September 30th 2012
Obama Fukui traditional wooden barrel factory
I drove along Lake Biwako east of Kyoto, and then NW along the old highway through
mountains and valleys, along wide shallow rivers with old villages strung along the
winding route. The misty villages lay along the green hillsides, with the sharp steep roofs of old farmhouses and funky cafes asking drivers to stop. It took 2 hours in the rain up and down the mountain roads listening to good old George Harrison & Eric Clapton live in Osaka 1991, the concert I saw!
The road leveled out into rice fields and signs saying to Obama, in English, then the grey ocean of the Japan Sea, the wind growing because the typhoon was passing, then two more tunnels and the little factory on the slope. Yoshio greeted me at the door, and then his loving wife Chika arrived. The factory warehouse, with a haze of sawdust in the air, and sitting on the cutting machines and lathes, and big boxes full of small wooden barrels of different sizes stacked. They use these little barrels to sell pickled Tai, a fish delicacy sold in old Nishikikoji market street in the heart of Kyoto, where I walk almost every week, on my way to work. We set up a table amongst the machines and the beautiful simple traditional
wood barrels with one hot light and some reflectors, my Canon 60D on my tripod, and a small flash attached to the Canon. We got different levels of lighting foreground and back, and some portraits. It all went well. We had a good time, and it was
charming to meet another family business started by the grandfather, and run by a loving couple with 4 daughters! I left as the wind came up stronger, and they led me to a good fish restaurant a short distance from the breakers on the seawall. I had a good local teshoku lunch of tempura with a strange green slimy bowl of seaweed? rice, pickles vegetables Japanese style. Then I hit the road back, the way I came, wind and rain blowing across the roadway, not many cars, people were home safe, but I had to get back to Kyoto, and after an hour I thought I`d better go slower on the high roads, because there were no real roadside
barriers, and broken trees littered the roadway that I had to drive around, I knew that
wind could blow my little minivan over the edge. I made it down to the Lake Biwako plain where two men in white rain suits were stopping all traffic from entering the road I`d just emerged from. All was well, I got home safe with the photos in the camera.
Another small solo Kansai adventure.