Tag Archives: village

Travel: Trip to Yubara Onsen and Katsuyama hi

[From March 23-25 2020]

Leaving the workers to their work as they switch to more “modern equipment” with nail guns to put down roof panels while we head to historic town of Katsuyama (noted for their handmade Noren door curtains among other things) where I’m going to hit up a noted post office to mail out this new batch of #DaveOStory dispatches. Yes im that obsessive.

Then onwards for a soak and stay at Yubara onsen (hot spring) which has an in-river outdoor public bath which you know i’ll be hitting up.

Gave the workers a “yorushiku” on the way out, key in lockbox, coffee/tea/snacks on standby.

Anyhow, small bags packed (for me old-timey suitcase with socks, talcum powder, fountain pen, stationæry & Gary Snyder’s mtns & rivers w/o end, meds, charger as most everything provided at hotel) ++ snacks & tea for the road, Billie Holliday on the stereo. Ichi loaded up with a giraffe & bear-cub hat. Ryoko at the helm. Sakura blooming.

The road is (part of) life.

Along with my wonderful mother and father-in-law, my adorable wife and remarkable baby, we took a little overnight trip to a nearby onsen (hot springs village) called Yubara, as well as a stop off at a all time trading post town of Katsuyama which still maintains a lot of traditional charm.

We stayed at a groovy old hotel, ate a ridiculous amount of food, sat in the moonlight on a rooftop garden tub and the next day in a communal bath with rock walls (like the actual rocks of the cliff outside) and finally in the outdoor tubs in the river (don’t showff!)

Along the way, we checked out an interesting art exhibit, popped into a variety of shops with handicrafts (Katsuyama is noted for its noren curtains) and of course, various post offices (indeed, moved Katsuyama and Yubara post boxes & office to a post of its own) and cafés, which – unsurprisingly of course – make up the bulk of my documentation: cute cafés, curious machines, amusing signs and sweet post boxes #theusual

Come along (more or less) – noting there are several, so settle in and i’ll remember to break em up somehow:

Part 1: Noren curtains in Katsuyama

Continue reading Travel: Trip to Yubara Onsen and Katsuyama hi

Diary / Museum: Tea ceremony, PM Inukai house + grave & trains plus citrus fruits

One of these two is a former Prime Minister who was assassinated while his house guest Charlie Chaplin (also allegedly targeted in the assassination to – oddly enough – provoke the US into war) was at a sumo tournament. The other is a happy poet who loves small museums. 

Indeed, today (Dec. 15) was a tea ceremony at former PM Inukai Tsuyoshi’s house (he was assassinated by 11 young officers in 1930s during the chaotic military build-up period of Japan) here in Okayama. 

First off, went to the tea ceremony with our group including Mitsuko-san with whom i rode the fantastic local Uno bus to the station where Yano-san picked us up in his van along with our tea sensei Matsuki and we met Sachiko-san at the event. 

Ryoko was in charge of the wagashi (sweets) for the event. There is more to say about tea ceremony but suffice to say, there is a lot of preparation and intention but the actual event is rather brief and while calm, not necessarily solemn but rather jovial.

Continue reading Diary / Museum: Tea ceremony, PM Inukai house + grave & trains plus citrus fruits

Diary: Maniwa Out n About / hot springs hotel, bowling, agri-garden and lonely stations

Coffee stand, cute and tiny (clad with olden board) at the Agri-garden market area in town of Maniwa

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.

Continue reading Diary: Maniwa Out n About / hot springs hotel, bowling, agri-garden and lonely stations

Forgotten Village – Annapurna Sunrise

The cook pot is blackened
But you easily clean up the mess
With gritty river mud scraped
From your stream of consciousness

Wander up an invisible path
Even the elders don’t know it
Chasing a mysterious girl
Named after an ancient poet

I can’t see her footprints
But I see her shining eye
In the constellations high
Above the blue night sky

Reflection in the mountain lake
Shows me growing worn
But I blink three times quickly
And see that I’m reborn

There’s wisdom plainly hidden
On the edge of mountain cliffs
Stories shared by ancients
Around campfires, becoming myths
Books don’t capture the secrets
For truth look deep into teacups

In this forgotten village
They’re made of bone and marrow
Stubborn as a donkey
Rugged as the buffalo
Giving love like sacred Amma

Monk chants echo through valleys
Low, soft and precise
Repeated through centuries
Many times ever since
Taught by a lost wanderer
With no interest in being found

Prayer flags amplify
Take noble words higher
Attenuate on a frequency
Improbable to detect by wire

I will always return here
Flying high like a hawk or sparrow
Won’t tell you the village name
You find it when you’re able

The maps might give a clue
But not the right directions
You’ll only find the magic
By following inner vision

In the forgotten village
This village is forgotten
Deliberately mistaken
Not meant for finding
Books reveal their secrets
Obvious in endless myth
Your own forgotten village

annapurna - village - house

Gonda Village Field (Nagano, Japan) / watercolour pencil

Gonda Village Field 8x10 watercolour pencil
Gonda Village Field (Nagano, Japan) / watercolour pencil

Gonda Village Field (Nagano, Japan)
8×10, watercolour pencil on paper
circa 1993

Graves near Gonda (Nagano, Japan) / watercolour pencil

paint-Elsewhere-Graves near Gonda (Nagano, Japan)  watercolour pencil
Graves near Gonda (Nagano, Japan) / watercolour pencil

Graves Near Gonda (Nagano, Japan)
8×10, watercolour pencil on paper
circa 1993