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Daughter of Echigo

Pictures are truly worth a thousand words like when I'm  looking into the eyes of a proud father  posing together  with his daughter.    It's pictures like this that are truly memorable and natural.    There is nothing he wouldn't do for her, yet there is nothing he could possibly  do to control her fate.   He cannot choose for her who to love either.   That's a choice she has to make.

Talking to her the other day was a real treat.   She approaches me and instantly I knew that she bore the energy of something foreign in nature, yet in fact she is 100% Japanese; meaning both parents are of the same racial stock.    So we chatted it away after I finished eating.    She kindly took my tray and wiped my table then handed me my bill.   We spoke in English and Japanese together.   I had asked if her husband was a foreigner.    She said "yes" and that he was from Thailand.     It was easy to detect something about her that was not so Japanese just by the vibe she gave off.    She was warm, but a little too warm for the first time.   Most Japanese would never approach me and start chatting it up.  It's usually me who makes the first move.    I was being extra good that day.

I have had my dealings with the Thais.   My best friend in high school was Thai and I had a wonderful experience growing up with him and learning about his culture and language.   He was the most thoughtful and considerate person I had ever met.   I went through a period in life where I was absorbed by asian culture - all Asians.    Blacks were far too monolithic and had no pure cultural boundaries other than their direct hotline to 1(800)God.   Whites were far too unctuous and dismissive about their own culpability.   the Asians were far more sophisticated and family oriented and had a solid identity of themselves and knew what they had to achieve in life.    I absorbed  a great deal of influence from them.

Over lunch that day the tempura was fried to perfection.  Light and crispy, just enough so that you could still taste the vegetables through the breading.    Niigata is especially famous for mushroom tempura, you can see it on the right.      I made light work of this, plus the ice cold draft beer.   I went straight for the sake and hegisoba afterwards.

Hegisoba is a speciality of Niigata that's made using buckwheat noodles and funori, which is a type of seaweed.    The funori adds an element of the sea to the soba.   It's really delicious if prepared correctly.

And then afterwards I had ordered three tokkuri of Kakure sake.   When visiting Yuzawa remember to try Kakure as it's one of the oldest breweries in Niigata, and plus they produce some amazing nihonshu. 

I had really enjoyed this meal.   After finishing up I took my time with this last serving of nicely chilled sake.  the waitress, daughter of Echigo,  came over again and explained to me a little about herself and about the sake I was drinking.   Everything used, like the dishes, complement the food and the sake.  The attention to detail that so many travelers have come to love and adore about Japan are all exemplified in the backcountry, the heart of Japanese agriculture.   

I told her how jealous I was of her marrying a Thai, and about how lucky he was to be absolutely useless at home with her, and how occasionally he helps out with the farm work with her 'used to be' proud father, and how I envied that.    I would love to live in the heart of Niigata and with a hot looking daughter of Echigo who obviously loves her hometown and the sake.    She lamented on about how he isn't able to communicate with her parents and how that causes stress.   She continues by saying he can't find any other work other than a farm hand.    At least they have a child between them as if that's a good thing, and warrants the excuse of creating two absolutely useless people, but hey, he's a farmhand.      

I wonder how long before the thin fabric of Japan will hold up in the next generation.   How much longer will the elders toil in their own fields for grains, fruits, and vegetables before the mantle is passed down to another generation of Japanese....?    What about trade agreements with the West and how that will have a direct impact along with the steady increase in interracial marriages and what that brings along with it ??   

The sobaya is the water that was used to boil the soba is served up after you've finished eating.   Whatever is left in your bowl; sort of a dipping broth, you pour the hot sobaya into it and drink.    Japanese do this because they believe in wasting nothing.   Everything has to be eaten and drunk.

After this discussion we exchanged contact information and I headed over to another place that specialized in a dish called "oyakudon."    Basically, it's a chicken and eggs over rice dish.   

Hot and savory aren't enough to describe the taste.   Niigata is famous for growing rice, and the eggs used were brown eggs known for their high protein content.   The chicken was free-range.   This was the best oyakudon I have ever had.    It was also one of the first Japanese dishes ever introduced to me by a Jukujo mom.       

                                      Echigo Yuzawa shot after dusk from the Sporea.  

I had to take everything in from my evening of gluttony, so I headed up to an onsen, one of my favorites in Echigo and had took in the view from above this time.   Had to soak everything in and get a better perspective on things.  

First off, I enjoyed the amazing food, the sake, and the company.  It was nice chatting it up with the locals and getting to know a little about them while sitting up here.

From this high up the breeze was excellent.   There was pine and the smell of sweet calcium in the air.  The water temps. were perfect and the views were great.  

                Echigo cup Yoshinogawa sake went perfectly with the mood and ambiance.

Everything is a learning process, a painful learning process.   What am I holding on to, though.     Daughter of Echigo, I wonder what life would've  been like if the both of us could've been together.  In this kingdom.  This rice and sake kingdom filled with fantastic onsen and lush green.    Why couldn't it have been me when I was swinging from that vine in some poor impoverished country when your eyes met mine, and fell in love?     Beauty is a painful realization.   Ugliness in beauty isn't.    Worn buildings and unattractive condominium  is yet beautiful because it is amongst beauty.    The train lines that dot the rural landscape is beautiful.

Night fell across the evening sky like a blanket and I had one more cup sake to go.   The carp were especially beautiful to see from another perspective.

The day-use finished at around 8.   I was thoroughly soaked and refreshed and now I have to plot my next move.   I have to continue to strive towards my one all defining goal.  


  1. That tempura jumped right off the page for me. I honestly wish it could have. I love the ceramics that were used in service, especially the sake cup. Until I started following your blogs, I never knew there were so many different kinds of sake. You experiences, shared, give much.

  2. Ceramic is most hygnic and healthy for humans.. I will follow your japanese culture posts.



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