[ Home ]

Yumi's Personal Corner


After spending most of my time in Tokyo for the past four months, I was finally given the chance to go outside the capital, north, to Ueda, recently by a really good friend and his family out there.

The Japanese country-side has such striking landscapes. Just on the way there I was surprised to see such rugged, steep cliffs challenging the sky to see who could rise higher; the green grass, the rice fields; just from this seat on the shinkan-sen such a prelude I was priviliged to hear. It was as if I was hearing everything anew, whisked away by some Stravinsky; people with the ears for that seem to be few.

The afternoon was spent around Ueda castle: it's been said that pushing over 40 celsius at that time. That only added some element of beauty to the abundance of schools (elementary, middle, high schools), empty buildings, and lazy residences that we passed on our way to the castle. We did all the traditional shrine-things when we arrived, pitching our five-yen coins in the shrine-box in the hope of accruing five-yen.

That evening there was a small, neighborhood festival; we took the bus to get there and still encumbered by our weekend-trip things entered the festival grounds. In reality, the festival was held in a vacant lot, healthily numbered by a fistful of covered tents serving yakisoba, cotton-candy and drinks to the residents of this neighborhood. From the festival grounds, I could see the mountains which surround Ueda on nearly all sides, dark silhouttes against the pale blue sky, tending orange and then black as the afternoon lapsed to dusk.

All seated around that little table, eating more watermelon than a person should ever consume in one sitting and spitting the seeds here and there, yakisoba is brought and then drinks: some Asahi really plays well with the atmosphere of the whole festival.

All totaled, there are maybe 120 people, so I've heard. They are all people from the surrounding houses except us, people having lived there for innumerable years under steeping rooves and tiled rooves alike are out here, seated in the relaxed fashion at tables on a spread tarp.

Some fireworks, sou-men catching, then concluded by the watermelon-spilitting.

We pleasantly walk back to the house.

I wish to tell the rest of this tale but it will need to wait until the morning; it does not do a young man any good to stay up later than it has become now.