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Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Murayama Matsuri



   I first posted this while sitting on a curb in a small town in Japan.  Murayama is on the northern outskirts of Yamagata City, Yamagata Prefecture.  We have family up there, so each year we go up for this wonderful street festival.

   This year, I had just returned from Afghanistan, and on the way back, picked up a Nokia E75.  I had done my homework, determined that the phone would work in Japan and shelled out some serious cash at the airport in Kuwait City.  The Nokia E75 is a thing of beauty--a small phone with a slide-out QWERTY keyboard, and the Symbian OS.  I had everything I wanted.

   Except that things change, and so by the time I returned to Japan, Nokia no longer had an arrangement with the provider Softbank, and Softbank also sells phones, so they no longer supported Nokia phones.  So I was forced to get an iPhone 3G[S], which I believe is the last non-Japanese cell phone you can get here.

   More on that later.  Meanwhile, because the E75 does have a good Wi-Fi setup, I was able to use my phone as a palmtop computer and get online whenever I was within range of an open Wi-Fi access point.  So a lot of my spare moments were taken up with warwalking, which consists of looking for an open access point and bumping into people a lot.

   At these street festivals, al you have to do is find a place to hang out, and the whole rolling party goes slowly past.  For hours.  There are people selling chairs, food, toys, souvenirs, beer, and other booze, so the whole thing is fire & forget.  Well, fire, pay, and forget.

   We bought some folding chairs, grabbed beer & munchies, and found a nice spot to park our cans, so to speak.  Lo and Behold, a house close to us was running an open access point.  I took many photographs of the proceedings, and particularly liked the one above.  That guy was going at it with two small cymbals like there was no tomorrow.  Sound trucks with live instrumentation (lots of drums and joyful shouting), squads and hordes of dancers and other performers, streets lined with tipsy if not tipped spectators--and my magnificent Nokia E75 on its farewell deployment.

   I have kept the phone, as I would likely be unable to sell it--it has support for four languages, including French and two varieties of Arabic.  So the squiggles on the keys and the different punctuation layout mark it for the dustbin anywhere it is likely to go anytime soon.  I can't bear to see that happen.  You could say that it's still too dear to me to be sold for the pittance it would go for.  Below, for posterity, is the original text which accompanied this photograph to the web:

Posting from my Nokia E75, sitting on the side of a road currently b esieged y a parade. Drin kin, de rigeur, and this keyboard is difficult when sober.
Test, test, test on a stolen borrowed CO NNECTION. more ab out that lzater.

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