My Last Day in Fujino

In the morning of my last day in Fujino I took another walk using a map made by Setsuko, on a road going over a mountain pass and into another valley. From the top of the pass, I could see the Steiner School, and Lotus House quite near it.

A roadside sign with a bunny, probably about protecting the local wild animals.

The entrance to the ridge trail was well marked. I was sorely tempted, but I knew I didn’t have time.

As I descended into the next valley, I passed a busy tea farm. The owner saw me taking photos and came over and invited me to come into her home to drink some of her tea. I knew I was expected soon for lunch with friends back at Lotus House, and thanked her and did my best in my limited Japanese to explain why I couldn’t stay. I was stunned by the kindness of her offer to a mere passer-by.

The tea farm owner’s house was traditional Japanese in style, but it had a solar water heater on the roof.

Down the hill further, I got a view of Fujino’s mountain hot springs hospital. What a splendid idea.

When I returned to Lotus House, Setsuko and Jun created yet another a gorgeous luncheon on their porch, and invited over their neighbor Tomoko, the television director, and Yamazaki, a holistic healer who treats patients with acupuncture and moxibustion, teaches natural diet, and owns and runs an organic farm in Fujino from which he supplies local subscribers with weekly boxes of fresh vegetables.

Jun prepared an elaborate rice dish, with strips of fried egg, nori, and pink pickled vegetables, slices of lotus root and bamboo shoot, whole peapods, and whole tiny fried shrimp.

This amazing dish was accompanied by miso soup with chopped garden greens in it, plus a selection of cold cooked vegetables. After the delightful meal and visit with my new friends, I thanked Setsuko and Jun profoundly, and packed up the last of my bags. Jun drove me to the train station; an hour later I was changing trains in Tokyo, and heading out to the beach town of Hayama.

A Macrobiotic Luncheon in Fujino

May 21, 2007. When I returned from my walk, Setsuko had gathered some of her dearest friends for lunch. They all were involved with the local Steiner (Waldorf) alternative school, and they all were all fans of my books. We had a lovely time together.

To my left, in red, with glasses, is Kyoko, a macrobiotic chef and teacher. She gave me a quick shiatsu massage to help strengthen me for my travels. Behind Kyoko is Hitomi, a fashion model and writer about macrobiotics. A magazine with her face on the cover appears below. Behind Hitomi (in beige jacket and glasses) sits Tomoko, Setsuko’s neighbor with the bamboo grove, and a fellow television director. Behind me, in a beige blouse and short hair with long bangs, is Naoko, an artist, actress and singer. Her art is displayed at the Steiner School. Next to her, behind me is Setsuko Miura, my hostess, and the producer of television documentaries with environmental themes. Harada, the only male guest, works as an acupuncturist and body worker. He also did a short healing session for me, right at the table. Each summer he leads a purification ceremony on Mount Fuji. He plays harmonium, he’s a devotee of Babaji, and he’s a friend of Sachiho’s. To his right, holding my hand, is Yuko Urakami, a mother with young children at the school, and a dear friend of Setsuko’s that I met at the Natural High Festival.

Here is Hitomi as a cover girl!

It was a potluck lunch, full of surprises. I thought macrobiotic people didn’t eat potatoes (too yin), but these baby new potatoes were freshly harvested from someone’s garden, so they fulfilled the macrobiotic principals of being local and seasonal. They were exquisitely flavored with garden herbs.

I was aware that macrobiotic people like chummus. This was the first and only time I encountered this dish (ubiquitous in natural foods stores back home) during my seven weeks in Japan.

What I did expect (and I think this dish was prepared by Kyoko, the macrobiotic chef) was a hearty whole grain dish, this one with azuki beans in it. The other dish is also a potato dish, this time mashed, with rosemary garnish. Redundancy is one of the dangers of potluck meals, but both potato dishes were delicious, and quite differently seasoned.

The Day After the Natural High Festival

On May 21, 2007, the next day after the Natural High Festival, I was ready for some quiet time, and went for a walk by myself (with a map drawn by Setsuko), from Lotus House around the mountain village of Fujino. First treasure I noted on this walk was a spectacular bed of iris.

Another prize man hole cover!

And a weathered fire hydrant marker.

A pond through a veil of bamboo.

A tea bush, close enough for inspection. I see the family resemblance to camellia in the leaves.

I revisited the Shinto shrine in woods near Setsuko and Jun’s fields.

This time I noticed a small separate altar to the side of the shrine.

I walked through the woods past the shrine and its outbuildings…

…and came upon the cemetery of a Buddhist temple with a wide view of the valley with Fujino town below.

Nearby buckets and ladels hung, available for people visiting the cemetery, so they could pour water upon the headstones.

Outside the temple stood a cherry tree over one hundred years old.

I could make out the outlines of the roof of the temple behind the trees.

I was fascinated by its ornate covered entrance…

…with its stylized lions and the top of the columns.

In front of temple, I stood before this statue, wondering what the role of this man in traditional garb had been. Perhaps a founder?

Natural High Festival, Day Two

Cover of the program for Natural High Festival, printed, of course, on 100% post-consumer-waste recycled paper with soy inks.

Here’s the part about me in the program notes, with a photo from my set at the Happy Flower Beach Party music festival in Nago, Okinawa, last October 2006.

The program includes a map of Doshi Camp. There’s a little fire icon next to the dark blue circle with the number 7, where I played at the bonfire concert on the night of May 19th. Next to the purple circle with the number 3 is the tent where I would do my second show, a story and music show on May 20th. My table was in the same tent as Greenpeace and Kurkku, adjacent to the festival information booth, right across the road from the #3 tent and the pond.

On the second morning of the festival, a friend of Setsuko and Jun’s, Masahiko Sano, came over to Lotus House and presented me with a piece of charcoal he made. Masahiko owns and runs a couple of businesses, is married and has a couple of kids, and he’s been a big wave surfer for twelve years and was an extreme skateboarder for five years before that. Making charcoal is his hobby and humanitarian cause. He says it clears away bad vibrations and creates centers of positive energy. He told me that he will dig a hole in the earth and fill it with charcoal to create a power spot. Masahiko makes his charcoal from ubamegashi, the hardest wood in Japan. He had installed pieces of charcoal underneath Lotus House both to reduce moisture in the house, and calm the vibrations in it. It seems to be working!

When we drove over the high mountain pass on the way from Fujino to Doshi, I was awed by a fairly close view of Mount Fuji in its startling symmetry and majesty.

My show at the festival that day was filmed for Setsuko’s TV documentary about my work that was broadcast a fews weeks later on Asahi Broadcasting Station. I told the story of how I came to create my book Living on the Earth when I was a teenager in the late 1960’s, and what happened afterward, and I performed tunes from my CD Music From Living on the Earth, a collection of psych folk songs and instrumental guitar pieces I composed during that period of my life.

After my show, Setsuko, Sayaka (the director), and Jun (the cameraman) continued working on the documentary with me. They interviewed me, and they filmed pieces of my art, mostly from my book, but also five drawings they commissioned for the show. They also integrated recorded music from my first CD.

After the interview, I met three wonderful new friends. On the left of me is Jun Hoshikawa, Executive Director of Greenpeace Japan and author and translator of dozens of books, both fiction and nonfiction, all with an environmentally conscious point of view. On the other side of me is Keibo Tsuji Oiwa, an anthropologist, teacher, author and translator who teaches International Studies at Meiji Gakuin University in Yokohama. I recently read (and highly recommend) a book he co-authored with David Suzuki called The Other Japan. Next to Keibo is Natsu Shimamura, the author of books on Slow Food, and, along with Keibo, a leader in the Slow Life movement. They invited me to the Slow Food cafe they run in Tokyo.

I got a hug from fellow back-to-the-land author Sherpa, and we tried to take a photo of our faces together with my camera. See the bicycles on his head scarf?

This gorgeous gent is a well-respected yoga teacher, but I forgot to write down his name. I hope we meet again!

At the end of the second day of the festival, the tents surrounding the pond quickly disappeared…

..but one last tent was still broadcasting music, and this lovely girl danced to it, twirling her poi balls.

Natural High Festival, Day One, Evening

As dusk settled upon the Doshi campground, I could hear rumblings in the forest from the main stage of the Natural High Festival.

Earlier I had watched them set up the instruments for the first band…

…and run a sound check.

At night, the stage glowed, and the bands set the people to swaying and dancing.

People were still coming by my booth. We were all bundled up against the cold mountain night.

Morio Takizawa, one of the organizers of the festival, and a close friend of my host in Tokyo, Koki Aso, came by with his wife and daughter.

Near the stage, a charmingly fractured English eco-poem on a huge banner.

After the last band on the main stage, the people gathered around a bonfire in a nearby clearing.

The first entertainer was a Nepalese Rastafarian singer-songwriter. The setting suited him perfectly; he didn’t need a sound system, and he just relaxed with the audience and sang his songs. They loved him.

By the time he was finished, the sound system was set up at the tent near the bonfire, and the band Dachambo played their folk/reggae/rock songs. They are friends and collaborators of Sachiho Kudomi’s.

The whole band sings!

I came on after Dachambo. That’s Nambei-san, the chief organizer and audio engineer of the festival next to me, talking to the audience. I needed a translator, and I got a great one, who simply volunteered at the last minute: Jun Hoshikawa, the Director of Greenpeace Japan. He had lived on a hippie commune in California and at an ashram in India in the 1970s, he knew my book, had translated dozens of books, and wrote quite a few as well. He is erudite and witty. It worked out perfectly.

Natural High Festival, Day One, Afternoon

Wandering along the forest path, the next booth I encountered was festooned with indigo tie-dyed clothing. This color has special meaning for me. I named my business Indigo With Stars, as this is my answer to the life path question “What Color is Your Parachute?” Indigo with stars is how I represent the night sky, which is our constant, visible evidence that we live in an infinite universe. I consider the infinite universe the source of my sustainance, so that is how I chose the name of my business.

So, here, at this booth, I could be clad in a hoodie of indigo with stars!

And henceforth tote my belongings in indigo with stars (and a lotus!)

So, I bought them from these four women (collectively called Toshka) who made these magical indigo garments and sachels.

Next Jun introduced me to his friends, who were selling musical instruments from their booth at the festival. Left to right: Masaomi Ito plays didgeridoo. Teppei Saito makes musical instruments, some of which strain one’s incredulity. Me, happy to meet them all. Aya Uegaki, bead worker.

For instance, here is Teppei’s three-person didgeridoo, being played by Teppei, Masaomi and Aya.

And here is Teppei’s community-sized kalimba with a huge open resonator.

By now, the good folk at Kurkku were wondering when I would ever come and open my booth. So, I borrowed a tie-dyed sheet from my friends at 88 Magazine and set everything up: the Soshisha editions of Living on the Earth and Being of the Sun, the EM Records releases of Music From Living on the Earth and Living in Hawaii Style, my own release of What Living’s All About and my out-sized Living on the Earth t-shirts, the catalog and posters for Aya Noguchi’s Living on the Earth clothing line (with the scarf as a sample), a copy of the October 2006 issue of 88 Magazine, open to the interview with me. I’m wearing a festival t-shirt from the Rainbow Festival at Aso Mountain, also printed with the cover of Living on the Earth. In Japan, my dancing goddess is the icon of the Evolution.

Across the road from my booth I could see the pond with its surrounding booths…

…and next to it, a large tent for lectures, where I would do a story and music show the next day. Today my fellow author Sherpa (who I met last year here at Doshi when I lead a weekend workshop) is being interviewed about his backpacking and hiking books. He lives in a homemade house in the woods.

On the side of the festival information booth (next to mine) hung an exhilarating poster for the Kodo Drummers tour.

On the other side of me, the Greenpeace booth offered informational DVDs and books.

Sakaya Matsukawa, the director of the television documentary Setsuko is producing about my work, visited me at my booth. Behind her, the Kurkku booth display of environmentally friendly products, below curtains emblazoned with their logo.

A lovely couple brought me a gift from their artist friend Tomoko Yamada, who had been unable to come to the festival.

She had made me a colorful mobile of satin scraps, felt and cardboard, with messages lettered in acrylic paint, and weighted with pieces of wrapped candy.

At the top, a heart with the greeting, Dear Alicia-san…

On one scrap, her appreciation, which I shamelessly replicate here.

On another, the date and place the piece was made.

And, on a sail at the bottom, more praise and her name. On the back of the sail she wrote Thank You, Alicia. So, I say, Thank You, Tomoko!! I hung it outside my booth as the rainbow of hope it is. I hope I meet you someday, Tomoko.

Natural High Festival, Day One

May 19 and 20, 2007, I attended the Natural High Festival (logo above), two hours drive from Tokyo at a campground in the forest, just outside the mountain village of Doshi. Last October 2008 I lead a weekend workshop here for Kurkku. This time, I would do two performances and sell my books and CDs at a booth. Kurkku sponsored my participation in the Festival and let me use part of their booth to sell my stuff.

Soon after Jun, Ren and I arrived, we spent our lunch tickets at the vegetarian curry booth, which Jun’s chefly nose discerned as a good choice. It was! I came back for dinner.

All around us, open-air booths, handmade clothing and drums, undulating banners, and relaxed people enlivened the forest.

An air of friendliness permeated everyone.

I could hear a tabla player drumming and chanting.

Nearby, I heard a musician playing a jew’s harp. Like the didgeridoo, another favorite instrument for drone-saturated trance music, and like Mongolian and Tibetan throat singing, the jew’s harp is an instrument whose melodies are overtones created by changing the shape of the mouth cavity.

There was, of course, the requisite tipi.

There was a booth with a banner that said “Slow Life,” perhaps from the Slow Life Cafe in Tokyo, where they serve Slow Food. Slowly.

I visited the Good News booth (on the left), where tie-dyes, batik and patchwork hung for sale.

There I met Michiyo and Takeo, the owner/operators of Good News, and signed their copy of Living on the Earth. They knew I’d be at the festival and brought it along.

They presented me with one of their peace sign wash cloths. I knew I would display it on my bedroom wall instead of wash with it. So sweet.

Next I visited the Go Hemp booth, representing the Go Hemp Store in Shibuya, Tokyo (motto: “Enjoy Life”), where they were selling hemp clothing.

To my astonishment, they, too had books for me to sign, and hugs to spare. They even had me sign a t-shirt.

They presented me with one of their adorable signature hemp t-shirts.