Sakawa MONOGATARI
 

III  THE GROUND

 

Please, never / ever visit Tosa Kamo


Exactly 32.5 kilometer from our apartment in Kochi Minami -we live at the Urado Bay- till the end of our private entrance-road in Tosa Kamo.

First we turn left and after the second traffic-lights to the right. Maximum 40 KM. Up it goes, passing 'my' yubin-kyoku, that I occasionally compare with a hairdresser's salon or a bar.


 Each time when I enter, the female staff stops working. Conversations with customers are interrupted acute and I perceive three or four full-smiling female faces. That makes me dead-nervous. My envelopes, which I decorate frequently with stickers and small cut pictures, become object of study without any shame and are passed from one to another! they are compared and praised. The qualification kawai is on the air. "For who this envelope is intended? A friend? Family may be?" Their enthusiasm and eulogies are unstoppable and I am standing over there looking blue. I always want real stamps on them, according to my systematic mantra! not a printed digital one. The post-office-females always assure me, that new series has been brought out and that everything will be fixed tip-top.

Such a lot of attention, kindness and standing full-in-the-spotlight cause a spontaneous desire becoming invisible. To make matters worse the chef crosses the office from behind in the mean time, greets me with all his charm and starts a chat. "Are not you freezing?" [..on the occasion, that I wear a thin short with short sleeves, for example]. My sincere, denying answer causes admiring sounds in chorus.

Customers wait patiently until the thread is taken up again. [Do they have another choice?] I am discriminated, upwards, be it distinctly understood. And how !
 Everyone knows, that I bought rice-fields in Sakawa. One of the employees reported proudly, that she exactly knows where. She has been looking on a Sunday. Fumika joined me in the beginning, but now she feels, that I have to manage my own affairs, now matter how I beg her to function as a lightning conductor.
 Am I exaggerating? What about this one ? On a certain day I had to send mail.
 Fumika waits, faithful to her opinion, outside in the car. Entering the post-office the females behind the counter not only start beaming, but also jumbling together in an exited way. All want to tell me something, I can understand that. My Japanese is bad and this time guessing fails. The oldest asks where Fumika is. I gesture, that she is waiting in her car. Promptly slippers are slipped on and one rushes outside. I settle my mail in the mean  time.
 Outside both females are intricate in a cheerful conversation. I wait. Cordial and laughing they say goodbye to each other.
 The facts: around one week earlier Fumika and I visited the A T M of this post-office. This time I took with 3 different dutch plastic cards 3 x ¥ 100.000 from the machine. Fumika [still] helps me with this ! Also during the count over. Three times we carefully count 10 x ¥ 10.000 notes. All this however was registered on the security-video and the females not only watched my head with a lot of attention, but also how much money we
 counted That caused pretty much excitement. It will not be long before I become the official mascot of this post-office.
 
 Left, down again, through Yokohama Danchi and to the right at the T-junction, taking the 36, direction Haruno [town], a gigantic extended municipality with numerous greenhouses. Along our dear and appreciated 'eco'-restaurant Reo and the beautiful buildings of the Haruno no Yo, the onzen. They also have excellent masseurs and mixed out-side whirlpools; here only with swimming suits.
 From bakery 'Harvest Kitchen' one sees at the left side of the road a kilometers-long strip mostly fast streaming water and at the left side of the water a continuing row of hortensia, which start blooming around mid-May. To the right and left flat, open fields; on the background densely grown mountains. At the end left, touching the 56, direction Shimanto [city] and after 50 meter to the right and immediately turning left again, direction Ino[town].
 There, one finds the strip of water with the hortensia again. The road becomes smaller. Maximum 30 kph. Approaching vehicles only can pass by if one of the drivers keeps waiting in one of the protrusions of this road. As a gratitude one nods or raises a hand. Gradually the road broadens somewhat,. Maximum40 kph. In course of time -more to the left- a dike comes within sight. Kilometers further on the road crosses the water and climbs on this dike.
 In the forelands of the through, close, one upon another standing trees, stil invisible kawa are -illegal, according to Fumika- all kinds of allotment gardens. The view is spacious. The mountain-scenery enchanting. It's here, that Fumika always calls: "Pay attention to the road ! !" I look too much at the majestic river, she feels. From around April everywhere long koinoburi (the ugly English word is ""carp-streamer") at high masts can be admired.: big, textile, hollow fish shapes in strong colors, swimming against the wind. A male, the largest, a female [underneath....] and one or more small children. Sometimes a steel-cable is drawn across a river and tens of koinoburi are stocked: delightful to the eye. In the Niyodogawa in Ino, near the bridge, up-stream, citizens stock the clear river water with koinoburi during the 'Golden Week'. This attracts thousands of visitors, photographing on the bridge, strolling at the bank of the river or joining a boat-trip.

 Soon the road leaves the dike. At the T-junction to the left, the 33, direction Sakawa[town]. In Ino one could visit the respectable washi-museum, where an impressive variety of printed and unprinted washi in various qualities can be bought. The modern building itself is also worth seen. At the 'mecano'-bridge, which resembles to the construction-method of the Eiffel tower, to the left, direction Hidaka[village], [Seven kilometer straight on, following the river, one of our favorite restaurants is luring.] The bridge at both sides is provided with a decent sigh in English: Niyodo gawa bashi bridge. Nobody minds this text, me too, though the ascription reflects a kind-of-international-stammering: bashi already means 'bridge'. After the "bashi bridge" a single track for what I teasingly baptized the "Sakawa-express", becomes my companion at my left side.
This train is visible in the distance from our property at the other side. From afar it looks like a dinky toy, that slowly moves from the right to the left and another time slowly from the left to the right. It surely is connected to my simpleness-of-mind, but I cannot get enough seeing this dinky toy under a mountain scenery. This train has a place in my heart. I am mollified by it. Our house has a writing-place for me in the offering, that looks out , yes, indeed !, at my dear train.
The longest length is four carriages. Depending on the part of the day there also are 3, 2 or -my absolute favorite- only one !
    
 Straight after the small center of Hidaka one find at the left side the extended site of JA Cosmos with 2 gigantic halls: one for food, the other one for fertilizer / rakes / pickaxes / rope / boots / seeds / pipes / plastic sheets and so on. It goes without saying that we stop here. Fumika buys there her lunch and together we nose into the plants. Almost never we leave without trees or plants. The only real competitor is Kochi city's-Sunday market, where interesting and skillful growers offer their beautiful, green and colorful 'children'. Returning home at about 17.30 p m shopping is extremely attractive. From then the already reasonable prized delicacies of the day are offered with a 50% discount. After J A it is not far anymore. At the Shell-pump to the right, the 297, direction Tosa Kamo eki. In future we will use this station for visiting Kochi City.
 
Traveling by rail is considerable faster than by car.
The road becomes smaller, passing two saw mills, also more windings and a silenced, wide area, mainly fields, is unfolding. Not too many houses. A field with fig trees, with rice, with tobacco, cabbage. At the opposite side our land can be seen after a while. It takes some time however until we can take a real small road to the left. Windings. The last five meters are hardly enough to make a car pass, turning sharp to the right, because at that point our four meter broad private road starts. Here ends the world and begins ours. One hour driving without the awareness of time; a hour full of small and large beauty. Stepping on the gas, up and then we are, where we want to be.

 I stop the engine. Immediately one can hear the babbling of the small stream, being our east border. Here starts our final chord.

 A normal person cannot find our plot easily. That's exactly what we want.
Writing about it, should be enough.

25 June 2006
 

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