1 Yonezawa: First night

Packing is not my strong point.   In scorching sunshine yesterday afternoon, I lugged a bear-sized backpack and a 25-year-old Shrewsbury Town Football Club holdall stuffed with books to the bank of the Mogami river. 

It was worth the walk.  The wide, grassy banks of the river were perfect for camping and gave a grand view of the mountains that ring Yonezawa on 3 sides. 

Before putting up my home for the night, I took the Shrewsbury holdall for a wander.  Our frist stop was a water fountain in an empty car park.

Worth more than a 100 pills and potions / The waters of the Idea Spring are the freshest in the world   

I filled my water bottle from a tap next to the collection box.  The Idea Spring is also a small shrine; its waters are worshipped.  An ink-drawn placard boasts: Tasty water!! Safe water!! Mankind`s most valuable treasure!!  Drink and stay healthy!

[Please put your car park payment into the collection box. Proceeds go to daycare facilities]

The spring water tasted wonderful.  It is a crime that conbinis are selling water imported from France when springs like this produce such good juice of their own.  Water is Japan`s most valuable and abundant resource yet so often it is spoilt. 

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Hedges are one of Devon`s most abundant resources; Yonezawa also has its own unique hedge culture.  I saw a few ukogi hedges along the old samurai district.  These ukogi hedges are consumable; used as Chinese medicine, for tea and in cooking.  Eating a hedge? Now that is a plan for tomorrow.

I slept fitfully in the stuffy tent; I was excited about hedge-eating the next day. And I had forgotten to open the vents.

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