I was a guest on JJ Walsh Seeking Sustainability live talk show (sept 27, 2021) during a special week about tourism in Setouchi/Chugoku region talking about dear forever home Okayama.
Topics were varied – from Bizen pottery to art islands to custom Kojima denim to grateful goats and most points in between – banter was amusing (she does great research) and spectacles on point
Hope i represented well for spirit of Momotaro as i name-checked favourites aspects of living in the “Goldilocks of Japan” ™. Spoiler: my *not-secret* fave is Rural Caprine Farm. Also name checks for Mac Kobayashi & Amy Chavez ++ so many locals businesses & destinations including Katsuyama, Maniwa, various ~shima, the Market & the mystery of Momotaro & utility access covers (Pokéman).
Do consider sitting down with a leisurely beverage and hanging out. Eager to hear what you think.
Japan can be intimidating, even for seasoned travellers. You arrive to massive sticker shock, tiny octopi in soup, and 30 kinds of hot canned coffee (which all taste moreorless the same) in ubiquitous vending machines.
Japan is a long country with 80% mountains – covering several climates, from frosty Hokkaido in the north, to tropical Kyushu giving adventurous folks much opportunity to head to the outer provinces for exploration of the heady scenery of this varied archipelago. With some planning, politeness and persistence, combined with a little zen, you can find big adventures.
Indeed, it is easy to get lost in the big cities of Tokyo and Osaka – crowded with skyscrapers and twisted alleys, piled high with screaming neon clubs pumping techno, reggae or karaoke and shops piled with futuristic technological gadgets that won’t make it to North America for another decade – but, far away from the expensive hotels and talking toilets of the huge Pacific metropolis, you may find yourself soaking in alpine hot springs on a starry night, drinking sake with strangers crammed into a mountain hut after a backcountry dinner of rice, seaweed, miso and green tea.
As it goes… I’m riding the Uno Bus heading to Uno to stay at Uno Port Inn near where magical wife is teaching a tree trimming workshop. Though to be clear, in Okayama, i switch to the Ryobi bus.
Agenda includes: local Hot Spring bath; giant wild boar made of used plastic trash; fancy coffee and card writing; and reading Grant Lawrence’s Dirty Windshields (about time rambling with rock n rollers: The Smugglers).
First though, a stop at post office to mail more wedding thank-you cards & dropping off 35mm film shot at goat farm (supervised by Kris Krüg).
Update: on the bus ride, I listened to BC Hall of Famer Nardwuar interview Eve Lazarus including a Vancouver history/culture name check explosion including Aaron Chapman, Colleen Hardwick, the Beatles, Chuck Davies and more more more. Esp enjoyed AC’s Tom Waits-esque spoken-song.
Also enjoyed recollections of “beatnik“ coffee/jazz lounge scene – Worth noting that Allen Ginsberg performed at at least one of these places and Sonny Terry and Brownie McGee recorded a legendary blues album at the Bunkhouse (which apparently “featured” topless waitresses).
Also, the post office mission was successful (including super sharp stamps) and letters are en route to several countries, the film developing project failed for the time being.
Now enjoying a matcha and jazz in a cool room.
Note: one great thing about rambling in Japan is hotels is pyjamas are provided. #handy Alas, smoking jackets usually aren’t (so packing Nepali red velvet vest).
Update: Stayed at Uno Port Inn which was a treat. Not fancy but they run a accommodation is a pleasant, comfy and unpretentious manner. My review (added to Tripadvisor and Google Maps):
Fantastic Location, Great Coffee, Excellent Staff
Location is fantastic with mere steps to ferry terminals and train station and bus stops plus lots of local art around. So handy for jumping off to art islands and/or getting to and from Okayama.
The staff was welcoming and very helpful. The lobby was chill and cozy and the patio was a treat.
The coffee is remarkable and the breakfast was very well prepared (especially nice on the patio).
Was just a quick one-night getaway (we live rather nearby) but made for a fun time. Note: The rooms are rather small but very functional and clean plus feature very nice sheets and pillows and Dr. Bronner’s soap in the bathroom!
Oh!: The folks at UNO Port Inn sent me a couple of snaps they took of yer ole pal me and asked for feedback and the ok to share on socials. Solid marketing / community building. Voila, snap!
Also: While we went out in search of dinner using the map provided by UNO, we found places either booked or closed… this worked out great as we wandered down an un-inviting arcade corridor and found the smallest okonomiyaki place run by an enjoyable old gal who loves dogs.
Finally: Uno and nearby islands Naoshima and neighbours are laden with public art and run a continuous bienalle of some sort. While i traveled across by ferry to Naoshima for a coffee, art walk and a hot springs soak, i won’t delay the click by foisting the relevant documentation now but rather share this remarkable fish made from sadly disposed of polluting nonsense plastic crap sitting on Uno port park area. There is often/usually a wild boar as well / or but seems the inoshishi had the week off.
Refuse plastic (and recycle if you can’t refuse but really refuse/avoid/replace as its such garbage!)