It was a quiet little village, a rainy day. I guess maybe it was raining but not pouring. You know the kind of rain I’m taking about. The kind that sort of settles in the air and makes you wish you hadn’t forgotten your galoshes. Yeah, I so should’ve remembered to pack an umbrella. Oh well, maybe next time, right? We started out by coach, headed into the mountains. I think we actually drove into the mountains, maybe even around the mountains. It felt as if we were never going to get there. In hindsight, maybe that was the point. It was one of those out of the way places. I should have recognized that by the coach ride but I’ve always been an impatient one. Chalk it up to experience I guess, but I thought we were traveling awfully far to get to a farmer’s market. I mean, how spectacular could this place be and was it really worth a two hour coach ride? Turns out I was wrong again and you would think by now I would have learned my lesson on this but, nope, I just kept complaining and tossing it over and over again in my head. We’re headed to the end of the world! Yup. Yes sir! We’re about to drive past Christopher Columbus hanging on for dear life screaming in Italian, “They were right! It IS flat!”
Columbus aside, the ride was kind of restful. We drove through little Japanese villages, some of which sold odd raccoon figurines. I can’t say why. I mean, why exactly would somebody wake up one morning, say, a random Tuesday morning and think to themselves, “Yup. Today is the day. Today, why, I shall make…a figurine! I shall make it look like….a racoon! I shall make a figurine that looks like a racoon and I shall sell it…by the side of the road! Yes, today I shall make a racoon figurine, and rule the world or at least earn an honest living, by selling my racoon figurine to passing tourists on the side of the road.” Seems rather improbable and yet here we are. Some quaint little Japanese village where racoon figurines for sale by the side of the road are not that unusual. The locals say they are kind of a good luck charm. Well, OK then, luck be on our side today, if only lady luck could help make it stop raining down on us.
After the coach ride, we disembarked in the parking lot of the market. It was a quaint little town that didn’t look like much. Somebody handed me a map and I can recall thinking, “meh, why bother? It’s just over here and over there really, isn’t it?” Turns out, I wasn’t too wrong about that bit but, once again, that kind of was the point of the whole excursion. We were miles from Kyoto and Kyoto was miles from home. I should have spotted the pattern but I was too wound up to really take note of it.
It started raining a bit heavier, coming down a bit more, so we ducked into the market itself. There were radishes there. I mean, there was a lot of stuff there but, of all the stuff there, the thing I remember the most, the first thing that hit me as I walked in the door, were the radishes. Kind of like our old friends, the racoon figurines, an improbably chance encounter but that could also summarize the entire journey really. I didn’t eat any radishes. I walked around inside the market and checked out some of the box lunches, some vegetables, some bags of rice, sweets, fruit, and some ice cream. A bit too cold really for soft serve, yet the colors were sort of interesting. Maybe, if I ever get back there in the summertime I might partake. I circled around and went back outside to get some air, stopping just outside the entryway to park myself in a free spot that had just opened up on the one lone bench outside the front door. I sat next to a local couple. Turns out they had been married for a long time and were celebrating what was I think their 50th wedding anniversary. I can’t be sure about that, as my Japanese is not so good and I’m fairly certain numbers in English are a chore for my Japanese acquaintances. Let’s just go with married a long time and leave it at that.
By now, the rain had let up. We were to rendezvous at a fabric dye place. It was a short walk. We started out headed towards the mountains hoping like all heck the rain would not return and fully prepared to jump over a lot of puddles. OK, so maybe our boots did end up a bit more muddy that day. All well and good, really, as that is just part of life’s little adventures. As we were walking towards the dye place, I noticed the light on the mountains in the distance. It was misty still, the rain had not fully cleared and the air felt like it does after a rain storm. Kind of fresh, even if weighed down by some monumental mud puddles. Having been a photographer for a while, I know full well how the light does wonderful things just around the time of rain storms. They often say the worst weather makes for the best images, and it’s true really. You can get a lot of good shots if you are willing to get crapped on, be it snow, sleet, rain, or mist like you see here. The atmosphere was humid and close but the light, oh the sweet light, was fantastic.
The town itself was a magical place. So quaint and charming, I often find myself drifting back to that spot, to those mountains, to that light. Once a year, I love to go off to a mountain somewhere, just breath in some fresh air, take in the scenery, enjoy a natural view, and forget about the world. It’s my time to put down the technology, slide off the phone, and recharge my soul. This was my recharge button. This little misty town on the other side of the mountains, outside of Kyoto, with its close air and sweet light, was a magical little village.
If you’re thinking about visiting Ohara, Japan, I can tell you there is a quaint little onsen and ryokan nestled into one of these hills. Should I ever get back that way again, I will probably spend some time there, at least take a dip in the springs and probably enjoy a meal or two there. There’s not much to see or do in Ohara but that’s kind of the point. It’s a wonderful, magical little land that time forgot. I should have recognized it by it’s mountain. The path in should have been my first clue but I’m a slow learner when it comes to these things sometimes.
Every mountain needs a village, no matter how small. This was my magical little ginger mountain where I recharged my batteries, where I saw racoon figurines, where I explored around the onsen, where I ducked into the dye place to check out how they make indigo and persimmon cloth the same way they have for centuries. This was my little mountain with close air and sweet light and I loved it.
I’ve submitted this print for the next upcoming Minted challenge and am asking folks to view or vote for it here, at the following link: https://www.minted.com/design-rating/1433359
The print is called “Mountain View” and could be produced by Minted should it gain enough votes and get a gong. Even if it doesn’t, I have to say I enjoyed my little mountain and already feel like a winner. It was a magical place for me, and I hope to go back again someday, to my charming little town, radishes, racoon figurines, close air and all.
Until next time…