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For Whom the Bell Tolls: Autumn

For Whom the Bell Tolls

Sitting  here in a coffee shop surrounded by all of these  miserable looking old men and chatter box grannies, who appear to be waiting on death is sordidly depressing at 9am.   This is the state of the nation now.  Old people.   Sitting up in these cafes, and waiting on death.   Literally.  With long drawn down faces, pouty lips, and bloated lower cheeks.   Has this become the extent of the once proud Japanese?   There are three little school girls here in this cafe also, when they should be in school; don't the old ever question why these young girls are here, and not at school?

I wonder what the 'Old' live for nowadays...?   I wonder why the need is there to live to be one hundred years old, and to overburden their children.    Waiting on death, in a coffee shop.   Why not utilize death for the purpose of restoring the country, by going out in a bang and doing something extraordinary for the sake of the people, for the sake of something, like Jordan.

I couldn't help thinking about the actual novel called " For Whom the Bell Tolls," written by Hemingway - arguable one of his greatest works.    The theme of the whole novel  is filled with the preoccupation of death and how Robert Jordan, a dynamiter, was sent to blow up a bridge during the war.    In his eyes, death was more honorable than surrender, that this preoccupation with suicide over capture was something he looked forward to, because in the end he knew he could achieve something beautiful by detonating his bomb, and him with it if the need arises.    His actions are heroic for this matter and is what drove him to this extreme.  

Like fighting the war against decadence and the dumbing down of Japanese culture, and rampant over-westernization.   Why not be another Akao Bin...?


The Road to Change
November is just around the corner, when autumn leaves reach their full maturity, and the month when Mishima Yukio chose death over decrepitude, instead of sitting limp and incoherent  in a stuffy coffee shop, and ripe beyond your most useful years - there are no golden years.

At the shrine I can see you, looking at me, through that smokey incense cauldron.

According to the tradition, the smoke is supposed to make you smarter and heal you of diseases.   I love the continuity of tradition,  history, and how it has been passed down generation after generation.    The appreciation of the seasons, and more, are what I like about  Japan.

Every autumn I am reminded of its beauty and wonder, at its gorgeous snowcapped mountain ranges.    I snapped this picture on a chilly autumnal morning in Nagano Prefecture.   

The sun can rise and fall for a thousand years and these mountain will still remain standing tall.    Through the hale of rain, and forest fires, through the blizzards, through wars and blood soaked tourniquets when samurai once defended their fiefdoms and lands against great enemies.    At their last breath clutching at the air, and looking towards that great mountain in all of its beautiful splendor and then dying in nature's embrace.   

I'm also reminded of Nagano's  bounty in the form of food, and local favorites like  udon and soba.   When the seasons change so do the local specialties, and the Japanese like it that way.   Man doesn't impose his will on nature, man finds a balance with nature here in Japan.    Western thinkers impose their will upon nature, because they claim that it is untamed.   It is man that is untamed.   

This sake made in Nagano is not untamed.  It's refined, but that's because man and nature found a balance that worked.    Nagano sake exemplifies the coming together of the beauty of all of the seasons, especially autumn.    This Arabashiri was pressed with a fune, a wooden contraption traditionally used to press sake lending the final product a smooth and rich textured liquid essence of beauty.

The beauty of the seasons, struggling to break forth into something beautiful, and dreaming too, that someday she will fly again high above those central alps of Kiso.    A bound soul waiting to be set free, still remains beautiful to behold even bounded.   Untamed hair, everywhere, yet incredibly alluring and beautiful.

As the sun sets behind those gorgeous mountains, and reflecting on the beauty of the day, and trying to draw reasoning from why someone would sit dead in a coffee shop, unmoved, aged, and dying of rot and decay could fail to see the true beauty, even if it's from within, at times.   

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