March 30, 2009
I stuck my finger right into the middle of a raw egg this morning.
I thought it was boiled and as I attempted to peel said egg I got a hand-full of goo. Quite what I was supposed to do with a raw egg I am not sure, but given the selection of random food I have eaten recently it didn’t perplex me for long and I just followed the directions of the lady opposite me- took a chunk of tofu from the pot bowl bubbling over a candle, wrapped it in some seaweed, plopped some salmon eggs on top and dipped it in the raw stuff.
I’ll just say this; no longer shall I eat eggs for breakfast, boiled, runny, raw or sunny–side-up.
I ended up being embarrassingly western and stuck to the still rather alien rice, fish and miso soup and went back upstairs to roll up my futon and my bean pillow…yes bean. Everything in this country revolves around beans. As if eating them, whole and pasted, sweet and savory, big and small, is not enough, you also have to sleep on pillows filled with them.
But hey, Wales has sheep, Japan has beans.
So right now I am staying in a ryokan in my new hometown of Iwaizumi for a few days until my apartment is ready, stranded in a valley bereft of any English, a car, a phone and only a trickle of internet. I am beginning to understand now why my boss gave me a big hug and wished me luck as I left.
Nestled between tree-blanketed mountains (currently brown- reddish waiting for summer), Iwaizumi is a maze of little hilly roads, multi-colored tin roofs, and bleached posters that look like they haven’t been changed since the 50’s. There is a river running through the centre, which even on this dull day, is undeniably beautiful, flanked by ramshackle huts covered in vines and trees that arch over it. This place has definitely got some wabi-sabi. It looks run down and hodge-podge, but in a beautiful way. I wanted an adventure and as I walk these narrow streets, where passing cars slow down to get a good look at me and little kids stop and stare and giggle when I wave at them, I think I may find one here even if it is somewhat of a communication rehab.
Today I decided I should find my apartment and to be honest after the egg incident I wasn’t feeling to confident, so when I turned the corner and saw that it’s yellow with a green door I was ecstatic!
I’m so glad I took out earthquake insurance. It’s well worth the investment.
Oh, and the view! I have a balcony that I think will save me after a long day; it looks out onto farmland with the mountains topped with snow looming in the background- now that’s a Jess Dowse view right there!
I am under no illusions and realize that life here might get pretty tough what with the weather and the isolation (as I type it is chucking it down with snow and I am wearing three jumpers), but luckily I have met two lovely people who live an hour away in a bigger town and plan on invading on a regular basis to keep myself sane.
Right now I will finish my feast of chocolate milk, cookies, strawberries and Yakult (the only things I recognized in the shop) and maybe head down to the onsen for some naked time with the Japanese folks and try to dream up the craziness I shall encounter tomorrow. Although, I don’t think even my imagination could come up with some of this stuff!