photo by Sasha Wizansky

On October 20, we stopped for lunch at the soba restaurant where Sylvan had worked before he began Peko Peko, Soba Ro. We ate Burdock root with sesame, pork paté, picked radish, kabocha, a melt-in-your-mouth piece of fish, mizuna, and tempura made from the tiniest fish. Then we had fresh soba noodles which we dipped in cups of cold broth and slurped noisily. After the noodles were gone, we filled the cups of leftover broth with hot soba water and finished the broth as soup. After the final dessert of sweet potato and kabocha pound cake with red bean pureé we were ready for a nap.

But instead we drove to the mountains.

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We snaked up a windy road, past green water and rusted bridges. None of us really knew where we were going, trusting that Nancy would take us somewhere amazing. And just when we thought our van wouldn’t make it any further, we found ourselves in a truly amazing place. We followed Harigaya-san, Nancy’s good natured friend, to his property: a wooden house overlooking the thickly forested mountains. We looked out at his kingdom and we all questioned our life decisions and future paths. Why weren’t we living like this? Awakening every morning to an expanse of mist and trees with a house full of instruments and a garden full of gifts from the mountain to keep us company. Harigaya’s friend stood on a hill among the trees to greet us, playing a “hand flute.” We learned that she was just blowing into her cupped hands. There was a lot to take in.

We toured the house that Harigaya-san had restored with his son. They had built a new level atop a traditional kitchen with an indoor fire pit.

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We didn’t get to see Harigaya’s garden but plan to use produce from it for our upcoming events. We were happy to fiddle with his homemade instruments and feed the billy goat that grazed nearby. We left before it got too dark and cold, both intrigued and afraid of the possibility that when night fell we would be trapped in Harigaya’s surreal dream.

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