the bali – miyazaki connection
Yesterday Terasaka-san, a furniture maker who volunteers for the festival, took me around to see some spectacular nature, and some ancient sites including burial mounds from ancient times and other things. This side shrine at a Shinto temple caught my eye. It really took me back to Bali:
on the way we also passed some tea plantations. (Kyushu, and it seems Miyazaki prefecture in particular, is famous for its agricultural productivity). I was struck by how neat the rows were, and somehow was trying to imagine the tea workers in Bandung (West Java) trying to keep rows like this instead of those clumpy bushes. Then I saw the machine!
Yet despite this agricultural success, it seems the easy going life here has its price: Tera-san tells me that out of the 48 odd prefectures in Japan, Miyazaki ranks 45th on the economic scale. But he would rather be here than Tokyo: after two years studying there (sculpture and print making? I think thats what he meant!) he decided he’d rather be in Miyazaki. As he so disarmingly put it: “I discovered that I really truly had no talent!” (But he makes great handmade furniture). As he is telling me this we come to a cross road, a couple of cars in front are queuing up, and to our left a middle aged gentleman in a toyota sedan is coming out of a gas station, waiting to enter the road. Tera-san stops and waves him in. The gentle man declines and waves us on with a smile. They kind of bow to each other and finally we drive on. When I smile, Tera-san comments that “outside drivers” meaning non-Miyazakians, often berate the Miyazakians for being so unhurried, whereas they themselves just find it a natural politeness. Reading a commentary on the Buddhist scholar Nagarjuna’s “Seventy Stanzas” this morning regarding the Buddhist view of “selflessness” it strikes me that in reality there are no “true” nationalities either. Japan is a mix of its own, from the freezing, 3m deep snows of Hokaido to the subtropical Miyazaki (and even warmer Okinawa), to the hustle bustle no-time-for-anything temperament of Tokyo to the warmth and relaxed tempo of the people here. National traits seem to be the fictional caricature of our times.