Ryoko was teaching a tree-trimming workshop at a community centre for seniors in the logging town of Maniwa so I rode the bus to meet up. We stayed at a hotel for a couple of nights, went bowling plus i took some strolls to contemplate the change nature of rural Japan while Ryoko was working, oh and we found a quirky coffee shop/art gallery.
Let’s address each of these check points separately:
Bowling and Hotel (pleasantly lost in Showa)
First the hotel, the Maniwa Riverside was the sort of “once grand but now rather shabby” hotel i kinda dig.
Laden with memories a la Grand Budapest hotel. They were making a good effort though the rooms were unfancy and the carpets not changed since sometime in the Showa time. Importantly, there is an onsen hotspring bath with was the main reason. Nice outdoor bath too. No secret i love love love soaking in hot water.
The hotel included breakfast which was a bit odd but the onigiri (rice balls) were hand prepared. Also hard boiled eggs with salt, pickles (yum) and a few various pastries and miso soup.
The magical art city of Kurashiki was holding a Jazz Street event with loads of bands playing at various venues around the historic Bikan area with narrow Edo-period laneways, the magnificent Ohara museum (featuring European post/impressionist art) and lots of little shops selling handmade paper, handicrafts of all sort, plus great coffee shops and kissaten (a sort of Japanese diner/lounge type establishment).
One day in late October, we were invited by a relative to pick up a bag of freshly-harvested rice for a wedding gift. I love rolling around the area as there is such a mix of rice fields, houses, shinkansen tracks, tiny roads, medium hills, various scare crows and whatnot.
Anyhow, we met the nice relative lady, drank tea with her and told some stories about our honeymoon ramble and whatnot (the usual things about my country and experience in Japan), picked up the rice and well… evidence follows: