One of our objectives on the honeymoon ramble was to visit and pay respectful greetings to various friends including bringing bespoke bizen-yake saké cups and various paper artifacts from the wedding.
Here are a few snapshots from these meeting to document and enjoy.
First off, wise Hongo Sensei in Noto, Ishikawa. Ichiro was Ryoko’s professor and mentor at Nihon University including a few international trips to Indonesia and Russia.
In Noto (at the end of a peninsula jutting into the Sea of Japan), we stayed at his home in a refurbished fishing boat / fish processing building right on the port (required extensive fixing up after an earthquake/tsunami in 2011 iirc). He took us for a beach picnic and small museums about fisheries and Jomon-period life.
We also went to a local fish auction – while there are big popular auctions in Tokyo etc, this was relatively small and just local vendors and buyers.
This gentleman is so nuanced in his actions and we enjoyed the visit tremendously. His wife (though struggling with some age-related health issues) was so kindly and sweet to us (especially checking in on me when feeling affects of my illness).
Next was a quick visit with effervescent Ed and beautiful Naomi and friend in Nozawa (Iiyama), Nagano. Ed (British with crazy adventures in Indo to share) and Naomi (German/Japanese) run 2 live aboard dive sailboats exploring Komodo island national park area in an ecological-appropriate manner.
They recently purchased a house in Nozawa Onsen (close to Iiyama town) and then did renovation to emphasize the classic Edo/Taisho-era features (rather than late-Showa-era remodel), and make a little more sized to their height. Their friend was visiting and her and Naomi had just returned from a soak at one of the dozzzzzens of area hot springs.
Then a visit i’ve waited 25 years for… I met the legend Steve in the tiny village Gonda (population 3) in the early 1990s and spend some months with him learning the ways of the forest including mountain vegetables, harvesting rice, tending goats and whatnot. I’ve lost track of him when letters came back undelivered, but… due to the magical internet, i reconnected and found him (after a few wrong turns) living in Kurohime, Shinano.
A former USN radio man, Steve has lived in Japan mostly since early 1980s, the last few years – after a return to the US to tend to fmaily business – he renovated a country house with a large garden, bordering on national park and next to some graves. With him, we ate local soba and visited haiku-master Issa Kobayashi’s home/museum.
He played us some music, told a million stories, wrote us a poem and sent us home with a batch of musical instruments for our collection.
Poem from Steve:
Okayama came two,
With sunshine smiles, they brought too,
Springtime’s bounty, new.
Also there was lovely Misae who i last saw when she was about 6 years old. Somehow she remembers me and served us lovely food including pickled beets. She has had many adventures including sojourns in Italy, Germany, India and so on. She send us on our way with a book of poetry by Pablo Neruda and many handmade treats for our hotel room picnics.
Then came a visit to Niigate at Atemi mountain resort where Ryoko worked in the summers during university days. We took many onsen baths, ate a load of food and visited with Mr. Jiro who glowed with happiness and is the type of fella who can do/fix/repair/wrangle anything.
Bonus: and met some new friends on Hanayome Noren scenic train who have a connection of Kurashiki, the Edo-period trading and art town near us in Okayama.