Sunday, November 18, 2007


After a particularly unfortunate night in late October, I woke up without my wallet. I returned to the city of Susono a couple weeks later to check with the police to find if any progress had been made in locating my belongings. Despite the shockingly honest nature of Japan's people, my wallet had not been returned, however a few its contents were scattered underneath a tree and reported to be waiting for me at the local Koban.

When I arrived, there was some confusion in exactly which police box held my account cards. I was mildly disappointed, however I soon became distracted by an interesting discovery. On the walk home, my friend and I discovered this beautiful area tucked away behind a grassy field beneath an old wooden swingset.

The single detail that caught my attention was the striking similarity of the playset to the one that my brother had fallen from when we were kids. That trip to the Alhambra park had eventually led us to the emergency room, where my brother had to get yet another set of stitches in his head, also leaving us to never visit that park again, which wouldn't you guess, was one of my favorites. Due to this connection, I was facinated by that jungle gym, and began to walk toward it.

My friend commented on the Japanese father and son bonding in the parking lot over a set of training wheels. It was right before she commented on how one of her adult-aged students referred to his weekends with his family as "sabisu (service) hours", which troubled her enough to correct him on his English, telling him those words aren't a very nice way of describing weekend family time. I just gave a nod of understanding while shortly pondering on how japanglish really does reflect the interesting phenomena of cultural differences.

Watching the man with his son did make me smile in remembrance of how my father used to put in his service hours at the park. I sometimes forget how my Dad actually did try to make up for his absence. How could I make any complaints when my own memory of riding alone on two wheels was when he let go of my pink banana seat and I tumbled into a bush only to get my first and only bee sting.

Not long after we entered we heard the sound of rushing water. This is what we found.

The wind was wild that day, and because it was becoming autumn, the leaves were flying playfully to their doom. As picturesque and natural as it may seem, it was doom nonetheless. The environment was astounding, and my tuna-mayonaise onigiri tasted quite good despite it being washed down with a convenience store-bought Starbucks latte. I'd probably bet a Jackson that none of my sweetie pies from America have ever indulged in this culinary combination. It may seem most disgusting, however, on that day, on that beautifully leavey and windy was perfect. Perfect.

After finishing my lunch, my friend and I separated. I wanted to explore the waterfall because for some unexplainable reason, I am ridiculously attracted to waterfalls. For some reason, it is the body of water that most excites me. I feel both scared and calm when i come near one. I love the feeling of the mist on my face, the beads that form on my clothes, and the puddles that form beneath my feet. I become respectful of the loud, pulsing noise that strangles my eardrums and starts in on my heart. I like to climb on slimy rocks and breathe the greenish smell of truant moss. Waterfalls are my favorite.

Once I grew bored of being alone, I went off to find my friend. She had taken a photo of me by the waterfall, then vanished into the trees. I climbed up the stoney staircase to find the source of the silencable falls.

Once I caught up to her, I found her taking photos of a strange dirt building. There, about a couple meters away from the pre-fall pond was a dirt-walled shed that stood beside a quiet temple. This shed was surrounded by abandoned, rusted farming equipment that gave the impression that eventually all things are forgotten.

The walls were made of rope and mud insulation. I suppose that the elements have had their way with stucture.

Unlike most things, once we began to look closer, the place grew more interesting and unexplainable. The only two openings to the shed was a sealed door with a small window and this small boarded window, that left but a crack to peer into.

After wiping the dust from the glass, I could see inside. It appeared to be a study that had a small desk in the corner and one of those hot pot inside-the-floor-things that I ate shabu shabu from amongst strangers last Christmas-time in Takayama. A fire is built in a hole in the ground inside the living room, and everybody sits beside it to cook and keep warm. It was difficult to tell how long this room had gone without any visitors. Though it appeared well-swept, with no spiderwebs lurking in the rafters, which, believe me, is unusual due to the overabundance of spiders during the autumn season. The room kept to its mysterious self.

I took photos of the serious statues, stepping my gaijin feet all over the graveyard. I made annoying sounds with my voice in the form of talking to my friend. If the gods grew angry, they might punish me for the many wrongs I have made in this world. My dubious soul is staunch, expecting and incredibly American. Still remaining, and unpunished.

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