Dreaming Big in Japan

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Road Trips, Gardens & Hurricanes

We came back from our Permaculture class in Nagano Prefecture earlier last week. The drive was much better this time, 8.5 hours driving time one way (not counting naps or pit stops) instead of 19!

We were totally stoked for this road trip!
Well...at least one of us was! Cool rest area nevertheless.
After our first trip in April we learned that the toll-highways we had been avoiding are only 1000 Yen (about US$10) per direction on the weekends. So we waited until midnight Friday night and hopped on the highway and drove as far as we could until we fell asleep, after stopping at a rest area of course. We finished the trip the next morning and made it to the workshop just in time. As long as you do not exit the highway you could ostensibly drive the entire length of Japan for 1000 Yen over the weekend. If you did it any other day, it would cost hundreds if not over a thousand dollars to do so. Outrageous, like so so many things in this country...

The cool thing, though, is that as long as you start driving before Sunday midnight, you can drive into Monday morning and still only pay another 1000 Yen when you leave the toll booth. So, we rented a huge one ton six wheeling diesel cargo van. It had ample room to stretch out in when we slept, plus we were able to drive a extra few hours to Michie's mom's house to pick up almost all of our remaining belongings to bring back to the island with us.

Once we got back to the island, everyone was talking about the hurricane that was coming our way... 

See that yellow spot to the right of Japan? You cannot miss it!

The hurricane, or typhoon, season has started, and what an opening day it was. Actually, it did most of its business south of Tokyo. Up where we are near Sendai, we had rain practically all week, with the last three days in particular raining continuously, amid some of the strongest winds I have ever experienced personally. The wind was looping up around the whole country and blowing down on us from the north, even though the typhoon was coming from the south. That is how massively expansive this thing was.
I made it outside, on the worst day, of course, and was jostled about by the wind. I went to the coast about a two-three minutes walk from our house, nestled into a nice windbreak in a small grove of bamboo and watched the waves pound the shore.

Cresting at about 3 meters during a calm spell...
After getting thoroughly drenched from all sides and angles, I squished my way over to our garden to see how all our little seedlings were doing, with my fingers crossed that our compost bin was still there. The four nails and four screws holding the roof on put forth a herculean effort, and it survived, at least up until I saw it yesterday...

The path to our garden looks like a bubbling brook.

Bend, don't break.
Everything was having a hard go at staying upright. Our neighbors' gardens were totally flattened, but ours fared a little better despite being buffeted about by the wind, due in largest part to the fact that we built raised beds and mulched them over with cut weeds and left substantial swaths of weeds standing as a boarder and natural windbreak instead of clear cutting everything.

This has been quite a year already, here and around the world, and we are not even half way through it yet. I guess the reassuring thing is that no matter what happens, life finds a way to persevere. Life in some form or other goes on, even if it is not exactly the way it was before.

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