Yes, this was four years ago! I’m making another attempt to get caught up – there are still notes for all our trips out to Gifu…
7th ~ 8th
Tokyo has exited the Rainy Season already, while here it’s been extremely hot and humid since Friday, even under a somewhat summery-looking sky. For once even I appreciate the air conditioning in the car.
We buy some beautiful shiny eggplants and crisp cucumbers at the ¥100 stand. Tomatoes are delicious too.
Get to the house and it’s still hot and sultry. The entrance and kitchen floors are wet for the first time this year, from the air moisture meeting the cold ground. I must say, though, getting rid of the funky old tatami matting was a good move. The plain wood floor that replaced it is much less disgusting at this time of year.
Pick our first zucchini from the plants we put in in the spring.
In the evening, not a single firefly (disappointed!), but fine views of the Milky Way. It’s Tanabata, whn you’re supposed to look at the Milky Way but which is usually clouded over. At 10:30 a drop of water falls on my neck. 10 seconds later another one. Rain? While we’re moving the table under the front porch the sky opens. It pours down for 20 minutes, puts the fire out, then stops.
Monday morning is clear but not exactly fresh, though the weather people say the tsuyu is over for us too. We put the futons out to air. Suddenly it clouds over and rains – a mad dash to put the futons away before they get damp – but it’s over in 15 minutes. This is what they call “unstable weather”.
A hot day, anyway.
Min. temp. 17°C, max. 30°C
Cloud is forecast but there’s plenty of blue sky as we leave Nagoya. However… a bit down the road, right in front of us there’s a huge black cloud with a vague grey curtain underneath. It’s probably pouring with rain just where we’re going. Sure enough, at the first supermarket it’s right overhead, but still dry below. Perhaps it’s going to pass over and drop its load elsewhere? Done shopping, and on our way again the sky is clear, but there is water everywhere. The rain was here, and plenty of it, by the looks of it.
Maybe it’s because of the heat, but goya and tomatoes are more expensive in the shops than you’d expect at this time of year. Down the road, though, the farmers are selling delicious locally-grown tomatoes and other goodies so by the time we get to the house there’s a mountain of stuff in the back of the car – shiny black aubergines for pickling, thick-skinned white ones for roasting, zucchini for curry, crisp cucumbers, green and yellow peppers, hot green chillies, okra and myoga. Summer vegetables!
The insect chorus is starting up. Around 4:00 the heat eases off a bit and a certain cicada’s chirruping fills the valley. My favourite time of day in summer.
At dinner, along with fish and chips, T. fries some of those vegetables (peppers, aubergines, okra and celery) and drops them in a bath of dashi, sake, mirin, soy sauce and vinegar. It’s very good.
Monday morning starts strangely cold, and even during the midday heat there’s sometimes a cool breeze. Over breakfast T. discovers a leech between her fingers. Freak out! We sprinkle on salt to get the leech off, then more to draw out the poison. The latter is Yamada-san’s advice – we’ll see tomorrow if it works. Half an hour later I’ve got one between my toes! These things are a really unwelcome recent addition to the community.
Min. temp. 19°C, max. 33°C
But for the stifling humidity it would be a perfect summer’s day; there’s a blue sky with wispy white clouds that only close in for 1/2 an hour or so in the late afternoon without raining. The nozenkazura is in orange bloom, along with nokanzo and another red flower I don’t know the name of. The big chillies are coming on, the zucchini and goya are also trying, but there’s not yet anything to pick.
The evening insect chorus is building up nicely.
They’re talking about ghost and horror stories on the radio – a traditional summer pastime. You’re supposed to enjoy the chills…
Monday is overcast. The heat continues…
We get another glimpse of The Last Carp.
It’s doyo no ushi no hi. There are two this year, a traditional occasion to eat eel. Brushed with soy sauce and grilled over charcoal “kabayaki” eel are delicious with rice and are supposed to give you the energy to cope with this debilitating heat. Unfortunately they’re about to become extinct. The wild elvers, caught to be raised in tanks in Japan, Taiwan or China, have taken a catastrophic fall in numbers over the last few years. If there are any eel on the market at all they’ll probably be a luxury item before long, unless the technique of fish-farming eels from eggs is quickly discovered.
Rain at 1:00. Luckily this time we noticed the dark clouds and suspiciously cool breeze in time to get everything inside before it got wet. It’s sweletering again by 2:00.
Min. temp. 18°C, max. 31°C
Sunday is another hot day, with a baking sun on top of the humidity. It does cool off a little in the evening though, and dinner outside is quite pleasant except for the mosquitos which close in as the fire dies down and bite our feet.
Monday morning is cold, and raining. I pick two nice goya, but find that some small animal has attacked the pumpkin and zucchini. The rain goes on all day and we head back to town early.
Min. temp. 19°C, max. 31°C