Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Golden Week Adventures

So because we ran away to Osaka for a spell after the earthquake, we have no leave left to take from work. Last week was "Golden Week", a collection of three public holidays in a row, but those holidays this year were stranded in the Tuesday to Thursday stretch, and thus we were denied a super long weekend. So we stayed close to home, and took a day trip up to Hiraizumi in Iwate.

Hiraizumi is a collection of hilltop temples, the oldest of which are more than 900 years old. Most of the structures were built by the Fujiwara family way back then. They actually built a whole lot more than what is still standing today, but after a "golden age" of about 100 years (not too bad, really) the family fell from prominence. Many buildings were destroyed as the town faded into obscurity over the centuries, but there are still a good number dotted around the place.

We got to see a traditional sword dance, which was seen over by a rickety-looking old man keeping delighfully dubious time on a taiko drum, with a chorus of wooden flutes whistling a repetitious, hypnotic melody. I swear there were shades of Mark E Smith in the incessant, slightly off-key screedling. We dig repetition in the music and we're never going to lose it.

We ate green tea ice creams and wandered around in mossy contemplation.

When the famous haiku poet Matsuo Basho visited the area in 1689 he wrote this:

Ah, summer grasses!
All that remains
Of the warriors' dreams.

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