Not long after after I arrived in Japan, Andrew told me the country has four distinct seasons; typhoon season, rainy season, too hot and too cold.
We are now well into the rainy season (June essentially) and, although it’s not raining at the moment, it is still well before noon and that pervasive grayness and leaden wet atmosphere that presages the afternoon deluge is already upon us. It will probably become increasingly muggy and dark and, as the day wears on, the afternoon downfall will bring a refreshing measure of relief.
Last week’s teeming rains were spectacular. The office staff at school watched as the seconds that separated the brilliant forked lightning from the ensuing thunderclaps lessened. We followed the path of the storm as the lightning moved from the surrounding hills down into the town and very close to the school itself. It was, I’m pretty sure, the first time I’ve seen lightning actually strike something.
On Friday I had to go to Okayama to apply for renewal of my residency card for another year. Apart from Okayama-jo (castle) and The Koraku-en Gardens, Okayama is an undistinguished modern-looking city of a little more than 700,000 people. The castle (since rebuilt using the original plans) and most of the city was heavily bombed during WW2, hence the lack of interesting historical sites or architecture. Fortunately the beautiful neighboring city of Kurashiki was spared the bombing. But I digress…
Even though I’m not crazy about Okayama, I was looking forward to getting out of town for a day and the train ride is beautiful, following as it does the meandering course of the Takahashi river through the surrounding mountains. It was about an hours ride comfortably spent listening to my IPod and reading Haruki Murakami.
I walked directly from the train station to the Immigration Office (Andrew’s directions were good – Always helpful in a country where the streets literally do often have no name), and dropped off the requisite information. They will let me know when the card is ready and I’ll have to return to pick it up in a couple of weeks. I’m certainly hoping it’s ready before July 20th when I return to Canada for a month.
Walking back to the train station I couldn’t resist stopping into a McDonald’s for a Big Mac; interestingly enough, something that would not even occur to me in Canada. It was identical to a North American Big Mac: Even the insipidly green lettuce was chopped into those same tiny little pieces. Ronald McDonald BTW, is called Donald McDonald in Japan. Go figure!
McDonald’s is just across the street from the train station. I boarded the next train to Niimi shortly after noon and was home by 1:00pm. It had been sunny and warm all morning but that pervasive “rainy season” pressure cooker was heating up. I hadn’t been home too long when the skies opened and the rain came down. I cracked a cold can of Asahi and walked out onto my covered balcony. The rain had cooled things down a little: It was refreshing. All in all, not a bad morning.
The mornings can be misleading.