Monday, June 11, 2012

Gambarō indeed

Every few days, I seem to remember an additional Nakasendo story.

My group and I had just finished a nice soba lunch in picturesque Narai.  They had the rest of the day off to wander about town, so I decided to see if I could find the ruins of the house of the former daimyo from this area.  I followed an overgrown trail up above the town's even roof line, wary of snakes which had repeatedly revealed that their hibernation was now over.  The trail ended at a single paved road running between vegetable fields.  (In the Kiso valley, there is little rice grown, due to the steep slopes such as the one I'd just climbed.)  I wandered around awhile, unable to find the ruins.  I called out to a farmer in one of the fields, who offered to walk with me.  His first question was asking me where I was from. 

"America, " I answered.

"Ah.  In the old days, we were taught that all Americans were barbarians or demons," he said, smiling.

"In America they said they same things about this country."  I looked at him closely and asked, "Excuse me Uncle, but how old are you?"


I nodded.  Too young to have been a soldier, but old enough to remember the hardship of those days.    

"War is absolute hell,"  he said.  "And things aren't so good now either, especially after last year.  I guess I'm pretty lucky since I'll die soon."

"But Uncle,  I have a ten month-old daughter at home.  We have to keep on building a good future for her."

 "That's true.  We have to carry on working hard for the kids."  

On the turntable:  Todd Rundgren, "Utopia"


Zacky Chan said...


ted said...

Where are you Zacky? Please do get in touch. I'm hoping we can do an Alps hike this summer...