike couldn't resist a bit of a splash in the double drains.

After all this excitement, we took apart all the various heavy appurtenances for moving spirits about, stowed them away until next year, and adjourned to the local meeting house for an entirely unnecessary meal and more beer.

I'm already looking forward to next year.