Change, nature, and new friends

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Good evening to the world! Max here showing of what has commonly become known as the “Viking pose”. Don’t ask me why! I take no blame!

First, before anything else! I will report on some “just in”-news, smoking hot fresh out of the radio! Literally only a few minutes ago!
Minamioguni just got its first ever elected female member of the local city council! Let me present Morinaga Hitomi-san!
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Rural Japan is truly wonderful and there is so much that I respect here! I can from the bottom of my heart say that I grow as a person every day thanks to the fact that my own beliefs, that, of course, are shaped by my upbringing in an urban environment, continuously gets challenged. And in the same way, there are obviously backsides to the small community of the countryside as well. In smaller isolated towns progressive change often comes at a slower pace. This results in traditional values that often lead to very defined gender roles. The smaller the community is the harder it is to break these trends as the fear of acting against the group is something deeply rooted in humans. Morinaga Hitomi-san is the first woman ever to run for election in Minamioguni and consequently also the first to be elected. I truly respect her bravery and passion and I can’t express how happy I am that she got elected. And what is more amazing is that in an election of a total 10 representatives she got in 5th place! This even though she is a woman, young and someone who is not originally from Minamioguni. This is proof of a natural power that pushes toward progressive change and more open conversation that will allow for all the different small voices that reside in this wonderful town to be heard. I believe that this is one big step, both for gender equality, but also for Minamioguni as a whole. This city has so much potential and these small advances will create ripples in the water that grows bigger and bigger and eventually lead to significant change and an ever more prospering Minamioguni. Thank you Hitomi-san for inspiring hope and showing people that there are things to be gained from taking up the challenge!

With that said, let’s go back to something far less inspiring! My everyday life! But this first thing is actually pretty cool so you should keep reading!

To be honest I have put on quite a few extra kilos by stuffing myself with all the fantastic food to be found here in Minamioguni. Half reluctantly I accepted my fate and recently started to put some effort into exercising. Especially bouldering! This Thursday I went to the small, but oh so sweet, bouldering gym in the neighboring town which I try to do at least twice a week. There is no stationed staff at the gym but this time I met one of the staff for the first time. And she turned out to be a two times representative of Japan in the world championships! She participated in 2014 and 2015 and got as far as the semi-finals! Her name is Hosono Kaori and is now active as a freelance instructor who lives in Oguni but travels Japan and teaches bouldering wherever she is requested. I didn’t only get a private lecture but when I asked if you can buy a chalk bag anywhere close-by she gave me one of hers! How nice is that?! Thank you so much for your kindness Kaori-san, I have made a new friend and you have made a new fan!

Camping! Camping is truly an underestimated activity. There is something unbeatable about the feeling of cooking outdoor surrounded by nature, gathering together with friends around an open fire, and of course, being watched over by an infinite amount of dazzling stars and a bright full moon. This Friday was just such a night! My good friend Kouta-san finally introduced his girlfriend Tan-san who is from Singapore and visited Japan for a couple of days. They planned to camp and invited me and another friend to stop by and have some food and drinks together.

DSC06874Here we have the lovely couple under the bright moon!

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Kouta-san is a true master of how to enjoy the outdoor life that is so central if you want to make the most of the countryside! I am very grateful and happy to have made such an amazing friend here in Minamioguni. And it was really great to see him and Tan-san. She is if anything even more of an outdoor person than Kouta-san is and they compliment each other really well. Tan-san is one of those people that it feels like you have known for a long time even though you meet for the first time. Of course, the atmosphere and the campfire might have helped a bit but more than anything I think it is because Tan-san is such an open and positive person which makes it impossible to not become friends in an instance. Tan-san is right now preparing to move to Japan and trying to find employment here. I have gone through the same process myself and I really hope that I can be of help so that they can be reunited as soon as possible!

Another thing that never stops blowing me away about Kumamoto and Kyushu is how beautiful the scenery is! What is the best way to relax after a hard work-out? Let me tell you! DSC06888
It’s to sink into this outdoor hot spring while you let your eyes wander over the wide open grass plains and the beautiful blue sky! Seriously! This is it…

After exercise and relaxation, I decided to go for a 1 hour trip with the car to a town called Hita located in Oita prefecture to do some shopping. What was the road like? Maybe you imagine some lame highway? No, no, no… Not here!
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This is more or less what it looks like all the time! Come one! This is seriously dangerous!! It’s truly hard to keep your eyes on the road because the scenery you pass by is soooo beautiful!
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And another frustrating thing is that the beautiful landscape keeps forcing you to stop the car and take pictures every 5 minutes. I guess you get used to it after a while… Or do you? At least I haven’t even though I’ve been living here for about 4 months now. And to be honest, I hope I never get used to it. This nature is truly a miracle and should not be taken for granted!

Oh, and as you ride along the road you suddenly find places like this!DSC06905
This is called ‘Koinobori’, “climbing koi fish”. Originally these are given to families when their children are born and decorated outside the houses resembling flags dancing in the wind. At Tsuetate onsen which is a hot spring town, they do this rather unconventional but impactful decoration with koinobori every year around April!

To end this post I’ll share some pictures I took today at Tateiwa suigen. Even though I love the natural spring source Tateiwa and have mentioned it here on the blog before I keep finding new stunning spots all the time! This is a mountain which is taken care of by an acquaintance of mine called Toru-san and his family. They have made it into a park for the flower “Shakunage” which blooms in April every year. The area around their house boasts a stunning 30.000 Shakunage flowers that all bloom at once creating a magical mountain garden that bustles with life and natural energy. They have also made a trail that lets you stroll the mountains while enjoying the feeling as spring gradually transitions to summer.1345
Maybe pictures of flowers don’t do that much if you haven’t actually visited the place yourself but I wanted to share them anyways! Still, I can’t help but be amazed at how Minamioguni keeps providing new stunning places one after another! In a city with 4000 inhabitants! And it still feels like I have only seen a fraction of all there is to discover!

Thank you as always for reading the blog! Next Sunday I will have the pleasure of my girlfriend Madoka visiting me here in Minamioguni for a couple of days. This will most likely result in me not being able to write a post next Sunday since I will go meet her at the airport. So expect me back the Sunday after that!

See you!

Max

 

 

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