Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Westward Ho

Last weekend we took another trek across the island of Honshu to the Sanin coast.

I loved this drive. We went through the mountains, stopping at scenic outlooks and enjoying the quiet, the wind in the trees and the streams wending through valleys and around boulders, and not the sound of a car for 20 or 30 minutes. It's lovely.

Even more wonderfully, it's like going a month back in time when you get up into the mountains: the weather is cool and brisk, and the cherry blossoms are just breaking into bloom and painting the riversides pink and white.


The end of this particular trip took us to Tottori prefecture, to a town called Sakai Minato. My wife's little brother is at the Japanese Self Defense Force Airforce base there, and we went to see his workplace and meet some of his colleagues. He's not got a glamorous job like pilot, he's a supply clerk, but he still plays an important role, and indeed he was deployed recently to help provide humanitarian aid and open supply lines in the Earthquake and Tsunami zones in Northeastern Japan.

 So we're proud of him, and it was a real pleasure to see what he's been doing--and getting to tour a big C-1 cargo plane.

Afterward, we went to a local famous landmark--Mizuki Shigeru Road. Mizuki Shigeru is a rather famous man in Japan, he's a Manga artist who created an enormously popular series, GeGeGe no Kitarou. His art style is interesting, and he's got an amazing knowledge of Japanese monsters, spirits and beasties--Yokai. His stories are populated with them, and his hometown of Minato Sakai eventually decided to honor him by renaming a street after him, and installing statues of his most famous characters all along the street.

The wife is a huge fan of his, so we had to go see--and it was actually a lot of fun.

On the way home, we stopped off to get some locally famous hand-made soba, which was incredibly good, and slowly picked our way back across the mountains to the sunny, noisy Sanyo coast.

It's a great country to live in.

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