Monday, July 24, 2006

Before the Flood

Out here in western Japan, all this rain has really brought out the green. It looks a bit like mainland Asia, the rice fields and distant hills bright against the grey clouds. This ceiling is so low, the scene is as if in a letter-boxed film. The rivers are as wild as I've ever seen them. They're...well, I hate to use the word swollen, since it's such a cliche, and the amount of water flowing goes far beyond cliche. The flattened grass and debris high up in treetops is a testiment to the water's mood. Water is white where it's usually brown. Further down in Okayama-ken, there are signs of fresh landslides, long dirty scars in the places where the earth gave way two typhoon seasons ago. I can't see the villages below, but the roads in are littered with branches and leaves. The residents must be in a state of constant worry, as their TVs tell of deaths in Kyushu and Nagano, and their crops die due to lack of sunlight.

But not everyone is unhappy. The Kamo-gawa turtles are submerged most of the week. A few seem to be getting rivergrass facials. The Takano-gawa is flowing higher, and at the confluence below Demachiyanagi, it seems to fold onto the lower Kamo, rather than merge.

Saturday brings on sunshine and a brilliant idea. I hike up to Oku-no-in to find the waterfall just pounding over the ridge. I strip down and stand underneath, the force of the water bowing my head as if in supplication. These falls are sacred to Fudo-myo, a diety important to the yamabushi and thus to Takeuchi-ryu. As I have a grading later that night, I wish for strength. MatsuMiki also takes her turn, bravely baring all to escape the heat. You go girl!

On the truntable: Greg Graffin, "Cold as the Clay"
On the nighttable: Pete McCarthy, "McCarthy's Bar"

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