Jan's Blog Flower



Now reading . . .

"Sewing Circles of Herat"
by Christina Lamb

"Where Did I Leave My Glasses?"
by Martha Weinman Lear

July 29, 2008


It is like a little glimpse of heaven, I think, this small compound of rustic cabins owned by missionaries in Japan. It is on a beach north of Tokyo outside of Sendai. Many years ago two compounds were established to provide the Western missionaries a place to escape from the debilitating heat of Japanese summers. Since my youngest sister and her husband have been in Japan for many years, they have been able to have a cabin at Takayama. I had the occasion to pass through Japan many times while I traveled in Asia for BSF so I arranged my travel to include stops to include visits to my sister and her husband, both in their home close to Tokyo and at Takayama. The feat of which I am most proud is to have come from Okinawa by airplane, train, bullet train, local train and taxi and arrive intact at my sister’s doorstep at Takayama. I did have a little help with my bags during the last steep climb up the hill.

One year, we had the audacity to ask my sister and her husband if we could stay in their cabin for the summer. Of course they graciously said, “Yes.” We were there for nearly three months. In the beginning it was very rainy and cold but we had a “kotatsu.” A kotatsu is a traditional kind of table heater. There is an electric heater under a table with a quilt or blanket hanging down so a person can have his or her legs toasty warm. We hung a blanket over the doorway and were cozy in the kitchen of the cabin as we read and played cards and talked. We survived a typhoon with lots of rain, much of which was driven into the house through the cracks in the boards. Later on it became very warm but we continued to enjoy ourselves as we read and walked the beach, collecting shells. We watched the fishermen tending their nets, the ferry going back and forth and the surfers. We walked to a nearby grocery store and bought our groceries, often with the help of housewives in the store or the checkers. They knew we needed help. Several times we walked to a larger town (Tagajo) and bought groceries. It was about six miles away. Once we came with newspapers and plastic bags and bought ice cream to take home. We packaged the ice-cream securely in plastic and then wrapped the bags in newspapers and walked six miles home. It worked just great!

Some people were a little concerned since we were there without a telephone, without a car, and without Japanese language. The missionaries had not yet arrived - they come in July and August, usually. My sister had shown us where the clinic was in a nearby town if we needed it. Mmmm came up with an ingenious plan if one of us fell and broke a leg or something. I mentioned the surfers, earlier. They are in good shape, mostly young, strong and mobile. One of us would go down to the water and ask them to help us. Most younger people have some knowledge of English. They could use a surf board to carry us down to one of their cars and take us to the clinic! Brilliant!

We had such a wonderful time that we asked them a second time if we could use their cabin. It was cold this time but still wonderful especially since they had installed a wood-burning stove and again we read and rested and walked and beach-combed. This particular beach has wonderful shells and other things. If one needs a sieve or a broom or a hat, one can almost always find one. I have found a good hat every time I have gone. Then there is the pleasure of meeting like-minded people, attending church services with missionaries from many different denominations. There was the fun of seeing old friends from previous trips and acquaintances from other places. The walking trips to the Horse Shrine, the boat trips to see Matsushima. Matsushima is known as one of the three most scenic places in Japan, with a bay full of 260 small islands covered in pine groves. What great trips!

Someone wrote, “What makes Tak, Tak. . . the pine trees, the ocean, the cicadas, the fish, shells, walking on the beach, swimming, fun night, vespers, the fellowship . . and, most of all, the memories!”

"You know... the whole thing about water, sky and sand."

Takayama - 2004

previous ~ home ~ next