At the edge of the horizon

At the edge of the horizon
At the edge of Japan

Saturday, October 16, 2010

The Natural World (I live in the inaka and I love it)

I realize the irony in spending time on a computer to profess my rediscovered love for nature, but since writing a letter and sending it to everyone I know seems antiquated, I think using this blog to do so is acceptable.  Here's my confession:  I've spent the past 10 years of my life to a certain extent in front of a computer (either for work, school, research or at home).  I've used this technology to interface with others and sometimes to just waste time.  I enjoy technology.  I also enjoy living in cities.  I never thought I was a country girl.  I never thought I would like a slow paced life that does not have all of the trappings that I enjoy.  But for all of the years spent either in NYC, London or even Tampa and all of the countless hours spent interfacing via technology online, I've never felt experiences of joy without these things like I have recently.  The lows I sometimes feel here due to cultural and language barrier clashes are countered when exploring the coastline here, or traveling to Iriomote and passing through the mountains and dense jungle to take a boat ride to the small fishing village of Funauki (which can only be accessed by boat as there are no roads leading to it), or swimming off the coast of Yonehara Beach where a beautiful barrier reef exists.  (This morning I went snorkeling for the first time and found myself surrounded by thousands of fish of a variety of colors.  They swam right up to me and were staring at me as if completely curious as to what I was, but not fearful of me either.  I can't express accurately how gorgeous the water or the coral reefs are there.  Nothing in the world of fast paced city-life or high technology can substitute for the experience.  Nothing.)

The coral reef at Yonehara Beach

The mountains in the background at Yonehara

This is not the Japan most people experience though.  It's quite far away from the concrete cities, the high tech landscapes of Tokyo or Osaka or even the smaller, industrial cities that dot mainland Japan.  Where I live is a special place (its a refuge for many people in Japan who have rejected the corporate, "salaryman/woman" lifestyle).  It also lacks in some of the things I'd hoped I'd find in Japan.  For all of the things I've been missing here (art museums, experimental performance/dance parties, avant-garde theater, coffee shops, music concerts), the benefits of a metropolis cannot contend with finding something within the solitude of nature.  Well, I sound like Thoreau (but honestly, I live in the port city here and I have access to the Internet, grocery stores, karaoke and bars, so I'm hardly living on the outskirts of civilization).  But I've been searching for a meaning to my life and I felt unhappy even though I was doing what I loved and what I'd long dreamed of doing in NYC.  Things did not seem to fall into place easily anymore, everything seemed a bit out of balance.  I found myself feeling angry and unhappy about the dumbest, pettiest things. There is something about having access to the solitude and to the amazing scenery here that helps me find refuge in simple experiences and the joy of living.  All of this, including my job here, makes me consider what I have to offer to this world to make it a happier, more peaceful place.  For all of the cynicism I've picked up in recent years, I guess I'm still an optimist after all.  I hope all of this will reflect back into my art/writing and take me in the direction of a life full of gratitude and awe.  To do this, I've resolved to spend much more time enjoying how rural and bucolic this island is and less time focusing on what is not here.  I'm hoping the beauty and peacefulness of the environment will rub off.

I leave you with this fan video of a song by Washed Out. Enjoy!


  1. enjoyed the video! almost being there. next, ishigaki verion with fish swarming around you?

  2. Thanks for the comment! I'll try to post something fun like that next time I head to the beach here. It's been raining constantly though this past week (I think it came from Typhoon Megi). I almost forgot about the sun. :)