First Time Japan Taiko

Drive to Nagoya, stay at Katsuko-san’s parents’ on tatami and futon in attic.

Next day to Inuyama with Oyabu-san, barbecue tofu for lunch at Bell Restaurant,

Peach Boy Shrine, sit with feet in river talking about MonkeyMountain.

Evening onsen, izakaya for supper and drinks, Shinto shrine overlooking city lights.


Morning coffee with Oyabu-san and Kenji, organic strawberry farmer, at the mall.

Shido buys t-shirt and I get jeans for Cha.

Kawai picks us up and takes us to downtown, where we meet Gen at his Air Café.

Matsuri at NagoyaCastle, we see Phoenixtaiko players and fight about upcoming trip.


We make up in the wee morning hours after I have crawled into your hotel bed.

Recovering from painful evening, our friends put us on shinkasen to Kyoto,

Laden with special lunch from Reiko who sends us to her resort.

Palatial rooms and king-sized bed feel foreign, but onsen is familiar.


Two temples the next day, Golden and Water. We pray for our relationship.

Snack of green tea cake parfait at Cocohana Café.

Sento with Kawai’s family, then sleep at his mom’s on tatami with futon.

Quick breakfast, good-bye, and she gives me dolls her own mother made; tears.


Day spent with Fushicho Daiko at performance hall, stressful rehearsal

With heavy drums, skins poorly tuned, stage crews set lighting.

Night time show amazingly well received.

In the aisles afterwards sincere handshakes and “Arrigato gozaimasu!”


Late supper at Gen’s bistro until we close after hours of jazz and rare foods.

Visit with Marie and the 20 year old cat, then sleep in Ai and Arisa’s bunk beds.

Morning miso shiru with tiny clams, eggs and rice, early train to meet taiko group.

Long drive north after tea and snack at Asano Taiko, on to Naoetsu for Sado ferry.


Hours pass uncounted as we follow the hazy sun over indigo waters.

Dusk, the ferry approaches steep emerald shores and we return to the van in ship’s belly.

Short drive up narrow dark road to minshuku. We split into two groups of futons

With paper doors slid open, then eat pork ramen from Okasan’s tiny shop in Ogi town.


Sleep weighs us down; no dreams approach from bamboo forest or rice field outside.

Usual breakfast, but food tastes old, American taiko players don’t like its foreign texture.

Drive to OgiPortwhere Shido and I find perfect cup of hot coffee

At folk arts museum, our haven when the crowds reach too far.


Meet Sally in the fringe vendors, with husband and beautiful indigo fabrics.

She speaks English! We connect somehow immediately and she blesses us,

Tells us, “International relationships are great!”-as is hers: Chinese & Japanese.

We leave dressed in her family’s special clothing, to recall Nippon honeymoon.


Japanese Breakfast

  1. Day one: mugi cha, miso soup, rice, grilled fish, cucumber pickle, nori, ginger stalks with miso
  2. Day two: mugi cha, miso soup, crustless white bread with butter and tomato and lettuce egg salad sandwiches
  3. Day three: mugi cha, miso soup, rice, yaki tori and gyoza left over from last night, fish, nori, eggplant pickles, ginger stalks with miso, grapefruit (for my flu)
  4. Day four: mugi cha, miso soup, rice, grilled fish, pickles, nori, jelly roll
  5. Day five: mugi cha, miso soup, rice, fresh tofu, grilled mackerel, pickles, nori, tiny fish with grated daikon
  6. Day six: instant drip coffee, white bread toast with margarine and strawberry jam, omelet, tomatoes
  7. Day seven: instant drip coffee, white bread with margarine and a fried egg folded into a sandwich, seafood chowder
  8. Day eight: instant coffee, white bread, omelet with fresh herbs, left over sautéed veggies from last night, corn chowder, cantaloupe
  9. Day nine: instant coffee, lettuce and tomato and golden pepper and cucumber salad with ranch dressing, sausage link, white bread toast with fried egg and Canadian bacon
  10. Day ten: coffee and risotto tartlet at Starbucks
  11. Day eleven: hot coffee and toast with fried egg and cheese at Tully’s
  12. Day twelve: coffee, rice, miso soup, 3 kinds of grilled fish, pickles, and Japanese sweet bean paste donut ball

Assorted snacks:

  • Whole wheat cream puff from corner store
  • Ice coffee with sugar and cream
  • Cubes of kanten with black soybeans, molasses, adzuki bean paste and vanilla ice cream (!!!!)
  • Fried squid (they’re hollow!)
  • Shaved ice with adzuki bean paste
  • Edamame with dried squid and beer
  • Chocolate and almond-coated vanilla ice cream popsicle
  • Small pizzas on puff pastry
  • Sweet potato egg roll
  • Wakame with umeboshi
  • Rice balls with sweet dried fish
  • Mini pancakes stuck together with adzuki paste
  • Fresh mango, sweet adzuki kanten, green grapes, purple grapes that taste like chocolate
  • Toufukuji parfait: vanilla and green tea ice cream, black sugar kanten, green tea cake, mochi balls, black soybeans, crushed up cookies, adzuki beans and whipped cream (!!!!!)



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