5 Years Today

view from the top of Karakunidake
View from the top of Karakunidake

It’s been exactly five years since I came back to join Jiro in Japan. We weren’t sure how long we’d be here and we still don’t know. I am not ready to reinvent myself once more so we will stay for the time being. It still feels like we are treading water, but this has become a second home for us. Sounds trite, but it’s so true: “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.”

one of several caldera lakes
one of several caldera lakes

I just finished the first half of the first semester at the university and it is so much easier this time around. I love having another colleague to share ideas and observations with. I didn’t think I wanted to do this job long term because of the commute and a desire to garden and cook more, but it so satisfying to be engaged and busy.

Jiro has been offered a two-week workshop at Haystack in Maine in August 2014, so we are talking about using that as our starting point for a 6-month trip to Southeast Asia. We have talked about travelling for several years now….it finally feels like a real possibility.

Looking towards Shinmoedake which erupted a couple years ago
Looking towards Shinmoedake which erupted a couple years ago

We haven’t really settled since Ba-chan’s death. We are stil trying to get rid of stuff and reorganize our living spaces. It’s hard when we are both so busy with work. We’re hesitant to spend much money if we aren’t going to be here long, but to really set things up, we need to invest a bit into updating some furniture and appliances. Right now we’re making do, but I think that just adds to the sensation of being in limbo.

I just booked my flights to go back to the US for about a month at the end of August. There will be a one year memorial service for his mom in mid-August and we will celebrate her first Obon around the same time. This year we also have the 7-year memorial service for his father and the 33-year ceremony for his grandfather. These are all significant ceremonies after someone dies….we have decided to do them all together to save money and time.

Hike through the forest
Hike through the forest

In April I took a short trip to Ebino Kogen in southern Miyazaki. Went on beautiful hikes in this volcanic region and stayed at a hot spring resort. The meals were prepared with local vegetables and included about 4 courses. It was a nice getaway before I started back at the university.I haven’t been taking many pictures recently….the novelty of the landscape has faded….it is all so familiar now.

The rainy season started more than a week earlier than usual this year. I am already on mukade (centipede) alert and the cockroaches and spiders are skittering around keeping me jumpy. The air quality is awful, the PM 2.5 measurements have been about 45 μg/m3..the “safe” limit is 35 μg/m3. When it rains the levels drop to about 25, but it is concerning. I am glad we don’t have small kids to keep indoors, I worry about the longterm health effects on children. Lots of people here criticize China for being the source of this pollution, but it is a result of the global industrialization.. Japan and other developed nations have many factories there because of the lax laws and low wages…. and yet Fukushima is still leaking radiation and there is no long term solution for the 300,000 tons of contaminated water.

Bento wrapped in Bamboo shoot sheaf prepared by the hotel
Bento wrapped in Bamboo shoot sheaf prepared by the hotel

Life goes on.

We went to watch a performance of TAO Taiko last weekend. Look at their website to see the costumes! So dynamic and the choreography is amazing. They were pumped to be kicking off this year’s 20th anniversary tour in their base here in Oita.

If you ever have a chance, GO!

Really windy at the top
Really windy at the top

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