Right now I am back in Tokyo after spending a few sun-soaked Autumnal days in Miyagi prefecture. In recent months I have come to really appreciate and enjoy the contrast between urban city life and that of the Japanese inaka (田舎) rural countryside. Spending time with my girlfriend’s family who are volunteering after the tsunami, I feel incredibly lucky to have been introduced to life in Tohoku, absorbing everything around me. Above all, the last few days have reaffirmed my belief that life should ultimately be about enjoying the simple things, not getting caught up in the stresses of the modern world, which can admittedly be difficult at times in Tokyo. With every ray of sunshine that landed on my face and every bite of food I ate, I enjoyed myself immensely once again in Miyagi, and I’m already looking forward to when I can visit again.
Autumn of course meant that we could enjoy the koyo / 紅葉. Colorful leaves (koyo) are to the Japanese autumn what sakura are to spring.
A family dinner of temaki zushi / 手巻き寿司 where you help yourself and build your own sushi rolls. Miso soup, wasabi and green tea all on the table – a Japanese sight if ever I saw one! Bottom left was abalone which I tasted for the first time, sautéd in butter and garlic.
Local kids playing just outside a small compound for those in temporary housing after the tsunami.
The area has a number of stray cats, and if one house decides to put milk and food out for one, scores will arrive looking for more.
Downtown Ishinomaki on a Sunday. Classed as a city, it only has a population of 140,000 which by Japanese standards is pretty small. Not many clouds in the sky – or people on the streets…
Well, I tell a lie. We chanced upon a small festival happening down a backstreet where a 45-metre sushi roll was being made! They did a countdown and then everyone rolled the sushi at the same time using a series of bamboo mats.
Happy festival vibes.
In contrast, this scene at Onagawa shows the extent of work still being carried out after the tsunami. Onagawa was one of the most heavily damaged communities, with the tsunami reaching in excess of 15 metres (49 ft) in height, claiming 827 lives and destroying 70% of the buildings in the town. I took this photo from high up in the grounds of the hospital and yet when the wave came it was still higher than where I was standing.
Looking out towards Kinkasan Island in the Pacific Ocean
Sunset over the Oshika Peninsula
Some wild guests who we had staying beside our house. At night we could sometimes hear them calling each other with a high-pitched noise.
A praying mantis relaxing
I fell in love with this little house lost amongst the forest