Out in the boonies….

After about two weeks of living here came the inevitable “there’s nothing to do here” phase.  After a several trips to the mall, school excursions into the prefecture, and a few train rides to Akita City, people started feeling bored.  People spent a lot of time hanging, and there was a party almsot every weekend, just because we didn’t know what else to do.  I felt the boredom too, but I was able to hold it off a little longer by taking walks and exploring the immediate area.

One of the things to know about this school (warning to anyone who wants to come here): when they say it’s surrounded by rice fields, they aren’t kidding.  Actually, even the rice fields are a little way off because of all the trees and hills in the way.  It’s very beautiful country here, but any kid who shows up expecting Tokyo is in for a shock.

I really love looking at all the trees around–everything has been so green.  Beside the school is a little wooded area with paths cut through it.  It’s a nice spot to walk under the canopy cover and see life getting on.  It’s near to a road, but the folliage blocks all the sound, so even though it’s small it feels very private and cozy.  On one walk-through with Titus we even spotted a deer there.  It let us get pretty close before running off into the underbrush.  The only unpleasant part about this little hideaway are the spider webs.  There are lots of medium-sized black and yellow spiders in this part of Japan, and unfortunately, their favorite place to string a web is right across a path.  I’ve been known to crawl more than once to avoid them.

In another attempt to stave off boredom, I followed one of the local roads down a hill to see what I could see.  The road was lined with trees, but also with spaces that people had cultivated for food.  There isn’t any rice nearby because it requires flat land, and my campus is uphill, but lots of little hilltops and valleys had been converted into vegetable gardens for small crops.  I also stumbled across a natural spring that a previous student had told me about.  People drove up with their cars and empty containers to collect the fresh water.

Just a little further down the road, I came across the best view I’ve found so far.  Because this area is so full of hills, many of the bridges don’t cross rivers or rail tracks, but valleys.  I started walking across one of these, and the view took my breath away.  To my left there were golden rice fields and a few houses settled in the bottom of valley.  On my left, there was a grand view of trees, with a space opened up between them where a little river flowed.

Even though sometimes, especially after recent travels, I wish I lived in a city or some where more exciting, I’m really glad to be living some where so beautiful, where I can breathe real air and see sunlight.

Oh, and did I mention the bears….?

Japanese word of the day:  kuma / くま   (koo-ma)  bear


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