Monday, July 19, 2010

chickens guard the gate

the monsoon season has abruptly ended, shoving us face-first into that part of summer where you have to peel your legs off plastic seats like tape that's stuck together. in a perverse way, it kinda makes me happy. i also love little dresses, long daylight, and an excuse to eat fruit for dinner.

today was a holiday, so deana and i went to gifu city. i'd been there once before and was impressed by what an interesting, artistic city it seemed. mostly, though, i had a craving for the huge slabs of fish they serve at sennari sushi.

a typical serving vs. sennari's cut.

there you do sushi the real way and order it from the chef, who places it in front of you from behind the sushi bar. then you pick it up with your fingers. usually places like that cost $$ (or ¥¥, rather), but we had all we could eat for under $15 each. next we ambled our way to akawani (red crocodile) for some fresh fruit kakigori (shaved ice). the winter offering was this obscene (and incredible) strawberry concoction, and for july they have fresh peach.

gifu was deserted, but when we turned the corner to akawani, we realized we were going to have to wait in line for this popular treat. there are only about four tables inside, but they were doing a good job of double-seating tables and getting people in pretty quickly. even sharing a table, it still felt like we had our privacy. that's the beauty of being in a place where people speak at a reasonable volume most of the time.

waiting in the heat.

the peach; while i was at first disappointed by the puny amount fresh fruit, the juice they poured over the ice was clearly made from real peaches because it all tasted delicious!

i liked the tiny fork.

after that, we just lost ourselves in the unbelievably quiet streets of gifu. it was amazing how few people were around, and we headed in a direction that tapered off into tiny, more traditional shops and homes. i could smell a lot of the things i remember from the first time i came to japan...smells i can't even define because i don't know what they come from. one was a kind of preserving agent like mothballs, but it didn't smell musty, it smelled well-cared-for. the scents coming from people's doorways and garages seemed aged, but well-used, carefully cleaned and kept in working condition. camera shops, cafes, fabric stores, futon shops, places to buy kimono, tea, incense, prayer beads. i was thoroughly happy looking at the tiny doorstep gardens, faded and rusted signs, and simple old man and old woman shoes lined up by the doors.

a $27 tea cup

airy pajamas.

a cafe/antique store that seemed straight out of a different mine.

an inexplicable sign for salt.

we looked around a group of temples where we didn't see another soul...

guarded by chickens.

finally i bought three paper lanterns (made in japan, not china) with bamboo sticks and candles, and the whole bag of fun cost me $4.

i felt peaceful and refreshed in spite of the heat. without expecting to, i got to see more of my favorite side of japan, not the big city stores and crowds of people, but a real corner with a heartbeat and style of its own. i felt completely happy.


  1. I think I need those pajamas.

  2. aren't they pretty? send me $50 and i'll be happy to buy them for you. :)

  3. neato trip. i had the same thought on the pjs!!! i bet they rock and i bet everything does there. love the tiny fork and all the eating going on. i guess we keep ending up with the same hairdo!

  4. do we have the same haircut again? i couldn't tell from your blog pictures. i just cut mine last night...i'll post about it soon.

  5. I'm having deja veau, (I can't spell!)looking at those paper thin pjs! Have I seen them somewhere before on your blog? Whistful-that's what they are! If I send you some money, will you get me something, uh, of the culture? but not a kimono (I have one). I'll e-mail you! Love the hair cut! Auntie Norma

  6. hey norma...nope, i haven't put that picture up before. something of the culture? i'm sure i could find something.