4. Climate      Return to Intro

The darker side

San-in means the back-side of mountains. In this case it means
Chugoku Mountains. The back-side means the darker side or the side where
the sun shines less.
All this gives a negative impression, once thought
some local-government officials.
They tried to change the name to Hokuyo,
the north side of the sun-shining area.
(I am not sure of its meaning.
This is just a guess of mine.) The new name, however,
did not acquire
popularity. The climate has been fermented for many thousand years.
boiled idea of politicians cannot change it.

Armes of the snow

It is true that habitants in San-in have had a feeling of envying
those who live in a sunny region of Omote Nihon (the right side of Japan,
meaning the side facing the Pacific Ocean.)  There was a popular TV drama
called 'Yume-chiyo Nikki' (A Diary by a lady Yume-chiyo). The stage of the
drama was a snowy spa village in San-in. In the drama, you feel an acute
aspiration of people in the village to move to a sunnier area. The snow has
a special effect of confinement on the mind of people. People feel confined
in the snow; but feel a kind of peace of mind, as if embraced in the arms
of the snow.

Joy of spring

In the winter, a strong north-west wind from the Asian Continent
brings  a heavy snow fall to the San-in area.  It is dark, very windy,
and full of snow. The Japan Sea is almost black, harsh with mountains of
waves. The harder the winter is, however, the larger is the joy of the
spring. In Omote Nihon, you sometimes miss noticing
the arrival of the
spring, since it is sunny there almost every day in the winter. In the
San-in area, on the other hand, you never miss it. One day, suddenly you
feel that the wind has become soft, soothing. The Sea ceases roaring.
Spring has come !  You walk on a mild slope of a mountain. The white is
spotted, dark soil is exposed here and there, and green is seen, a butterbur
sprout !  The spring in San-in is milder than anywhere else.

Climate affects the character of people

It is granted by many people that the climate has some effect on the
character-formation of the people. The climate of San-in has made non-
aggressive character of the San-in  people. They are internal, enduring.
They lack an enterprising spirit, for the most part. Of course, there are
always exceptions. Some of great men who dared to do a risky enterprise in
the San-in area will be described later.

One quiet day in autumn at Man-nen-ga-hana

You can spend the quietest moment in the autumn of San-in. You climb
up the top of a low mountain and look down on the Japan Sea. I do not mean
the physical sense
of quietness.  Physically, there are sounds of rhythmic
waves from the Sea, relaxing
cries of kites, a Japanese flute by someone
rehearsing for the religious autumn festival. But none of them alert you.
They are just a part of your breathing. You look far in the offing. The Sea
is connected to every part on the earth. You are not alone. And yet, you can
see none of them. People have spent thousands of years looking at the Sea.
Nothing to worry. You look down on the shore. White horses are dancing on
the rocks. There is a whirl. There used to be sharks around. That is the
reason why the body just disappears when a man commits suicide by jumping
down, people say. This place used to be called 'Sen-nen-ga-hana' (The snout
of a thousand years.) But people did not like one suicide for every thousand
years, and changed the name to 'Man-nen-ga-hana' (The snout of ten thousand
years.) This place is in Hamada City.

                   なにやら ゆかし


                                    Treading a mountain path,
                              Felt a subtle scent of a violet,
                              Reminding me of
                              Nobleness in the past.


                                           (trans. by Y. A.)