BY VIENESSA WIMBORNE from Australia, Businesswoman
I first learnt of Japan as a child watching old Miamoto Musashi movies with my Dad. I fell in love with the romantic ideals of Budo, and traditional Japanese life. The tatami and wood houses, the irori and the lanterns. It looked so beautiful to me and I wanted to live there. So imagine my extreme disappointment when I first arrived, greeted instead by masses of power lines and aluminium structures.
One Autumn night I went to visit a friend in Kagami-mura. His home was a traditional Japanese farm house, seemingly in the middle of nowhere, but only 30mins from Kochi. The irori was alight and the nabe was hot. I was enchanted ! I decided after that to find my own old-style Japanese house in the mountains. After asking at the nearby Tosayama village office and the Ton-Ton café, I was taken to a big old Japanese style wooden house with no neighbours, a huge garden, and an established orchard. Perfect !
I moved into the old house in December, just in time for the cold weather. No one had lived there for 11 years, and it took a long time to make it habitable. The local people helped out in fixing the place up, and welcomed me with a lot of kindness and sake. I love it. It feels good to be connected to the land, to the town, to the people, to my friends and to have a place where we can all come together. And that is how someone from the centre of Sydney ended up in a small mountain village in the mountains of Shikoku.
Taken from vol.15 (December, 2006 & January, 2007. Onsen)