Well, I really hit the big time now ;)… If you look closely, I mean *very very* closely, you can see me in the brewing loft of the centuries old saké maker in our neighbouring region of￼ Maniwa here in Okayama, Japan.
Background: Ryoko and I were invited along very special tour around fermented foods makers (2 saké makers, plus craft beer, wine/grappa/cheese, and miso/ vinegar/ shoyu/ koji)… along with a handful of international guests came a small legion of photographers/videomakers to document the event.
(Some of) the results appear in this lusciously-designed and luxuriously-produced brochure.
Aside: We had visited this area for Ryoko’s work a few weeks earlier, at which point I shared some thoughts about the changes going on in inaka/country areas of Japan (i.e. de-population, lack of investment, transportation links cut/reduced, so many elderly folks somewhat ignored, reduction of services in general, lack of appreciation for the important produce of these areas…) ￼as so much of the attention and money and power is concentrated in the big cities (really, Tokyo)￼.
Anyway, there are loads are fantastic photos from this outing, and one tiny one appears here as a bit of a preview… (Really i will share eventually! It’s on my list but, so are a lot of other things, one of these days…) and you’ve maybe noticed of late I’m learning more about fermented foods (i.e. making pickles)￼ with a big dream of making my own miso.
Anyhow, did you spot me? Might need a magnifying glass, like I said “big-time”.￼ Let’s visit Maniwa next time you come to visit OK?￼
Note: Heavy, apparently expensive. Seemed functional and in good condition when spotted at a coffee shop/café/gallery outside of a little small logging town (Maniwa) like some sort of strange oasis: the front door was rather hidden, they spent 30 minutes preparing a magnificent cup of tea, which came with black pepper. The table was hewn from a massive single log (“massive” trees aren’t really “massive” in Japan by Canadian standards but anyway…) And so many Interesting and cute objects scattered around. Its this sort of randomness that I love love love about living in Japan.
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.
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: