Azumino: A hike, many friends, and 2 Buddhist monks.

The Japanese Alps and Azumino.

Hello again,

It is Saturday March 30th and it is my last full day in Azumino. I really like it here. I have made many friends who I will miss very much (Hiroshi, Kinu-San, Miyako-San, Tomoe-San, Muki-San, Erica, and many more). But, I’m on an adventure. I am here to see the world, which means I must depart to find other great places and meet other equally wonderful people.

I’ll mention some highlights of my week and then I must go to the cafe and work my last shift.

As I said before, I made a friend named Miyako-San. She was kind enough to bring me hiking with her and her husband. We were fortunate and had amazing weather. When we reached the top of our hike, I could see the Japanese Alps and then some! It was crystal clear and the perfect temperature. Miyako-San outdid herself and made a feast for our lunch. I ate like a queen on the trail, it was glorious! The best part though? Well, they are fond of nature and the organic lifestyle, so they know a lot about the local plant life. While hiking we would stop and they would take me off trail to look at little wild flowers and they’d cut off a tree twig and have me smell it. They knew all the names of the plants and I tried my best to remember, but Japanese is hard! Gyocombi (maybe?) was a tree with Dr. Seuss yellow flowers that smelled divine, but not as divine as its inner tree bark. They also know a lot of birds, so we bird watched while going back down. It reminded me of my bird watching days with Josiah (le sigh).

They also brought me to an overwintering river/pond for swans. They spend their winters in Japan and then fly back to Siberia in the Spring. Many had flown North, but there were still a couple hundred left. They were very beautiful and so graceful in the air! The rest of the day went well. Had tea time, went to an onsen, and ate a delicious dinner. Miyako-San was so gracious and her husband was very kind. I am thankful to have met such wonderful people. I hope to repay them someday.The swans. Maybe I’ll see them when I go to Russia?

Kinu-San is my host Mom. I have spent many nights and days with her laughing. She is a very sweet person. She invited me to her house/studio and told me she needed my help with something. I entered her house and found myself in a different world. She is a clock artist, so her whole house is full of clocks. I walked through her hallway to the sound of ticking. I felt like I was in Alice in Wonderland (I’m late, I’m late! I must not let the Queen wait!). Even with all the ticking, her studio was adorable. She had a lot of artwork on the walls and her work area was filled with pieces of carved wood and stone. I was curious what she would need help with, since her house looked completely fine, but there was one thing missing. A sliding door for her doorway. It was on the floor and she had paper all around it. She showed me that each of her doors are decorated by people she cares about, so each time she opens it, she can remember her friends fondly. I was touched.
So, that was how I spent my afternoon. Pasting and drawing onto her sliding door. It was a fun day, full of laughter. Again, I am very lucky to have met such great people.

My last highlight was a night out with my good friend Tomoe-San and a German named Matthias. We went to a bar and drank beer. We shared stories and asked questions about our cultures. I was very interested to hear what the Japanese think of Germans and vice versa. We were there till closing enjoying the night and each others company. It was very nice to spend some time with people my age. I will miss Tomoe-San. I think we would’ve been best friends if we grew up in the same town. I will hopefully see Matthias again in Germany!

My next destination, you ask? Well, it’s Nagoya. But why Nagoya? Well, Kinu-San invited me to a dinner with her friends. Two ended up being Buddhist monks and the other two were a local artist and an organic farmer. The 2 monks had just returned from India, so we ate dinner, drank saki, and listened to their stories. I learned Charlie-San is a world renowned Indian Harpist. He was invited to play at the Yoga 2013 convention in India, which is why they were there. They also spent the other 2 months traveling from one temple to the next temple to pray and meditate.

20130330-175038.jpg It was Tami-San’s birthday!

Charlie-San and Tami-San grew very fond of me. I told them I was Atheist, but that I do like to learn about other religions. They were delighted to hear and invited me to join them to Nagoya for a Buddhist cherry blossom ceremony. Charlie-San will be performing and Tami-San will help lead prayers and meditation. I was overjoyed and decided to join them! I’ll be living in the temple with the other Buddhist monks and I think I’ll be doing a lot of meditation too.

Well, that’s about it. I’ll be leaving tomorrow morning with Charlie-San and Tami-San. Then I’ll be off to Kyoto and then to Kyushu to WOOF some more. How exciting.

Much love,

-Molly

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