Friday, February 12, 2010

Better Know A City: Reflections

Having left Oita Prefecture now, I'm going to have to leave this project half finished. (I completed 41 different towns (see index for a complete list), but I still had 17 left to go.)

One never knows what the future holds. It is possible in a few years I might someday find myself back in the area, and I might someday yet finish this project up. But for now, I'm stopping.

Even without finishing, I still completed 41 different cities on this project. And now I'm a little unsure if this represents an accomplishment to be proud of, or an eccentricity to apologize for.

It was no doubt a heavy investment in time. Each one of those 41 cities was a whole day in itself. As I got farther and farther away from my home base in Nakatsu, driving time reached as much as 3 hours each way. And sorting through my maps, notes, pictures and video afterwards often took the better part of a second day.

And yet, the project had its rewards as well. When I felt the sun shining on my back, or smelled the ocean, or felt the wind on my face, or saw the view from a mountain, I often felt like it was the most alive I had felt all week, and that I was living life to the fullest.
The appeal of exploring a new area, or hiking around outdoors, is perhaps something that can't be explained to the uninitiated. If you enjoy sight-seeing, than you don't need me to explain its appeal to you. On the other hand, if you dislike it, I'm not sure I could explain why I do it.

And for what it's worth, I also saw some truly breathtaking areas of beauty, that I most likely would never have seen otherwise.

But this only explains half of my eccentricity. I suppose the next question is: given what a headache it is to sort through notes, photos, and videos, why do a blog post on each city? Why not just hike around in it and call it good?
Well, as I said when I first started this project, after years of wandering around Japan aimlessly, I wanted to give my expeditions a bit more structure and purpose. And I enjoyed keeping a record of where I had gone and what I had done.

Journalling, like hiking, perhaps can not be explained to the uniniated. If you suffer from the same compulsion, I'm sure you already know what I'm talking about. Otherwise it's probably useless to try and explain it further.

This was a project I undertook to challenge myself, and to keep myself intellectually occupied after I had stayed in Japan way too long, and was in danger of getting bored.

Therefore this is something I did primarily for my own benefit, and if it doesn't entirely make sense to anyone else, that's OK.

Although I suppose I would be lying if I said there weren't times when I was trying to engage other people.

Blogging is sometimes a bit ambigous that way.
All private journals are written for the writers benefit. All published works are written for the reader's benefit. Blogging, at least the sort of blogging I do, walks an awkward line in between. There were times when I was writing about wrong turns I took on back country roads not so much because I thought it would be interesting to someone else, but because I was trying to keep a thorough record for my own benefit.

However, especially once I added pictures and videos to this blog, there were times when I went out of my way to get pictures of an area because I wanted other people to be able to see what I had seen.

The idea that I was filling a blogging niche on the less-travelled road of Oita prefecture also appealed to me. Although there is very little truly virgin ground left on the internet these days. Just about every place I wrote about or photographed is already up on the Internet somewhere. (And that is why I often included links to other webpages at the bottom of each post-- to acknowledge people who had written about these areas before me).

Even though I get no sort of benefit from documenting every city in Oita prefecture, now that I've gotten started the anal rententive part of me really hates to leave this project half finished. So I'm leaving the door open for the possibility that I might someday return to finish it, should the fancy strike me (In a couple years, or 5, or 10, or maybe 15).

To that end, here is a list of the remaining 17 towns I never got around to.

In Hita district
1. Kamitsue-Mura

In Oita district
2. Notsuhara-Machi

In Yufu district
3. Hasama-Machi
4. Shonai Machi

In Taketa district
5. Ogi-Machi
6. Kuju-Machi
7. Naoiri-Machi

In Bungo Ono District
8. Kiyokawa Mura
9. Asaji-Machi
10. Ono-Machi
11. Chitose-Machi
12. Inukai-Machi

In Usuki Distric
13. Nostu-Machi

In Saiki City
14. Yayoi-Machi
15. Honjo-Mura
16. Ume-Machi
17. Naokawa-Mura

If I want to get even more anal-retentive about this, I should add the first few towns I did don't have any pictures or video to go along with them. So I should probably redo Nakatsu, Usa, Bungo-Takeda and Sanko-Mura. (Even though I did later add some additions to Usa and additions to Nakatsu, neither of those were very thorough. In Nakatsu in particular I never got the main part of the city.)

I never had video for my post on Matama. And I didn't have good definition photographs for my post on Kitsuki. Although probably both of those posts are adequate as they are.

I did a real poor job on Oita city (stayed entirely within a small radius from the station, and was inside most of that time.) That might be flagged for a redo.

And if you really want to get picky, during the grey months of winter the towns were all drab. So I was unable to capture the beauty of any of the towns I did in the winter months (Yamaga, Kakaji, Hiji, and Kitsuki (again)...and perhaps Ajimu, which is unfortunate because this was my home as a JET. It's actually a very beautiful place, although you wouldn't necessarily know that from my blog post.)

Link of the Day
Chomsky on Geithner

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