Cherry blossom viewing in Kanbara ( Shizuoka )

Thursday, April 21st, 2011

We had Hanami ( Cherry blossom viewing ) in Kanbara on April 10th.

Many events or celebrations have been cancelled because some people feel bad about celebrating happy events after the series of disasters and unresolved problems here in Japan. However I think staying at home depressed doesn’t help. Last year I went to the same place for cherry blossom viewing, Kanbara, which is located between Fuji and Shizuoka. In fact, it became a part of Shizuoka City a few years ago. Kanbara was the 15th station on the Tokaido Highway, counting from Nihonbashi in Edo (now Tokyo ).

 This woodblock print, “ Kanbara yoru no yuki “ or Snow at night in Kanbara made by Hiroshige Ando is very famous. Kanbara is in Shizuoka and it almost never snows and probably did not in the Edo era either, but in his woodblock painting, it has snow. Hiroshige traveled on business to Kyoto from Edo in summer. So this woodblock print is total fiction but it looks very beautiful. I’d like to know why he made this. To cool him down on hot summer  days ?

We visited some old houses in the town, including one that used to be a dental clinic. This house was renovated in 1914 to start the dental clinic.

In the middle of the garden, a pump imported from Germany was equipped for the water used in the clinic on the second floor. In those days in Japan, seeing a dentist must have been a special thing. I mean only relatively affluent people could get dental care. Count Tanaka, who used to live in this area, was one of the patients. He waited for his turn in a VIP waiting room. I heard some Geisha women from Atami visited for dental care. Now we can get to Kanbara from Atami within one hour by train but in those days once they visited Kanbara, they stayed about one month to take care of their teeth staying in the house behind the white-walled kura or warehouses !

 

We visited some old houses in the town, including one that used to be a dental clinic. This house was renovated in 1914 to start the dental clinic.

In the middle of the garden, a pump imported from Germany was equipped for the water used in the clinic on the second floor. In those days in Japan, seeing a dentist must have been a special thing. I mean only relatively affluent people could get dental care. Count Tanaka, who used to live in this area, was one of the patients. He waited for his turn in a VIP waiting room. I heard some Geisha women from Atami visited for dental care. Now we can get to Kanbara from Atami within one hour by train but in those days once they visited Kanbara, they stayed about one month to take care of their teeth staying in the house behind the white-walled kura or warehouses !

 

We spent too much time looking at the old houses. Finally we went to the Hanami site called Gotenyama. At the beginning of April, they usually have Sakura festival but they didn’t hold one this year. When the festival is on, we can buy many different kinds of food and drinks such as Oden, Yakisoba, Yakitori, hot sake and cold beer at a very reasonable price. This year we did B.Y.O.B ( bring your own booze and Bento) And this is my bento.

 

 

 

 

Going to Kyoto after the mega earthquake

Saturday, April 16th, 2011

I went to Kyoto after the big earthquake in Tohoku. Many people cancelled their plans but I didn’t want to do that. I always like to do something different from other people.

 

Although Kyoto is about 600 km away from Fukushima, many people cancelled their trips to Kyoto. I didn’t expect Kyoto would be affected very much by the disaster far to the north but in fact it was.

 

 

 

 

We stayed in Uji City which is located between Kyoto and Nara, being famous for its green tea, and two world heritage sites. One is Byodoin Hououdou and the other is Ujigami Shrine. Last time I visited the place, there were too many people and I couldn’t enjoy myself but this time I could appreciate the essence of Uji.

I went to The tale of Genji museum nearby. We had the boom of Tale of Genji a few years ago. As everyone knows the tale of Genji was written by a writer called Murasakishikibu about 1,000 years ago. Like many students, I was forced to read some part of the story at school. I didn’t enjoy studying it that time. I didn’t understand why this kind of literature is important. However now finally I came to understand.

I guess my mind set was changed greatly after the earthquake. When I saw my hometown destroyed and changed, I was just speechless and that time I realized the feelings of “ Mono no aware” or  fragility or insecurity of life. Nothing lasts forever

I don’t know why but this kind of classic tale seems to heal my mind. Now I understand the importance and roles of literature. I think many people tend to think primarily about the efficiency of work or how to make money fast. But when I am  kind of depressed, I find literature encourages me very much. And taking vacation and visiting somewhere you haven’t been might give you a lot of new ideas.

 

Fushimi Inari is also a great place to visit nearby. I saw a lot of people visiting there.

Even my friend living near Fushimi Inari was surprised to see the crowd. Probably many people feel insecure and are  trying hard to encourage themselves and of course I am one of them. Fushimi is also famous for its good water and sake.

I went to one old Sake brewery in Fushimi. We can taste many kinds of sake at the bar.

Unfortunately, the seat was full. I asked them to send some bottles to my house by Takkyubin. The sake tastes very good. It tastes sharp and dry. It goes well with sushi.

 

 

 

 

 

Japan will recover from the earthquake and will get even better

Friday, April 8th, 2011

 

I feel very sad and sorry for the damage caused by the earthquake on March 11.

Thank you very much for your kind messages and help. I’m very touched.

I live in Shizuoka but my hometown is Minami Soma City in Fukushima.

Minami Soma used be called Haranomachi but because of merging with Odaka town and Kashima town, the new city was made a few years ago.

I even didn’t imagine such disaster might occur in such a peaceful city with nice and relaxed people. A huge tsunami wiped away the area near the ocean but the area where my parents live were saved. The jolt was pretty strong but only a few glasses were broken, the house has no damage. After the earthquake, water supply wasn’t available but soon it came back. Both electricity and gas are being supplied. But the consequent damage to the nuclear power plants is a huge problem for this area. One is situated about 30 kilometers away from my parents’ place. Within 20 kilometers, people were told to evacuate.

 

People in Minami Soma don’t have to leave but have been told to stay inside.

I heard many children and young people left at an early stage but some people stay in the city. My parents are old and they don’t mind staying in the city but the problem is that they can’t get any gas for their car, or food or other daily necessities. Please listen to the message sent by the brave and decisive Mayor Sakurai, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=70ZHQ–cK40

 

Shizuoka experienced some long jolts but things have been all right.

I have my ageing parents and some relatives in Fukushima but they are fine.

I was born in Minami Soma and raised there until 13 when I moved Sendai.

Shizuoka where I live is about 360 km away from Minami Soma but I always

visit my hometown a few times a year. I have my favorite beaches and restaurants up there, but going by the news reports, they probably have probably been destroyed or heavily damaged.

 

My parents and their house are OK but many people lost not only their houses but lives. Since the city is located within 30 Km from the Nuclear power plant some people are worried about radiation and are leave the city.

I understand people are afraid of radiation but it seems too hysterical to me. Now I hear contaminated water is leaking from the troubled power plant.

I really hope they can manage to solve the problem. I hope my favorite rock island in the photo is saved. My parents tried to go that area but they couldn’t go closer since going into that area is prohibited for safety reasons.

I’d like to visit the area and see. I still can’t believe such terrible things happened. I feel like suffering from a long nightmare.

 

The photos are taken in Soma city in2010. I used to go to the place to relax and enjoy seafood.

I hope to visit this place again.