Skip to main content

Route 7


Love of the backcountry:   December 6th, 2012, the day before the big 7.3 quake struck Tohoku.



Mikasayama and Shirasawa off route 7 lay on the outskirts of Hirosaki, surrounded by Inakadate and Owani.      These micro towns represent what is left of a bygone era.   The old lumber mills that provides jobs and resources for this whole community is still in operation.   Most folks in these towns would rather use wood and sheet metal for just about everything it seems.    Often times, the houses in these communities look the same: flimsy and dated, yet they hold up against snow storms, and freezing temps.    And, surprisingly quite cozy, warm, and comfortable once you are inside of one.




 I love these little sleepy towns that exist as a reminder of what used to be.    Fifty years ago, I'm sure these little towns were bustling with little school children and blue collar workers.    You know, I learned something, and for what's worth I learned what's here is perfect.   I mean, you wake up in the morning, shovel snow, and then off to work then back home to have dinner with the family.    People greet each other, like they still do today.    But never ask a Japanese if Japanese greet anymore, at least not in Yokohama.    You will only get cold stares in the morning if you greet.    Here in the backcountry people do greet each other, even strangers.    Same in some North American cities, too.   


The elderly out here look so much healthier, vibrant, and stress free than their urban counter-parts.    In Yokohama, the elderly look horribly unhappy and miserable, and absolutely fearful of everybody and everything and very untrustworthy.   


Here in the rural areas of the north, everybody knows each other and are bound by a sense of community  whereas in the urban areas the idea of community is merely another form of " neighborhood watch" where everybody stabs each other in the back.   There is no community based off of support, warmth, and conviviality like in the countryside..    



Old engines that use diesel fuel pull these metal trains filled with old people to destinations we city folks take for granted, like  convenience stores.    Snow fell unseasonably early, but a welcome edition because I love snow when I don't have to remove it.   


I love how water meanders down a river filled with rocks, leaves, and snow.      It just adds to the atmosphere.  Snow, water, steam and sulfur, and you know you are in an onsen town replete with hot mineral spas for soaking your frozen bones in, which explains why I'd rather walk to my destination than hailing a taxi.   


This is the real Japan.




Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Shin-Okubo: Little Korea

So I finally got around to going up there to Shin-Okubo,  the land of Seoul via the Yamanote Line.  Been putting this trip off for years for personal reasons;  I am not a fan of Hanlleyu.      I knew why I came up this way, and for none other reason than the food, and maybe to bask in the nausea of Korean romanticist who steal Japanese Jukujo's souls.    But honestly, I like spicy food and stews and pickled vegetables that challenge my taste buds.    I also love the little funky cafes that line the main thoroughfares and alley ways, each with their own little eclectic menus and interior decor.     This place is Korea.  





Shin-Okuba represents more than just a place to relish in Korean culinary delights and K-pop culture, but a place where Koreans can express themselves through their culture.    You can feel the local vibe in the air as you're walking down narrow walkways and footpaths.    I have personally been to mainland Korea six times, so a lot of the nostalgia was there …

August: The Return of Souls

August is peak summer season in Japan.  We can look forward to some of the most spectacular fireworks displays and festivals in the world, especially  in places like Tohoku and Kanto regions.  August is also  the most contentious month of the year in Japan; with the end of the war and war-related guilt.    Then there's the great exodus back home for millions of Japanese.   Obon season is what it's called in Japan, and it's  where families return to their hometowns to remember their ancestors and to spend time with loved ones.  Gravestones are visited, cleaned, and washed; rice or alcohol is often placed on  miniature altars next to a  headstone.  This is a way for Japanese to reconnect with their roots; a way for them to stay grounded and founded in the ways of tradition and cultural protocol.   

For the foreign tourist, some places will be overcrowded and expensive to reach; for Japanese, this is normal and can't be helped.   Wherever you go there will be lines and h…

Japan Board of Education: Amazing Grace...?

Japan Board of Education Textbook.
Amazing Grace
Shuken Shuppan  Polestar textbook English Communication

Preface:  Japanese / Japan is  one of the leading donors in humanitarian aid around the world.   They have donated billions of yen to charities, developing countries, and startup business to just about every country on the globe.  Some Japanese have even taken matters to the extreme  to the point of poking their noses into hotspot areas like Palestine and Isreal, things the Japanese may want to avoid.  Had Japan shared its borders with an ethnic minority with its own government, the relative peace and calm of this country would be questionable.   No other country can be like nor emulate Japan.   So, where does this spirit of charity and altruism come from exactly?   Why do the Japanese feel they need to save the whole world, while caring very little for its own people?   It's the Board of Education...?  The essay below is one such example of what Japanese kids learn in school,…