This is one of those, “Aah, things were so much easier before COVID…” posts, from a time when we could all still move around freely, go on holiday, go to work without having to wear a mask, etc. etc.
Miss Beautiful Happiness, a friend of ours from our time living in London (Mrs. M met Miss Beautiful Happiness when they worked together in a Japanese restaurant, and we invited her to our wedding), lives with her mother in Yamagata, and for the past several years we had been promising to visit her there in the greetings on our New Year’s cards.
In the summer of 2019, Mrs M. and I decided that M Jr. and M Jr. II were finally old enough to withstand the long journey from Ibaraki by car (about five hours excluding pit stops), and booked a hotel room for two nights in Yamagata City.
We had a lovely time with Miss Beautiful Happiness on our one full day there, and on our final morning I woke early, went for a walk, and took these photographs on my iPhone — the first time I had had the time and the space to do something like that for quite a while.
This is the kanji for “love.”
And this, belive it or not, is the kanji for “poo.”
This one means “spring” (as in the season).
(I have no idea what this inscription says — is it kanji, katakana, or even the English alphabet?)
Purely by the by, after more than three decades as a white-with-sugar coffee drinker, I converted to a black-with-no-sugar one in Yamagata. There was a very nice Japanese-style breakfast at the hotel (rice, grilled fish, miso soup, pickled vegetables, etc.), but it only came with green tea. The vending machine in reception had sold out of everything except Boss “Craft” black in a plastic bottle, which I purchased reluctantly. Back in the dining room, however, tasting this was an epiphany and I have been making black coffee in my cafetière/coffee plunger/French press every morning, ever since.