Part 3: The Three Parables: the Silver Lining

On the bright side… Although the interpersonal relationships are terrible at this tiny school, the education given to the children is top-notch, and the children brim with wonderful energy. They are very well cared for— they eat very well (all local organic ingredients, often shipped from different prefectures or from abroad) and their needs are immediately met….

The Three Parables: the Chicken, the Architect, and the Dog

Reflecting on Early Fall in Saitama Adjusting to Japanese cultural norms and expectations has been extremely difficult. I want to simultaneously respect my own individuality and rebelliousness and still respect the culture. Perhaps that is partially why I have had a hard time with my current work situation. About the Japanese workplace… In Japan, being overly…

Four Seasons in Japan: tiny things live and tiny things diess

Let me introduce you to the birds, the bugs, and the bees. I am surrounded by curious children. If they see anything small and alive: lizards, grasshoppers, tiny frogs, singing cicadas, fuzzy caterpillars, irritated chickens, then they feel like they need to catch them immediately. These small creatures are enormously attractive to children, but their relatively short lifespan…

exhibition nowhere

Walking home at night I can hear the warning ding of the railway crossing, hear the clack-clack as the train rolls past, and when I look up, I see the stars. — In the distance low rows of negi stretch into the horizon. When I close my close I feel the wind and hear the…

On Jinja

Filled with an aura of the sacred, Shinto shrines act as resting places and spiritual homes for the local gods (kami). Shrines need not be buildings, but can manifest in stones, trees, or mountains. There are more than 100,000 Shinto Shrines in Japan, and nearly every neighbourhood has their one; community members will often go to…

Toppled Houses and Typhoons

Just 20 minutes away, the dregs of a typhoon dubbed Tropical Storm Etau from Korea brought extreme wind and rain to eastern Japan. The Japanese government advised nearly 3 million people to evacuate. Landslides dragged cars off the roadside and split highways, while flooding forced townspeople to seek refuge on rooftops. Houses floated away, toppled over…

Kamikawa: haven for love hotels and strict rules

There seems to be a strange dichotomy between the outrageous and the restrained here in Kamikawa. For example, while this tiny town in the countryside is famous for a long strip full of themed love hotels, it also extremely conservative. While folks are taking an hour long “rest” inside, outside, on the street, women cannot…

Vista

I found a piece of New York in rural Japan. The mountains and hills stand guard over the prosperous fields of Kamikawa. I asked Alyssia: “Why is the little dosojin wearing a bib?” Apparently the locals dressed these crossroad deities with clothes to pay their respects. In return, the statues protect the village from evil influences. There is…

like a summer flower

blue dragonflies shimmer and coast above the rice paddies, the cicadas weep, the farmers flaunt their wares (pears) beside the busy highway, the car bumps and rolls under rain, over potholes in the small street beside the cemetery. the chestnuts drop heavily onto the cement in the backyard and inside, the children sing in faltering English. ___…

ouch!

Woke up this morning burning all over, with my left eye swollen half closed and my legs on fire. Who knew mosquitos could be so irritatingly effective at having me stumble around like a pile of marshmallows on stilts in the early morning, in this gorgeous hand-built wooden country house in Saitama. Or the itchy…

Farewell Odd America, Hello Japanese Countryside

Welcome to my life for the next 4+ months. Kaori dialing in here: I’m leaving in a week to fly to Tokyo, where I’ll take a long train ride by shinkansen (新幹線, a train line) to a little village named after the gods in Saitama prefecture. I’ll live and work at an English Immersion language preschool called Sunnyside…