Lovely Doshi town, high in the chilly mountain air, boasts numerous campgrounds popular with vacationers escaping the summer heat in Tokyo, and hot springs in use year ‘round. The campground where we hold the retreat lies a couple of miles out of town on a dirt road, in a forest with a river running through it.
I am enchanted with the beauty and the sounds of Doshi: Birds and flowing water.
Koki’s best friend Morio Takizawa (like Koki, he’s a writer, outdoorsman, and chef) greets us, and the two of them immediately begin unloading the car and setting up the kitchen. I offer to help, and they say, “Just go for a walk.” So, I do.
One of Doshi’s waterfalls sings in the forest.
A totem pole! Right next to a rusted metal staircase up to the cabins. Wabi sabi.
Another waterfall and stream serenade the cabins.
Up hill from the cabins, a pond reflects forest colors.
When I return from my walk, I’m thrilled to see Setsuko Miura, who came to my show at Kurkku two days before, bearing a a stalk of homegrown ripe sorghum grain wrapped in a drawing and a query about Still Living on the Earth, the sequel book I haven’t yet completed. It was a heartfelt meeting that night. She and her husband Jun Tanaka and daughter Ren (which means lotus), have come to invite me and Koki to visit the Permaculture Center and the Waldorf School, and see a natural farming rice harvest, in Fujino, where they live, the next morning before the camp program begins. Setsuko produces environmentally themed television shows for Asahi TV. Fujino is like Woodstock, New York, a community of artists two hours drive from a major cosmopolitan metropolis and art city. This is so cool.
She presents me with white radishes from her organic garden. She says we must come to dinner at her house after camp is over. After all, that way we’ll miss some of the weekend citybound traffic. She doesn’t have to ask twice.
In the evening, after setting up the camp main area, the dozen or so staff members relax over dinner together. They set up three grills and cook fish and vegetables, including maitake mushrooms. Since they won’t let me help, I take out my guitar and sing to them.
They are very appreciative, especially after a few beers.
I figure this must be what it’s like to be a pioneer geisha.
The men place a kettle full of vegetables, meats and water on one of the charcoal grills, and create the most delicious soup. How does one eat soup with chopsticks? You hold the bowl close to your mouth and eat the veggies and meats with the chopsticks, and then you drink the soup directly from the bowl. It’s considered polite for men to slurp their soup in Japan. I haven’t heard any women do this, but I bet some do.