A byte of life from the Land of Sumos and Sushi

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

This morning, as I had no lessons, I decided to take Shiro, the school dog, for a walk around the rice paddies that sit in the plateau surrounded by mountains by my school. As I strolled down a narrow road, I was excited to see that some of the higher peaks have just received their first dusting of snow.

There was a definite bite in the air in contrast to last week which was pleasantly warm. Today I noticed the few remaining dragon flies have been grounded by the dropping temperatures, their wings beating slowly with the last of their dwindling energy supplies.

I can see three ski areas from outside my school, and although it will likely be another 6 weeks before any of them open, to see snow on the runs of Ski Jam is a sight for sore eyes.

As I made my way down the straight road, a small van pulled up and out got an old farmer woman. She asked me several questions, and though I know haven’t studied nearly enough Japanese as I should have, I found I understood her well enough, and a brief conversation about the weather, England, and the dog ensued.

Though I have been known to get annoyed by the locals' stares whilst round and about the town of Ono, they are a very kind and generous bunch. As the old woman bade me farewell and I walked away, I heard her shouting “Sensei, Sensei!”.

I turned to see her beckoning me back. I knew what was coming next. During the harvest season, I have become loaded with farm produce, from big white daikon (a type of large radish) to sweet kakis (persimmons). The problem, is that I receive much more than I can consume, which has lead to a surplus fruit and vegetable hill in my appartment, similar to the wine lakes and butter mountains that exist in the European Union.

But how do you turn down the generous offer of a gift, without offending the giver?
Well, for the first time ever, I managed it today. At least I managed to turn down the offer of daikons and onions; whether she was offended or not, I cannot say.

It’s a credit to the Japanese, that those that I’ve met are so giving to complete strangers, and it’s something that I’m constantly experiencing during my stay here. From free Japanese lessons, to free drinks at a bar. From fishing trips to backcountry snowboarding expeditions, the hospitality I have been shown is remarkable, and Japan stands out as the most welcoming country that I’ve ever had the pleasure of inhabiting.


Blogger Lewis said...

I love the photos Sam! After living here a while it's easy to forget about how beautiful the mountains are, not to mention how generous the locals are.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005 9:50:00 pm


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