Wednesday, March 02, 2005

The Fellowship of the Hiba

There is in Kazamaura one porthole to the rest of the universe—well, to the world, at any rate. It is the Fellowship of the Hiba, centred on the person of 村口社長 (Muraguchi-shachou: company president). In an otherwise narrow minded and unimaginative squid fishing village, he is the local voice of ambition and innovation. There are a thousand houses in Kazamaura with a thousand families whiling away their evenings in front of televisions or in idle gossip. I have visited a few such households and shared in the shallow chatter about shopping and weather and strange food. However, for those who prefer to venture forth into the broader dialogue of life, the universe, and everything, the Muraguchi compound is the place to go. I have written on the Muraguchi outfit in previous posts:

“Wide (waido) no ki”: Mr. Yotaro Muraguchi (村口) and Kazamaura’s Wooden Craft Club
A Typical Weekend of an Aomori JET Part the First: A Party in the Halls of Valhalla
and a brief reference to his fame throughout the region in:
If You're Ever in Mutsu: Some Great People at Three Great Establishments

Indeed, basically any internationally oriented person I have met with any connection to the Shimokita has known of Mr. Muraguchi.

I had lost touch with Mr. Muraguchi for a while (the last time I talked to him being the time I accompanied the über-Germans to his workshop. However, on Monday he happened to come across my blog while searching for the Kazamaura homepage and dropped me an email invitation to join the evening’s festivities.

. . . which is how I came to be partying past midnight with these guys on a Monday evening. From the left, Mr. Muraguchi himself, Dr. Watanabe, the retired naval doctor (who, so they say, once performed an operation on the emperor), the local gaijin, and Dr. Kato, the young dentist who works at the same hospital as Dr. Watanabe in Oma Town. Initially, I had only planned to stay until nine o’clock, but it was so refreshing to discuss theology, classical cinema, local issues on the environment and education, and things that are wrong with this village rather than the usual rot about amalgamation with Oma and the similarity in texture between squid testicles and natto that I ended up staying several hours longer. One extraordinary discovery I made in the course of the evening was that the mountains of Shimokita were once completely crisscrossed with narrow gauge railroads used to transport lumber.

Click on Map for Source Page

This is what I’m talking about! This is where I’m going when the snow melts! Abandoned narrow gauge railroads disappearing into the monkey kingdoms of the Yagen Forest!

Click on the Photo to See More Pictures of the Yagen Narrow Gauge Railroad!

Mr. Muraguchi’s living room clock which, like the house and everything in it, he made himself is a philosophical statement: If you really think you need to know the time then make the effort to peak through the ports and look for the hands. Just don’t keep glancing at the clock!

The Five Minute Road (五分道路) at Midnight: The shortcut between the village and my house on the hill.

Walking Home Through a Frozen Monday Night