Monday, October 22, 2007


It's interesting how the faster the time flies, the slower my blog posts get. Either some sort of arcane inverse temporality is at play here, or maybe it's simply all to easy to let the blog slide when other things demand your attention. I could have sworn it was just a week ago that I last posted, but my calendar informs me that it was two weeks.

If I was pressed to summarize those last two weeks, I would be in great danger, as they have blended together more than any others. Mostly, this is because I taught almost no classes. The second week of October was Fall break for my Junior High Students, and my 10th Graders were on their trip to Canada. (Their first day back at school was today and they were definitely more excited and genki then normal!) I spent the majority of my time during the week literally passing the time, both at work and at home. I listened to good new music, read, basically did anything but something productive. I spent the weekends partying, first in Obihiro, and last weekend in Tomakomai for the HAJET Fall meeting.

But forget all that, that's not what I want to talk about today. Twice in the past week I have been awestruck, (and I mean that word in it's original, literal connotation,) by the astonishing beauty of the land in which I live. It's not that it looks "oriental" or "japanese" or any one thing in particular.

Somehow, nature just comes together to consistently create jawdropping vistas; infinitely fractal clouds suffused with inner light, cascading verdant greenery which spills over ravines and gullies into crystalline mountain lakes, mountains which march off into the foggy distance-not terrifying in their soaring heights like the rockies-but inviting, with the promise of a thousand different intricacies. With the coming of autumn, the cold air has set in motion many changes. The skies, which were before hazy with summer humidity, are now clear, and for the first time last Thursday, as I was driving to judge an English Contest along a ridgeline farm road, I clearly caught sight of the Daisetzuan's for the first time, their peaks capped with the season's first snow. I had to stop and just stare for a minute, wishing I had had the foresight to bring my camera with me. (It now has a new home in my trunk, rather than in my house.) Now that the tree's have exploded in riotous colour, now that the harvest is being reaped in, now that the countryside is literally changing before my eyes, it is clear to see. Fall in Hokkaido is indescribably beautiful.

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As I drove home from Tomakomai yesterday I was once again struck by the beauty of the nature around me. The wind was blowing hard, and most of the trees where at their absolute peak of colour. I was driving Trina home as well, but she was sleeping, so I couldn't resist pulling out my cellphone and snapping off a few shots. They by no means do the landscape justice, but after looking at them, I almost like their hazy, grainy quality. It's not too far from a Lomo in fact, which I guess is high praise. The luminous and indistinct nature of the cellphone camera gives the shots an almost dreamlike quality, which is certainly how I felt yesterday.

These first 4 shots were taken as I drove through the Hidaka mountain range, which forms the Southeastern spine of Hokkaido. (The first "Pictures" placemark on the map.) This is the same road I take to Sapporo, and is a gorgeous drive, with bridge after bridge soaring over giant, forested ravines. As we made our over the mountain range and into the Tokachi farm plain the views were simply spectacular. The wind had already ripped all the leaves of the trees here, but that just gave a different perspective on things.

I had to drive Trina to Ikeda, ("Pictures" placemark #2) which was out of the way on the other side of Obihiro. To pay myself back, and as a bit of a treatment for all the weekend partying I went to Tokachigawa Onsen, a town full of spas and hot springs. (Onsen is Japanese for Hot Spring.) I stayed for two hours at the Daiichi Hotel, supposedly the nicest Onsen in the town, and lounged in all the various pools.

After stripping down (all onsens are naked) and washing up (which you must do before entering) I sat first in the indoor pools, then the rotemburo, then the sauna, and finally the pool pictured in the middle image at the link above. It was gorgeous, as the sun was just setting to my right, lighting the wispy clouds up with pink light as the river flowed in front of me and traffic trundled over the bridge. Of course, it would have been a little obvious if I took a cameraphone in. ;)

As I drove back, ("Pictures" Placemark #3) quite warm and soft, (apparently, Tokachigawa is a rare "peat spring" which is good for the skin,) but also quite sleepy, I took a few more pics. A storm had been rolling in for the last few hours, leading to some great sky shots.

Today I have finally started teaching again and it feels great. I saw my 10th Graders for the first time in two weeks, and on Wednesday I get to see my 7th graders for the first time in 2 weeks as well. I don't have much planned for this week, but this weekend is absolutely jam-packed. Apparently, only one weekend is worth planning events on, as literally everyone has planned activities. I have a High School enkai on Friday, which I may not be able to attend, a Musical Rehearsal in Atsuma (4 hrs away) all day Saturday, the Pure Malt Party back home in Shikaoi on Saturday night, and pumpkin carving on Sunday, so I am trying to rest up now. Happy Driving!

P.S. I haven't done any video in too long, but I've got a number of mini-episodes in the pipeline that I hope to be premiering soon! If you want to see party pics from the weekend, just take a look on Facebook! (I didn't smile in that last pic because I was trying to concentrate on taking a picture of myself with a cellphone while driving on the wrong side of the road, and I missed my face at least 4 or 5 times!)

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