Friday, July 20, 2012

Alpaca With Meaning

We were able to get JR Rail passes--similar to Eurorail Passes.  It allowed us to ride on the shinkansen as much as we wanted.  The shinkansen is a dream.  It travels up to 200 miles per hour.  If we had one in California, I could visit my mother in just a little over an hour, rather than spending the entire day driving.  We went to visit some friends a couple hours northwest of Tokyo in Nagaoka. 
They took us to an amazing onsen in the mountains.  We soaked for hours, then were treated to a meal that was more like an art piece.  Dishes of every shape held different delicacies (six green beans in one dish, three pickles in another, two pieces of fresh fish in a third.)  Halfway through the meal, we were asked to go to the window of the restaurant.  Outside the window was a mountain and halfway up the mountain was a stage.  The owner of the onsen danced "Life is a Dream."  It was a dream.
The following day, we went to see bull-fighting.  Well, not really.  They weren't fighting the day we went.  But it was the place where bullfighting originated (thousands of years ago), back when there was no television, movies, entertainment of any kind. 
In 2004, the county suffered a huge earthquake.  In fact our friend said he was lucky to have been off with his family visiting their summer home. Otherwise they would have been stuck in town where there was no electiricity or water for three weeks. 
During this disaster,  a person in Colorado sent the people of the area some alpacas, as a way of saying, "Stick with it.  Don't give up."  It seemed a kind of out-of-nowhere kind of gift, but has turned into one of real meaning.  Recently, the people of Nagaoka sent the people in Fukushima a couple of Alpaca as a way of telling them to Stick with It.


Tokyo Biker Mommy said...

Great stories your telling! Thanks for sharing. I miss Japan.

Shoko A. said...

I've found that the person in Colorado is a Japanese! I hope these cute animals would ease the people's mind in Fukushima. Did you buy a Noren at the airport?

Jana McBurney-Lin said...

Thanks, Sarah. I'm glad you're enjoying. I miss Japan, too. As I was walking through different areas, I would think, "I could live here."
Thanks Shoko for sharing the info that the Alpaca were donated from Japanese people in Colorado. I did not find Noren at the airport. Actually, there were some. I just didn't really want samurai across my alcoves. I will find them, though. I'm in China now, where it is difficult to post things...but I will try to keep the stories coming.

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