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To West and Back

Sea surface with ripples and rocks, Kyoto.

This year summer arrived late. Right when it did, I headed west in my little Honda. Along the coast of the Great Channel of Far East (formally known as Japan Sea), until I hit the region called San-in, “in the shadow of mountains”.

I’ve taken city street, cutting through “Japan Alps” at midnight (not the smartest idea), so as to really hear cicadas sing, millions of trillions of them. Each and every mount tall and small buzzed like it is a space craft about to take off, sound that goes well with the blazing summer sun.

Summer hills and clouds, Kyoto.
Clear water shore in subdued emerald, San-in, Japan.
Blooming in sunflower yellow, sunset, Aizu, Japan.
Swimming in the sea at sundown, San-in, Japan.

Beaches of San-in have minimum dose of concrete holding them in. Mounds of thriving woods in sharp angles and rocky little picturesque islands grow out of glassy teal sea. They perch at the edge of water, appearing wild, but also somewhat reserved. Polite yet unrestricted, the harmonious anarchy.

While treading water impressed, ocean decided to rush into my snout, sending an army of microorganisms as plenty as cicadas in summer hills, on a mission to unlock my senses from inside out. Thanks to them the buzzing intensified, and for a few moments I felt I could almost ‘get’ what their song is all about.

From top:

1 and 2 – Tango Peninsula, Kyoto

3 – Yasugi Beach, Hyogo

4 – Aizu South, Fukushima

5 – Kasumi, Hyogo

All photographed earlier this month.
Heartfelt “Thank You!!” to all of you generous souls I encountered during my trip.

コンクリで護岸処理をしてある海岸線を通ると、セーラー服着用を義務づけられた6年間を思い出す。着たとたんに魂の電源が切れるというか、情熱に石棺処理を施されたような息苦しい感覚である。もちろん世の中には正反対の反応をなさる方もたくさんおられるようなのでこれはごく個人的な問題なのだけれども、不自由感を感じていないふりを自分にしないとやってゆけなかったから余計話はややっこしかったのだ。

新潟の海岸線はコンクリ使用量がとても多いようで、もったいない話だが制服トラウマの再燃に追い立てられる様にいつもあわてて通り過ぎてしまう。どこか影のある北陸を過ぎ若狭湾をこえたあたりで突然当方に変化が起きる。肺が勝手に深呼吸をしチョウチョの様にぱたぱたと羽ばたき始めるような胸いっぱいの開放感の発症である。

『山陰』という名前からはほど遠く明るくひらけた京都から兵庫、鳥取あたりのあの一帯には前述の護岸処理はあまり見当たらない。すくなくとも当方はもうそれどころではなくて、叫ぶような蝉たちの鳴き声にのって自らが飛び立っていってしまいそうで、一杯空気を吸い込んで軽くなった肺胞が風船の様に勝手に空を目指してしまいそうで、そんななかば宙に浮いた視界に入ってくるのは、石庭のような波紋を描く水面から生える、みっちりとはち切れそうな緑に覆われた小さな山々や日本画から抜け出たような岩の数々から、発車寸前の宇宙船のように響き渡る蝉の声が太陽光線といっしょになってすべてを震わせ前述の生き埋め感覚を木っ端みじんに粉砕する、そんな一大事な真夏の光景なのである。

上から、
写真1、2 丹後半島 京都府
写真3 安木浜 兵庫県
写真4 南会津 福島県
写真5 香住 兵庫県

写真はすべて今月はじめ頃に撮影。
旅行中こんな当方に親切にして下さった皆様に心から感謝いたします。

I recommend Dawn.

Sea shore at summer dawn.

Summer dawn, what’s not to love. It’s here today, not to stay for long.

Thistles and a butterfly at summer dawn.

Up the hill, or down to the beach. Will drive empty streets. Watch the light sneak into the pre-dawn quiet.
I’m the sinister figure looking into your rice field, or up at the sky with my back facing the sun asleep right below the horizon.

What’s she doing out there, which planet is she from, she waiting for a ride back home, oh look, she’s talking, to her friends in the sky, or spirits of frogs ran over during the night…

Field with a slanted fence, at summer dawn.

In fact I’d be talking to myself, can I just not move for a moment or two, which ain’t audible to rural early risers, not until I laugh fairly loudly at my own sloth; I hate tripod.

Rice field at summer dawn.

All the images were shot in late June, 2013 – sometime around the solstice, by yours truly the staying upper, camera hand held.

近頃カエルの声がいくぶん大きくなったように感じる。個体がでかくなったのか、声帯だけぶっとくなったのかそれとも頭数が増えたのか。謎は深まるばかりだが、目にする単体は無邪気に小さくて愛くるしい。

なかには夜になると田んぼから飛び出し、夜露のアスプァルト上を弾性の嬉しそうなカーブを描いてはねるのもいて、こっちはたいした善人でもないが慌ててジグザグ走行に入り、このときばかりは過疎暮らしに感謝する。

夏の明け方は夜通し鳴きつづけたカエルたちの声もこころなしか疲れ気味でその数も少ない。車を止めて一歩踏み出すと、子供部屋のベッドリネンの柄のようにコミカルなポーズで真っ平らに轢かれたカエルたちが目に入る。彼らはまたカエルとして戻ってきて明日の夜あたりには大合唱に加わるのだろうか。無風で湿度の高い薄明かりに謎の粒子がみっしり詰まる夜明け前の一瞬である。

写真はすべて夏至あたりの早朝に怪しく撮影。

Japan is…

(This post is unrelated to nationalism, activism, buddhism or martyrism.)

I study society by asking Google simple questions. One day I felt like finding out what other people think of this country. Well look what I found…

japan-is2

None bothered me except the 3rd. Feeling lucky? You bet! Don’t worry though, ’cause I was just wondering that myself.
In fact I was thinking, maybe that’s the reason why I own a surfboard, although originally the purchase was made for something else.

My neighborhood guys weren’t so happy…

Sinking? What do you mean sinking??
We aren’t sinking, are we sinking?

Wooden Statue at a Japanese temple  with chipped paint.

Calm down fella, your face’s all red. At our age you may want to start winding down, loosen your knuckle and exude the serenity of divine calm…

Detail of a hand, wooden statue at a Japanese temple.

Oh quiet you pastel-palmed you, and your fuzzy rosy cloud of calmness you’ve been standing in for last 700yrs. At this point nothing can shock you awake, not even a dip in the salt water…

But why, why do they think we are….sinking?

Don’t tell me we are sinking…don’t sink…

Profile-shoulder of a wooden statue.

-end of dialogue-

As 311 approaches for the second time since the big day, I wanted to clear some air in regard to our living on the edge of the seismic-atomic goings-on.

I heard talks online speculating on Japanese, that we are either in denial, naively misinformed, or staying put due impoverishment. I also noticed some of you are concerned but too polite to come out and ask (thank you for thinking of us). While I surely have no answers to any of the above, why not offer you my humble 5 yen that I think have earned through living on the east half of the island, not too close to get scorched but close enough to feel the fire.

From what I’ve seen and heard in real life, I can safely say everyone’s taking calculated risks, opposed to passively waiting for a direction. They seem to know what they want, what they can handle – emotionally/psychologically, especially – and ways to find the “path of least resistance” , so to speak, in accordance. Without being vocal about what that is, mostly out of consideration for each other – as choices we’re having to make in relation to our new state of being could be highly personal, and often of a delicate variety.

We who live in the nation, may be in this together, but what I keep noticing is the strength, perhaps at deeply hidden core of each, to stand in one’s destiny alone.
And choose the path, suited only for the individual. People know themselves, and we are all so different. Although part so alike, still so different.

Now back to the temple where the above guys reside. The place was built in Heian era, been 900+ years and counting. Sit sturdy on bedrock, built to last. Located in nondescript rural hillside, a nearly secret haven for this gem. Hazard of the hood being wild boars. Edible yes, but often unfriendly and very genki.
The Head Priest, friendly, was the one crafted all the candle holders. They were for the New Year’s eve count down event, the countless candles lighting the temple’s narrow pathways, flickering against the tall black trees in the background.

Bamboo-made Candle Holder, a new years decor at a Japanese temple.
Red eaves and decorative carvings, at a temple in Japan.
Bamboo-made candle Holders at a Japanese temple.

So this was my first travel guide post. You will have a hard time finding a place like this one without some helpful guide going on and on about everything that’s inviting. Oh, my pleasure, stay tuned for more.

By the way, I heard Japan is about the size of the state of California, though haven’t found the time to confirm with Google about it.

Edited on January 21, 2015.