Farmer`s wife has kindly arranged a date for me in the next village up. The date is with Dan, a fellow Englishman who runs an English school in Yamagata city. As matchmaker, the wife accompanied me. The daughter drove.
We left after weed-cut and gold nugget-collecting. I changed into my best shirt. Farmer`s wife put on a dress.
Drive up took us past terraced rice fields. “We ae now in the realm of the mountain god,” the farmer`s wife told me. In thick, Devon-like mist, the route took on unexpected curves and contours. Mad landscape, neither mountain nor plain. Growth so green and dense. Hills seemed alive, as if preparing to move at any moment.
Warmly welcomed at Dan`s. The farmer`s wife and I occupied his couch while Dan and his Japanese wife knelt on the floor, serving us tea and biscuits.
Milk in the tea and rhubarb in their garden. A spot of England thriving on the edge of a volcano.
It was a wonderful finished it with a hot spring bath at Tenjin Onsen. Accosted by the cleaner at the bathdoor. “Where are you from?”. “Really, England! I`ve just been there on holiday. My daughter lies in Edinburgh. Oh, I know, when you come out your bath, I`ll give you tamakonnyaku, a skewer of gelatine balls.”
Afternoon: Alone on the farm. Fed horses grass and weeds at break time. Not enough though. They were grumpy, swishing their tails at me in disgust as I sought their golden nuggets. Rare spell of sunshine turned the stalls into a sauna. After finishing, I took my t-shirt and work boots off and sun bathed by the apple trees, looking down at the castle town below. I was King for the afternoon. It felt fantastic.