The drive to Otoyo takes about an hour from Kochi, some forty kilometres along a highway where you see big mountains and clear nature streams. It’s peaceful while watching beautiful nature of sightseeing.
“Oh my god, what is this place?” said somebody suddenly. We were surprised “What? Where? What happened?”. But she just said “I can see nothing here. There is nothing in Otoyo”.
Going along a coast road beside beautiful blue sea and sky, I reached Katsurahama. At Tosa token center here in Katsurahama park, we can see Tosa fighting dogs. Do you know Tosa-Inu? What do you imagine about them?
Tosa-Inu is Japanese cultural icon. They have big body and are brave. Perhaps you may have felt frightened of them. But the real ones are gentle.
Soon after I enter the center, I meet very pretty puppies. They are quite obedient and they seldom bark. Even when children pull their tails and play with them roughly, they don’t get angry. Continue reading Tosa Fighting Dog
As more time passed, the more beautiful nature appeared but at the same time there were a lot of winding road and I was hoping to arrive there soon. Just then a lovely sign announcing Umajimura appeared and we entered the village where some buildings and houses surrounded by a beauties of nature.
Arriving to Umaji village office, a big object made of Yanase cedar caught my eye. Mr. Kiyooka, our guide, asked us how much we thought it was worth. I didn’t expect it to be more than 1,000,000 yen! Yanasesugi (Yanase cedar) is quite valuable. Continue reading Yamashi Tatsujin Sensyuken
“Are we there yet?” We are driving deep in the mountain. There are no konbini (convenience store), gas stations, no buildings of any kind, but only mountains! mountains! mountains!!! Can we really see and reach the village ? We just keep driving up the mountain roads. At last, about 2 hours later, we finally see the village.
The sun is dazzling as the temperature soars above thirty degrees Celsius. The day is too hot, but Obiyamachi is full of energy because it’s Sunday the scene of the Sunday street market. A lot of stalls stretch as far as eye can see. There are fruits, vegetables, tea, steel products and so on. My friend and I enter a shopping arcade because we want to stay out of the sunlight, and we discover a store which sell imokenpi. There is a clerk who looks to be 50 or 60 years old moving around the shop. Sometimes she stops to talk with customers. This store, called “Kenpiya”, has many flavors of imokenpi– there are salt, sesame dark brown sugar and dried green seaweed. What they have in common is that they are all hard. Continue reading Imokempi: Hard or Soft?
Sweat is running on my face under the glaring sun one day in the middle of July. My friend and I have walked around Sunday Market all morning, and we’re now sitting in a comfortable Japanese-style room in Tosa-cha cafe. Though before noon, it is full of customers of all ages. Cold Tosa tea served as soon as we sat looked like bitter and astringent, but it is easy to drink. Fresh taste cooled me down and I could sense a little sweetness. There is a teapot in which are a few tea leaves cup, pottery and green tea cake on the table. Chartreuse tea is shining in a cup. I’m little confused because of preparation methods of green tea one of staffs taught us. Hot Tosa tea tastes more bitter than the cold one, but it’s perfect with sweet cake. I can’t help saying “This is so good!”. I find that taking enough time and many steps are important to make better tea. I’m feeling the slow-passing time for a long time. Continue reading Let’s Have Tea Time
Everyone is enjoying this festival with the various street stalls and the beautiful and awful pictures. They are just Ekin! They are here and there illuminated by candlelight. They are more awful than ordinary and use red like blood. Seen by candle, they are even weirder.
When I was a little child and caught a cold, my mother would make ginger tea for me explaining why it was so good for me. “Of course it’s good for you,” she would say, “It makes you warm and it also relieves your symptoms.”
The recipe my mother used is simple. First, grate some ginger. Next, add sugar or honey and dilute it with water. Finally, boil it for 10 to 20 minutes. That’s all! How simple! Just give it a go! Continue reading Gingerly Ginger
When we arrive at this village, the rain welcomes us. Umaji-village is surrounded by a lot of mountains, and the weather changes easily. So we run into the town hall where we are soon surrounded by the comfortable smell of wood.
Mr. Kiyooka, the interviewee that we asked about many information in Umaji, took us willingly. He is a man who has worked in the town hall of Umaji for a long time, and works for the people living there. He said, “the young in Umaji are not interested in the railways in the forest, actually,” and laughed. But his eyes looked sad to me, a little. And he started to tell us the history of the railway in the forest… Continue reading Railway in the Forest
The way to Umaji village from Kochi University takes us two and half hours. After one and half hours have past, we start lowering the car windows even though is summer, now in middle of July. We are surrounded by mountains and rivers. You might can’t even see a factory here, or i should say not even big supermarket. After seeing the green for an hour, finally we arrived. A Mr.Kiyooka guides us pleasantly and serves us “gokkun” which is a famous yuzu drink from Umaji village. When we were entering the village office’s meeting room, the air is fragrant with wood smell. We can see most of the furniture and part of the building is made from wood. Continue reading The Yanase Sugi
Every August, at 7:00 pm on the eve of the Yosakoi festival, people wearing traditional yukata and waving uchiwa fans crowd the banks of Kagami-river and line Tenjin-bridge. They leave their houses very early to try to find best place for watching. Best place for watching what? To see the fireworks display on a summer evening at Kagami-river! The air is filled with excitement and smells of sweat. They wait impatiently for the display to begin. It’s 7:30 now. With an announcement, the fireworks begin. The fireworks are fired off with various colors and roaring sound. The spectators utter few cries every time the fireworks are launched. Some people are opening their umbrellas because of the ash which falls from the sky. Continue reading Art of the Kayakuya: Fireworks
Arriving in Umaji village, we can breathe the clean air. This village is surrounded by trees, we find the sign of Umaji village. We feel our souls healed and we have been here before somehow.
Despite the excitement we have, we have a little fear at the same time. There is no one we can see from our car. Where are the people of this village? Are we going to interview animals? We are getting nervous. Driving through the arch of trees, we find Umaji village office.
Kochi is at the height of summer. The sun is shining very strongly. I am on a motor bike on my way to Ochi town. It takes more than one hour to get there from Kochi city. It is exceptionally hot today. Soon after arriving in Ochi town, the heat made me jump into a river. Maybe it is the cleanest river I have ever seen. I am like a small child now. How did we lose our childlikeness like that? The one thing is certain. Becoming an adult doesn’t always have a good effect on us. That seems to mean losing our comfortable childhood, dreams and hopes. Some families are enjoying camping on the riverside, and some of them were frowning as if they saw something strange in the river…