I got to sleep in a bit this morning, but couldn’t make myself stay in bed past 8:45. The frogs, bugs, and birds here are incredibly loud by that point every morning, it practically sounds like a rainforest right outside my window. That aside it felt good to be lazy a little bit, I took a dip in the Onsen, watched the only episode of Friends I have on my laptop (“The One Where Rosita Dies” – all you Friends fans out there watch it and think of me, it’s a good one), and went down for breakfast. I was picked up by the Ohkawa’s at 10:30 and we went out for a great day in the countryside. We started with a trip to the very unique MOB Museum of Bato. It’s an internationally recognized museum for art by the mentally handicapped. I was amazed by the creativity and intricacy for the art. We had cookies with the artsy museum director. She would have fit in very well at the NAG in Northfield.
After the museum we drove through the region of Bato that is hidden in the mountains and the Ohkawa’s took me to their beautiful traditional Japanese home. The style is distinctly that of Japan and the house even has a middle room devoted to the traditional tea ceremony that this nation holds in such high regard.
After a snack and drink we hopped back into the car and headed to a town north of Nakagawa where we visited an ancient Zen temple call Daioji (大雄時). It was a beautiful complex hidden into the hillside. From the road you would never have known that behind the forest of bamboo and moss covered pines there lay a huge stone and straw hatch temple known throughout the region for its beauty and serenity. Climbing the worn stone steps I passed engravings and sculptures so weathered and aged that one couldn’t help but be at peace. The two pictures on the right are both from Daioji. It suddenly feels strange that we don't have structures this old in our backyards also...
Lunch was spent in a quaint garden restaurant enjoying Onigiri rice balls, Miso soup, and Mochi rice cakes in sweet bean powder. To finish our meal we traveled for 15 minutes past photo opportunity after photo opportunity (If I were driving it would have taken twice as long without a doubt - to give you an idea of the countryside, the picture below was one of many just like it). Eventually we reached a teahouse so hidden in the twists and turns of the countryside that I wouldn’t be able to find my way back there if I needed to. The teahouse had been built 100 years ago as a small rice barn but has since been remodeled and is now known as the picturesque Rosa Mundi.
The owner was a welcoming woman who had studied English all over the world and now runs community programs in the area for Japanese of all ages, including an “after-school school” for those looking to improve their English. She made us her secret type of tea with herbs she had to step outside and pick as we sat there. The tea was served with a fluffy green tea flavored cake that reminded me of angle food cake, a truly delicious pairing, I’ll let you know!
The Ohkawa’s dropped me off at Sasayaso in the late afternoon and Sasaishi-San put in a Japanese DVD with English subtitles for me and we watched “Always,” a film about a down and out author and his strange love affair with a woman who convinces him to look after her friend’s son, while they all live across the street from this car shop where another boy lives with his father and mother who take in a girl from the countryside who thinks her family doesn't love her, but they really do, and it all takes part in post WWII Japan and Tokyo is being rebuilt while these rich people try to take away the writer’s lover’s friend’s son, and my point is that it was confusing (as you can obviously tell) but I really wanted to see how long I could make this one sentence, that’s all…ANYWAY, the evening was nice, now I’m ready for bed once again. Night. PS don't show this paragraph of a sentence to any of my English teachers, they’d be ashamed of me!