14年ぶりの故郷 Hometown Visit after 14 Years

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ドラゴンと母と3人で、私の生まれ故郷、長崎県の五島列島に行ってきました。目的は2年前に亡くなった父の納骨です。父との思い出が色濃く残る故郷の地を、果たして冷静な気持ちで踏めるのだろうか、ちょっと自信がありませんでした。

サンフランシスコから成田に飛ぶこと10時間半、夕方、母の待つ千葉のアパートへ。翌朝、遺骨とともに5時半に出発、バスで羽田空港へ。8時25分発の飛行機に乗り、10時20分長崎空港に到着、そこからバスで長崎市内まで約45分。そして1時発の高速艇に乗って2時40分に五島に到着です。空路、陸路、海路をフル活用しての強行軍でしたが、一番大変だったのは、長崎のバス停から港までの徒歩の道のり。たった10分足らずだったけど、遺骨の入ったバッグの重いこと。腕がちぎれんばかりでした(^_^;)。

1時間40分の高速艇も辛かった(^_^;)。船は小さい時から大の苦手。分解せんばかりのスピードで突っ走る船、穏やかなはずの海なのに、やっぱり縦横に揺れる〜! 到着した時はヨレヨレ。ドラゴンが酔い止めの薬と時差ぼけのおかげで熟睡していたのは幸いでした。

足を引きずりながら、どうにかこうにか故郷に上陸。そしたら思いがけない光景が、、、なんと多くの親戚の方々が出迎えに来てくれていたのです。右を見ても左を見ても懐かしい面々が、、、皆さん父の遺骨の帰りを温かく迎えて下さいました。14年の空白が一気に埋まったようです。

その足でお寺に遺骨を預け、父を埋葬する新しいお墓を下見、その後、Hおじさんが車で町を一周してくれました。過疎化の荒波をもろに受けた町は閑散としていましたが、次から次に目に飛び込んでくる町並みに、「この道こんなに狭かったっけ〜? あ、このお店まだある。あ、中学校が新しくなってる!」と興奮気味の私。なにせ小さい町、私が足を踏み入れていないところはありません。故郷の町を正視できるか不安だったけど、素直に懐かしいと受け止めることができました。ドラゴンの目にはどう映ったでしょうね。

これから4泊、Hおじさん宅にお世話になります。この日はゆっくり休ませてもらいました。明日はいよいよ父の三回忌の法要と納骨です。
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Hometown Visit after 14 Years

Dragon, my mother and I went to my hometown in a small archipelago called Goto (Five Islands) off the coast of Nagasaki. The purpose of the visit was the burial of my father’s cremains who passed away two years ago. “Can I step on the island without being emotionally disturbed where memories of my father vividly remain?” I was not sure.

After a ten and a half hour flight from San Francisco to Narita, we made it to my mother’s apartment in Chiba early evening.  At 5:30 am the next morning, we were off with the cremains to get on a bus to Haneda Airport, where we took off at 8:25 am.  At 10:20 am, we landed at Nagasaki Airport and took a 45-minute bus ride to the inner city.  Finally we were aboard a high-speed boat which left at 1 pm and took us to the island at 2:40 pm.  While making full use of air, land and sea transportation, the hardest part of the trip was a less than 10-minute walk from the bus stop to Nagasaki Port.  The bag carrying the cremains was so heavy that I thought my arms would be torn apart. (^_^;)
 
The 100-minute boat ride was harsh, too (^_^;).  I never liked riding in boats as a child.  The high-speed boat ran so fast that I thought it would break apart.  Although the ocean was relatively calm, the boat still shook up and down, and sideways!!  I was well beat-up by the time we got to the destination.  It was very fortunate that dragon was fast asleep during the ride thanks to the motion sickness medicine and jet lag.  
 
I dragged my feet out of the boat onto my hometown land where an unexpected sight had been waiting for us.  To my surprise, many relatives were there to see us.  Looking right and left, I saw familiar faces warmly welcoming the return of my father’s cremains.  I felt that the 14-year blank was instantly filled in.
 
We went straight to the temple and dropped off the cremains. Then we headed to the graveyard to see the new family grave.  Afterward, Uncle H gave us a ride around the town.  Although the town looked a bit deserted due to the inevitable depopulation, I could not help getting excited with scenery after scenery that jumped into my sight.  “Was this street so narrow?  Oh, this store is still in business.  Oh, the junior high school building is new!”  It is a small town after all.  There was no place that I hadn’t stepped in.  Despite my worry if I could look at my hometown straightforward, I was actually able to do so with simple nostalgia.  I wonder how dragon felt about the town.

We were to stay at Uncle H’s house for four nights and had a relaxed first night. Tomorrow would be a big day with the third year commemoration of my father’s passing and burial of his cremains.
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by danceofdragon | 2010-07-28 04:31