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Water crisis? But ... you've got a big lake!

I should be used to ignorance about South Africa -- or South Shithole, if you prefer -- but my students never fail to shock me into silence.

Office worker in her late 30s. Where are you from? Cape Town. Where is that? Cape Town in South Africa. South America? No, look at this map: this is South Africa and this is Cape Town. How about Cape Town? The latter is studentspeak for "I don't know anything about Cape Town; could you please tell me more; do you like it; if yes, what are you doing in Japan?"

I explain a bit. "Is it very hot?" I explain a bit more, and mention the current water crisis, which means my beloved city will run out of water in April.

The student looks at the map. "But," she says and points, genuinely puzzled, "you have a very big lake!"


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South Africa: rich in natural resources, poor in water. Japan: zero natural resources, So Much Water.

I took these two photos of the Theewaterskloof Dam in January 2017, when there was still some water left. Now there's virtually nothing.




Capetonians have been asked to limit their water consumption to 50 liters a day. Here's how it breaks down:


Only a minority is currently following these guidelines. The rest: ignorant or selfish or stupid or all three.

"I can get my head around drinking water: you transport it by truck," I told my family. "I understand that you can do a hospital bath with Wet Wipes instead of a bath-bath. I accept that la…

What do you do with your toilet if there's no water?

This is a follow-up to my previous post about apocalyptic waterless Cape Town. "Toilets! What do?" I asked my friends. Ah, you apply a little rhyme that's now doing the rounds. You apply it everywhere, even in public toilets.

if it's yellow
let it mellow
if it's brown
flush it down

I'm continuing my own water-saving experiment, partly because I'm curious, partly out of sympathy with my beloved Cape Town. It's all very un-serious in my case, of course: yesterday, for example, I put a teabag in hot water and then -- as I do so frequently -- forgot about it. Usually I would've thrown it out. Yesterday I drank tepid tea. Every drop counts.

En as dit nie anders kan nie, is daar altyd Japannese whisky (al die pad saamgepiekel SA toe) en Klippies en plaaslike wyn.








Higanbana, a flower of loss and longing

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Ikusabata to Sawai

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The ultimate guide to Kanda Myojin

I'm floundering. I don't know how to start a post about Kanda Myōjin (神田明神), because how do you choose a highlight from this collection below?
The decapitated head of a rebellious samurai who's still haunting Ōtemachi is buried in the vicinity, and his deified spirit is enshrined here.It's been called the world's geekiest shrine thanks to its proximity to otaku heaven Akihabara. The shrine has a Facebook, Twitter and LINE account.You can see some extremely generously endowed young ladies on the shrine's ema.It has a horse. A real horse. A tiny living breathing pony.Birds protect it against fire.
See my problem? Where do I start the ultimate guide to the ultimate shrine?




Why Kanda Myōjin?
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South Africa is not a safety country (hallelujah)

I did. Smile. Nonstop. Al die pad dwarsdeur end-uit.

A whiter shade of pale

I have become used to the confusion I cause in Japan, but this week delivered a new highlight. Student: Where are you from?
Me: South Africa.
Student: Africa?
Me: Yes.
Student: Is your country very cold?
Me: Cold? No! Africa! Why?
Student: Because your skin is very pale. Which is the roundaboutest way yet of asking but why aren’t you black if you’re from Africa? Wait. It gets better. This specific student is a university lecturer. One would assume a certain level of knowledge about the world. One would be wrong.