joylani 130pxOnce again we flashed our handy JR Rail Passes and made use of our pre-paid fares to head all the way up to Fukushima.  My grandmother’s parents were from here, and I was curious to see what it looked like.  I knew the town would obviously look different than 100 years ago, but I knew I could at least get a feel for the place in terms of landscape and weather.  Our destination was 288 km from Tokyo, though it only took an hour and a half on the bullet train.  It was drizzling steady when we arrived, and after picking up a map from the info office at the station, we ran across the street in search for umbrella.  This was easy to be found.  However, as we walked out of the store and opened our new umbrella both Matt and I were dismayed to discover it was child-sized and only big enough to maybe keep our faces dry.  But then it stopped raining (so it goes when you’ve just bought an umbrella).  Fukushima is north of Tokyo, and consequently a bit cooler.  There are sweet little mountains surrounding the town which, according to the tourist brochure I picked up, come alive with reds and oranges in the fall.  We wandered around town for a bit before deciding to head towards Mt. Shinobu.  There are some old Buddhist carvings in the rock there and we figured that sounded like the most interesting thing to see in this small town.  It was a pleasant walk past well-loved houses and buildings.  Once at the base of the hill there was a lovely sidewalk followed by a stream.  Periodically there were bird-info plaques (for the avian enthusiasts), and periodically a bench to rest on, or to wait for birds.

Before we’d reached the carvings we came across a cemetery.  At first glance it appeared to be small, but upon further notice as we walked up the hill, the cemetery was actually quite large.  Walking up the hill we admired the style of memorial stones as well as the view of Fukushima.  The carvings were just a little bit further around the hill (actually adjacent to the far side of the cemetery).  They area was small and the details had been washed away by wind and rain long before we arrived, but it was interesting nonetheless.  I wondered if my grandmother’s family had ever come to this hill to check it out.


And then, since we didn’t know what else to do in Fukushima, and because there was a dark cloud speeding across the sky, Matt and I turned around and walked back to the train station.  It was a simple day, but I hadn’t been expecting much.  And I’m happy to have seen where my ancestors used to live.

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