“Experience the beauties of nature, and in doing so learn about yourself.”
– Japanese proverb (諺)
It’s still somewhat of a shock to me that Japan reserves the fall equinox as a national holiday, but it just goes to show how deeply rooted their culture is with nature. Most of the trees have yet to change colors, but from what I’ve heard the leaves will all be on the ground before we know it. My co-workers even informed me that one of the biggest signs of fall can be seen all over the countryside, as a lush fall-blooming flower called the higanbana floods the area with its scarlet red foliage.
Taking full advantage of the holiday, I decided to start my morning by taking a 2 hour bike ride from my village to my neighboring village of Higashiyoshino. I had plans to bike to one of my schools but the simple fact that I kept on stopping to take photos of what was around me, I didn’t make all the way before I realized that I needed to head back so that I could run some errands during the remainder of my day.
When I got home it was quickly approaching noon when I realized that it was the perfect day to go to Asuka to see what my co-workers were ranting and raving about; however, I still had a handful of errands to run, so I didn’t think it would work out. Besides, I didn’t know where Asuka was, nor did I want to take the train there since it would take too long to hammer down the logistics. Instead, I got into my car and headed north (to Haibara) to find some prizes for my junior high school students. I recently came up with a contest that puts both of my junior high schools head-to-head when it comes to utilizing their English language abilities.
I didn’t quite find anything while in Haibara, so I decided to head west towards Sakurai to check another store nearby. Along the way, however, I drove by a field that was almost like a chartreuse color. This field mesmerized me and seeing one other person who had stopped to take pictures, I felt compelled to do the same thing, since it was the right holiday for it afterall.
After taking a handful of pictures, I decided to continue on my quest to find the perfect prizes for my students in Sakurai. I managed to find a couple of things, but in the end I chose to wait until I had a better idea of the things my students like and/or enjoy before making my purchases. I did manage to remind myself of a need to purchase more laundry detergent amongst other things, so that I could reassure myself that my time wasn’t squandered away (too much).
Once all was said and done, I had plans to head home so that I might get back in time to be ready for taiko practice, but I had an urge to find a local restaurant and try something new. Minutes after scouring Google Maps for a place that seemed appetizing, I locked in on a place that was only a 12 minute drive away. As I got closer to the restaurant, however, I began to notice that the traffic was beginning to get congested. Assuming the restaurant was packed, I decided to round a corner and head home when to my surprise – I found myself in Asuka!
At this moment I was severely disappointed in the fact that I didn’t bring my camera with me, but my phone seemed to do the trick without a hitch. It’s disappointing to look at some of these photos, however, and find it difficult to spot the clusters and fields of higanbana, but I like how the majority of the photos turned out in the end.
Upon my return home, I found myself back in Unogawa near the top of a hill looking out at this. I feel so blessed and so thankful to be where I am today, as well as everything I’ve come to experience thus far. I can only look forward to the many more adventures to come, during my stay here, in rural Japan.