Fresh out of my journal from Toyama

On my way to Toyama to wwoof (willing workers on organic farms) it with a chicken farm family. My day started at 5:20 with a hodge podge breakfast and full reading of the Bible lesson. I walked to Kotoen Station to get the bus to JR Nishinomiya station. The bus filled up with businessmen and suddenly it was a packed ride for 20 minutes. I was part of the morning commute. I got there 12 minutes before my train was to leave. The idea of scheduling busses and regular commuter trains to coordinate with each other would be unheard of in the USA. Busses and light rail trains "come when they come". Here you set your watch by the train. I boarded with my backpack in front so as not to hit anyone like when I went to Hiroshima. I stood with the crowed of grey and black suits, looking out the window as silver haired businessmen slept in their seats.

For the land of the rising sun, I haven't been impressed with the colors of the sunrise or sunset so far. Often the mornings are hazy and the sun just appears after the haze blows off a bit. The sun sets quickly and without display over the West mountains. There is some dark pastel glow to the twilight and dawn - I have appreciated that. But its almost as if the sun is too busy to linger around to dance with the clouds and shoot its radiant beams into the fields and alleys of Japan's cities.

We pulled into Osaka station and I knew that I had a quick transfer to Toyama. Fortunately there wre conspicuous signs in Roomaji to guide me. I walked up and down the platform trying to find where my car would be. I asked a conductor and he pointed to these signs suspended parallel to the tracks. Thunderbird was the nickname of the train to Toyama. So I found track #3 and waited there. The train was 10 minutes early - what the? But it would wait until 7:12 before departing. It was an empty train but my seat was reserved in the very front by the window. No tray table to write on and no room to stretch my legs but I have what I need. The train pulls out and I watch the urban phenomenon of Osaka pass me by. I try to read some Kana on the buildings. I snuggle up with my scarf and Paul Simon to catch up on my reduced sleep from the night before. Almost no one is in the car until Kyoto when a lot of people get on, including an elderly couple just across the aisle from me. The man seems kind of out of it, his wife giving him direction where to sit, then switching with him as she sits next to another lady. He stares out the window, dressed in a grey suit. Later he reads his newspaper. I wonder about his life story: when he retired from the corporation, if he was alive during WWII, heck maybe he fought in the war. Now things change so fast that he is out of it. Then I start writing my thoughts. Now I wonder what to say to my farmer hosts. I'd better brush up on some survival Japanese!

11:17 a.m. Now I'm in Toyama and will be for another 75 minutes because I missed the train that left 5 minutes after I arrived. Once again, I'm not used to the tight connections. I assumed that I had to exit the JR system and buy another ticket to Yatsuo station. Wrong. For future reference, just stay in the JR system and adjust the fare when you finally get out. And don't waste your time buying an unreserved ticket in advance when there's no advantage to it. This is probably what made you miss the train. Also, you assumed there'd be one every 15 minutes. Well, this is not Kansai. The 10:27 a.m. train was the last for two hours. They came hourly. So I pay my dues once again. Then I was confused because I called the Hashimotos cell thinking I had done my duty to inform her but I assumed that she would call the intern who was to pick me up at the station. Wrong. So at 11 a.m. I get a call "where are you?" I'm so confused because I don't know the name of whom I spoke to on the cell and now the back up plans are confused. Hopefully country folks will be more forgiving.

I made the 12:30 p.m. train and Mr. Hashimoto picked me up. I immediately apologized but he seemed to jump right into greeting. I said a few things in Japanese: no boots, what river, and nice weather as we drove off but then realized that I should value the silence of the moment adn take in the expanded beauty as we drove further into the mountains. The roads got narrower and narrower adn the mountain views more beautiful. As the single lane paved road began to crumble. I thought that it looked a lot like the rural parts of Jamaica as bamboo grew along hillsides. I suppose there's two more steps to remoteness: two-track and no road. But it is still pretty bush here and I can tell my thinking is far away from teh worries and stress of Nishinomiya. Mr. Hashimoto welcomed me in, showed me my room, and introduced me to another wwoofer who was Japanese. We had tea, arranged afternoon work schedule and then set off a bilingual discussion. We rest until 2 p.m. then start work. Naps in Japan? Where am I?

At work, I shovel chicken feed, counted and collected eggs, cleaned eggs and packaged them. Had more social time with Japanese peers today than all previous two months. Had my ofuro (bath) and read until dinner. This will be a great opportunity to strengthen and enlargen vocabulary. Chicken curry was the hot dish with plenty of cold vegetable accoutrements and sashimi. I gave omiyage (souvenirs from USA) and called it a night. Oh and I read the vista's journal. All the comments are very positive and grateful. That's a good sign.

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