The Odd Couple

Last night my mother in law asked me if I wanted to go to Anazawa with my father in law today. I remember the name because it’s one letter away from being Kanazawa, which is where I live. Anazawa is notorious for getting the most snow in these parts, quite a feat considering that these parts get lots of snow. Chieko’s dad likes to take pictures so he can later use them as inspiration for his drawings, and I like taking pictures to post on my blog, so I was happy to go along.

After a leisurely morning that included, among other trivialities, me kicking the crap out of Chieko’s dad at ping-pong and then losing a few games to her mom, we hit the road. We left around 1 this afternoon, and I did the driving. I had no idea where we were going so Chieko’s dad was giving me directions the whole way. Several times we ran into dead ends where they had apparently given up on plowing any further, and we had to find alternate routes to Anazawa.

As it turned out, Anazawa was a disappointment. There wasn’t much more snow than there is here, and there are no spectacular views to be had. Part of the problem is that there is so much snow you can’t see anything — literally a 15 foot wall of snow on either side of the road. Thus, as we continued to on into the mountains, stopping at nearly every bridge along the way (bridges don’t have 15 foot walls of snow on either side as the snow removal machines just huck the snow over the side — I’m assuming) so Chieko’s dad could take pictures.

Into the mountains, there was substantially more snow. It’s a novelty to come here for a visit and marvel at how much snow there is, but I imagine living here is a different story. The roads are clogged with huge dump trucks hauling snow to dump in the nearest river, and traffic is held up wall all manner of snow-removal equipment does its thing. The Japanese self-defence force recently came here to help people dig out and otherwise manage the snow. This year has been the exception compared to recent years, but according to Chieko’s dad this was the norm when he was young.

In the end we spent about three hours driving around listening to Enka, having periodic conversation, and taking pictures here and there. It was typical bonding experience for us; no tons of words exchanged but a mutual comfort with each other and appreciation for the surroundings.

The only picture I took near Anazawa was of the old post office, which was seemingly just waiting to collapse.

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This was the typical landscape we passed through. It is beautiful, but gets a bit tedious after a while.

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At one point Chieko’s dad commanded me to pull over at a random building. Turned out to be a koi farm with some of the biggest fish I have ever seen. There was nobody around and we just walked into “greenhouse.” In the summer they move these fish outside to ponds, but bring them in for the winter. Aside from the most delicious rice in Japan (at least that’s what they tell me), this area is also famous for breeding nice koi. Chieko’s dad is big into koi and keeps ten or so in his pond.

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The gold ones caught my eye, though they weren’t nearly the largest. We left the koi farm without seeing anyone.

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Eventually we got home, went out to dinner, and then to a local onsen bath. Upon returning home I set about taking some pictures. Last weekend when Chieko’s sister and her family were here they built this picture-perfect kamakura (a.k.a. igloo). It perfectly round, has tons a path that winds up around and behind it, and they even carved notches all around for candles.

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So when you light it up, you get this:

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Pretty sweet if you ask me. I made a kamakura here last year but it was nowhere near this badass.

I then jumped in the car to try and get a few more pictures. Ever since I took pics of the mountains the other night, I’ve had a particular shot in mind that I wanted to take. I figured it would be raining tonight, but since it wasn’t, and with the moon almost full, I drove to a road that I took pictures from around new years, one of which looks a lot like this, plus blue skies, daylight, and a lot less snow.

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At the end of the road, at least where they plow to, I parked, hopped onto the roof of the car with tripod, and got the picture I had been thinking of.

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There’s also a small shrine that was almost buried, but looking mighty picturesque as well.

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So overall a very good day, and one that is rapidly coming to a close. We are heading back to Kanazawa tomorrow to begin getting ready for our trip to America on…Tuesday. Work to do!

I should be able to manage another post before we head for the States, if for nothing else but to say we are heading to the States. Until then, good night.

Oops, forgot a picture of the boy, looking like a girl.

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4 thoughts on “The Odd Couple

  1. He’s a pretty boy! I wish we could take some of that hair and give it to MJ… That snow looks amazing, good pictures again but I think you’re right, day in and day out of that would be pretty harsh after awhile. Pretty cool for a few days though.

    1. thanks man, i think there must be a gaijin/japanese divide about hair because i love his long hair, as do many of my family members and other foreigners who see him, but my wife keeps saying we need to cut it, and the first thing most japanese people say is that his hair is long…

  2. A beautiful happy picture of Ray. I hope we get to see him again this time–he is so different from last year. Not certain yet of our plans. Love the igloo! I used to make “forts”, but nothing like this and never with candles. Like living in a jack o’lantern!

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