A byte of life from the Land of Sumos and Sushi

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Natural Beauty; beautiful or not?

My J-sister and I take to the lake but have to agree to disagree, Ono, Fukui, Japan.

As the weather warms, the time has once again come to explore the lakes of Ono in my beloved two man kayak. Last week, I took my super cool J-sister, Yuko, up to Manahime Ko, to show her the delights of the Sea Eagle 330.

Despite being an Ono local, she has never made the short 40 minute drive up here, which I find unbelievable considering it’s such a stunning area, but as we paddled through the deep blue waters lined by steep forested mountains, it became apparent that my idea of beauty, and her idea of beauty, were two very different things.

Whilst I proclaimed to area to being very pleasing to the eye, she explained that from a Japanese point of view, it was not considered beautiful. Spooky? Yes. Attractive? No. Her reasons - lack of people and human development – exactly the same reasons that I find it such a lovely area.

This does seem to fit in with the Japanese love for what I deem “man-made nature”, in that it seems an area is only considered beautiful once it has been manipulated and manicured by human hands. Raw, untouched beauty appears to be less appreciated. Only structured, hand planted, man-influenced “beauty spots” seem to make the guide books here.

That would explain why I am the only person that ever goes to this lake. Not that I’m complaining. I still think it’s beautiful, and I get it all to myself, but I do think it’s a shame that a place I consider to be such an amazing spot, is not appreciated at all by the natives.

Paddlin' the waters of Manahime Ko.

Pump, pump, pump it up! - Yuko inflates the Sea Eagle.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Meet the Parents

Ma and Pa light incense, over shadowed by the giant Buddha in the background; Katsuyama, Fukui, Japan.

During the golden week holiday, my ma and pa made the long journey to Japan, to see what all the fuss was about. Spending a week in Fukui, we visited almost every single place of interest around the area, from the massive Buddhas to beaches, temples to teriyaki joints, and paper making villages to paddling the sea eagle round a small island in Obama bay.

They also had the pleasure of meeting Shiro the school dog, though our surprise visit to the school came at a bad time. Due to a heavy electrical storm the previous night, the school’s water supply had been cut off, meaning the school was in a panic, and students were being bussed to the nearest toilet every hour! Never the less, the teachers still rallied to the cause, and presented my ma and pa with gifts and photos of the school.

After a week in the inaka – they headed off for Hiroshima and Kyoto for some culture and history.

Overall – a great trip – thanks for visiting!

Pops stares at a wall of buddhas; Katsuyama Daibutsu temple.

The "students of zen"; Eiheiji temple, Fukui.

Pops gives a lecture to the kids. I know how they feel.

The parents enjoy a sunset stroll on a beach near Mihama, Fukui.

Monday, May 08, 2006

The Fukui Fellowship

Check out the article I wrote for SnowJapan.com. It's an interview with a Japanese Ski and Snowboard posse, and the story of how I came to be in Japan.

Click here to view The Fukui Fellowship.