Into the Wild
On Sunday, November 18, 2007 I was taken to Kofu City, the capital of YamanashiPrefecture west of Tokyo, for a short job. I had never been there before. It was quite far, and at ¥14,000 for the day the remuneration for the time involved was minimal. It would be like driving from Guleph, Ontario to Kingston, Ontarioto work 14-hours and receive only about $120 for it.
I didn’t drive. I did the Japanese thing and went by commuter train. In this case it was the Azusa Super Express from Shinjuku Station in Tokyo. It took ninety-minutes. Like so many long distance commuter trains in Japan the Azusa is quite an experience. It is comfortable and fast, and the scenery of the Japanese countryside was great. Almost an hour out from Shinjuku I was only at Hachioji, still within Tokyo, or “Tokyo-to,” the metropolitan area. But Hachiojilooks plenty rural to me - steep, forest covered hills, small farming villages clustered around the rail tracks in the valleys, the taller peaks of the Japan Alps clearly visible in the (near) distance, and raised automobile expressways overhead. The wooded hills were so thick that I thought this must be monkey country. Maybe bear and deer country, too. There were farms all around, rice paddies for sure, but the persimmon trees were especially noticeable because this is the season for persimmons (“kaki”), and their orange color made them stand out. Balconies of homes and apartments features garlands of picked, drying persimmons (because they become sweeter when they dry). Many trees scattered here and there in the vista outside my window seat still bore their fruit.
Many tunnels wove me through the rising elevation. My ears popped many times, and by the time I crossed into Yamanashi Prefecture the persimmon trees and rice paddies had given way to fields of grape vines. Grapes are the popular crop there, like peanuts are a feature of ChibaPrefecture, apples of Nagano Prefecture, and pineapples of OkinawaPrefecture. The entire journey I kept marveling at the wild appearance of the countryside. Only an hour or more from one of the largest, busiest and most technology saturated cities in the world and I was looking at a landscape presenting a million recesses to hide a
dead body. Not that I have need of such a thing, but if I ever do …