Sunday 5 June 2011

Takeshi's visit

My son, Takeshi, who lives in Holland, is here to visit his Mum. He's 34, father of a 5 month old son. At first he'd been talking of the whole family vsiting but I wouldn't let him bring the baby. So he's here on his own. (Apologies and thanks to partner Janna for letting him go. It's lovely to see him.)

For once I had the weekend off. On Saturday we drove to Ura Bandai. We walked the Goshikinuma (Five Colored Pools) from the Kogen Hotel end ending up at the most famous spot, the Rashomen Pond. It was a sunny day, early summer, and extremely beautiful. The sky was blue so the ponds had a clarity I'd never seen before, the leaves and ferns were fresh and new, and the heavy rains of the typhoon on Monday had produced rushing, gurgling, bubbling streams of water. The walk from one end to the other, about an hour and a half, was as always, calming and refreshing. It is a beautiful place.

Then we drove to Aizu city  We stayed at a ryokan in the town, Tagoto (田事). We had a room in the old part (Taisho period, view of the garden) and the food was good. The bathrooms leave someting to be desired but apart from that I can thoroughly recommend it as a place to stay. They were very glad to see us. They have 25 evacuee residents from Okuma-machi (where the power station is) but Takeshi was the first 'foreign' visitor since the earthquake and was presented with a lacquer bowl to commemorate the event!

We visited the castle which has been renovated with new reddish tiles. Inside there's a hands-on exhibition which is good though there are no explanations in English (I offered my services as a translator). A pity as the Boshin War (1868-1869) is a complicated period of Japanese history with people switching sides and the people of Aizu in the end cast as traitors to the Emperor when they started out as staunch supporters.

Then we drove to the coast. Onohama fish market was in ruins although there were fishing boats in the harbour which seemed to be working. Lots of abandoned cars - windscreens smashed and muddy inside - on the roadside. Further up the coast, houses destroyed by the tsunami.

Asked for his impressions, Takeshi said that apart from the obvious damage of the earthquake (bumpy roads and buildings being demolished) life seems to be going on as normal. And he is relieved to see this. He says things seem worse from the outside. Outsiders should not discriminate against and stigmatise Fukushima.

So please visit Ura Bandai and Aizu. Life goes on as normal and we need your support.

Takeshi after his one hour haircut, shave and massage

Takeshi by the 'blue pool', Ura Bandai

Takeshi peering into a shuttlecock fern

Takeshi and me  outsideAizu castle

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