Otanjoubi Omedetou

Video ID all finished!  Japanese toilet rope Today was my birthday. So what did I do to celebrate? Video ID! I had no boat trips and lots of free time, so I managed my way through all of the outstanding videos. There was a little celebration in my honor this evening – beer, fish, tofu, etc. The usual Mikura goodies. As a treat for my guests, I fried up 3 pounds of meat! Meat is a precious commodity here on Mikura, and I received 3 pounds of it as a gift yesterday. So into a frying pan it went and out came some sort of goulash dish that was quite yummy. For dessert, we ate no less that 4 delectable cakes! Mmm!

So with little else to share, I will recount a story that an old Mikura fisherman told me a few nights ago. 50 years ago, when the pier here on Mikura had not yet been fully constructed, the supply boats from Tokyo used to anchor a few hundred meters offshore and the sailors would take small tenders into port. The same was true of the tuna boats that would come to supply the island. Apparently, this old fisherman and his friends would swim out to meet the tuna boats so they could buy some fish. The problem was how to swim to the boats without getting their money wet. The solution? Tie the money to your head! Yes, the kids would swim out to the boats with money strapped to their heads to pay for the fish. If the current was strong, they had to start swimming a kilometer farther down shore, timing it just right so they would reach the boat by the time they had swum out far enough. On one occasion, they did this little human-tender trick with a 6 month old baby that was very sick and needed treatment at a Tokyo hospital; they swam him out to the boat and handed him off. These kinds of stories put hardship into perspective – as I sit here with my wireless internet access writing about how frustrating it is that the ferry is frequently cancelled, I think it is important to remember the many years of hardship that the Mikura residents had to endure to build up this island to the point where a ferry could even land here with any regularity. What’s worse, in the days before toilet paper here on Mikura, this old fisherman used to use….. wait for it……… Rope! Yes rope. Apparently there was a large piece of finely woven 'toilet' rope – tens of meters long – and somehow, this was used in lieu of toilet paper. I am not sure how this worked exactly, although the fisherman mimed it for me (that was a rather bizarre little moment I must say). Thank god for toilet paper and wireless internet. Long live technology!