Alright, now that I’ve been back in America for over a month let’s see if I can ever get these Japan posts finished.
Actually, part of the reason it’s been taking so long (aside from all of the general business I’ve been trying to take care of since getting back) is due to a tragic, tragic loss I suffered a couple of weeks ago.
For whatever reason, I’ve been having really bad Hard Drive luck lately. You may recall a tough day last November during which I suffered a severe crash. Well, since then I’ve become much more careful about constantly backing up my data…but somehow I was taught yet another lesson in carelessness. See, even though I was now backing everything up weekly, the one thing that I’d been leaving out was my folder of pre-written blog posts. My (flawed) logic at the time was that these posts are merely temporary data, and would be online soon enough, so I didn’t have to worry about backing them up with all of the more long-term data. D’oh.
Also in that folder were two hundred-something photos that I pulled out from my massive archives, the “best-of’s” that I intended to use to populate these posts from here on out. I still have all of the original files of course, but with no easy way of figuring out which have already been posted you can probably expect to see some duplicates popping up every now and then.
So, getting back to the fun stuff…
As I mentioned, my business trip to Miyazaki consisted of several elements. First was the data gathering: getting our hands dirty out in the field. This part of the job was relatively uneventful, except for one time when I jumped off of a mound and landed on a thin piece of bamboo that was sticking out of the ground. It pierced right through the bottom of my shoe and came up just high enough to rip my sock but not the skin of my foot. That’s a near disaster if I’ve ever seen one.
Each day I’d retire after work to my very own room at the Marix Lagoon Hotel, the second “nice hotel” I’ve stayed at in years. I’ll tell you, ya just can’t beat an all-expense paid business trip. Especially when the host’s idea of a “cheap dinner” is all-you-can-eat yakiniku (beef) and all-you-can-drink draft beer.
Dean would usually wrap up his evenings in the hotel’s luxurious onsen and by chatting up the hotel staff, although I usually just ended up knocking out bright and early. I’m getting too old for this stuff.
Speaking of chatting up the hotel staff, I found it amusing that every single employee at the Marix Lagoon Hotel seemed to know Dean by name. Aside from the fact that he’s received quite a few survey contracts in Miyazaki, he just seems to love chatting in Japanese. Which is pretty amazing considering that he’s never picked up a single language textbook, nor learned how to read hiragana/katakana. It’s pretty funny for me to listen to, though, as he has this habit of randomly sticking English words into his sentences when he doesn’t know the Japanese one. His highly educated scientist-colleagues seem to have no trouble getting his meaning, but you’ve got to wonder how much a humble hotel clerk understands of English words like “data analysis” and “microwave radar equipment.”
After completing the on-site survey phase of the trip he showed me how to use his software to create some intelligible images of what exists under all that earth. Unfortunately, we didn’t find anything particularly interesting. I was sort of hoping for something more unexpected – he told me that he once accidentally discovered an entire Roman coliseum while doing a survey in Italy.
Finally, we headed down to City Hall to present our findings, leaving us one full day to goof off before parting ways.
We spent that day walking around a huge burial mound park in Saitobaru, a small town outside of Miyazaki. I quickly understood why he had been receiving so many contracts in the Miyazaki area: I have no idea why the ancients thought that this would be a such good spot to bury their dead 1,500 years ago, but they sure seem like they were sure of themselves. He told me that there was even an Imperial tomb nearby, but that you needed special permission from the government go get on-site. Permission that he had but I didn’t. Oh well.
And after a tour of his friend’s museum, some drinks at an izakaya, and one last night in the hotel, I finally started my long trip back to Kyoto. It was February 11th and I only had four days left until my long adventure through Asia would at last draw to a close. My return
home to America was so rapidly approaching that I think I was in denial, because for some reason I wasn’t feeling anything at all. I just sat there and rode that train home like it was any other of the hundreds I’ve ridden over the past year. It would be one of the last.