Monday, November 01, 2004

A Typical Weekend of an Aomori JET Part the First: A Party in the Halls of Valhalla


It turns out that J-Santa’s manager used to manage pigs. This lumber mill was once a pig farm, and apparently up until fifteen years ago there was one pig for every human in my village. Then Mr. Yotaro Muraguchi’s father passed away. He sold the pigs and pursued his dream of becoming one with Aomori’s hiba tree.

He earns his basic living selling regular hiba lumber, but what he really lives for is a dream—a fellowship of the Hiba where no part of the tree is nullified through waste. Stumps, rotten trunks, and twigs all receive a second life in Yotaro’s workshop. His Wooden Craft Centre now includes, in addition to the old pig barns, two beautiful houses of hiba in which he entertains his many and varied guests. On Friday night, these guests included my parents and me.

The Nordic Valhalla aura of this wooden sanctuary was enhanced by a roaring fire, the free-flowing kandachime rice wine, and the boisterously drunken navy types among that evening’s company. Other guest’s included the ex-mayor of Kazamaura (far left), an ex-submariner (centre) entertaining some navy contractors (not pictured), and a navy surgeon (not pictured) who once operated on the emperor Hirohito. Table conversation ranged all over the universe but dwelt unnaturally long on the sexual habits of octopi. All feasted on sashimi and squid. Under the right circumstances one can stay overnight in The House of Hiba for a rate of 3,000 yen per person per night.

A disclaimor is in order here, namely to state that in the hiba Halls of Valhalla the Elliot's drank no kandachime but only pineapple juice, nor did they contribute any useful knowledge on the sexual practices of octopi.