Thursday, January 06, 2005

作業服 (Sagyou-fuku: Labour Clothes) and Board of Education Spec Ops (Special Operations)

This is sagyou-fuku, my special operations uniform when working in the village board of education office (Thursdays). It is not required, and it has certainly never proven necessary, but I like to be prepared. Sagyou-fuku is worn by many labourers in Japan, and by bureaucrats involved in industry, agriculture, or other labour-related pursuits. The latter generally wear dress shirts and ties under their sagyou-fuku—just as I am doing in this photo—to demonstrate their white-collar status. The junior employees of the village board of education (BOE) tend to dress in this manner, whereas the section heads wear suits.

天然記念物 (ten-nen-kinenbutsu: natural monument=protected species)
These particular little fellas are kamoshika, known in English as Japanese antelopes, or serows. I photographed these two just outside the church I attend in Mutsu City.

I used to be puzzled at what these guys at the BOE might possibly have to do in the course of a day requiring sagyou-fuku, but there are some surprising answers. For instance, what happens when a fox or a tanuki (racoon dog) gets hit by a car? Nothing; the crows eat it. What happens if a kamoshika or a monkey gets run over? The board of education must send someone out to give it a proper burial. If it is still alive it must be driven by board of education personnel to a facility three hours away in Aomori City. Both species are designated as “natural monuments,” and “natural monuments” fall under the jurisdiction of local boards of education. So if one of these natural monuments strays out of nature and gets whacked on a Thursday, I’ll be properly dressed to hop in the BOE van with the other guys, help scrape the “monument” off the road, dig a hole in the mountains, and bury it.