Wednesday, 11 November 2009

Late autumn in Aizu

The usually soft purity of the Aizu air is besmirched with smoke in late autumn. From many points it rises, curling and rising to join a band floating across the valley at a hundred feet, each one the result of some activity mysterious to the uninitiated. Burning off, tidying up, making ash, smoking or distilling, pungent and drifting, these funeral pyres for the end of the season are part of rituals whose attendants have often vanished.

Smoke house, Showa, Aizu. Probably making charcoal, widely used for cleansing

Dinosaur still, Showa, Aizu
Wild mushrooms  are to be found in the woods now, if you know where to look - and the local people have always known. The kaki trees are heavy with fruit, and the bears are tempted into the villages for this treat, bright orange with big seeds. Tiny wild kiwi fruits are secreted in the woods too, sweet of flesh, or deliciously tart if you eat their soft skins. We were lucky enough to be given some. If we had an oven the boy and me would make a crumble in memory of the blackberries we picked and cooked every year in England, just as my parents showed me.
Our next door neighbour's wild mushrooms drying in the sun
Wild miniature Kiwi - perfect replicas the size of grapes


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