Monday, January 17, 2005


Pastor Ikesako of 田名部教会 (Tanabu Church) Teaches Some of His Parishioners How to Make Kimchi After Sunday Service

Making kimchi led to the discussion of other things Korean and I found out that Mutsu “City” used to have a Korea Town. The Japanese expression 朝鮮町 (chousen machi) is, to say the least, considered politically incorrect and the subject of how one of those communities of 在日韓国人 (zainichi-kankokujin: Japanese residents of Korean descent) came to exist in Mutsu is taboo. I learned, however, that a substantially large number of Korean slave labourers were brought to the Shimokita peninsula to work on the Oma (大間)Railroad. This part of the story was consistently left out when my supervisor and others explained to me about the ruins of uncompleted bridges here and there along the coastal Highway 279. The railway was to have connected the town of Oma on the northern tip of Honshu with the rest of Japan's rail network and, had it been completed, it would have passed right below my house through Kazamaura. However, the end of the war in 1945 brought an end to wartime construction, an end to the Oma Railroad, and an end to Korean slave labour in Japan. Those of Korean descent who chose to remain in the Shimokita area were gradually assimilated into the local population and now there are no external indications of their existence. For the most part they do not speak Korean, they have not kept their Korean names, and they do not celebrate Korean culture in a way that would catch an outsider’s attention. In fact, there wasn’t even a real Korean restaurant or food store in Mutsu until a Japanese man and his Korean wife (who came from Korea about fifteen years ago) opened an establishment in October which combines both services.

I had a lady at church draw a map for me of how to get to it . . .

. . . and now that Thumper’s back I can actually give it a visit without paying ¥1,450 one way for a bus ticket! (Yes, I know, the money I paid to have Thumper repaired would have covered exactly 47.1558620689 such one way tickets—that’s 23.5779310344 round trips!)

Thumper is Promising Not to Take Out a Restraining Order Against Me on the Condition that I Adopt the Four-Fold Way of Happy Winter Driving: Come On Thumper, I wasn’t Going THAT Fast, and I DID Pay ¥68,376 To the Mechanic as Restorative Penance (Read about Thumper’s woes here and here)

This photo was taken from behind my house, on the hill overlooking the Strait of Tsugaru. The red arrow points to Thumper while he was awaiting his fate at Car Heroic—the only mechanic’s in town. The blue arrow points to Hakodate-yama, on the island of Hokkaido. My cell-phone camera never seems to be able to pick up Hokkaido very well.

Red pepper for making kimchi should be imported from Korea because Japanese soil causes even Korean plants to produce pepper that is too strong for flavouring kimchi. Perhaps Japanese mustard (karashi) is also subject to this characteristic of Japanese soil? It certainly tastes like it.