Dartboard Journey

One of my favorite Japanese shows, favorite segments, is called Dartboard Journey (ダーツの旅). It always begins when they throw a dart at a map of Japan to choose a spot to visit.It is invariably a remote area or country town. The TV van then travels there, stopping the people they see and asking about the town.

“What is the most amazing thing in your town?” “What should we see here?” they ask and end up meeting many colorful characters and talking to all sorts of people, especially old-timers who tell such great stories!

Kinuko Takenishi, propriator of "Hope"

Kinuko Takenishi, propriator of “Hope”

On Monday I decided to visit the coffee shop “Hope” again and have lunch there! This time I found it with no trouble and had an uneventful lunch. I was taking a few pictures when the owner appeared. My friend Natsuko told her how I had frequented this cafe 40 years ago. The owner, Hatsue, called her mother Kinuko to come out and talk to us. That’s when things got interesting!

Hatsue Imada with her special Apple Cake

Hatsue Imada with her special Apple Cake

It seems Kinuko had just opened this coffee shop one the year before I moved there in 1973. I’m sure she doesn’t remember this gaijin who sat there every afternoon to enjoy the air conditioning. But they both were excited that I loved their shop and had come back to see it. Hatsue loves to bake and makes apple cake in a big pan instead of an oven! We promised to get together and bake something!

40 Years On: Landlord Sumimoto-san

40 Years On: Landlord Sumimoto-san

From there we went to call on my former landlord as this time I’d baked a Pound Cake to take them. I inquired of him about another person I remembered from way back then. I was befriended by a college girl who tried out her English on me and invited me to their rambling farm house. I recall sitting on the engawa, peeling and eating my first amanatsu orange.

It was this engawa where we sat

It was this engawa where we sat

This was more difficult as we didn’t even know the family’s name. We were walking between the rice paddies and fields, asking children and older people about it. “Do you know the large farmhouse of the jinushi-san who used to grow melons?”

We got a few false leads and were about to give up when we saw this woman behind her house and ran to catch her. I did know the name of the daughter after she married so I inquired about this? “Do you know the family whose daughter married into such-and-such family and had a child named Aya?” It wasn’t much to go on, but Takimoto-san knew who it was. She pointed out the house for us.

Natsuko talks with Takimoto-san

Natsuko talks with Takimoto-san

We excitedly crossed the road and walked past the huge greenhouses to find a really large old house with a kura attached. Would anyone be home? We opened the sliding door slightly as is the custom here and called out “Hello! Gomenkudasai!”

Farmhouse in Sato-cho

Farmhouse in Sato-cho

We were finally rewarded with an answer from the back of the house and Fusako Masuda appeared, wiping her hands on her apron. When I explained who I was, she immediately invited us in.

Fusako Masuda tells us about a boy from Boston

Fusako Masuda tells us about a boy from Boston

We chatted and she showed us her home. She even rang up her daughter and let me talk to her on the phone. Finally we had tea in the kitchen with her two cats, Koto and Chappi. she told us many stories about the boy from Boston who once stayed in their home. She became quite animated when she talked and told us such amusing tales!

Natchan devours an orange!

Natchan devours an orange!

Still farming in her 80's, Fusako shows us one of her greenhouses

Still farming in her 80’s, Fusako shows us one of her greenhouses

Natsuko enjoyed the sweet oranges she gave us…and finally she showed us her greenhouses where she is growing edamame for sale.

With Fusako Masuda

With Fusako Masuda

We had a very exciting day! It was a blast form the past for me. I never dreamed I’d visit these places again and find something concrete where only a vague memory hovered. Thank you, Fusako, for welcoming us into your home. It meant a lot to me!!

Little shoes in the Doma

Little shoes in the Doma

Advertisements

2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. beckynielsen
    Apr 10, 2013 @ 23:06:04

    What a fun trip! and what a nice welcome!

    Reply

  2. todaysillustrationtomorrow
    Apr 12, 2013 @ 13:41:33

    this is such a cool way to revisit the past! You should’ve filmed the trip!

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: