Friday, December 2, 2011

A Walk in Uruka

Well, it's been a while since I've written. At first, I decided it was because I didn't have anything to write about. Which is pretty much a lie. The other reason is that I haven't had time to, which is at least a little true.

I'm going to do a post soon about the autumn bike ride, which was also a pilgrimage stop for me, but today I'd like to just catch up on the little things.

So it's autumn. Unfortunately, my camera is in the shop (I am starting to regret the model I bought.. takes nice photos, but not tank-sturdy to survive life in my purse, apparently?), so I don't have a huge album of autumn leave shots. This year has been weird on that front anyway. It stayed warm far longer than usual, even though there were snaps of what felt like bitter cold, it's really not as chilly even today as December ought to be.

So the fall color has been a little off, a little spotty, a little confused and confusing.

Today, I don't have any classes, so I get to (gratefully) spend a day doing whatever I need to. Last night, I bought bus tickets to Kyoto at the Lawson's near where we have adult English class, and the attendant gave me the receipt but not the tickets themselves. So I had to go back today to get them. The difference there is, last night I had a car, this morning I came by bus.

So I shrugged, put on my jacket against the wind, and walked off to the convenience store. It's not really that far, and it was nice to walk. It's cloudy and sunny in stages, the wind affecting the change. I have things to do, but would rather not spend ALL day at my desk organizing, studying, and otherwise driving myself deskmad.

As I set off, I looked across the river and noticed some bursts of red and yellow on the far mountainside. That part of town is called Uruka, and I've never been over there before. So after I picked up my tickets, on the walk back, I crossed the Uruka bridge and took a stroll through that area, drawn by the beacon of the red maples on the hillside. I thought, maybe it's a momiji park, like the momiji mountain in Yamasaki.

Wervs in autumn

Uruka, it turned out, was just like any other section of Shiso. Idyllic, Shire-like, regal, dusty, faded, sparkling, worn-out, poor. Laundry out in the chill wind, old people occasionally going by on foot or bike. Dogs barking from behind stone walls. Small momiji and winter rose, yuzu trees, rice fields littered with trash both organic and not.

Yuzu are the yellow fruits.

I am drawn by momiji even more inexorably than I am by the sakura of spring, because I identify more with the autumn leaves. Sakura are pretty, but I feel like the maples are my siblings. I admire the beauty of the blossoms, but there is something even richer to me about the maturity of the momiji's "bloom."

What was important about this walk was the freedom that it required. I walked right out of school and down to Lawson, on an errand, a mission. The teachers knew I was headed there and even knew why (because when I left without my tickets, the Lawson staff called the school.. it's funny actually, because in buying the tickets I mistakenly thought I needed the help of the staff, and ended up with two people watching me handle the ticket machine myself. They good-naturedly asked me about my home and job, so that is how they knew I worked at this school, and were able to call the school and tell my teachers to tell me I needed to come get my tickets!).

But sometimes, even on non-class days, or non-class times of days, I feel chained to my desk, like there's nowhere I can go. But today I thought, if I wanted to, I could just pop into a little cafe, have a cup of coffee, read a book for an hour, and who would it hurt? Who would mind that? They didn't notice or mind that I was missing far longer than it takes to walk to Lawson (which is ridiculous in the first place-- who WALKS to Lawson from here?!) as I took my stroll through Uruka.

The trees, it turned out, are like many things in Japan, and just there, sort of in someone's yard, sort of just on the side of the mountain owned by no one.
It wasn't a park, or a shrine, or anything like that, although there was a temple nearby..

It's nice to get out, sometimes.


  1. Hey little girl! I do read your blog from time to time. You write and express yourself very well. I wish I could say the same about my students. But, oh well, we do what we can. Keep up the writing. I'll check in again.
    Uncle Steve in Louisiana

  2. Your label of "magic" was quite apt. I really enjoyed reading this post and seeing the pictures, EmLem. :)