In today’s (really March 7th but hey…) edition of “tasty coffee in scenic places with Daveo” I bring you this glorious handcrafted bevvie experience & view of the Seto-nai-kai (Inland sea) from an olive garden (no, not that one, an actual one) in Setouchi, Okayama, ergo:
Amidst the “specialness” of life – which included of late:
trip to Nagasaki and all the glorious trains, building and museums (well documented elsewhere)
Mae Maes spring concert in Tamano (artifacts to follow)
baby coming! (and related prep)
10 years anniversary of Vancouver Olympics (which was such a big deal for me and i meant to do “something” to commemorate, but ya know, this feeling was overridden with ambivalence (but do have some notes and copy/pastes i’ll get to before 11th anniversary)
– is the “regular out n abouts” of life. These moments are treasure and, as memory fades, are quickly lost to the “exciting bits” never the less, i capture and archive for me, for others like me, for the little one, for the future, for the process. You know this already so behold, more of the usual: trams, coffees, meals, and various items spotted in the wild.
Ergo, just things, observed / scenes of life in Okayama, en route to “seitai” treatment session:
* fine bicycle (wagyu burgers in bg) at sunny intersection
* non-chronological aside but related / wagyu burger (with Ted) / as an additional aside, compared to 25+ years ago when I was first year, so much more international food available, to go along with the obviously fantastic Japanese native food… Would having pizzas, mighty burgers, lots of India/Nepal food, there are Mexican food places but i don’t wanna be disappointed – Anyway we do not lack for fantastic food even in our small city
* angled manshon apartment bldg, striking against the sky (this is parking lot for seitai sensei)
On Dec. 22nd at a store in Tsudaka, Okayama, Ryoko and her Mae Maes bandmates held a Christmas concert with 2 shows which included their originals, some festive standards including some sing-a-longs. I rolled out with M-i-L and met up with some of the usual fans, enjoyed some conversations and coffees.
The ladies were in fine form and their new pianist Kazuko-san getting more comfy each gig.
Christmas isn’t really an “event” in Japan, more of a marketing campaign and a prelude to New Year’s Eve which is laden with tradition, nostalgia and routine. It’s kinda my speed as i am def turned off by rampant commercialism quasi-religious sabre-rattling which comes around.
Regardless, with new family (and more family arriving in 2020) i wanted to wrangle a bit of festiveness – also acknowledging been a long while since i had vaguely “regular” christmas and while this was atypical, established some new routines, scratched an itch… after all, with the turmoil in my life the last years, there is admittedly some misgivings and rather tough emotions which come around during all this hoolpa. Most importantly, got to show love and respect for wife and in-laws.
What follows are a few poorly-photographed artifact of activities from Dec. 24 – 26 JST. Carry On!
First off, Dec. 24 (christmas eve) we made dinner of grilled mackeral, squash, pickled cucumbers and tsukemono carrots, greens, miso soup, tea, rice, lotus root, and whatnot. Yup, not off to a very traditional start – ha!
Christmas morn, we opened our stockings (pictured above) purchased from a 100yen store ($1), nothing but the best! and enjoyed toast with cream cheese and my kaki (persimmon) jam which i am always talking about, and nashi (pear). My sock had snacks, Ryoko’s had expired 35mm film and a necklace and snacks.
Then we went to post office (one of my fave activities of course) and i wore a Santa cap (borrowed from Ryoko who wore at Mae Maes Christmas concert) to the amusement of the post office staff and the kids at the grocery store which was our next stop. Folks are stocking up for New Years time during which many stores are closed or scaled back hours and folks generally wanna hunker down.
Then we picked up a pre-made feast from a great lil cafe called Sakura-mi we had ordered a while back when we went on a little lunch date. Here’s the café’s post box.
And i got to make a fire in the wood stove. So yeah, post office and fire making in the same day! Pleased.
Took the grub home and set up at parent’s house (next door).
We headed out on some errands to return the felt sheets used in the tea ceremony at assassinated Prime minster Inukai Tsuyoshi’s home to a strange little office in a corridor with the cigarette smell cemented into the cracked linoleum floors which all evoked the lost Showa times.
Along the way, a saw some shops, ate ramen, developed film, checked out cameras and whatnot.
First though, along one of these covered shopping arcades which i totally dig (how does Vancouver not have these everywhere?), continued my rather absurd documentation of phone boxes.
I would call you but haven’t figured out where to buy a phone card. Also noting these “midori denwa” (green phones) are abundant and in beautiful condition but i (not shockingly) never see one in use.
PS Did someone call a doctor? #joke My friend in Adelaide Australia made the snap into a fun cartoon-y image. I might do this with all photos in future.
Kaki (persimmon) perhaps the most under-appreciated fruit (to me at least). So interesting! Looks vaguely like a tomato with colour of an orange, firmness of apple or soft pear sometimes, texture like passionfruit or something – Only drawback is tricky to peel and prepare for clumsy folks (me).
The neighbourhood is loaded with full trees right now – i can’t eat fast enough!
A few years ago (or less), each day was quite tough. Now, each day i deal with pain and confusion but enough joy and interestingness to compensate. My brain fires but i have to throttle as i get headaches and eye strain very easily, i remain very sensitive to light and sounds so use dark glasses and ear plugs when out and about.
Anyhow, there are several recent “standalone” dispatches of activities and outings (Mae Maes concerts, tea ceremony, museums, tours…) but this post simply gathers up miscellaneous whatnots which don’t really chronicle anything but normal day-to-day tasks and action with brief annotations.
Reason number 182 I love Japan life: thrift stores/recycle shops are absolutely fantastic!
This one features racks and racks of good > great clothes, and great bargains if you aren’t looking for specific “fancy“ import brands, and everything properly washed, labeled, tagged and arranged. And today everything is 30% off!￼
Oh, and this one also has a whole section of kimonos, dozens and dozens and dozens. But today, we’re looking for a dress for Ryoko’s next MaeMaes concert￼.
Noting there are lots of “hip“ secondhand stores with mostly imported stuff, picked from North American stores and marked up to eye-watering levels, this one is just a “regular folks” store yet treasures abound for day-to-day life.￼
Purchased: three dresses and a plaid overcoat for the wife, and a groovy blazer, cardigan sweater with pockets, trousers and lounging robe, all wool, for me
Also noting how pleased I am when wool items are properly prepared for sale, and not thrown in the washer and dryer as so often happens, rendering them useless (so many lost Pendletons!)