3 in 30 - 2000.10.07
The area across the street from our alleyway used to be some run-down abandoned dormitory-like buildings. I suspect that they were for employees of one of the factories that also used to be along our street. After the street was widened and before the apartment building went up in that area, this market was built and occupied. It is directly across the street from the pizza place.
The namein characters usually reserved for foreign wordsis Fureshu Marukita (Fresh Market.) I would have thought that "Maruketo" would have worked better for an English translation, but it hasn't hurt sales a bit. This market is busy from opening to closing six days a week.
They have primarily fresh vegetables, but have a small meat section and a few packaged goods.
Next door, toward the train station is this two story preschool. In the mornings and again late in the afternoon, parents and their children are coming and going to this preschool.
We find the attitude that choosing a good preschool is as important to a child's future education as choosing a good high school. We have heard stories of parents working very hard to get their children into specific preschools so that they will be able to enter specific elementary schools, then high schools and finally prestigious universities.
This wall by the entrance gate of the preschool is decorated with children's paintings. Visual expression seems to be an integral part of the educational system. The act of writing is as much creating a pleasing visual presentation as much as it is conveying information.
Students spend many years learning the kanji characters (more than 1250 by eighth grade) and how to use a brush to draw them. Calligraphy of the kanji characters is still something that you can find displayed in people's homes, in bank display areas and exhibits. Even billboards and bridge signs pay special attention to the calligraphy of the characters.