Thursday, January 20, 2011

Than Ancient Storyteller

She claims to be over 5000 years old! Her name is Mia and she does not look her age, she looks to be about 35 years old. Jacob and I met her at a quiet little tea shop in Niseko after a SICK day of backcountry skiing. She brought a pot of Jasmine tea to our table and asked if she could join us. She was very calm, but strangely mysterious as she started telling us about her childhood. We thought she was a bit crazy, but she seemed cool enough. She talked much about the customs of the Ancient Japanese Samurai. How they were very proud and extremely loyal warriors. Mia explained how each piece of the samurai armor had a specific name and spiritual designation. They believed the symbol of the dragon brought them courage and therefore placed the symbol on the thigh pads of their armor. She described how the samurai masks resembled the dragon and were intended to scare other warriors away. She talked a lot about the Samurai Sword and how each samurai made their own sword. They would choose a type of metal, heavy metals made for stronger more durable swords, but most warriors chose the lighter metals which allowed for more mobility and a lighter pack while traveling on horseback and by foot. Mia started getting very upset while telling us how honorable and proud the samurai warriors were. She told a story of young, handsome warrior, Miyamoto, who was an honorable and legendary swordsman and was asked to lead a troop of warriors into battle. While traveling on horseback through the rugged Horoshiriri-dake (Horoshiriri mountain range) a portion of Miyamoto's troop fell behind and were ambushed. When Miyamoto turned back to find his men, he found them all dead and realized the enemy was watching him. He did what all honorable samurai would have done. Instead of dying a dishonorable death he committed "Seppuku" (a ritual suicide where the warrior cuts his abdomen open).

When I looked up at Mia, I saw tears running down her face and she quickly said her goodbyes. She turned to go, and strangely walked toward a picture on the wall that I had not yet noticed. It was a picture of a Samurai Warrior, Miyamoto, and instantly Mia vanished before my eyes.

Jacob and I were speechless. We quietly left the tea shop and headed out for one more epic run of the day.



  1. Wow, that is really freaky, I would have hopped on a plane to Tokyo if that happened to me! What coffee shop was this at? I just want to make sure I don't go THERE! I would not want to be a samurai warrior, if I was going to be Miyamoto. How much vertical did you ski, what was the biggest mountain?

    Niki Mouse :)

  2. Logan, that is amazing! She is amazing! I bet that you and Jacob were just astonished that you were hearing such things! What tea shop did you meet Mia in? If Anna and I are going to Japan, I will be going there to hear her stories. See you in 7 weeks! LZ

  3. It's people's stories, including yours, that intrigue me the most about places, Logan. More than the mountains or the rivers or the skies, lit at night. I love the human stories. Thank you for sharing this woman's story, the story of the dragon in Japanese culture, of love, of honor. It tells me so much about the country to hear its people's stories told so well. Carolyn