Friday, July 05, 2013

House of Light

image by Southworth Sailor
image, a photo by Southworth Sailor on Flickr.

Today was our opportunity to meet Sassa's family. From Osaka we took the bullet train to Tokyo and then another one to the Western slopes of the Japanese Alps. The crossing of the mountains was more like passing through the bottom of them as much of the trip was in tunnels. Sassa's family lives in the Shinano Valley in Nigatta Prefecture. What a contrast from the endless urban sprawl of the Eastern coast! Lush forested mountains tower over a broad river valley filled with rice fields. Small communities dot the landscape. The area is also host to many art displays. The Maruyama family rented an amazing lodge on the mountain side for us to share with them for a night. The lodge is a work of art. It is called the House of Light, and though it features traditional Japanese style, it was designed by American architect James Turrell to celebrate different features of light. Some highlights are a retractable roof that exposes a square dome and a large Japanese bath illuminated by phosphorescent light. We enjoyed a meal of sushi and torijiru soup while getting to know each other through our interpreters, Calvin and Sassa. A soak in the unique bath prepared our bodies for a peaceful sleep.

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