Essay - Travels
2003 Summer - Shinshu No.2 "My second hometown"
When I was junior high school student, it was the custom to go to the Nozawa Onsen with my family and father Tomi's friends and their families in the New Year. As I went to ski there very often, Nozawa is familiar and like a second home town for me. In the cold winter night, the town is heavy with steam of bun with a bean-jam filling, and villagers boil greens, eggs and sweet corns at the hot spring. Of course, quiet town in Summer is also tasteful in its own way. Besides that we can taste mountain vegetable in spring and mushrooms in autumn. Nozawa is good town.
Today's inn "Ikeshou" is Tomi & Yasu's the latest usual inn, when they go skiing at Nozawa. Its building is recycled old private house, there are only three rooms. The landlord with a smiling face and the landlady who is a cooking expert manage inn by themselves. They are really hard worker, as a matter of course, the building is tended with great care in every corner and extremely comfortable. Here and there an arranged wild flower and grandpa and grandma dolls with calming face fit nicely to the simplicity and fortitude building.
We must, first of all, go to a hot-spring when we come to Nozawa. Tomi says "here is the best" public bath "Kumanotearai-yu" (means a bear wash its hands) is near our inn. The public bath house is villagers social place. One neighbor after another come and take a bath, a baby is also taking a bath joyfully. After we took a bath, Chie who visited Nozawa at first and Deco went to more public bath. They took a four bath out of thirteen, and became groggy. Tomi, Yasu and me went swimming at Arena (indoor pool). We felt the stiffness in our body and soul relieved, and then we got hungry.
At dinnertime, chars were broiled by the fireside in the hearth, and its smell hung in the air. Our stomach growl, willy-nilly. Every dish which is served is homemade cooking that landlady works out. After we gorged ourself with wholeheartedly dishes, we went for a walk to the night town. Whenever we come to Nozawa, we call at "Sankyu-kougei" which handle handicraft products woven of akebi vine. The shop is also famous for its collection of old cloths, there are many fan in all over the country. The clothes made from old cotton or linen cloth are really fashionably. As they got to fit my skin when I tried on, I bought some ones like a "monpe" (work pants) in spite of myself.
pick a sweet corn
The next morning, as soon as we got up, we sliped on a pair of geta (Japanese shoe with a wooden sole) and took a bath first. Then, we had plenty dishes sharpen our appetite such as handmade tofu for breakfast. Although we wanted to stay for the present, "Tomi & Yasu tour" had to go to the next our destination. We reluctantly said good-bye to "Ikeshou", well, we were going to stay at Shiga highland tonight, but we would drop in at "Yui Shizen Nouen" (organic farm).
Last year Tomi & Yasu visited this farm and were very impressed by its soft soil. They have continued making chemical-free organic vegetables for many years. Although Hirochika was away because of study, Kiyoko guided us around farm. It was fine weather after a long spell of rain, all vegetables looked joyful. The vivid red flower of Scarlet runner bean was in full bloom, the big shell hung down. Sweet & Snack corn reached the harvest season soon, Kiyoko picked some ones for us. A basketful of many other vegetables such as bright red fully ripened tomatoes, fresh and juicy celery and red beet would be presents for tonaight inn.
We left the farm and went to soba noodles restaurant "Shokuninkan". Handmade tofu was nice, not to mention soba noodles. It was the sweet smell of earth and the best dish above all that assorted vegetables from Yui farm which were only cut or boiled. Tofu dressing which was topped on it was good, too. The building is old private house, same as Ikeshou. When I stay in such as the building after many years, I am calm and relax. I thought I would live with prizing old things.