Hello my friends!
I’m trying to write as much as I can before life gets busy again!!
So let’s start another journey with Tamaki Hiroshi in Japan…
The place he will be visiting today is Okukuji, in Hitachioota
located in the northernmost part of Ibaraki prefecture.
Tokugawa Mitsukuni, who is also known as “Mito Komon” and is a
very famous political face in the Edo era in Japan,
decided to move to this area and spend the last 10 years
of his life in the beautiful greenery of this area.
Another attraction around here
is the large “Ryuujin” suspension bridge.
It looks like it’s a way to the sky on a cloudy day like this!
Let’s seen where Tamaki san is going to take us today!
He starts his jurney from the center of the town,
“Kujira ga oka” shopping district.
All the shops around here look really old as Tamaki san mentions.
Seems like all of them have been doing business here
for many years!
He keeps walking and reads the signs of the shops…
but he stops in front of one of them…
He’s wondering if it’s a candy shop!
Then he reads what’s written on a paper on the door:
“Yakiimo (Baked sweet potato) has started!)
He decides to enter the shop!
After the normal greetings,
he asks the lady in the shop
if this is originally a candy shop.
She tells him that it is, and they also sell
baked sweet potatoes when it’s the season.
Then Tamaki san says that only 70 yens for one is too cheap.
But the lady says that their main targets are the kids,
that’s why they set the price as low as possible.
Tamaki san says that it’s the best since
it’s getting colder each day
and the baked potatoes will make you warm…
Then somehow the lady suddenly says:
“It’s Tamaki san… right?”
And Tamaki san laughs and makes a bow while introducing himself.
The eyes of the shop lady sparkles in a very cute way XD
Then she tells him that the potatoes
are ready to be eaten right now,
and Tamaki san of course asks if he can get one!
The lady brings him a hot baked potato and hands it to him.
He cuts the potato into two pieces,
but without the newspaper rapping it’s impossible
to keep the potato in his hand..
He puts one half on top of the other one
and takes a bite after blowing on it for a few seconds.
“Been a while since I’ve eaten this.”
he says after eating.
Theses are harvested in Ibaraki the lady says,
and when Tamaki san asks her if these are thinner than
the usual size…
she says that they pick the small ones
so that it costs less for the students who want to buy them.
Also, it takes less time to bake them if they are smaller.
Taking another bite,
“How many years has it been since I last ate one!”
Tamaki san says.
He thanks the shop lady and leaves the candy shop
with the sweet potato in his hand.
But while he is eating his sweet potato outside the shop,
an old lady who was crossing here by chance
finds the filming crew and gets close…
I guess she wanted to get close and talk to him,
but she was afraid he might be one of those scary
famous people you cannot approach…
But somehow Tamaki san is the one who
greets her with a smile, and asks her
where she is heading to… the Bank perhaps?!
No… she’s heading to the post office she says!
“You look lovely!” she tells him XD
And Tamaki san laughs while denying it.
But she then asks:
“Sorry… By the way,
what was your name?”
I wonder if she’s teasing him… well maybe not!
he replies without any hesitation.
“aaa… I have been thinking
that guy is not around anymore!”
on TV she means I guess ^_^;)
Then she laughs out loud and Tamaki san
doesn’t mind the joke and laughs with her.
Then she pats on his shoulder and says:
I’m sure you will get more jobs from now on!!”
HEY LADY!! XD
He already has his hands full…
That’s why he’s here!!!…
↑ Is what I want to tell her so bad XD
But Tamaki san laughs again and says:
“I will do my best! But I’m in that difficult halfway age..”
The way he follows her jokes without getting mad or
uncomfortable is lovely!
Then she shakes his hand and wish him good luck,
but before separating from him..
asks him if he liked the taste of the imo (potato)…
And Tamaki san says that it was delicious and sweet.
Then she points into herself and says
“I’m imo neechan too!”
(￣▽￣;) tasty as well?
Perhaps it’s what she means?
I have no idea! щ(ﾟдﾟщ)
She thanks them all and then
leaves them in piece again XD
OK, heading to another shop…
The signs says Kikuya!
Let’s get inside!
Tamaki san greets the shop lady and
after taking a look around,
asks her with a curious expression on his face:
“What do you sell here?”
The lady tells him that their main business
is making miso and koji!
The customers bring them the beans or rice
they have produced by themselves,
and they use it to make the miso.
But they also sell the handmade artwork
produced by the artists living in the town.
One of the most famous products is from the
“sesson uchiwa” brand
making uchiwa (Japanese style paper fan)
The old lady who makes them is now 93 years old.
She used to take care of the business
with her husband who used to paint
on each one of the fans one by one and by hand.
But since he passed away 30 years ago,
the old lady has been doing all the job by herself,
and uses the prints of his husband’s paintings
for creating the paper fans she makes these days.
The paper she uses to make them is also an Ibaraki product,
called the nishinouchi paper（西ノ内和紙)
Then the shop lady says that
the uchiwa obaasan lives not so far from here,
so if he wants…
she can give him a map to help him find her faster!
Seems like her husband made this map,
which is a little bit unusual…
because there is no pictures!
All written in words XD
Tamaki san thanks her and leaves the shop!
Trying to find the Sessou Uchiwa workshop ^^
⇒ Make the power pole by “kiikuya” your starting point,
and start walking toward the East
one step, two steps, three steps…
hahahahaha! Very interesting!!
But as soon as he gets out,
Tamaki san already looks troubled!
hahahaha… what’s wrong?!
When he looks back and is hoping for a clue,
the shop lady comes out and he tells her that
he has no idea which way goes to the east!
He points to his left side
where he’s standing facing to the lady
and asks: “This way?!”
She points to the same direction and says yes XD
“According to the position of the sun
it should be this way I thought!”
Tamaki san says and then thanks the lady again
and starts walking!
Then after taking a few steps
he looks back
“It says turn into right after taking the 62nd step!…
But I forgot how many steps I have taken by now…”
He laughs and then says:
“10 I guess?”
Finally he reaches the place where he should turn right.
He enters the narrow road
and starts counting again XD
the workshop should be somewhere around here.
The map says:
Tamaki san says
looking at the tiny courtyard on his left!
He found it…
so let’s get in!
He says Good morning out loud and introduces
himself behind the closed door…
The an old lady slides the door and opens it!
Tamaki san greets her and explains why they are here.
The lady looks happy!
She thanks them and welcomes them in!
Tamaki san and the filming crew get inside.
Akutsu Fusako san, 93 years old!
She sits down on the place she always uses for work,
and Tamaki san sits down not so far away from her.
Atsuko san starts working.
She uses a sharp knife and
cuts the upper side of the bamboo
into very thin lines!
“My eyesight is getting worse everyday…
I used to do this much faster when I was young.
It’s the most difficult part of the job!”
And Tamaki san agrees with her.
at what age did you start doing this?”
he asks her.
“Being taught by otousama…
(her husband he means).”
Tamaki san says.
Atsuko san says that they used to work like this
everyday together with her husband.
Then Tamaki san asks her if they used to
chat with her husband
while doing the work.
And she says that they didn’t really do it very often.
Then Tamaki san hismelf says that
the job needs concentration!
It’s not a kind of work you can do
while having a chat with someone else.
Atsuko san says that she’s now teaching
everything to her oldest son. So that he can
take care of the workshop after her.
Then she keeps the bamboo still in one of her hands,
and starts bending the divided pieces and make the cuts
go deeper. (Hard to explain… hope the snapshots can help!)
Tamaki san is amazed…
“It should require a lot of power to do that!”
“It does!” Atsuko san replies!!
Then she gives him a dried piece of bamboo and
tells him to twist the divided parts like she does…
But Tamaki san gives it a try
and says that he cannot
even twist them!! Too hard!!
And atsuko says that it should be hard!
It’ Bamboo after all!!
Atsuko san is a super woman!
Tamaki san is quiet impressed and maybe shocked! ^^
Having to polish and then dry the bamboo many times,
from the day she starts the process of making a fan,
it will take about 1 year to see the completed work!
Tamaki san uses the chance and starts taking photos
of Atsuko san while she is working.
She starts tying the dried bamboo lines to each other.
It must be a very time consuming process.
After finishing the job,
she says that all there is left to do
is to paste the paper on the bamboo.
Tamaki san takes the fan from her and
shows it to us in his own hand.
“It’s amazing!” he says ^^
“It’s just like when a Peacock is spreading its feathers!”
He adds XD
Looking at some of Atsuko san’s products and
trying them one by one,
Tamaki san says that the ability of these fans
to produce the fresh wind is amazing.
They produce a very refreshing and cold breeze.
Atsuko san says that her house was built
many many years ago and
she doesn’t really use Air conditioning inside.
So even during the hot summer days,
she always uses the uchiwa to cool herself!!
Then when Tamaki san says that the fans
are produced in really good quality,
Atsuko san guarantees that they work for 10 or even 20 years.
But also adds that this is actually
not very good for the business XD
And they both laugh out loud together.
Tamaki san has a journey to continue,
so he says goodbye to Atsuko san
and leaves her workshop.
But with a bag in his hands XD
He bought some of her fans of course!
He says that you can find them easily
in a supermarket as well.
But when you meet the person who’s making them,
it gives you a sense of security,
knowing how it was made and who has made it,
It makes you wanna buy it and have it for yourself!
now let’s make a stop at Komoun sama’s garden
and take a look around!
At the gate,
Tamaki san says that the place is tiny but cute!
Komoun sama was 63 when he changed his residence
and moved here from Mito.
While walking in the garden,
Tamaki san encounters an old man with a long beard,
and a special costume which leaves you no choice but
to say that he is representing Komoun sama here!!
Tamaki san greets him and asks to have a chat with him.
Then after complimenting his beard XD
Tamaki san asks him
if he visits the place very often…
and the old man (Ishigawa san)
says that he is actually a guide!!
Then Tamaki san uses the chance and asks him
why did Tokugawa Mitsukuni (Komoun sama)
move to this house from Mito?
Ishigawa san explains that the nature,
and the variety of trees like ume, sakura and the
Eden he was able to have in this nature…
probably this would be what made him fall for the place.
Walking in the garden and watching the autumn
leave colors on the trees and the shape of the hill…
Tamaki san says that this should almost be
the same scenery as it used to be in the old days.
Then he explains to us about his interest
in living in the nature like this.
He says that one day,
some time in the future,
he wants to leave Tokyo and
experience living in the countryside.
“You can keep your own pace…
When you get old,
you have a lot of time to spend with yourself.”
He says that he understands this very well…
The decision Komoun sama made when he got old.
Getting back on the road again,
passing the few storehouses on his way,
Tamaki san encounters a man!
After greeting him,
he asks what the man was doing!
He was checking the Buckwheat!
A promotional product in this area,
“Hitachi Aki soba”
Tamaki san says that he has never had them before.
Then the man (Hikuchi san)
says that his wife is making them today…
they don’t have a restaurant or a shop and they just
make it for the family members to enjoy it together.
And Tamaki san is invited to join them today ^^
Hikuchi san’s house is really huge!!
There’s an old building from 150 years ago
in which his parents used to live in,
and another one which was built 30 years ago and
he lives in it with his family right now.
While walking in the yard…
Tamaki san suddenly notices something!
“They are connected!!”
he says while pointing at yard.
The two buildings,
are connected to each other through a tunnel like space!
Hikuchi san says that they made this to make it easier
moving in between the two buildings XD
Tamaki san is really amazed!
So Hikuchi san decides to show him
how it looks like inside the corridor.
They get in and start walking in there…
When Hikuchi san opens the back door
to the other (New) building,
he says that it may be a little bit difficult
to enter from here!!
Tamaki san is surprised…
what does that mean? XD
Then after taking a look inside,
he realizes that Hikuchi san was right!
So he decides to take off his backpack
and hold it in his hand!
Somehow he makes it inside!
The problem is the huge cupboard they have received from
a friend as a gift and had no other place to fit it in!
To enter the house from this back door,
you have no other choice but to walk like this ^^
Well as Tamaki san says,
it’s not the front door so almost never used for
guests or anyone but the family members XD
let’s pass one more time and go back!
I love the way he laughs purely at this!
Going to the kitchen and meeting with Hikuchi san’s wife!
She’s about to start making the soba!
But she takes a look at Tamaki san says:
“Do you want to try making it together with me?!”
Tamaki san is of course surprised
but he says he loves to!
He’s just a little bit worried if he can do it or not
but Hikuchi san assures him that it’s not that hard!
It is said in this town that the girls who cannot
make this soba,
will not be able to get married XD
Tamaki san takes the challenge of making Soba for the first time?
Will he do it properly or maybe he will fail?!?!
Let’s leave that to the 2nd part of the report.
Will see you soon!
End of part 1