A Travellerspoint blog

August 2007

Board in Japan

For your viewing pleasure...

rain 31 °C

Had a few days off last week so I took out my trusty video camera and made you this video to give you a better sense of what I am surrounded by. The video quality is really crappy. If anyone knows how to make it better let me know.

Posted by brendab 15:57 Comments (6)

Cultural Cravings Fulfilled

A wander through a Shinto Shrine

semi-overcast 39 °C

Here is an excerpt from my journal on August 11, 2007:

August 11, 2007

This morning I wake in my new Japanese mountain home early enough to take a walk through the morning mists haunting the village’s many walkways. The air is wet and the trees gently drip dew onto the path before me.
My mind stiffens as I approach an unfamiliar Shinto archway, flanked by two fierce looking rock dragons. Stone steps rise between and beckon me but hide what lies ahead. Yet, I am unafraid, only joy fills me. Carefully, thoughtfully, I climb.
At the top of the steps is a path leading to an old wooden temple. On either side of me is a platform on which stands a large leaning bamboo rod wrapped at the top and in the middle with white cloth. I can only guess what they symbolize. Life? Death?
I advance humbly down the path, studying the old buildings before me: a wide platform accessible by wooden steps, a table supporting a wooden box, a thick rope, a bell. I wish to ring it but I fear I might wake someone…or something. Another platform, this one higher, holds a larger bell; another rope, this one thicker, grips me and pulls. The silence is so delicate I do not want to break it, to offend the keeper of this majestic place with my clumsy, unknowing noise. First, I will learn, then I will ring.
As I continue though the grounds I come across a small yard. Several rounded stone pillars have been placed along each side. Some are shaped like temples, some like baths, some like altars, high as my hip. Behind, flat sticks rest in wooden grates. What I can only imagine are prayers, or blessings, have been painted on each stick by a skilled calligrapher’s hand. Beside is a small box containing dusty bowls and burnt incense. Is it a graveyard? One thing is sure, it is a holy place.
At the end of the yard is a path leading into the woods. Two primitive log archways mark the way. Webs caught in the corners are turned to beautiful silver frames before the misty backdrop. Beyond the arches, in the forest, countless webs shimmer in the day’s hazy morning light. I walk until I come to an opening. Beyond is a field of rice, and beyond that, an old farmhouse. An old man working in his garden looks up and waves, “Ohayo, gosaimasu!”
The day is born again, and I too feel as though I have started a new life.

Posted by brendab 08:23 Archived in Japan Comments (2)

There But Not Gone

preparation for living half a world away

sunny 25 °C
View Winnipeg to Japan on brendab's travel map.

In about 56 hours I’ll move to Japan. My brain is already there but my body is still at home. I’ve been reading Shogun to get myself in the mood but I have forgotten to pack. I’ll get on that very soon, I swear.


I spent my summer visiting all the family I could before leaving for a year (maybe more) to teach English in Japan. Though I love all my family, the most important visit was one with my grandfather in Houston B.C.. He’s an old man, my grandfather, but he still gives ‘er shit when he wants to. I find him encouraging and curious and full of life and I love being around him. He asked me for a hand-written letter from Japan so that will be first on my list of things to do when I get to my new home in Kibichuo, Okayama, Japan.


I had a wonderful time this summer enjoying all Canada has to offer. These days I feel very nostalgic about leaving. I love Canada. I love riding a motorcycle in the B.C. mountains on Canada Day, and I love going to gay weddings on Pelican Lake, and I love quietly fishing with friends on the family lake in the Canadian Shield. I love the prairies too, so much. I love the hot sun and the dust, and I love the long straight gravel roads, and I love watching the crops come off the field, and I love a good year, and Lord I love the sunsets. I will miss you Canada.

Posted by brendab 18:37 Archived in Canada Comments (3)

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