Art and Artifacts(?)

The very last day of summer, we started out for Shikoku, one of the four largest islands that comprise Japan. I wanted to practice driving on hte Expressway so I drove to Imabari! Then Hiroo took the driver’s seat and we made it to our first destination about 10:00 AM.



This man has amassed quite a collection of items from the Showa period. (1926~1989) He has everything from movie posters to Kewpie dolls! He spent an hour with us , showing us through the two buildings of fascinating things. Nakanishi-san was a news photographer and still has a small old studio wedged between the two “museums”!

FukuiIshikawa 046.JPG


Paper dolls from 1960s?

We had a great time looking at his collection. I recommend you contact him just to be sure he is there when you g. It is only 300 yen to see the museum.



From there we went to the nearby “Hibari Shokudo” which is apparently famous for the huge pork cutlet on rice (and cheap!) People were lining up well before opening time and hte couple in front of us said it was their second attempt to be served at the restaurant as last time they couldn’t get in! It was more than we could eat.very good!

Swinging Bridges are Scary

We went on to the famed “kazura-bashi” at Iya in Tokushima prefecture. It was only 30 minutes or so from the Otoyo Showa museum. You must pay to go across and there were many tourists from Japan and abroad. I somehow made it across but it was scary! Beautiful photos don’t do it justice.



Scary enough!

That night we stayed at a hot springs in Miyoshi. We enjoyed hte breakfast in particular as they served just out of the oven pizza and also amazing French toast made with French bread!

Tobacco Trade in Ikeda

The next town, Ikeda, was a center for drying and curing tobacco in the Edo period. It was then transported down the Yoshino RIver to the city of Tokushima and from there to other areas of Japan. We stumbled on the Tobacco Museum when it was opening at 9:00 AM. A friendly volunteer guide gave us a tour and lots of interesting information.


Hiroo tries smoking a kiseru tobacco pipe at the Tobacco Museum, Ikeda-cho

As we were leaving, we happened to meet an older woman who was sweeping the road in front of her shop. A retired high school home ec teacher, she is in her 80s but very active. We went inside her “shop” and visited with her. It seems she organizes all kinds of events, makes her own posters and produces it all. Recently she put on a “chindon-ya” parade where everyone enjoyed dressing in period costumes!


We took the local highway 192 to our next stop, Daibosatsutoge Cafe” where Shima Rikita san has been continually adding to his enormous brick structure began in 1964. His son and wife operate a cafe in part of the area, but we were especially lucky to get a two hour tour and talk with this artist in his studio.




Shima Rikita, artist and craftsman





When he couldn’t get bricks at a reasonable price, he built a brick-kiln and kept going! Now he works in many mediums, carving wood, ceramics and furniture building. Probably close to 85, he still executes new ideas as soon as he gets them, now finishing up his chairs carved to represent the 47 prefectures. I definitely want to go back for his exhibition!

Best-ever inn By the Sea, Kaiyo-cho

We were so fortunate to stay at Osa inn and for a very reasonable price. Our hosts, the Hayashi’s came back to her home and re-opened this inn after retiring. She is an amazing cook! Everyone gave the food top rating and that is why I chose it..and I wasn’t disappointed. This is the best place i have ever stayed in Japan!!





They talked about ayu fishing!

And after breakfast, she served her special Creme Brulee and fruit and her husband ground fresh coffee for us! We really enjoyed the warm atmosphere and the food!

On to Kochi..

On the last leg of our journey, we headed for Kochi city where I saw the “Jiyu Minken Undo” museum. But what we enjoyed most was Makino Tomitaro Botanical Gardens!


Makino Tomitaro in his study (recreation)




Tomitaro as a young man

He was a botanist and did research on plants, the first person to produce a definitive  encyclopedia of Japanese plants. His original sketches are on display and, fortunately for me, the museum of his life and achievements had English explanations which were well done!!

Home Again

Stopping by the Kochi Castle and the nearby Museum of Literary Arts, we finally started for home. We saw so many things and met creative people who all follow their dreams. I am inspired to find a new project now! We had a wonderful time! I love Tokushima and the people there are really friendly!


Friendly Rika san at Iya Onsen


The Longest Trip

2016-05-25 12.15.13

Myorakuji Temple, Obama ( Fukui Prefecture)

So far, the longest road trip we have taken here is for 3 nights, but this time we set out for Noto and Kanazawa on a 5 night, 6 day odyssey! I wanted to see some temples in Obama. We got to see the Myorakuji Temple ( 妙楽時)with the “thousand-handed Buddha” statue. Each hand holds a different object, like a writing brush, prayer beads or an incense burner! The surrounding gardens were very nice and we enjoyed being the only ones strolling there!

FukuiIshikawa 023

Senju Kannon at Myorakuji Temple

Later we found a “Showa era” shopping arcade that opened in 1936. There were several of the original stores still hanging on. I met Mr. Hideo Saito of the Dai-ei Shoe Store. He is 84 years old and still in business in spite of having back surgery a year ago and using a cane.

FukuiIshikawa 055

FukuiIshikawa 054

Hideo Saito at the Dai-ei Shoji shoestore, Obama City

I love to see old shops from this era and hope they preserve this “Izumi Arcade” area.

The next day we went to a famous Zen temple near Fukui City, Eiheiji (永平寺)The Zen sect was brought from China in the 13th century by Dogen who then builtthe EIheiji (or”temple of eternal peace”) in  1244. Even today,  many young priests undergo rigid training here.

FukuiIshikawa 089

Eiheiji Temple, near Fukui City

FukuiIshikawa 077

FukuiIshikawa 082

Tiles in the ceiling of the Main Hall

The temple buildings and grounds are vast and very beautiful. It is built up about 6 levels. We were very impressed and glad we went on a weekday when fewer visitors are there.

Our next destination was the Noto Peninsula, stopping first at the Showa Museum of Collectibles and Toys from the early 20th century. Hiro wasn’t eager to pay the $7 fee to get in, but later admitted it was more than worth it. I recommend this to anyone who loves the nostalgia of pre-war days.

FukuiIshikawa 127

Objects found in a typical 1950 home (although only a few had TVs!)

FukuiIshikawa 138

Instructions on Using a Bathhouse (including”Don’t do your laundry here”)

FukuiIshikawa 178

Megumi and Haruki are Gelato fans like me (Maruga Gelato, Noto cho)

After enjoying gelato and meeting these cute kids, we reached our inn, the Mawaki PorePore Hot Springs.(縄文温泉の宿 真脇ポレーポレー0768ー62-4700) This is our new favorite inn as the sashimi and the Wajima-beef steak were sooo good!

On Friday morning, we left in time to get to the famed Wajima Asa-ichi (Morning market) where fresh seafood and hand-crafted items are sold every morning! There, we met a shop owner, Mr. Kiyoshi Yatsui, who graduated from Cornell with a post-doctorate in nuclear physics! He is the fifth-generation owner of this large lacquer-ware shop on the main street of Wajima.


With Kiyoshi Yatsui in Yatsui FIne Lacquerware Shop, Wajima

Wajima lacquer-ware is famous all over Japan and very expensive!I admired a brooch but it was out of my price range! Nevertheless, we enjoyed talking with Yatsui-san and it turns out that he lived in Albuquerque and did research at Sandia base! It felt like meeting an old friend!

FukuiIshikawa 230

Cheesecake at ASIE Cafe by Saigawa, Kanazawa

We reached Kanazawa city in the early afternoon and visited the museum dedicated to writer Muro Saisei. Then we found a great spot to rest at a riverside cafe that had great coffee and desserts!

Things to See In Kanazawa

The Kenrokuen gardens are a must-see in Kanazawa, located next to the Kanazawa castle. We also went to the History Museum.

FukuiIshikawa 251

At Kenroku-en Garden, Kanazawa

We had lunch in the Edo-era atmosphere of Higashi Chaya Machi. We went to a restaurant recommended by this nice rikisha puller and had local cuisine, including kuruma-fu, and oshi-zushi. My crab sushi had real gold flakes on it!

FukuiIshikawa 264

Rikisha puller and (below)Local food in old Higashi Chaya Machi

Strolling along the river, a volunteer guide spoke to me, and introduced me to another volunteer, 98-year-old Suemura Takeo (末村武男)I talked with him and heard about his experiences in a Russian prison camp after WWII. He explained how he was in Manchuria at the end of the war and preparing for repatriation when Russian troops occupied the area and he was captured. He was forced to carry heavy sacks of sugar that weighed  60 kilograms. (over 130 lbs).

FukuiIshikawa 292

Suemura can still remember many Russian words from his 3-year captivity

Suemura-san suffered frostbite so the skin sloughed off his face. After treatment, he was sent back to work. He said people laughed and pointed at him and said something in Russian. He asked someone and found out they were saying, “He is no longer a person! Ha ! Ha!” because the bandage made a big “X” across his face.

After being released, he returned to Japan, married and had 3 children.After retiring,  he wondered what he could do to make himself useful and became a volunteer guide for tourists in his hometown.

Ikuno Silver Mine


On the way home, we stopped by the old silver mine in  Ikuno, Hyogo Prefecture. It was mainly developed under the Tokugawa in the Edo era and produced much silver. Taken over by the government around 1860, French engineers came to modernize the mine.  In 1896, it was sold off to the Mitsubishi Co, becoming one of the pillars of their operations. The mine closed in 1973.

Tatsuno and Higashi-Maru Soy Sauce

Our last stopover was in the old castle-town of Tatsuno, where we visited the old soy sauce factory museum. There are many soy sauce brands made here from 400 years ago. The video told how the barrels for soy sauce were made which was in itself quite a traditional craft. The soy sauce had to ferment for about a year before being bottled and was a very labor-intensive process in the old days.

As we left, we saw the modern Higashi Maru usukuchi shoyu factory along the river. The town itself is quite old and there are many old shops that sell soy manju and other local delicacies! This town is definitely worth seeing!

All in all, we had an amazing week and good weather. I learned a lot. I’m glad ot be home again, though. It was a very ambitious undertaking for us old people!! Hiroo drove the whole way!


Definitely eat Sabazushi (さば寿司)in Obama!!