Thursday, August 09, 2001

Reckless City Dwellers

We've been at our mountain villa in Ohizumi village in Yamanashi Prefecture for several days now, and I've really been struck both with the kindness of those that live here and the recklessness of the city dwellers who aren't at all familiar with the mountains. In order to construct our garden, we went to a home improvement center, about a 30 minute drive away, and loaded the car with some bricks and broken stone chips. As I've written before, I drive a Honda Odyssey, and, if you fold down the back two row of seats, there's quite a bit of cargo space. Taking advantage of that, we loaded 20 bags of stone chips, weighing 20 kilograms each, and 200 bricks. That was about 600 kilograms in total, the equivalent of about 10 people. Since the Odyssey accommodates 7-8 people, It is likely that we were well over capacity.

Driving slowly, we managed to get to end of the paved road. From there, however, it's about 1 kilometer up a road lined only with rock chips. The continuous rains, coupled with the traffic, had created some furrows and ditches, so as soon as we started up this mountain road, there was a big scraping sound from underneath the car. I continued on, however, thinking simply that I could somehow manage to steer the car and avoid damaging the under carriage of the car, when, about 30 meters beyond the Kohmi Line train crossing, the car started to screech and scream with shrill scraping sounds. Realizing that the car would be severely damaged if I continued on any further, I stopped the car and got out. My wife and I both looked at each other in disbelief--there was hardly any room at all between the road and the bottom of the car.

It was then that we heard someone calling from behind. We saw a lady in her 50's, probably someone who lived nearby. She said, "I don't think you'll be able to make it in that car. I'll loan you our jeep so you can move your things." We were touched at her kindness and took her up on the offer to use her car. The jeep was a Suzuki Jimny, a light 4WD that is popular amongst those living in the villas for its power and design. The only thing was the limited cargo space. My wife and I made it home safely after three separate trips to haul everything home.

Had this lady not come out and offered her help, we would undoubtedly have had to unload everything road there and make, not three, but five or six trips back and forth.

We visited this lady later, taking a melon as a small token of our appreciation, and she said, "Lots of things happen up here. Please let me know if I can be of any help." I had to catch myself because I wanted to blurt out, "Yes, please teach us hopeless city dwellers all you can!"

- MT

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