It has been over a week since I wrote my last entry. Today is sunny, but it rained quite a bit the past few days. Whenever I ask anybody around here whether Japan’s “tsuyu” rainy season has come yet, they always say “hmm… not quite yet, … maybe in another week or so.”
Now I am interuppted by musical chimes coming from the megaphone towers spread throughout the mountains. There are chimes at noon, 5 PM, and 7 PM everyday, kind of like a dinner bell. It’s probably also meant to test the tsunami disaster alert system as well. The sound echoes through the valleys that my house overlooks.
I am getting accustomed to the lifestyle of people here, and did some fun things too. Last weekend I helped some elderly locals sort vintage junk at their community center. They all made a day of it, complete with refreshments, gossip, and the Tohoku regional dialect. I have been riding the local buses and hitching rides alongside fisherman in their tiny trucks. Some schoolchildren now recognize me in the afternoons on the way back. For me, getting outside our compound and experiencing everyday life and getting to talk to people in Japanese is satisfying. Every so often, we’ve trekked to the city, just about an hour’s drive, and I get rejuvenated by civilization all over again. One day we carpooled into town for an okonomiyaki pancake dinner, and yesterday I hitched along to run errands with a coworker. The everyday ordinary things, like idling at the gas station, walking around a Japanese Home Depot styled store, groceries, and even people-watching, are all part of my experience here in this country. It’s striking how similar yet different people’s lives are on opposite sides of the globe.