Tuesday, January 30, 2007
Hanging with the Yoshidas- early January
OK, do you love the boots or what? Too bad we haven't had much snow this season!
The Yoshidas basically adopted me and Paul during the New Year's holidays... We went to a ton of onsens (Japanese spas) with them (it was a bit weird at first, hanging out naked together, but it's such a natural part of life for so many Japanese that I gradually got used to it). Of course, the men and women's sections were separated, so I'm not sure how Paul fared with the ogling of the big tall gaijin strolling among them. Also, it was great to not be in the freezing cold apartment. The warmth of the onsen stayed with me for hours after, and managed to loosen up my non-massaged back/shoulders! Besides the onsens, they took us on long drives all over the Tango region... I even experienced my first "snowstorm" with them, in the mountains near my home.
They took us to several special shrines where the construction is now outdated and only a few remain in all of Japan... Both were surrounded by immense towering trees. One huge moss covered tree had a little shrine inside and over the years, people were lodging coins into the bark of the tree.
Somehow the Yoshidas also seem to know all these cool hippy Japanese artists, and take it upon themselves to bring foreigners to visit them. So, one day, we drove out to see this textile artist guy and his wife who lived in an old wooden house, way up in the mountains. They gather branches, leaves, pine cones, and other natural materials from the area and boil them down into natural dyes in their one room workshop. The wood burning fireplace in the middle of the room serves the dual purpose of heating the room as well as the huge pots of dyes.
His wife weaves exquisite kimono and other amazing items on a loom while he comes up with designs and hand dyes the kimonos. The two met in art school 20 years ago and still are liberal and easygoing. He said he wants to go to San Francisco so he can "moon" all the tourists from a cable car!! (apparently, this is what SF is famous for!). We must have been there for like 6 hours, sitting on the cold, hard floor. But when we left, they presented me with a delicate, perfectly balanced hanging mobile of some of the branches used to make his dyes!