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The next morning I recalled a question the woman had asked me the night before: of the two ingredients of wabi-sabi, the Japanese aesthetic of impermanence, did I prefer wabi, the rusticity, simplicity, and irregularity of things in their created state, or sabi, the patina of age, the wear and tear that comes with constant use, the intimations of transience. I'm in the sabi camp: sabi as a concept is in all probability etymologically related to the verb sabiru, to rust, and for us lusters after rust, Yubari is sacred ground.Spike Japan is the blog, or ongoing essay, of Richard Hendy, a long-time resident of Japan, about urban decay and population decline in Japan. The writing is digressive, knowledgable, opinionated, witty and engaging. The longest series is a travelogue of Hokkaido, in which the section on Yubari is the most stunning, though I also like the tour of Kuril Islands' dispute tourist attractions. There's much to read on Spike Japan, but let me point you towards the melancholic Requiem for a Railway, about Hendy's trip along an abandoned railway line.
Until 400 years ago, the Ainu controlled Hokkaido, the northernmost of Japan's four main islands. Today they are a small minority group of Japan. They are a hunting and fishing people whose origins remain in dispute. Long before the people who would come to be known as "the Japanese" completed their migrations from the Asia mainland, the islands of Japan were already inhabited by a race of people known as the Ainu ("human"). On this northernmost island, (Hokkaido), in the "snow country," there still may be found remnants of this once proud and vigorous people who roamed the Japan islands long before the Japanese themselves arrived.More links inside [more inside]