Three Years in…..

Newly planted rice field

How can it be three years since I arrived? Originally I believed that we probably would stay three years or so- I realize now that we will be here as long as we need to be and there is no timeline. Now feeling comfortable with that and am feeling less loss than I had been.  Even though I still miss working in a stimulating environment, I have learned to appreciate lots of time to explore my own interests. As long as I can take a month-long trip back to the US each year…

Yonezawas in Saiki

Kai and Nina’s visit ended so quickly but we got in a good hike, sightseeing, great food, visits with relatives and friends. I’ll see them in Oregon in a couple months, so it was easier to say good-bye this time. It is really a treat to have them both here at the same time and we made a trip over to Nagasaki and also to the town of Imari to see Japanese porcelain.

We went to the Peace Museum and Peace Memorial Hall in Nagasaki. The last time I was in Nagasaki was when my mom and her friend came to visit about 28 years ago. I was pregnant with Kai and we did a road trip around Kyushu. It is surprising how little has changed. However, the Peace Museum has been updated and there is a very powerful Peace Memorial now. It was designed by Akira Kuryu and the main part of the memorial is an underground hall with 12 pillars lit from above, at one end of the hall there is a tall stack of records listing all of the victims names.  A sacred place to honor those who lost their lives and to pray for world peace.

Imari teacups

It was pouring rain during the entire day we were in Nagasaki and to end our visit in that city we went to the Peace Park and got completely soaked. The memorial in Nagasaki is less visited than the one in Hiroshima, but I think it is important to visit both sites. The horror of nuclear war is incomprehensible. Both museums present a strong case for the  elimination of nuclear weapons and an end to all testing.

Looking at the photos of the city after the bombing I was reminded of the current devastation in Tohoku. Nagasaki and Hiroshima are now both thriving cities and hopefully Tohoku will eventually be rebuilt. It is hard to believe that Japan is still committed to nuclear energy after experiencing atomic bombs and now this serious nuclear accident which is still emitting radiation.  I am so tired of the daily reports of cover-ups, misinformation and blaming. The politicians in this country are so pathetic. They tried to pass a no-confidence vote of the Prime Minister last week in the middle of this disaster. How can they be so splintered when the country needs a united government to pull them through this mess? The citizens are reportedly frustrated and angry, but politics continue as usual. For now Kan is still Prime Minister, but a potential successor is already being named.

Three months after the disaster, news coverage is still focused on the recovery and also nuclear power plant- there is so much uncertainty and hopelessness in Fukushima. The contamination is extensive and Japan’s food and water supply is definitely affected. We are somewhat safer down here, but I am definitely reading labels more carefully to check the origin of fish and seaweed.

Aaah, it’s so easy to fall into the worry and anxiety trap. I actually am pretty careful to limit nuclear power crisis information input, because I get so overwhelmed and paralyzed.

Zenzai

Nina and I had a day together in Fukuoka after Kai left. We covered a lot of ground on foot, visiting downtown shrines and exploring side streets. We had a macrobiotic lunch and then went to a old sweets shop for a bowl of zenzai, mochi in sweetened beans.

I am taking a weekly tai chi class and also a stretching class. Both classes use music, but what is funny to me is that both teachers use tape players and we spend a few minutes every class waiting for the tape to rewind, and then partway through class the music abruptly ends and the teacher has to turn the tape over. Why don’t they have CDs or some other music source?

Rainy season, cool days before the heat of summer arrives. I’m on mukade (monster centipede) alert and will start wiping all surfaces daily to prevent the accumulation of mold and mildew. I’ve started our small vegetable garden. I’m giving tomatoes one more chance-some sort of fungus got all of the tomatoes the past two years. Stuck a couple in pots, maybe that will make a difference. Lots of cilantro volunteers that are already bolting. The weeds are intense and the pressure to be out there weeding makes it hard to get into summer relaxation mode.

Nakasu sidestreet in Hakata- boy playing with cardboard box

Spent the day up in Oita today- found a really cool vegetarian sushi cookbook. The author writes a blog In Japanese with lots of really great vegetarian recipes. This is her recipe blog (in Jpn). Ooh, she has a blog in English!

I realize this blog posting is terribly disjointed. I have been trying to figure out how to use this blog more regularly and think I will aim for shorter posts more frequently and work on longer posts over time. We’ll see. Need to make some changes to keep it going.

4 thoughts on “Three Years in…..

  1. Hi Kate, Maybe you are in Oregon as I write. I have been sending your blogposts to my sister who prefers to read a print version and who thinks your photos are great. I thought you would be please to know she keeps all entries in a notebook and plans to re-read them each winter when she finds herself more housebound than she would like. Enjoyed the Kannon Statue at Ryougoji translation so much!

  2. Not yet in Oregon, I’ll be there in late July. Thanks for the compliments- I am working on more translations and will post some later this year.

  3. Kate-just wanted to say how much I like your postings! I agree with the previous poster–excellent photos! You’re a natural writer. Looking forward to checking out the Japanese Vegetarian Kitchen blog!

    • Thanks for checking in. Wish the writing flowed more easily. I guess if I wrote more, it would get easier. Hope yo’re enjoying the fall there.

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