September 30, 2017

Second home [confirmed]: Part 1

The Rising Family™ returned to Hiroshima this past summer after more than a year without touching base in Japan. If you look for a definition for “home” in any search engine you’ll find hundreds of quotes, parables, old religious verses and thousands of average netizens’ thoughts on what constitutes one’s home.

What I took away from our visit to Japan, and what captures the essence of “home” for me is where I feel at ease, where I feel I belong, or at the least, where I can be happy and pursue life’s pleasures. When I left ol’ Nippon in 2016 I needed a break; when I came back, I came to realize that I did in fact have a second home in this world. I will always be Canadian, it is my forever home base, but it seems beavers can indeed thrive in the Land of the Rising Sun.
Courtesy of the CCCJ
Here are some thoughts and anecdotes from the trip that drew me to the conclusion that Hiroshima is my second home.

Day 1:  Japan’s national penchant for precision and predictability
We exited the airplane from India and within 30 minutes boarded the shinkansen bullet train that transported us to Hiroshima Station. Upon arrival, our rental car was waiting. All…seamless.
- I was in heaven driving again, on streets I knew and no navigation system necessary, no horns blaring, space to drive--just fewer driving worries. Nominal bliss.
- The islands are more global, less Galapagos. In an age where SIM cards are integral to a peace of mind during a vacation, access has never been easier. Sign of the global & 24/7 times.
- Local is accessible. 30 minutes from Hiroshima’s downtown you have pastoral options: our visit began with a healthy dinner with Naomi’s parents and then we all went to sleep around 2100. Wow—country style.
Day 2: Country peace and baseball
- Next morning, warm and quiet. Lady E. and M. went out to hunt ill-fated frogs and salamanders living in the rice paddies. They had been waiting months to do this.
- Naomi decided to go to the supermarket to buy food. There was no one in that place under 60 years old. Eye opener. Means even more room for others in the future, even gaijins.
- Viewing the skyline, sucking in the clean air. I went for a short hike up Takeda-yama with buddy Scolari McKillgore. It is good to have such great friends. We hiked and talked all the way from the train station to Takeda-yama.  A decent trail--I huffed in all the right places. Enjoyed the panoramic view, the beef jerky and mild philosophizing at the top of this hill overlooking Hiroshima. Then a cleansing dip in the public bath (sento) we all used to frequent 20 years ago. Good friendships evolve with the times but also value the past.
- We mostly ate healthy, home-cooked Japanese washoku fare, but with a side-dish of hot dogs from home base North America. Thanks to Costco, I had a hot dog and it tasted like a dream. Hiroshima Carp fans decked out in team regalia surrounded us and I felt envy because they could see the game. The Carpies are too popular now for us time-constrained visitors to get tickets.
- Shopping downtown with the family at all our old haunts, most of which are still there. Beautiful weather, robin-egg-blue skies, hot dogs and excited ball fans. BUT---
- NHK broadcast of the game cut off the Carp, tied 2-2 with the Tigers, exactly at 1730 as is the Japanese habit….for the latest breathless news exclusive on the status of the baby panda bear in Ueno Zoo. Some things do not change.
"If you can't be with the one you love, honey, love the one you're with..."
- I still cheer for the Zoom-Zoom brand, which got me started in my career.

Day 3: Hamada visit
- We drove Route 191 to Hamada. Enjoyed a kagura traditional dance festival at Aquas Aquarium, followed by shopping fiesta at the local 100 yen store.
- Went to the Iwami Seaside beach on the Japan Sea to dip our toes in the ocean. I tasted the salt. I watched the facility staff guy with his Segway-like transporter and drone overhead. Neat technology. Then we went to a local hot spring onsen and washed and relaxed. I got a massage from the 100-yen-for-10-minutes chair and a recharge from the canned cold coffee. Naomi ate kaisendon (seafood) which made her immeasurably happy. In fact, we all were. The Rising Family enjoyed being back as much (or more) than I did. Because it is Home for them.

More to come...

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