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A Japanese Rock Garden Saved from the Bulldozer

Friday, December 30th, 2011

The other day I made my way from the Tokyo side of the Kyoedogawa RIver to the Urayasu side to just wander around in the clear winter air.  I love wandering around the old part of the fisherman town of Urayasu.  The tight alleys and the corrugated metal homes that sit along the river that comes off the main river.

Urayasu for many years was a hub of clam harvesting, fishing, and seaweed gathering.  Urayasu was a town of fisherman.  They were utterly dependent on the sea to provide for them.  Those fisherman days are all but completely over.  There are a few families that make their living from the sea, but most now travel into Tokyo and have company jobs.

I am a bit saddened as Japan looses these pockets of old culture as the mad dash to modernize and compete on the world stage.  As I biked around the neighborhood, I was astonished to see the amount of rebuilding in the old neighborhood.  Everywhere I looked I saw houses being taken down, empty lots being prepped and building going up.  There was so much construction that was dismantling the tight community of Urayasu.

I came upon a large patch of land that had recently been bulldozed and graded relatively flat.  Buried though out the earth were thousands of shells. A reminder of the properties seaside past, or past profession.  They I spotted something unusual next to a cinderblock wall, I spied a Japanese stone lantern, and assorted rocks making up a small zen, meditative garden.  This little patch of tranquility had been sparred the bulldozer, and hopefully will be preserved for the next house that is to come.  It gives me some hope that all might not be lost in the old neighborhood of Urayasu.

Bulldozed Lot with Japanese Lantern and Rock Garden

Urayasu: Spring, Dust, Liquefaction and Hope

Thursday, March 31st, 2011

I spent three hours yesterday wondering around Shin Urayasu trying to take in what my neighbors across the river from have been going through.  The first thing that I have to say is that although the damage is quite extensive, it can not even be compared to what the people in the Tohoku area have been going through.

As my sneakered feet wandered in between the houses, and apartment complexes that fill the reclaimed land of Urayasu, I couldn’t help but notice that for as much damage that had been done, there was as construction crews all over the city.  The dusty air filed my nose and the rattling of jack hammers hit my eardrums.  I was surprised to see housewives sweeping up dust into white drawstring bags and placing them in front of their homes.

A sign at a local kindergarden gives the people words of encouragement in their times of trouble.  I was warmed to see people working as a community to help get the city back to normal as quickly as possible.

Walking along recently graveled filed sidewalks I would stop and stare at a portion of a wall that had collapsed or to watch a construction crew to repair streets.  The amount of activity was mind boggling.

I have great hope for the future of Japan.  Japan has an opportunity to come together to face the triple disaster and emerge on the other side stronger and connected with each other.  Spring is here.  The flowers are reaching for the sun.  I pray that all the love and cooperation will continue long after all the dust has been cleaned from the streets.

Don't Give Up Urayasu, Urayasu 2011

Sunken Bench in Mihama 3 Chome, Urayasu 2011

Much Work to be Done, Urayasu 2011

The Steps Vanished, Urayasu 2011

Tilting Police Box, Urayasu 2011

Spring Renewal in the Dust, Urayasu 2011

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