Thursday, October 8, 2009

Thursday, October 8, 2009-

The first typhoon to make Japanese landfall in two years finally hit today!

The incredibly powerful storm, which has killed two people already, is still making its way North tonight and won’t be completely gone until tomorrow. However where I am living in central Honshu (the main island) the typhoon had moved on before lunchtime. The crazy thing about a typhoon this size is that although it is astonishingly intense (so dangerous I woke up to find school canceled today!), as soon as it passes the change in pressure leaves only blue skies and a gentle breeze. By about noon it had finished raining here and the world that is Nakagawa stepped out onto their front step to inspect the damage for the storm had certainly left behind missing shingles, downed branches, and what looked like a crime scene of massacred Skittles surrounding each home’s garden bed.

As the sun began to shine and the skies cleared we watched as the gigantic thunderheads and swirling angry blue clouds of the typhoon made their way North and over the mountains toward the Pacific. I do have to hand it to the Japanese though, they’ve built their homes to withstand nearly anything: Earthquake, Flood, Typhoon, you name it.

I was happy to learn that my two “host-nieces” (Riho - left, st grade; Saki - right, 6th grade) were coming over for the day because just like me their school had been canceled. Once they’d arrived, Papa Sato, the two girls and I loaded into the van to drive up the mountain once more to visit the keeper of the Owl Shrine I wrote about only last weekend. It was the girls’ first time to the site and I felt kind of odd being the one pointing out statues and showing them around. They were absolutely in love with the gigantic golden owl. We ended up spending the rest of the time playing with a Praying Mantis making its way across the path. If you look close you can see it on the handrail that Saki is looking at. And that is Riho imitating it. Did I mention she was cute??

On the way back from the shrine Dr. Sato drove us past the place where he grew up about 15 minutes south of Nakagawa. It’s up in the mountains and he said he had to bike 12 kilometers both ways to get to school each day because there were no buses. I now feel bad for thinking I had to bike far… Anyway he took us to his hometown of Karasuyama. It has a population of about 26,000 people and is also along the Nakagawa River.

He drove us to a local Ayu bamboo trap/dam that had been built there. You can just see it in the distance on the photo to the right. As you can tell, the river proved to be absolutely surging today following the high rains (apparently some places in the mountains got over a foot of rainfall or 300+ millimeters!!!). The current was hurtling debris downstream so fast that just to keep the trap cleared it was taking a full crew of men and a happy, barking, and soaking wet Irish Setter. I realized how much I’ve missed my pups back home. It’s odd not having any pets in the house.

I spent the afternoon trying to download piano sheet music online only to find it WAY over my head. But I think we’re having sushi for dinner again tonight, so I’m happy. Yet another slow and empty night…but below are some more pictures of the day:

The incredible view from the top of the mountain. This is a view Southeast to the mountains of Ibaraki-ken
Prayer and offering tied tightly around this tree's branches seem to have made it through the storm
Ri-Chan (chan=little girl) shakes the cord of a temple bell
The infamous Praying Mantis AND Golden Owl, what a formidable duo!
At work on the Ayu trap. It did not look to be an easy job
Just look at how happy that dog is!

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