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Saturday, October 22, 2016

It’s Always Sunny In Ohtawara

This past week, my good friend Matthew traveled back to Japan with his family to visit his father-in-law who is sick back in Ohtawara-shi, Tochigi-ken.

Matthew, good buddy that he is, sent along some photos of where he was, taking the time to do two things with the photos here.

1) It’s my old home - Zuiko Haitsu (aka Zuiko Mansion) in downtown Ohtawara-shi… I lived on the 3rd floor of the wing. Note that floor one is not street level. Seeing that family apartment building that was at one time the tallest building in the city of 50,000.. well… I can’t help but think of all the great and fun times I had and how I am never going to sleep with that many women ever again. Sigh. What is particularly interesting about this image (for this point), is that the streets are wider, as all of the old homes have been removed. I don't feel too bad about that, as some of those homes used sheets of corrugated steel panels, and while I respect that not every one has money or dumb luck to live in a Zuiko Mansion, those homes looked completely out of place. The roadway back then in 1993, was essentially one-lane each way.

2) The sky is blue. I am pretty sure it was Matthew who drizzled the nickname Ame Otoko (Rain Man) upon me, as it always seemed to rain whenever I traveled in Japan.
Perhaps starting out as a joke, Matthew would ask me of my future movements before making vacation travel plans. It really was that wet when I traveled.
I could arrive somewhere warm and sunny, and after an hour when the rain clouds that perpetually followed me caught up, it would rain. There was talk amongst my Board of Education office staff about sending me around to some of the areas afflicted with a bit of drought to help save the crops.  As Matthew’s photo proves, it’s always sunny in Ohtawara, when Ame Otoko is stuck in Toronto with the rain.

Granted that the old place looks a little beat up... note that I left there 23 years ago.

Would you believe that Matthew called me from Ohtawara on Thursday night? What a friend.

While I lived at Zuiko Haitsu, Matthew lived a five-minute bicycle ride away in a very nice place. I taught at the then seven junior high schools within the city, while Matthew taught at the junior high schools on the outskirts of the city.

Images are by Matthew.

Andrew Joseph

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