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  • Writer's pictureNigel

Hell Courtesan 地獄 の使者


Good Morning (Good Evening) おはよう(こんばんは) 😉

Tuesday : Dietzenbach.

I was regretting arriving in shorts, T-Shirt and sandals. Tシャツ を着てしまいました. The office worker beside me was also looking rather uncomfortable without his jacket. The women had been more sensible it seems, and were wearing thin cardigans. It was surprisingly cool and cloudy, and the mood was not helped by the overflowing rubbish bins and the cigarette butts on the ground. The entrance to the Führescheinstelle (the driving licence authority) was cordened off with a black tape barrier - rather like the one they use in airports to herd you to the baggage check.

I was here to get an International Driving Licence.国際運転免許証. Sounds impressive doesn't it? A security man from a private contracted firm came out of the building and handed me a paper ticket with a number on it. Very high tech. (Covid Regulations). You were then called in according to your number. Mine was 089.

So there we were, five people sitting on iron benches outside, each clutching documents, nobody talking.

I don't accept these depressing situations. I broke the ice and asked my neighbour what number he had (he was 088) and then all the rest. All of a sudden these people started talking - "I waited here for two hours yesterday but then gave up.."...."I've got to get to long do we have to wait do you think?" Then a woman walked up, using her iphone as a translater, because she didn't speak a word of German. She wanted to know where the "Ausländeramt" was. Not surprising - that's the Immigration Office.入国管理所. You would think that there would be a sign in a few foreign languages wouldn't you? Something I was reminded of when, an hour later, I was being handed my "International" Driving Licence.

Now I've been to many a local authority office before, so I know a few tricks. I entered the office and gave a polite "Guten Morgen" and explained why I was there. The woman behind the desk barked at me "Füherschein! Passport!" 運転免許証! パスポート! I wasn't fazed by this, but when she barked at me to go down the corridor and pay my fee at a machine I didn't say anything, just nodded and followed the instructions.

Why do perfectly ordinary people lose all their natural humanity when they work in government offices? Later, as I sat in the car on the way home, I thought: These people seem to have no pride in their work. They have no eagerness to help you. There is no sense of "service for the common good". And certainly no おもてなし ⛔. They are routined, dulled, grey. But what subtle chemistry works on them to change them in this way? And even though the building itself was modern, the overflowing rubbish bins outside told another story..."It's somebody else's job to clean that up....don't look at me".

Now about that International Driving Licence. 国際運転免許証.

I had assumed you needed one for a occasion like this: You are driving in China and you get stopped by the police - they are not liable to understand your (German) licence are they?

However, the thin paper document I was handed had not a word of Chinese on it, nor Japanese, Korean, Arabic or Hebrew. Not even Polish, our neighbour. I was rather disappointed. The cover (in a horrible mud-green) was only in German, and the following languages were to be found inside: English, Russian, Spanish, and French. That was it. It cost me € 16.


But there were nice things this week. Here is something more colourful and tasty.....I love meeting up with my daughter for a meal somewhere. This time we met in Mangetsu City in the middle of Frankfurt (there it is on the left in the pic.).

I ordered an Asahi draught beer......much better than the bottled variety.....

On the table we soon had Edamame えだまめ (young soya beans), Takoyaki たこ焼き(Octopus in batter) and a classic Ramen......ラーメン...

Heaven! (Not forgetting a nice Sake from Kyoto......😋)


Back to the workshop. But there is fun there too! ワークショップも楽しいです1

I had a delivery of bows ゆみ 弓 this week. I always get them from a guy in Bavaria, who has a rather endearing habit of typing his invoices on a typewriter. A nice personal touch.....

His bows are carefully wrapped up in his local newspaper. So as well as getting new bows, you can read the hot news from Bavaria -バイエルンからのニュース... 伝統的な衣装... Dirndles, Lederhosen and the classical concert season. That brightens up the morning in the workshop....😅.

New bows have to be tried out of course......ヴァイオリンワークショップ...... lucky Nigel is not auditioning.......



The older I get the worse I get with heights. So on Thursday it was with some trepidation that took my Japanese teacher 日本語先生、みきさん、up the Main Tower in Frankfurt. This is one of the city's tallest buildings, so you get a great view from the observation deck. But first you have to find the right tower. Is it this one? (no)'s the one with the red and white pole on top.

View from the top looking north over the Deutsche Bank....、ドイツ銀行を北に見下ろす上からの眺め.....

Trying to look relaxed in a stiff wind......風がつよかった❕  

A view down to the river Main......マイン川......

We rounded off the day with something very Frankfurt - a small Apfelwein Lokal in Sachsenhausen. It was pretty loud and boisterous, but that's to be expected......

This is Schweinehaxe and Sauerkraut....a huge great joint of pork....not for the faint hearted......

And a Bemble (jug) of Apfelwein.........

So that is the end of this week's report fom Germany. Thanks for reading this post. I hope you found it interesting and that it didn't clog up your inbox.

Don't forget, the easy way is to subscribe/sign up, then I don't have to send out whatsapps or emails manually. But it may land in your spam folder! この投稿を読んでいただきありがとうございます。 新しい投稿のお知らせを受け取りたい場合は、上部の購読フォームに記入してください。 ありがとう!Nigel.😊



This week's drawing by Kawanabe Kyousei (1831-1889), is a little detail : skeletons dance around the hem of a beautiful woman's Kimono, reminding us of the intransigience of life (!).

Actually this is no ordinary woman. She is the so-called Hell Courtesan (地獄 の使者 ) - a figure out of 15thc. Japanese Buddhist mythology. Her kimono is decorated with all the various hells of Buddhism. This theme was popular in 19thc. Japan. Here is another larger view....

The eccentric Buddhist monk, Ikkyū is dancing at her side. There is a lot going on in this picture. The woman is beautiful, yes. She has (apparently) trancended earthly desires and achieved enlightenment. She looks down at the skeleton playing the shamisen - watch out guys at the Main Matsuri 😁. But is Kyosai really mocking the age in which he lived? The hedonistic court life of the Edo-period, collapsing in the 19thc? Who knows, but it was certainly pretty cheeky to depict a monk in such a manner.



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