Story: Sometime around 1994, I ended up working as a mushroom farmhand (enokitake and shiitake) in a small mountain village called Saji in Tottori-ken (prefecture), Yazu-gun (county) .
A sorta friend of friend of my brother was seeking a foreign worker (at the time, Japan’s economy was in a “bubble” with abundant wealth and no one wanted to do the crappy jobs it turns out). They would pay my airfare and so on, I had just finished a stint hitching and drifting around Europe and before the Grateful Dead tour and thought this would be an interesting adventure.
Made a map of various places where I lived and worked in Tottori, Japan during 1993-4 including an enoki mushroom farm in Saji, an apartment in Kawahara, another in Hamamura, and a few friend’s homes. Note: many of these communities are now amalgamated into Tottori-shi (city).
Musing from 2008(?): I feel so old thinking that when i was there, there was no internet access, no cell phones or other common communication tools. It seems like so long since i was in japan and i always thought i’d be back time and again. I still remember the smells, sights and feelings of the materials there – paper walls, tatami floors, kerosene heaters, heavy, overhanging ceramic roof shingles i’d always bump my head on!
I almost never get to use Japanese any more. There are heaps of Japanese ESL student here but they are all young kids trying to be cool ;-) and i haven’t urge to make temporary friends, however we picked up 2 lost hitchhiking Japanese girls trying to go snowboarding and they were really surprised when i busted out the Nihongo and explained where i lived (Tottori is the lost Japanese province i think) and i still get excited when i find the REAL 20th century pears from Tottori (rare usually crappy Korean ones).
Update 2017: I’ve since returned to Japan a few times but not to Tottori… yet.
Update 2018: i returned and documented, coverage to come eventually