Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Return to Business as Usual

Never thought I would be so excited to see Japan fall from the headlines and demonic scrutinizes of the international media. The triple-header tragedy of the quake, tsunami, and power plant melt down (these rumors were more exaggerated than anything I could ever have dreamed of) really put Japan in a bad emotional hole. To have so many things happen in such a short time put many people on edge, but what made that edge infinitely scarier was the flood of highly overly sensationalized news which read (from the point of view of this person living in Japan looking out) like the reporters were writing for ratings rather than to report honestly. HOWEVER, tragedy and sorry have flared elsewhere and the world has turned it’s eyes to other, fresher smelling, disasters in need of publication. The relief effort continues in the north. It greaves me to say that today they officially found the first American English teacher to perish in the tsunami. She was here with her family from Virginia (specifically Richmond I believe). My heart goes out to all those who have suffered losses.

Yesterday was a national holiday, and my friends Michelle and Kavita took the long weekend to really buckle down and get some ground covered on our 88-temple hike. Due to bad weather (and the fact that Michelle is a 5th year jet leaving in 4 months, I can’t tell you how that saddens me!) we decided to drive various portions of the trek this time. Driving the longest parts gave us a very different experience of the temples. For one, it allowed me to take more time to photograph all the various nooks and crannies of the various sacred spaces we found. It was a wonderful trip filled with beautiful temple grounds, quite wild life preserves, and crowds of bus tour Buddhists praying for the victims of the recent disaster. We went to a total of 11 temples this weekend, and finished Tokushima Prefecture and are now well into Kochi. Kochi is the longest stretch of hiking with the fewest temples. I am really looking forward to it! Most of the hikes in Kochi are along the coast (and oh what a beautiful coast it is!)

The mood of Sakemura sensei (the man mentioned in my last post) has improved steadily as the power plant in Fukoshima begins to look more and more under reasonable control. Thursday of last week he surprised me by asking me to take a half-day and spend the afternoon with him in a professional potter’s studio who lives just a 50 minute walk or so from my apartment in a very scenic bay used to cultivate oysters. This potter has been in Kochi for 30 years, and was a professor of ceramics at the Tokyo institute for fine arts and crafts (it has a full Japanese name, that I am sorry to say I don’t remember, and the interweb lists three potentials.) His house, his work, his studio, and everything about that afternoon was just magical! After the tour we sat in his studio and sipped green tea while talking (all be it brokenly) about the difference between creating traditional forms and just doing open sculptural work. He told me he felt so connected to Japan’s tradition in ceramics that he had a very difficult time deviating from traditional functional forms. It was a wonderful talk. His wife speaks very good English, and is just a charmer. They then took us into their home for coffee, and many questions about America and how I was liking Japan. They also enjoyed telling me stories about their two gay cats. The day ended with her giving me recipes (I told her of my interest in cooking) for traditional Japanese pickled radish greens) and he even gifted me a bowl of his (which is ridiculously exquisite. I hope to make it back to their home to watch him work one day. Two weeks of no students to go. . . . in my battle for sanity I am still winning.

My love to all of you, and my thanks to any who worried over me (please do not mistake my scolding of the international media as anger with you all for caring for my safety). Be assured that I am safe, and very well. Things continue to move ever forward, and tomorrow the sun will still rise. Be kind!
More to come.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for the update Andrew. So fascinating to read about another culture and the photos are beautiful. We are so hoping that Japan is able to get their reactor situation under control and are so concerned for the workers who are being exposed to deadly radiation.