mission: MUSE - "where i live"
by guest muse julia
The “reality” of where I live is probably different from what a lot of people imagine it to be. When I tell someone that I am living in Japan, they often say “It must be really crowded.” And although that is true, the crowded part is not 'my' Japan. Looking through our photos for this project confirmed that for me. I have very few crowded city photos and very many primitive area, alone-in-nature photos. A full two-thirds of Japan is mountains. The remaining one third is where two-thirds of the population lives. So, yes—Japan is crowded. It has vast and sprawling cities with bright neon and great shopping. But that is not where I live or where I love to spend my time.
When Japan began to modernize its farming practices it set it self on an irreversible path to change. Before the tractor, people had to plant by hand and that took a lot of hands. Village families lived and worked side by side helping each other during the cycles of planting and harvesting. Over hundreds of years they cultivated not only the land, but a culture full of festivals, ceremonies and practices. In rural areas this culture is still highly valued and practiced, but a lot of the city kids don't know the traditions and it saddens me that so many of “the old ways” are being lost as everyone heads to the city for jobs, Starbucks and McDonald's.
For years I had horrible commutes in Wakayama, Osaka and Kyoto—slow crawling traffic or trains that were so packed that it made you forget how nice it was that they run on time. All those bodies smashed in together, politely ignoring each other every morning made me frantic for fresh air. So that is how my husband and I began to search for the empty spaces—places where no one or almost no one goes. Drive an hour or so from the city and you'll find a quiet hike. While you walk you'll probably find a Shinto Shrine or at least a carved statue--swept and cared for or weather-beaten and listing. Wherever you go it will be green and lush. You probably ought to take an umbrella. Instead of the incessant roar of city noise you'll hear frogs and birds and the rush of water. Japan is two sides of a coin—one of them will offer you everything shiny and modern. And the other one will offer you a bit of peace.
Until next time! Julia of Just Julia -While Making Other Plans.
We would love to see where you live. If you would like to join in, send an email to mortalmuses [at] yahoo.com.