Sound And The Messenger
Hello and welcome. Creativity shows itself in a myriad of different ways for me. I intend to get out of my comfort zone on this page, be vulnerable and create. Follow me @soundandthemessenger
I've been spoiled my whole life when it comes to the availability of outdoor sports that have always been at my fingertips. Growing up in the mountains of Colorado let me experience everything from the rich mountain rivers to the high mountain peaks. In the summer it was kayaking and in the winter it was skiing. That being said I would say that there is a whole dimension added to skiing when partaking in the activity in Japan.
Before I arrived in Japan, I thought that I would not need a car in Japan. I was tough. Japan had trains as well. I felt I could bike everywhere. When I arrived in the town though after one week of living in the humidity and being caught in a giant rainstorm I realized that I was in someplace completely different. Again my ego had gotten the better of me and soon I was realizing that I needed a vehicle in Japan. It took me a month or so get a vehicle and during that time I made due with a bike, which proved to be a great way to get used to the intricacies of Japanese driving; for example, the fact that the lanes were opposite to that of the U.S. In the end being on a bike first was a good way to transition to Japanese motor life.
When I close my eyes I can smell the sea, but I don't know what sea it might be, as I have seen and touched many parts of the ocean so far. I think anybody can do that. They can close their eyes and see flashes of the life that they've lived up to their own point of currently living. For me, a multitude of different things come. There's the feeling of cold glass against my forehead as I take an evening train into Tokyo or there is the smell of Naraha immediately after it has rained for days on end and a crisp bright light blue floods the sky with a new sun and starts to dry everything. It feels so good to walk on the street then and breathe in perfect fresh air coming from millions of trees. There also is the smell of sweet teriyaki sauce poured over fried ramen noodles during a hot humid day. When I arrived in Japan in the summer of 2009, this was a common occurrence and there were numerous summer parties that I was able to attend. They all took place in the late afternoon around a hot grill sizzling with yaki soba noodles. "Yaki" is "fried" in Japanese and everything becomes so in late July in Japan. The humidity pours over the land and fries everything, but also keeps it wet. It would be wrong to say that the air steams everything as this would be different and Yaki soba would instead be called "Jouki Soba" or steamed soba, which is not really a thing to my knowledge. That is not to say that soba is only served hot as my preference in the summer is when soba is prepared cold, but in this case, the noodle is boiled, but not steamed. I was able to see how this dish was made traditionally later in my travels, but that part of the story will be explained later.
Right before I had decided to live in the highest skyscraper in Boulder, Colorado I had signed up for the CIEE Program. I saw studying abroad as one choice only and that was to re-visit Japan. If I went it would be my second time to visit the country and so maybe I chose the location as it seemed less scary and intimidating. Perhaps I picked the location out of curiosity of where my ancestors had lived. The trip had already been laid down in my life path in fact, as I did go to Tokyo and that did happen.
Every time I step into Japan I feel it is the result of some unspoken quest for me to visit a past life. It does fall naturally that I do come from a Japanese background. It was thus that when I did settle into Naraha on the Coast of Fukushima, I found it quite serendipitous that the room adjacent to my place of residence happened to be the local Kendo Dojo. Kendo was the ancient practice of the samurai that populated Japan's islands in the days when my ancestors lived out their days in southern Japan. I have deduced that my family name "Hatanaka" likely comes from the name of a samurai clan. I do not know the accuracy of this, but I have noticed that my life seems to give me hints to this past. It was in this way that Kendo weaved into my life. There is another common preoccupation with my thoughts that notices that my life has also put me in close ties with Native Americans. I have found that both the Native American and Japanese culture share striking resemblances. For instance, very recently I have come to discover that the natives often observed their surrounding and took clues from the animals that they came in contact with to give insight into how to best steer their lives. They also took this from the vegetation in their environment. For instance, there is the Aspen tree, which grows abundantly in my hometown. It is a tree that means discipline as the practice of Kendo similarly embodies.
Into the Inaka
There's this feeling I have even now when I look back on the experience of leaving Tokyo and going north to Fukushima, which was the place where I would teach. It's a feeling of warmth and adventure and mystery. I remember the rolling hills that were lush green in the summer and the perfect square plots of rice fields that ran past like bars of rest on a musical piece. The city disappeared and then it seemed that there was never a city. Everything rewound 60 years. There were old thatched huts, but we were on an interstate in an air-conditioned bus and so this naturally brought me back to the present. I was with around 40 other teachers and we were all starting out the year in Fukushima. It was 2009 and just changing to the Indian start of summer. It was late summer when the green couldn't be more dark and this hinted that the next movement would be the withdrawing of chlorophyll from everything green.
I'd be lying if I told you that when I arrived in Narita Airport in July of 2009 that it was a new experience. The summer of 2009 marked the third time I had ventured to Japan. The first time was when I was bridging the gap between middle school and high school and the second time was as a Sophomore in college. The experience is always new though, and that is precisely why it always feels new. Ten hours on a plane renders most vegetables less than fresh and humans in this way are very much like vegetables. There was lots of soon to be teachers at the airport that day and we all were filed into a group where we awaited our introduction to life in the JET Program. It was maybe afternoon when we landed in Tokyo and usually, a flight of that length puts everyone into a philosophical state. It was all quite a surreal experience realizing that I would be living in Japan for at least one year, compounded by the reality that I was certain that teaching in this way was as new as new could be. We all were loaded onto buses and then were transported to a nice Tokyo hotel where orientation would take place.
Once I was in the flow everything happened fast. I still remember rising early in the morning in Cairns and saying goodbye at a corner to Jen and then walking to the airport. A few hours later I was in Cairns and a couple days later I was looking at the Pacific Ocean en route to California and then Colorado. The wheels were turning for Japan though. I had applied for The JET Program from Australia. At that time though I had no clue what would happen. So often my life has plopped me right back down on Main Street in Aspen, Colorado and told me to be patient and start over and so there I was. The musical ringing from Australia hadn't subsided and soon I met up with an old friend and we formed a makeshift band. I got a regular gig for apre ski and met quite a few music connections. The glitter was still pouring out that year from Australia and everything was in movement.
New Castle To Cairns
I returned from my trip south with a new sense of adventure. So far, the spontaneity card had been working out nicely, and I was eager to try it again. While in New Castle, I had gradually come to know some of the local residents there.
I remember being in college and wondering why I should try to go vegetarian. Why were people vegetarian? At the time, I ate everything and I ate a lot of meat. I had grown up as an endurance athlete in the high mountains of Colorado and I felt the most important part of diet was getting outside and running up mountains. I loved the outdoors and even more so, I loved going uphill and the feeling I got at the top.