Category Archives: Tajimi City

Tajimi city

Sun Roof

It’s been a while since I added to our little collection of objects and customs that live on in Japan but scarcely anywhere else. It’s a meme I call “cultural Galapagos.” Nothing necessarily implied as to good or bad – just idle observation. This is a good one, I think.

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It’s impossible to go very far outdoors without seeing someone shielding themselves from the sun with, yes, a parasol. It’s invariably* a woman under the usually black or off-white arch, presumably for skin protection, though in the absence of sunglasses or a visor it surely must save squinting eyes, too. On these days when every living creature seems to seek out and cling to any available scrap of shade (at “don’t walk” signs, I carefully maneuver myself into the shadow of even the skimpiest utility pole), taking your own umbrage is arguably the most basic form of self-defense short of the shirt on your back. Though there may have been a brief parasol pitching dalliance in the west a few years ago, the smart, sproutable sunscreen has survived in Japan as a cultural archetype for centuries, never really going out of fashion. Umbrellas for rain, for that matter, are also more common here. In more entrenchedly motorized lands, we tend to dash from car to building with nothing between us and the downpour.

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No relation to parasols other than as another manifestation of our steamy, sultry status, but various pairs like this, working for the city of Tajimi, were out with these curious-looking devices today, measuring temperature, heat as perceived by the body, and the effect of the heat on sound transmission (maybe; I couldn’t quite make out the quick answer they gave, and didn’t want to bother them by asking again. Then again, maybe the sound of their voice just didn’t carry in the heat. Or maybe that’s just so much of my own hot air).

Mad Dogs and Englishmen

*Update: Make that “variably.” After I wrestled yesterday with whether to make a gender association and finally settled on doing so, this man was out using a parasol this morning just to make me look self-consciously stoic. Invariably happens that way, doesn’t it?

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Taster’s Choice

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Take Five

Upwards of forty downtown Tajimi establishments are teaming up for this first annual upcoming event, similar to a barhopping “machi-kon,” called “Yume Machi.” Over the course of two days, for the ¥3500 price of one ticket (¥4000 the starting day of the event), you can eat, drink, shop or otherwise partake of services at any five participating shops, restaurants, cafes or bars at no extra cost. You get a map of all the stops and a special hand fan to encourage walking from place to place and identify you as a participant.

It’s a good value, a way to try out some places you thought were out of your price range, and maybe even a chance to make some new friends. Event menus for each spot are here. Tickets are available at participating stores and through the website.

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The event flyer and website are also touting a smartphone app that seems to feature coupons and information on area events and businesses. It seems to be a web app and is called “Tono App.”

Lots to Do

In case you’ve lost track, the weekend has an impressive lineup of events including:

  • The first of three live music Saturday beergardens tomorrow evening at the Sakazuki Art Museum in Ichinokura
  • A “machikon” beergarden atop a two-storey public parking lot in Tajimi to view the fireworks there on Sunday
  • A similar konkatsu (mixer) type affair at Secret Time Cafe on Saturday, where if you bring a date, there’ll be a special chance to enjoy Toki’s fireworks festival (not sure if it’s in their parking lot, but that would definitely be a nice spot); by reservation only. They’re still looking for takers last I heard
  • Something called Kokeizan Dining on Sunday, which sounds like a beergarden from one of Tajimi’s most scenic spots (advance purchase tickets required)
  • Neu Cafe, while itself closed after lunch Sunday, will be offering outside the shop draft beer, Okinawan food, curry, tandoori chicken sandwiches and more in the buildup to the fireworks
  • And of course Toki’s (Saturday) and Tajimi’s (Sunday) fireworks festivals with stalls set up all along the river (and Chuo Dori in Toki; Nagase Dori in Tajimi) all afternoon and evening; Tajimi’s festival is part of its Gozasse Natsu Matsuri

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These are just goings on I happen to be aware of. I’m sure there are plenty of others as well.

Quick Response

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This event took place on the banks of the Toki River in Tamiji Friday morning. From what I could see, it seemed to be a demonstration of the fire department’s typhoon/flood rescue capabilities, with people entering a mobile rain(bow?) simulator with umbrellas, rides in inflatable rafts, a cookout and Unagappa encounters.

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No sooner had they done this than Mother Nature obliged with a thunder-boomer deluge of her own. We do seem to have had more storms this summer.

Home Fire Burning

All around town this evening, local families could be found standing and squatting around tiny ceremonial fires built to send the spirits of deceased relatives back to their afterlife abodes. These were “okuribi,” the complement to Saturday’s “mukaebi,” fires lit to usher ancestors back to Earth for their three-day Obon stay. Tajimi marks the event from July 13th to 15th, a month or so earlier than many other places. People prepare food placed at Buddhist altars in the home to feed their lost loved ones during the three day observance.

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On the north end of Tajimibashi Bridge, brightly lit paper lanterns were hung to flutter in the breeze and show departed souls the way home. Ceremonial boats made of eggplant to look like horses used to be sent down rivers like the Toki to send the souls off, but they’re now banned as an environmental hazard.

At the south end of the bridge, where Oribe Street heads into the Tajimi Ginza, stalls were set up for a mini-festival atmosphere. I was working and was only able to catch a few glimpses of all the activities as I drove home. Maybe I can bring you some photos next year. The shots below are of homemade outdoor mini-shrines near work.

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Tomorrow, more local ceremonies will be held to pray for good health through the summer. Several people I ran into were kind enough to explain all these traditions to me, but unfortunately I couldn’t understand everything they said.

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The End of the Vine?

The ivy-covered “Morizo” Building, so named on the “Tajimi Art Road” walking map after the eco-hairy co-mascot of the 2005 Aichi World Expo, may be going the way of most of the Expo facilities* – the scrap heap.

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A League of Its Own

I noticed crews appearing to tear the structure down yesterday, to the cold, shrill sound of crashing heaps of plate glass and metal. Next to the new ShinToutetsu building in front of Tajimi Station, this home to (at least) a restaurant, vending machines and sundry often pesky nesting birds, particularly eye-catching from the trains, was considered landmark enough to not only get the Morizo moniker, but be pictured on (or perhaps inspiration for) one of the posters heralding the city in Tajimi Station. I’m not sure why, but there do seem to be more leaf-shrouded buildings in Tajimi than other nearby cities.

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Art Road was apparently an informal designation dreamed up by Culture Center staff last year as part of a “Station North” Arts Zone project. The idea was to suggest worthwhile, offbeat, whimsical, or even facetious points of interest for Culture Center visitors with a few extra minutes to explore on foot.

*Far from haphazard or derelict, the Expo structures’ obsolescence was intentional and carefully planned in keeping with the fair’s theme of low environmental impact. Following more than 22 million visits over the course of half a year, most of the efficiently dismantled materials were recycled or auctioned off, ostensibly leaving the woodlands around Seto pretty much as they were. A website exists to recall 2005 and all the expos over the years.

Now Museum, Now You Don’t

Magritte, Chagall, et al.

Eyes for art whetted by the French masterpiece exhibition in May and June? You can get more of your fill of European paintings this month at the Menard Art Museum in Komaki.

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Among artists whose works you can experience will be Picasso, Matisse, Klee, Van Gogh, Monet, Kandinsky, Magritte, and (from my experience) Japanese female favorites Miro and Chagall.

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Regret, Chagrin, All In

In addition, just a regret to post – I was looking forward to this photo show at the Tajimi Culture Center, but confused the dates with those above. Guess the tiring toll of a busy week caught up with me.

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Hope I have another chance to check out this local nature photographer sometime. He looks interesting.

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Never Had a Chance

Update: On the subject of gone before you know it, I just learned of a cafe in Toki I must have gone by dozens of times without even knowing it was there, and now it’s gone, and been so nearly a year. From what I’ve heard, it would’ve been right at home in the blog, so I’ll cut it some belated bandwidth here, with my regrets and hopes for happier stories in the future. It went by the name of Iroha Shokudo, and was situated right beside Sun Mart supermarket between the Toki River and Route 421. They served curry and coffee, daring to bring a tad more cool to Toki. Business was too tepid to keep it going, unfortunately. Maybe someone else reading this can be inspired to carry on the gentrification journey, if you will.

Lady Be Good

Too many cafes in town? Never. Just keep ‘em coming, and I’ll keep coming.

I’ve written before about Kumi Hirano and her plans to open a cafe, and now along with her husband, she’s forged the dream (if you’ll pardon the mixed metal, mortar and mortise) into stone, beam and plaster.

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Named after the legendary composer of Great American Songbook fame, Gershwin opened just a month ago in a quiet, secluded corner of Onada-cho in Tajimi. It’s since been gaining a word-of-mouth reputation as a go-to choice for a leisurely break and chat with friends.

Summertime, and the Livin’ is Easy

The emphasis is on simplicity, from the uncluttered architecture and furnishings to the menu of lovingly brewed coffee, tea and light sandwiches and sweets. There’s also a “morning service,” as is a local custom: breakfast for the price of coffee. If no one is using it, grab the table on the patio deck. They say it’s the best seat in the house, nicely shaded in summer by a thick bamboo grove across the way.

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Premium Audio is Standard

Though Kumi is happily and permanently retired from singing, there will be occasional live performances by local artists in addition to the fascinatin’ rhythm of choices from her extensive collection of jazz recordings day to day. That’s a piano toward the back in the top picture.

Get to Gershwin by taking route 381 (the Autobacks/Jazz Inn Papa’s/Akariya road) past the post office and (non-flashing) traffic light, and turning left at the bakery that’s on the left. Then take the first right just past the bakery, and the cafe will be immediately on the left. Hours are from 9 to 6, with Sundays and the first & third Mondays off.

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While a lot of folks spend their days toiling to realize their hopes with precious little or no success, Kumi has made not one, but two life dreams come true – being a full-time professional jazz singer, and building from the ground up and running her own cafe, which also happens to be her new home. Oh, and how can I forget dream number nine three: becoming a mom. Let us know where you found that magic lamp, Kumi. Congratulations and best of luck to the Hiranos on their new venture.

Cool Off With Tea in the Woods

Up a slope in the middle of the woods in Kokeizan-cho, Tajimi, well sheltered from the summer sun, is “BAum De Foret Patisserie & Salon de Thé” (sic). After several times making the trip only to find it closed, I’m happy to report I finally made it beyond a fly-by in the parking lot.

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Inside, it was more spacious than I thought. Antique-style sofas are in the waiting area, as well as at some tables, reminding me of nearby Akariya. Going past the bakery cases (you can just buy those goodies without eating in) to the dining room, I saw couples, chatting friends, and a few families, though I was the only person by myself. I’d have to say it is the kind of place you’d want to go to with someone. Besides locals who stop in for coffee and cake, tourists from farther away combine their visit to Kokeizan and Eihoji Temple with a relaxing lunch retreat here.

Among the lunch choices are the very nice assorted plate you see here for ¥1200 (not including drink, unless the staff just forgot about me; They also took a while to get everyone’s checks to the tables, at least this day), a curry plate, pasta plate, and a Hida beef steak bowl. Sweets are made by sister shop Saint d’Ore French pastry, Kanayama-cho, downtown Tajimi (across from Ogaki Kyoritsu Bank, photo below). BAum De Foret (curiously katakanized as バーム ド フォレスト), on route 381 past the junction with route 385, is open 10-7, with lunch from 11 to 2:30. All non-smoking.

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