Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Illumination Fantasy

I have just been to Nabana-no-Sato, a dreamlike resort located in Mie prefecture, where it is now holding a grand-scale lighting festival. I’d like to show some of the pictures I took there.

This is the observatory called “Island Fuji”, which is raised up to 45m high. It looks like UFO floating in the air.

                                                Passing through a “tunnel of lights

                  There’s another tunnel of rainbow whose arch is jeweled with rainbow colored lights.
                  The stream of lights draws a beautiful curve along with the passage

One of the greatest eye-catchers is here; this year’s theme is “Mt. Fuji and the Sea”.
The image of a vast expanse of sea stretches before our eyes. There’s a gentle swell with lights and shades moving and the sea lapping against the shore where we stand with a sound of waves. Occasionally dolphins jump out of the sea.
Far away at the very end of the sea stands imposing figure of a great mountain modeled on Mt. Fuji whose color changes from blue to red alternatively after an interval in the dark.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

A gift from autumn

I like walking in the mountain. If things permit, I wish I could sit and soak up the atmosphere of forests or mountains alone all day long to my heart content.

This time I went to Odaigahara in the hope of seeing autumn foliage. It is a plateau with Hidegatake(1695m), a highest mountain, and gentle undulations of land(1400~1600m).

Omine mountain ranges (大峰山系) seen from Hidegatake.
It was overcast but partially there was a soft sunlight.

This shows the characteristic sight at Odaigahara. Withered and fallen spruce(トウヒ) ,just like bleached bones here and there. The damaged area seems to have been spreading. Like much of biodiversity under threat, ecosystem of this forest has been deteriorating for half a century because of both natural and man-made disasters. The concerned have tried hard to reproduce and protect nature. Conscious efforts should be made by us visitors to preserve these surroundings, too.

most scenic view point called Big Snake Rock(大蛇嵓): the cliff of 800 m high.
What a shame it was not so clear day to enjoy the autumn foliage from it this time. By the way, when I first visited it many years ago, there were no iron posts with chains rammed at the edge of the rock. Going to the end of the rock and looking down below was quite thrilling but worth trying.

At the bottom of walking course, here is a gorge called Shiokaradani.
Bushes along the stream already shed their leaves.

It was around three and a half hours’ walking. From the road on the way back from the parking lot, gorgeous brocade pleased my eyes as we descended.(picture at the top)

Japanese autumn leaves are said to be special due to its variety of trees. Here as well, diversity is the key.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

To You

Two months and a half have passed since you departed this life. The bon festival is just around the corner. It’s when the souls of the deceased are believed to return to their earthly homes. Are you getting ready to come back to the familiar place your family are waiting for you?  

I first met you when I joined an interest club (table tennis) for parents of school children as a part of PTA program more than 30 years ago. You were a few years senior to me in that club. You were self-reliant and assertive and fun as well. Somehow we hit it off. You took initiative and I was a follower. I once told you that you were so reliable and faithful that you would be sure to come to me whenever I had difficult times. You really did so. I owed a lot to you. Since I moved here, we have seen at least twice a year for each other’s reciprocal birthday dinner.

Two years ago, you took me to your home country, Korea. We stayed in the center of Seoul, where you spent the days of a prestigious women’s university as a progressive and active student. You said it was the place packed with lots of memories of those days. After graduating from it, you married a man of second generation of Korean living in Japan. It was not always a rosy dream for you to live in Japan because of a feeling rooted in some people by irresistible force at a certain period of time in the history, but you were always positive and made lots of friends.

In that trip, you had planned to take a stroll down memory lane around the campus but unfortunately it was extremely cold outside in February. We gave up the plan and instead, enjoyed esthetic salon and got in the restaurant. Korean dishes were so good. Maybe because you selected good restaurants. I was lucky to have such an efficient guide with me.

Last year in July, you called me and said you were diagnosed as an end-stage pancreas cancer. I was speechless. It was unbelievable; you were still so active and eager to play table tennis besides being busy as a certified judge of both domestic and international matches. You said you had felt terribly tired, so you went to see the doctor. That day the doctor told the result straight to you. You were crying and I could do nothing but cry with you on the phone.

You were thoughtful, well- determined and had the good grace to start getting ready for leaving this world. You said you had lived your life to your heart’s content and nothing had left undone so you were quite satisfied with your life but the next moment, you confessed, the thoughts were shuttered down with despair and fear. What I could have done for you? All I could do was to be with you when you needed me.

In the meantime you showed a sign of recovery. We hoped you could get along well with your cancer. This year, however, things turned worse. Last time I visited you at the hospice, it happened to be cherry blossom viewing day. I wheeled your wheelchair and saw cherry blossom together. You said you would never forget it for the rest of your life. You know how happy and how sad I was to hear that. How will I see cherry blossoms next year?

You were getting weaker and spending almost all days lying in bed but thanks to a terminal care you felt no pain at all. It was a great relief. When I emailed you and said I wanted to see you soon after that, you refused my offer. I felt shocked at first but I understood how you felt. Maybe you wanted to be remembered as the way you used to be; healthy and cheerful and active. Instead of going to see you, I sent mails so that your daughter might read them to you.

You seemed to be in lull for a while but the time never failed to come. I burst into tears after hanging up the phone from your husband. I should have well prepared for that moment, still I couldn’t control my feeling. I was afraid I would get into bottomless depression.

The funeral was held only with the people who were closely related. How I was grateful to your family for having me attend the ceremony as a friend. I was able to see and say thanks and good bye to you.

Later, your daughter told me that while you were awake in bed, you often looked at my phone number. She was worried that your refusal might've hurt me but she told me that you murmured, “She understands me well, she knows how I feel”, and she kindly added to me, “You were always in my mother's heart. She really liked you”. Those words made me cry and sank into my heart and healed me a great deal. I was happy and proud to have a friend like you.

What happens to people when they die? It’s a universal question. Where are you now? In the world brimmed with bliss and love and lights? I believe you became “consciousness” and whenever I think of you, I can connect with you.

Have a safe landing on your home and enjoy family reunion for a while, my dear friend.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Flower field at Mt. Ibuki

Mt. Ibuki (1377m) in Shiga Prefecture is listed in the 100 famous Japanese Mountains composed by a mountaineer /author Kyuya Fukuda.(picture from Wikipedia)One of the characteristics of it is its varieties of beautiful wild plants and flowers season by season.They say it has 1000 kinds.
I have been there a couple of times but I haven’t been lucky enough to see the fine view from the top because of the weather and the wrong season for the flowers.

This time my husband and I took a gondola to 3合目(720m), the second easiest way to get to the top. Around 3合目、 I could have enjoyed Yusuge(夕管)all over the field if it had been after three or four in the afternoon because they bloom only during evenings.

We started walking from there. Weather was not so good at the beginning; with a fog or mist hanging in the air shrouding the whole mountain.

But the air current was so changeable and next moment a stream of air from below cleared away all the mists into the sky. Hey presto! beautiful mountain outline appeared. It was just like someone had waved a magic wand!

Then again another mists veiled the whole place and hid everything. I hear that those mists or fogs have given moderate moisture to the plants to grow. On the way to the top of it, we had this repeated “hide and seek” but thanks to the mists, the temperature remained cool and comfortable.

Approaching the top in 2 hours, I was lucky enough to enjoy beautiful field of flowers spreading as far as I could see for the first time. I overheard the explanation some well- versed guide was giving about the wild flowers indigenous to the place like イブキトラノオ イブキトリカブト イブキジャコウソウ; which was really interesting. I understand subtle differences of apparently the same flowers. The shape of flower petals, the shape or number of leaves or the way of leaves coming out make difference.

By the time we were starting back to the gondola station, the weather was stable and became hot. I saw several paragliders flying sky high in the air. I am not an acrophobia but surely it’s not my idea of fun.

Can you see a paraglider flying in the air just like a bird

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Wild plants in season

my garden in spring

Though the weather this spring is uncertain and seemingly has affected vegetable produce, this is the season for picking up a variety of edible wild plants. Some friends of mine made mugwort(ヨモギ)rice cake and gave it to me. I wished I could’ve joined them for that. It tasted so nice.

On top of being tasty, it is known that every herb has its own effect on our body as an alternative medicine. Several years ago, my husband and I took a physical check-up and found both of us had a high blood sugar level, which could lead to diabetes if we didn’t take measures to control it.

That surprised me and made us deal with it seriously. The formula is nothing new; to be careful what we eat, eat less, and moderate exercise. I also learned that some herb, which is commonly found in the field called “カキドオシ" was especially good to reduce blood sugar. We went to pick them up and dried and then simmered them in the water. We drunk it everyday.

A few months later, we went to see a doctor to get a further blood check. We waited for the result in suspense. The doctor, scanning the test result on the paper, asked me with a suspicious look if it was true we had had a high blood sugar level. The herb remedy worked and so did our conscious efforts.

I want to use folk remedy to enhance my well-being, besides walking in the field and feeling the fresh air is a bliss but the trouble is to find the suitable place to pick them up: some places are polluted by the chemicals or car exhaust or dogs’ mess, others are replaced by the buildings. In addition to that, once health problem has gone, I tend to come off guard and indulge in inappropriate foods. I should keep in mind again that nothing is more precious than health.
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