Tourist brochures exulting in Japan’s four seasons invariably grind to a painful halt when they come to describing the fifth, the rainy season, using language which feels like the product of a gun held to a copywriter’s head. The beauty of hydrangeas in the constant drizzle is often hinted at, as a saving grace. But when I spent a day walking in the constant drizzle in the hills of southern Fukushima, looking at radiant blue hydrangeas dotting a lush, green land, the idea no longer felt laughable. The land glowed in the clean, wet air, and caterpillars dressed as if for Mardi Gras in New Orleans came out on the road.
“I was in Seattle on 11/9, and for days, people walked the streets with their heads down, unable to comprehend that such a man had been elected President of the United States,” Josh said. We sat in the kitchen of Mr. Ponta’s working farm, which served as a refuge for children whose families had lost their land in the Fukushima nuclear disaster. He was a child of diplomats, a lapsed Latter-day Saint who peppered his speech with “My goodness!”, whose diverse practical skills included the ability to build a treehouse, to which the children then made extravagant claims.
We drank our coffee, the rain hesitant. “I grew up in Beijing, Taipei, and Tokyo, but this is the first time I’ve been to rural Japan,” he said. “It’s a wonderful place.” Outside, the children were hammering away, the rain stopped, and I walked into the woods, missing them already.