21 Yokote: Hard town to read

Morning:  Took train to Yokote.  Grotty-looking hotel across from station was fully booked for a festival in a city over a 1 hour train ride away.  Station area very shabby, more dead shops than live ones.


Made inquiry at two storey Abe Ryokan.  The owner shuffled up to the genkan (porch); he had greasy, receding, straggly hair and wore a sky blue rag tied carelessly around his forehead.  A brown, flowery apron hung over his pot belly. He was polite and humble, mumbling a request for good favour and bowing when I booked a small tatami mat room, filled with generations of dust and clutter.  

Later the owner handed me a town map on which he had curiously ringed every traffic light in Yokote in red pen.     

LUNCH:  A bargain 500yen for prize-winning cuisine, yakisoba (fried noodles) at Kuidoraku (J),  winner of the 4 Heavenly Kings Grade B Food Grand Prix for 5 years running.  The town of Yokote is famous for its fried noodles, particularly for adding a special feature – a fried egg .  The small Kuidoraku chain also boasts a special sauce.    

“What`s the special ingredient in the sauce?” I asked the waitress.

“Worcester sauce,” she whispered – possibly British cuisine`s finest achievement in Japan.

Then again possibly not.  Two hours later I had stomach cramps. 

EVENING:  Drawn to the sounds of taiko drums in the darkness, I visited a small shrine behind the Abe ryokan.  Inside children were preparing for a festival by the river tomorrow.  One of the children`s mothers invited me in to watch them practice. 

Two Dad`s in turquoise factory-suits directed the children, 10 local boys and girls of mixed ages and sizes, who took it in turns to keep the drumbeat going.  A relentless rhythm.  By the end, I felt ready to go to war with them. 

Behind the kids , one Mother was playing a yokobue (Japanese flute); a Father was playing on an obscure, unidentifiable instrument which on closer inspection turned out to be a mobile phone. 

Looking forward to seeing the real thing tomorrow.

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2 Responses to 21 Yokote: Hard town to read

  1. Ishita-san says:

    Sounds like you are enjoying my third hometown, Akita!
    Are you going back to Aomori??

    Ito-san says “Hi!”

    • tomointokyo says:

      Hi Ishita-san,
      Thank you for commenting. I have really enjoyed your third hometown, Akita. It was full of surprises. Two weeks wasn`t nearly enough.

      I am now enjoying your first hometown, Aomori. Or is it second best to Tokyo now?

      I am getting the train and bus to Lake Jusan tomorrow morning. I hope the rain stops by then.

      Please say hello in a strong Devon accent to Ito-san from me. Take care


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