Hachinohe Jomon Museum

 The Jomon Period was Japan’s Neolithic period from 10,500 BCE to 300 BCE and is famous for the lacquered, flame rimmed pottery. The destinctive rope pattering decorations gave this period it’s name.

The Hachinohe exhibit features the national treasure, Gassyo Dogu, a clay figurine that was made with hands clasped in a seated position. I was unable to take a picture of it but I did find a clear version on the Internet (credit goes to museum website). More than prayer, the little guy looks like the Japanese version of the thinker. I can imagine that whoever it had been based on, they probably liked to sit on some grassy hill to think. 

The best part of the exhibit, in my opinion, isn’t just the sheer variety objects on display. It’s also the interactive portion, seeing the Jomon world come to life in screen and getting to touch replicas of the objects – admittedly it’s more for children than for adults but I believe adults are just bigger versions of kids. We all yearn to discover the world through the curiosity of a child, the ability to follow through with action however has been stamped out by high school. 

The process by which the pots, beads, and dogu are made are all in Japanese with little furigana. Come prepared with apps that allow you to trace kanji in order to look up their meaning or with a fair amount of knowledge of archaeological terms in Japanese. 

The next best part of this amazing exhibit? The price. It’s only ¥250. Cheapest date night/educational excursion ever.

   

   

Shingomura 

The place where Jesus and his brother died, according to local popular legend, is Shingo Village.

Or as a Jewish friend of mine once put it: “I’m not religious so I don’t know.”

Ebisuya Ramen features Christ Ramen as a specialty on their menu. I love the slightly tangy taste of umeboshi flavored soup and the fried nagaimo topping. According to Kouchan, however, it tasted like soap.

I am well aware that my taste buds are off. No one else seems to think rice has its own unique flavor, but if I had to compare it to something, steamed rice tastes like a chord in A flat.

Cheers.

Reunited…

…and it feels so good! University days aside, Kouchan and I have had three years of texting, Skyping, and planned road trips (that were never executed). And then she did the amazing: she air-tripped it to Aomori to see Michele and me. I’m so glad that through the good times, the bad times, and in-between times we can pick up exactly where we left off.

And it wouldn’t be a true Aomori experience without a trip down to Towada Lake. In the middle of a hail storm. Good times!

Yuki Akari: Snow Light Festival in Otaru, Hokkaido

Many travel to Hokkaido in February for the sole purpose of visiting Sapporo during Yuki Matsuri season. The grandiose ice sculptures of famous film scenes and historic buildings are phenomenal. It’s not an exaggeration to say that they are quite literally known world-wide.

Otaru. It’s a seaside city about half an hour’s train ride north of Sapporo and known for its thriving music box and Venetian-style glass works industry. It’s well-known if not widely known, but once a year, running at the same time as Sapporo’s Yuki Matsuri, Otaru comes alive with a beautiful celebration of the four seasons, of light, and of snow.

Walking through snow mazes barely wide enough to admit two, the white paths are lit only by the muted glow of candles burning inside holders made of flowers and maple leaves frozen in ice. They hang from trees like stars or glow in the hollows of carved alcoves within the snow maze’s walls. Everywhere the brightness of light shines as a reminder that the same cycles of birth, life, death, and rebirth will soon be mirrored yet again in the four seasons.

The music box crafting and the Venetian glass exhibits were all pleasant ways to spend a day about the city while waiting for nightfall. But… spend a single night in Otaru and you’ll have wished you had taken your entire Yuki Matsuri experience and traded it in for more time in the Snow Light Festival. By a stroke of pure accident, Siri was unable to direct me to the main Snow Light show by the Otaru Unga (Otaru Canal). Instead I found myself meandering along snowlit mazes, descending giant snow slides (twice), and really feeling the spirit of the festival with the locals. The whole experience felt as surreal as accidentally stumbling upon a the land of spirits, imps, and demons. It’s a very fantastical atmosphere, one that I would take a whole week to experience if given the chance again.

Yuki Matsuri Predeparture

TO DO
1. Laundry
2. Wash dishes
3. Pay bills
4. Take out money for a couple days of adventuring
5. Shut off water
6. Submit D&D character bio to GM
7. Pack clothes
8. Charge all electronic devices
9. Passport!
10. Coffee

Too much to do and not enough time but half the fun is in the undertaking! Just one more day and three more classes. Then I’m off for another adventure in Sapporo. What is this life?! Never in a million years did I see myself doing something like this on a regular basis. If it’s a dream, no one wake me. If I’m in the matrix, leave me behind and don’t come back for me.

Still, it’s been a rather stressful two weeks. A minor car accident on an icy road just last week, a snow writing challenge that needs to be finished before D&D eats up my every other weekend, D&D bio that had to be written and submitted ages ago, phonics lesson plans and prepping, and potentially snowboarding trip over Valentine’s Day weekend.

And somewhere between all that I forgot about ballet and kendo. Whoops… T.T The fault, however, lies not in my stars but in myself for being an underling.