Sunday, November 30, 2003


Following a long spell of rainy cloudy weather we get a bit of no surprise whatsoever in three more days of rain and warm weather, caught up as we are in a battle of the titans as an implacable (late November!) typhoon pushes in from the Pacific, going head-to-head against a muscular cold front trying to push down from Siberia into what is traditionally called Snow Country, bringing us strong winds and warm rain that should be quiet snow up to here.

But there's nothing I like better on a rainy day than a little serendip, and Echo finds the greatest stuff on her vast grapevine. Off we went into the mist up Route 367 along the narrow valley of the Katsura River on the other side of the mountain (chronicled earlier here), in search of Suzume-no-oyado (Sparrows' Inn) a natural-food restaurant out on the now brightly forested riverbank. We drove and drove through tiny villages, through vibrant autumn colors in the rolling mist and slanting rain, I had to get out and take some misted pictures, till at last we arrived at the restaurant, in an old thatched-roof farmhouse that was moved here piece by piece from Aomori Prefecture.

What nice people! What great food! What a picturesque place in the Autumn rain! (And can be rented for large events.) Big old black-beamed farmhouse with irori (traditional firepit); lots of etegami (picture-letters) on the walls, and natural products for sale. The meal consisted of as much brown rice as we wanted, black and white sesame, broccoli, daikon radish, mushrooms, pumpkin, carrot, wild pickles, honey-salted plum, hijiki and misoshiru , but these are just the names; think perfect shojin ryori served all at once. Perfectly filling, too, and for only 850 yen. You can get there by local bus from Kyoto.

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