September 11th, 2007


Sado Island--Wednesday & Thursday

Long story short: it was glorious. I took about a million pictures, and most of them are good. Not because I'm such a wonderful photographer, I hasten to add: you really have to work to take a bad picture on Sado. It's a lovely place.

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And that was Sado Island. At 3:30, we caught the ferry back and saw the sun set in a splendor of red-gold and indigo just as we were pulling into Niigata. There was a final dinner (soba noodles with duck soup, tempura, edamame picked that morning, and a real revelation, let me tell you, grilled duck slices with scallion, local sake), many goodbyes and promises to come again, and then we repacked yet again and got ready to depart for the mountains.

Which is the next post.

Matsumoto: Friday & Saturday

Ah, the trains of Japan. Fast, clean, numerous. Not well marked--for illiterates, anyway--but the stations are full of nice people willing to point out the right track, so that's okay. We picked up some remarkably fine bento boxes at the department store by the Niigata train station (there's always a department store attached to a train station. I have no idea why), and snacked our way through the mountains.

We'd been worried about the weather. A typhoon hit Yokohama on Thursday, and all signs pointed towards its swinging inland on Friday and dumping lots of rain on Niigata and the mountains. I guess it decided to head out to sea again, thought, because Friday was beautiful. Sunny, warm but not too hot, breezy but not windy. Beautiful. We saw mountain ranges, little villages tucked into gorges and down mountainsides, rice fields (terraced and un-), resort towns with Adidas and Brooks Brothers factory outlets and golf courses. Like Maine, only different. I love the rice fields especially. They're a kind of vibrant green that's almost gold, like very new willow leaves. When it's cloudy, or at dusk, they glow against the darker green trees and the grey-brown farm houses, the less ripe fields duller, the riper ones brighter.

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I'm sending this from Kyoto, two days later, feels like a week. Time moves more slowly when we're traveling, which is one of the things I like about being on the road. Ellen says it's because something new is happening all the time, as it did when you were a kid, when all experiences were new and a week was a long time. It's as good a theory as any. I'll post about Sunday and Monday tonight. No, I'll never catch up this way, but them's the breaks.