Thursday, November 18, 2010

A Long Awaited Thing

Well, I've certainly let enough time go by before setting my mind to another entry into my Japan Memoirs. I feel like the people who read this blog, those who know me, know my situation, had the interest, and took the time to track down this blog have the right to know why I've been reluctant to write for so long. The truth is, over the last month or so, I've been having a terrible time. With Sakie's help I've identified the problem, but my relief is out of reach for now. What is the problem? Well, you'll be happy to hear it has next to nothing to do with Japan or the Japanese, but everything to do with being a young adult in a dormitory set aside for the young, awkward, away from home for the first time, freshman of AIU. Living here has caused me to realize the kind of stress a student who is pursuing his goal feverishly can experience when living surrounded by those who just want to have a good time.

So, as a matter of unfinished business, I want to make a statement:
To Mike Rondhuis, my former OSU roommate,
I'm sorry for what I put you through. I hope some day I can make it up to you, all the nights my friends and I kept you up, or teased you about being stuffy. You deserve a sainthood for not smothering me in my sleep for the year and 2 months we lived in that West Hall dorm room.

Well, Shall I start where I left off last time? It seems so long ago now, back before the weather became colder, the wind became stronger, and the rain began to fall. I hope my memory will serve me long enough to complete my story.

From Study Abroad: AIU


Our time or rest and relaxation at Tazawako had come to an end. We had originally planned to then go strait back to Akita City and get back to our daily grind. We had not planned to pick up the spirit of adventure somewhere along the way however, and when the spirit of adventure grabs hold, I'd rather not shake it loose. Sakie suggested we make a pit-stop on our way back to Akita City; the stop in between Tazawako and Akita: Kakunodatte.

From Study Abroad: AIU


Kakunodatte is famous in the Tohoku region for being a "Samurai Village". While there were few Samurai who lived here all year long, it was a place where they stored their "Koku", or the product of the land they were given as payment for their services to their Daimyo. A samurai's place in the pecking order was heavily influenced by their "Koku". Now you can better understand the size of the doors they put on their store-houses:

From Study Abroad: AIU


The main draw of tourists to Kakunodatte is not, of course, the plain, white-washed store-houses of Tohoku Samurai. It is the way that Kakunodatte has changed, or more accurately, how it hasn't changed, that draws people in.

From Study Abroad: AIU


The houses in Kakunodatte are preserved, or rebuilt, the way they were hundreds of years ago when they were first built. It brought to mind the trip my family took many years ago to Colonial Williamsburg, in Virginia, where a small town shared a similar theme. Unfortunately, unlike that small village in Virginia, Kakunodatte is a recreation in architecture only. Upon closer inspection, the people occupying most of the houses are clothed by the GAP or Levi, and many of the buildings that once held tons of rice and grain now hold souvenir shops or restaurants. A few however do house museums, a nice glance back at the way things once were before the Meiji restoration crept it's way North into Tohoku.

From Study Abroad: AIU

From Study Abroad: AIU


When walking through the garden of one of these old properties, one could easily forget that there is a bustling world on the other side of the tall fence. Well, unless you 6'4", in which case you can actually see what is on the other side of the tall fences without much effort.

From Study Abroad: AIU

From Study Abroad: AIU


On one of the boards located in the largest garden Sakie and I came across, it stated that a handful of the flora located in the gardens at Kakunodatte is one of a kind, not found anywhere else in the world.

From Study Abroad: AIU

From Study Abroad: AIU


Kakunodatte is famous for one more thing, and it is something that the Japanese hold head and shoulders above Kakunodatte's historical value: it is home to a 1km unbroken stretch of hanging cherry blossom trees. This stretch of trees has made an appearance in more movies world-wide then most directors would care to admit, and is considered among many as the pride and joy of the Tohoku region. Ladies and Gentleman, I present to you:

From Study Abroad: AIU


Absolutely nothing! The blossoms on cherry blossom trees (called Sakura) only bloom for a couple of weeks every spring. Sakie and I came to Kakunodatte a few weeks late. By that time the blossoms had bloomed, fallen from the trees, had been vacuumed up, and sold off to be put into scented soaps, craft papers, and made into an ice cream flavor. Oh well, we still had a chance to take a nice 1km walk along a river in the shade of some trees. When we were came to the end of the shady tunnel, we knew it was time to be getting back. We had enjoyed our fill of local cuisine, seen all that the place had to offer, ran from giant spiders (seriously, the size of a baseball!) and taken in enough sun to last us through the winter. We hopped back on the bullet train headed for Akita Station and promptly fell asleep.

1 comment:

  1. Abe,
    Love this entry, love your honesty!
    Honey, your awareness of the difficulties you are facing will carry you through this challenging time. I love that you made the connection to what you are going through now with dorm life/school and had the courage and maturity to make amends to your old roommate at OSU...I am sure he appreciates it too! Perhaps being honest with those around you, letting them know you are in a different place then they are and need to get sh.. done would help! It may be worth a try. It is a real eye opener though isn't it? You will persevere, it is just one of the many hurdles in life that you will face, Thank God you are 6'4", that should help somewhat! HA!

    Abe, what wonderful memories you are creating in your life, what you done thus far is so rich and full of adventure already, hold on to that and cherish it! You are only turning 24! This is amazing stuff!

    I love you very much and can hardly wait to see you again! Did I tell you how proud I am of you? Love, One of your biggest fans! Auntie M!

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