Thursday, May 17, 2007

Bringing Happiness

Today we ventured back to the samurai town of Kitsuki. After wandering around some nice (and not so nice...) streets for a while we went back to my favorite (and now Dad's favorite) tea shop. I am not an expert on green tea, but the tea that you get there is pretty good. More than that the conversations that you get there are even better. The current owner of the shop is the 10th generation owner and the shop has always been in her husband's family. She always drops everything she is doing when a customer comes in and tells wonderful stories of the things that have happened in the shop over the 260 plus years the shop has been operating.
The shop contains urns from the very start of operations, some of the very first glass ever made in Japan over 100 years ago and a couple who share an incredible passion for tea and for the customers they come in contact with. For me the tea could taste terrible and I would still take everyone I know there!
One indication of just how devoted they are to maintaining the history of their shop is that when road improvements were made about 20 years ago they opted to spend 4 months shifting their shop 3.5 meters backwards rather than demolishing it and building a new one (a much cheaper option!).
I must say that although she is a fantastic woman, she may have a little sight problem though. The first time we went there she didn't realise that Dad was my father... she thought he was far too young! Once she discovered that he was in fact my father and not just some other tourist she gave him presents and tried to give us free tea too. Maybe I will suggest an eye test next time I see her!
After our happy time at the tea shop we wandered along to one of my favorite restaurants, which was shut... fortunately on the way we discovered a 200 year-old miso shop that was home to at least 3 nests of barn swallows. Like in some other countries it is considered very lucky to have a nest of these birds under your house eaves as they are said to bring you happiness. I'm not sure I will be encouraging them in our house, but they were neat to look at inside someone elses!

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