Monday, January 10, 2011

A Post about Japan

Sunday's post about miso soup made me think about the few days it snowed in Sakashita, so I thought I'd share a few pictures with you from both winter 2005 and 2006 of Sakashita.

The path down from my house (which was beside a Shinto shrine) to the road:


Detail of one of the posts


Looking towards the steps that led up to the shrine


Kids walking to school with umbrellas:


View of the river, Kawa Ue:


Winding through the foothills on the bus:


A house in Kawa Ue (the town up the mountain from us):


It was beautiful.

Cold.

But beautiful.

When I think back to winter in Japan, I think of my clear Bodum teapot, that was almost perpetually full of vanilla tea leaves. I think of a kitchen, so icily cold, that when I'd get home from work, I'd still be able to see my breath. I think of the oily smell of my kerosene heater for my living room.

I think of the darkness and the stillness and the loneliness.

And then I think of the peace and the strength it took to get through those cold (zero degrees inside and outside!), dark nights.

In the classrooms, there would always be one kerosene heater on low, and I would do my best to huddle as close to it as possible. Forget the students! I needed heat! At lunch time, the miso soup was my favourite part of the meal - it was the only thing I could guarantee would be hot.

Even more than miso soup, I loved it when they served oden, which is this stew with all sorts of simmered goodness in it. It bubbles away on the stove for the better part of 3 hours, which should give you some idea of just how infused with flavour it is!

3 comments:

TheRobotLunchBox said...

Such beautiful photos! Amazing food and culture in Japan! Im saving up to go after I graduate! I cant wait!

Keith said...

Were just getting to the coldest time of year now, but in Miyazaki, it's quite a bit warmer then Sakashita was. I'm told that in Feb, it might get down to 0, but it is unlikely. And apparently snow in Miyazaki is a real rarity.

It's still freezing though! I can also see my breath when I get home from a long day at work, and taking a shower in my frigid bathroom is often painful.

Do I love it though? Yes. I can see the rise rise over the beach any morning I have a mind to get up only a tad earlier then usual. The peace and quiet is deafening sometimes, but very relaxing once you get used to it.

Japan misses you, too!

Alyson said...

@Robotlunchbox - it's a cool place, though, having lived there for 2 years, I can't say that I idealize quite the same way as before I got there. Its culture has a dark, icky side to it too, as the food can as well. I've certainly had my fair share of gross meals!

But, if you haven't already, you should look into the JET Programme.

Keith - ZOMG, the showers! Ahhh, those were painful. It's like, the water was hot, but the rest of the room was SO cold, so there was this stream of happiness, but unfortunately, your whole body wouldn't fit under in. LOL!

So have you decided? Are you staying another year?

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