Stay-vacation in Fuji

Saturday, May 28th, 2011

I learned a new word “ stay-vacation “. This means that you spend your vacation at home with exploring around your neighborhood. In Japanese “ an kin tan “ can be equivalent one. “an” means cheap, “ kin “ means near and “ tan” means short. This expression is composed of three abbreviations. During consecutive holidays called Golden Week from the end of April to beginning of May, I usually go out of town but this year I stayed in Fuji.

I discovered many wonderful things around my house. After cherry blossoms, many kinds of flowers such as wisteria, iris, calla and some other wild flowers in the mountains start to bloom. Each flower’s best time doesn’t last very long so I have been missing to appreciate the beauty of my town.

Best of all was the discovery of buckwheat noodle shop in the mountain was a great discovery.


The restaurant is located in a hidden place at the edge of plum orchard with hundreds of plum trees. The restaurant doesn’t have its billboard but it has noren, or short split curtain at a shop’s entrance. I still don’t know if the restaurant has a name or not. The people at the shop told me that they have started to serve soba as a hobby. They pick wild vegetables or vegetables grown by their yard and serve them for the customers. The food they serve is delicious and inexpensive. The people at the shop are generous and interesting. First I was going to keep this place as a hidden restaurant but I couldn’t keep it secret and eventually I have already introduced the place for three or four people. They don’t advertise anything at all but probably by word of mouth, many people manage to reach the place. On weekends, it’s rather crowded. One Saturday lunch time, they were open but they put up the sign “ We are closed.”


Ryutakuji Zen temple in Mishima

Monday, May 23rd, 2011

I went to Ryutakuji temple in Mishima with a British guest. Ryutakuji is an historical monastery on a quiet hill outside the town where people practice Zen quite intensively. This month from May 17th for a week, they were on a special training session called Settushin.




  This photo was taken in Nov. 2010. During Settushin period, taking photos is prohibited.


Neither of us had enough experience or knowledge about Zen but being interested in the idea, we took part in a lecture called Teishyo. This is a lecture given by the head priest who is called a Roshi. Anyone who is interested in it can listen as long as they sit quietly. It started at 13:30PM. I was told to be seated at least by 13:15 PM. We sat in the hall and did a kind of Zazen meditation on our own. The weather was perfect, the garden and surroundings, beautiful, and we sometimes had a pleasant breeze and the song of birds. We listened to the sound of silence. Around 13:30 PM, the trainees moved into the hall and with the powerful drumming of a giant wooden gong they started chanting sutras. The Roshi sat in the middle and after some ceremony, he started to give us a lecture. He talked about Kouan. Kouan is a kind of method to get enlightenment that was practiced by Rinzai Zen. In Soutou Zen, people don’t do that. It’s very difficult to understand. Roshi spoke in Japanese and I understood most of the words but it was difficult to understand the idea. I was very worried that my guest would not enjoy himself. According to him, however, even though he didn’t understand it clearly, he enjoyed the sound and atmosphere. The Roshi was very dramatic and animated in his lecture, just like a traditional storyteller.

Probably some of his ideas or intentions can be conveyed beyond the words.

It was quite a special experience and after the session I felt like my inspiration was enhanced and mind got clearer.

I’d like to listen to the lecture sometime again.

New Green Tea in Fuji ( Shizuoka )

Monday, May 16th, 2011

It’s the green tea harvest season. I understand many people around the world are concerned about radioactive contamination of food and drink produced in Japan. According to Fuji City Hall( about 330 Km away from the power plant in Fukushima), newly harvested green tea in Fuji City is totally safe to drink as of May 13th. They are free from iodine. The cesium level was 83.70 Bq. If the rate is over 500Bq, the leaves aren’t good to make tea. As for processed tea, the level is 3.92Bq. They are going to check the leaves regularly.


Green tea is delicious and good for health. I hope we can protect one of our treasures of the world.

Green tea and Wild vegetable picking at the foot of Mt. Fuji

Saturday, May 7th, 2011

We picked wild vegetables and green tea leaves on May 3rd.

For tea farmers, this time of the year is normally the busiest but the season hasn’t started yet because of relatively low temperature. They are going to be very busy in a few days. Mr. Katsumata, took us to the foot of Mt. Fuji, an area he is quite familiar with, to look for wild vegetables and showed us how to pick green tea leaves.





As we got together, we had a cup of new green tea. It tasted and smelled wonderful. This green tea is the second infusion. For the first one, I didn’t get around to taking photos since I couldn’t wait to taste it. The second one tastes more robust and the first one tastes sweeter with the taste of tannin.


They showed us the tea they processed today. We ate it as it is. The taste and fragrance was wonderful. We also tried tea picking. First Mr. Katsumata showed us how to pick. We have to pinch two leaves and one bud without using nails but with our fingers. It was fun and I couldn’t stop. They don’t apply pesticide for very long, so it’s safe to eat as it is. After picking leaves we made tempura at my place. This lady is very good at making tempura and these girls made pizza with tomatoes grown by Mr. Shimizu’s fertilizer.



Tea leaves are easy to get but wild vegetables are not easy to find. Many people have already picked many early in the morning. We went to the forest in the afternoon and most of the wild vegetables were gone. Still with the help of Mr. Katsumata and Atsuko (a wild vegetable maestro ), we got some. Also Chikako did a great job to find this nice one. She looked so happy.

Wild vegetables in spring taste a little bitter. I heard the bitterness resolves the fat we accumulated in winter. Bears eat them for the same reason.

I think nature is great and sensible. We need to eat and live according to nature so that everything goes well. I was simply happy to breathe the air rich in phytoncide.

Walking in the forests always makes me happy.