Life and Death

Seems to be a theme today.  I arrived in Niigata between 2 and 3, can’t remember exactly.  Shortly thereafter, Chieko and I took a stroll over to the family grave plot to place some candles and incense.  There are a series of national holidays this week, surround the autumnal equinox, which is a time when Japanese people traditionally return to their respective hometowns and pay respects to their dead relatives.  You might recall me mentioning something similar back in August, which is another time they do this.

It was a bit spooky seeing the graves again today since nobody had cleaned them up since the last time we all offered our incense and candles.  In the meantime, weather and heat had partially melted candles and petrified the burnt incense.  All of the beautiful flowers that had been placed on the graves back in August were obviously long dead.  The whole scene was a bit morbid, even though the occasion wasn’t necessarily.  It’s probably back mojo to take pictures of things like this.

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After that we went to visit Chieko’s mom in the hospital.  I was expecting her to have lost a lot of weight, but she looks really good.  Her voice is a bit weak and she seems tired, but the more time we spent the more energy she seemed to conjure up.  In the end she escorted us out to the car from her second floor room, and was taking a few laps around the small pond in front of the hospital as we left.  Granted, at a snails pace and in her pajamas, but she seems to be on the mend.

Tomorrow I’m heading out to the rice fields for my first experience in this particular stage of farming, so I’m looking forward to it.  It can’t be worse than picking watermelons in terms of physical labor, so I have that going for me.  The other nice thing is that we start at the very acceptable hour of 9 a.m., as opposed to 5 a.m. during the watermelon harvest.  Chieko’s father has plied me with beer and pizza in advance of all the hard work I’m going to do over the next few days, and it’s getting time for me to keel over on the tatami and start slipping in and out of consciousness.

I’ll take pictures when I have the chance, so keep an eye out for some rice-harvesty images in the near future.  Good night.

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