At Koki and Ayako’s Place

Koki Aso and his beautiful bride Ayako, who he has known since high school, live in a traditional Japanese house in Hayama, on the outshirts of Kamakura, walking distance from the beach. They just got married last Saturday. He’s a journalist and she’s a dental hygienist. Like me, they are both born in the sign of Taurus in an Ox year. We are earth people. I will be their guest for the remainder of my stay, other than a weekend at Doshi (a mountain camping retreat) and a week in Okinawa.

On my first day after returning from Ohshima, I meet again with Takashi Kikuchi, the editor of Hachi Hachi (eight eight), a permaculture magazine, and Maki Ozawa, who is interpreting for him while he interviews me. We sit in Aso-san’s airy living room.

There are signs of Koki’s art- and nature-loving being all over the house:

Bag on the kitchen wall: “Recycle to save our birds, animals, children and earth.”

Towel by the bathroom sink: “No music, no life,” hanging from a piece of driftwood.

His kitchen chair, a log section with a Kona coffee bag on it.

Outside, a surfboard next to a bonsai. A perfect metaphor for Aso-san’s life.

The old style hibachi in the living room.

Koki blows through a section of bamboo to fire up the hibachi, and he grills brown rice mochi (rice popover) for me. He’s a very good cook of traditional Japanese food, and makes his own miso.

Ayako pickles eggplant, cucumber, carrot, onion and daikon in a large ceramic crock full of a doughy brine of rice flour, bonito flakes, beer, kombu (kelp), chili, garlic and salt which she kneads daily. They tell me their grandparents’ generation prepared these foods, but that few modern Japanese do.

When the mochi is puffy and soft, Koki wraps it in nori (sea vegetable paper) and adds a little shoyu (soy sauce) and Eagle-Crow chili sauce, the Japanese Tabasco. Delicious!