Nagano: Hums of the Homesick

The second day of my trip to the more northern part of Japan: Nukuta, Nagano.

It was only my second morning and I was already battling feelings of home-sickness. If you want to see the first post in this series, check it out here: Click me!


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The next morning I didn’t wake up in my bed. There was a water bottle at my feet, and I heard shuffling and voices coming from the next room. I made sure that they didn’t know I was up. I would take my time.

As I emerged from my futon, I walked into the kitchen. There was no one there and I decided to take a peak outside to see the morning. It was simply beautiful. The fog started to settle on the trees, and the sun was reflecting off of the early dew. It was something that my camera tried hard to capture to no avail. Something like that must be seen with ones own eyes.

He came back home after a few minutes and prepared me some of his wife’s steamed bread. It was light and fluffy. I made a mental note that I would attempt it when I got back home. I noticed that he only called his wife Yumi-san. Because adding -san to the end of a name is a sign of respect used with people you are on polite terms with, I was very surprised that he used it with his wife. I don’t know many people who use it in Kansai to their spouses.

When the afternoon started to roll around, I somehow was getting restless. I had traveled to Singapore and Bali for two weeks earlier in the year, but this trip seemed even longer than the time I had spent outside of Japan. I wanted to go home and I didn’t know why. I decided to combat the feelings as best I can and tried to not show my uneasiness.

Another interesting thing about the both of them is that they did not compliment a lot. It can go to your head with out you realizing it back in Kansai because everyone is on the complimenting wagon. If you do the smallest thing, they say that is great, but this couple from Nukuta didn’t.

My job that day was to help with the garlic. He took me in the morning to see his greenhouse and at my feet he placed a big bag of garlic bulbs that we would work on together for the next three hours. I had no idea that it could be so much fun. I was with Yoshida-san for the whole day, and we talked and talked and talked while the garlic smell started to become imbedded in our fingertips.

We hide the things we want to show to people, and then slowly, we start to forget them ourselves.

When he would say things like the above, I would want to rush to my Itouch. I can say that it is true for me. Growing up here, I think that I suppressed a lot.  Now when I encounter a situation I am not comfortable with, I give myself a hard time about it and I don’t know why.

When you are out in the garden with yourself being the only one keeping you company, you think a lot. He told me in the evening that he was dwelling on a problem for three months before he discovered the answer within himself. Perhaps all of the questions that we ask, if we spend a little more time thinking the answers could be dug up.

I had my first bath at the 和合(Wagou) house the night before. I was actually thankful that it was separate from the main house because I could take my time. I welcomed taking a long bath that evening. When you have so much to do, it distracts you and you can not fully enjoy it. When I was there I had no people to see, and no plans to make.

I think the feelings of home-sickness arose because my body went into shock without me realizing it. Up until that point I was busy everyday, greeting hundreds of people at work. Now I was alone, with no company. I learned to appreciate the sound of the dripping from the faucet, the grumbling of the water heater, the sound of silence, and the smell of garlic that was coming from my hands.


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