countryside

Getting Comfortably Lost in the Chiba Countryside

Tuesday, August 7th, 2012

Rice Paddy with Twist, Yorokeikoku, Chiba, Japan

I am fortunate to have a friend like Tomo.  He and I take a photographic journey every summer.  Each year we go someplace different and wander around with our cameras chatting away as we go.  This broiling summer Tomo suggested that we head to Chiba Prefecture’s country side.  A place called Yorokeikoku Valley.  We were blessed by some cloudy weather, so it wasn’t as hot as it could have been.  We even got caught in some rain, but it didn’t dampen our mood one bit.

It was a bit of a challenge to just get to, but the journey is what makes it so magical.  I met up with Tomo at Shin Urayasu station and boarded the Keiyo Rapid train out to Soga.  At Soga, we transferred to the Uchibo Line until we reached the little station commuter station of Goi.  There the real journey began.  We bought an all day pass to ride the Kominato line.  It is known for its one or two car trains.  The train otakus (geeks) love to ride and photograph this line.  There was even an old fashioned train girl who would sell, inspect, and punch the traveler’s tickets.

We got off about 3 stations before the last one and started to walk some of the old country roads.  It was a great feeling to be out of the heat of the city, and be surrounded by farms, cicadas, and trees.  We passed though some tunnels which here in Japan have the reputation for being haunted on our way to the next station.  We had to wait a good 45 minutes since the Kominato line comes only about once or at the most twice an hour.

Being out in the country I am reminded how much more there is to Japanese society than the city.  In fact, most of Japan was an agricultural society up until very recently.  Most of the society were subsistence farmers  just a few notches above.  The rural life was the Japanese life.  Walking along the old roads and coming to a rice paddy that tucked into one corner is the family cemetery.  The hillsides were dotted with tiny Shinto shrines and Buddhist temples.

In an odd way I was reminded of the parks between the hills Berkeley and Contra Costa County.  They are very country, even though you are only 45 minutes from San Francisco  there are reminders that the city isn’t that far away.  There were still signs of Japan’s industrialization at just about every turn we took.

All that is true, but the country is the country.  The loud tranquility was a beautiful excursion from the hustle of Tokyo Life.

I look forward with an open heart to wander Japan’s rural side with camera in hand.

Rice Paddy with Cloud Hole, Yorokeikoku, Chiba, Japan

 

Cedar Forrest, Yorokeikoku, Chiba, Japan

 

Country Road, Yorokeikoku, Chiba, Japan

 

Le Petit Rapids, Yorokeikoku, Chiba, Japan

 

Preparations

Saturday, October 8th, 2011

Overall this was a good week.  Even though there were many ups and downs, there were many more ups, or was it that the ups just outweighed the downs.  In any respect I am glad to have lived another week, and can take the time to reflect.

The walk back to the station in Chiba was gorgeous.  The air was cool with just a hint of heat that I was comfortable in short sleeves.  I love to wander around this countryside like neighborhood on the beginning of my day of rest.  The homeowners take such care of their land.  there are the small farms that the old pensioners tenderly care for.  There are beautiful blooming flowers that have been planted along the roadside.  Not by the municipality but by the homeowners in the neighborhood.  They really take pride in making their quiet little neighborhood look the best that it can.

It is a good meditation to wander through these small streets with my Ricoh in hand.  Even though I wander the same several streets there is always something new to see.  It could be the changing seasons, as the spring flowers bloom and wilt to make for the summer ones.  The cycle is never ending.

Yom Kippor fast is coming this sundown for me.  I have been mentally and spiritually preparing myself to go a day without food and water.  To be able to atone for my misgivings.  Bringing rituals back into my life has helped give me a foundation.  I felt like I was floating with no idea which way is up or which direction I should travel.  But, to be able to go back to milleniums old traditions has been a boon to my soul.

Prepare for the worst.  Prepare your soul for the best.  And be thankful for the time we get to spend were in the company of friends and family.

shalom

peace

平和

Mimomi Crocus Star Flower Gate

A Day in the Country at Kawamura Museum

Thursday, September 8th, 2011

I love my adopted home of Tokyo, but I love heading out of it every now and then.  I sometimes forget that there is a world out there in Japan that isn’t an urban jungle of concrete and iron.  We decided, at the suggestion of a close friend, to visit the Kawamura Memorial DIC Museum of Art in the sticks of Chiba prefecture.  My peeps in Japan that have never been there it is definitely a place to explore.

I was pleased to see a world class collection that included Rembrant, Chagal, and a room filled with maroon colored Rothkos.  Unfortunately half the museum was closed as they were prepping for a László Moholy-Nagy show that opens in a few days.  I was a little miffed, but it is a good reason to go back to the museum to see the other half of the collection that I missed.

The highlight of the museum, for my artistic soul, was the painting David’s Dream by Marc Chagall, and the room filled with Mark Rothko paintings.  The Chagall was luscious in its colors, filled with spirited shapes that just floated in the space.  The movement with in the image was amazing.  I just sat and watched the painting as if it were a movie being told in 24 frames a second.  Those blue hues are just amazing.

The Mark Rothko Seagram paintings in a low lit room as they are suppose to be viewed was an exploration in the power of color.  Color that just seeps in through the eyes, and rolls around inside your spirit.  The muted colors fill the entire field of vision.  There is nothing to do but to surrender to the colors and let them flow through your veins.

There is a connection between these two artist.  They both use color to tell stories.  In the case of Chagall the stories come from his roots as a Jewish artist.  Telling stories through the color dances and the floating figures.  Rothko was stripped his paintings down to their pure color elements.  Color its self is the theme.  The colors dance and play with in our vision.  Striving for that mystical connection with the Creator.

After the museum we wandered around the large gardens.  A stroll trough a small cedar forrest.  A walk around a lotus and a lilly pond.  The skies were large and filled with a blue of the Chagall paintings, as cotton wisps of clouds speckled the color field.

A lovely day among art and nature. A perfect combination as the summer is quickly drawing to a close.  A mystical trip to the sticks of Chiba for art, skies, and mushrooms.

Sky Trees Henry Moore Sculpture Grass

Lillies Abstract

Sky Whisp Forrest Field Fence

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