Looking Inward

Where Next?
Bob Williams
Fri 31 Jan 2014 07:45
Position: Alongside Wadamari Ko
Wind: East sou'east F3 gentle breeze
Weather: sunny, mild

(More computer issues. This is yesterday's post but it did not get through.)

I was awoken this morning by a hoy from the wharf. It was getting on towards nine o'clock so the shake was welcome. A man in overalls through means various, mostly non-verbal, managed to communicate to me that Sylph had to be moved. From the subsequent movements of other vessels and vehicles I gather I had chosen to come alongside the berth designated for refuelling. I moved Sylph to where the man indicated, about sixty meters down the wharf, then I retired below to breakfast.
After breakfast I broke out the sewing machine to repair the courtesy flag, which is now once again satisfying customary protocol, flying from the spreader. Then, as I was retrieving a pair of work jeans I had thrown on the V-berth I was overwhelmed by a desire for just another wee snooze. This satisfied, about an hour later, I clambered out of the bunk, donned working attire and continued from where I had left off in Naha, grinding out more rust spots.
Somewhere through these proceedings a young lady came and paid me a visit and informed me that I had to move again. She made me to understand that three vessels were coming into harbour later in the day, but that if I moved into the far corner of the harbour I could stay there for the remaining three days of my stay undisturbed. She gave me a hot coffee in a small screw top aluminium bottle and a cold coffee in an aluminium can, telling me they were gifts. I was intrigued by the hot coffee in the the aluminium bottle, never having drunk coffee in this mode before. I thanked her, presuming perhaps they were her way of compensating me for the inconvenience I was being caused, but, after Naha, I was very happy with my current circumstances. The wharves were designed for fishing boats of a similar size to Sylph so the fendering was much more appropriate, and wharf height was a lot lower so getting on and off Sylph was much easier. Also the port is a lot cleaner than Naha. Consequently, especially seeing as there appears to be no charge for staying here, I was quite happy to move Sylph in order not to inconvenience my hosts.
Once we had moved over to the far corner and secured Sylph again I finished the painting I had started and then changed into shore clothes and went for a walk. Now dinner, and thus concludes another exciting day of cruising. It occurs to me as I read what I have written that it seems that my attention is devoted mostly to Sylph, and that my interest in Japan at this stage is mostly incidental, so let me add some of my shore observations.
I wandered through a cemetery which was interesting, though of course I could not read the headstones. The plots were all walled off with grey petrified coral or light volcanic rock. Each plot contained a small crypt like structure, most with sliding doors at their front, with small obelisks on either side, very much giving the impression of a small residence. I presumed that each plot was devoted to a family, and that the crypts contained the ashes of the deceased. The “yards” of the plots were mostly of sand, and were kept smoothly swept by straw brooms stored in the corner of each plot, reminding one of Zen meditation gardens. The paths between the plots were a laid out maze-like with no discernible order, certainly not in the neat grid like pattern of most western cemeteries. But then this is my first cemetery in Japan, so who knows how representative it is.
Another observation I made in my wanderings was that despite being right next to the sea, all the buildings faced inland. There was no esplanade as such, as there undoubtedly would have been in any western style town or city, rather any house or shop that was adjacent to the ocean presented it with their backs, turning their fronts inland. I am reminded of Easter Island, where all the monolithic statues face inland as well. The anthropological theory would suggest that this indicates an inward looking people, perhaps a little like Sylph's inhabitants, and, given Japan's history, perhaps this makes sense. But, as with the cemetery, my sample size is far too small to draw any general conclusions about Japanese urban design. I shall test the hypothesis further as we explore more of Japan.
All is well.