Tag Archives: Mizunami

Dancing Center Stage

August Abandon Afoot

More midsummer fireworks lie loaded on the launchpad, if that’s your thing – Mizunami has their display tonight, as part of their 54th annual Mino Genji Tanabata Festival (a month after most other observances), featuring teams of dancers and taiko drummers on stage for the 16th year now. It takes place Friday through Sunday in front of Mizunami Station. Everyone is invited to hop into the frenzy of the parade. There’s also a “clay objêt” Toudo Festa competition, in which teams have a frenetic 48 hours to sculpt clay into whatever their imaginations can conjur up.

You could consider Mizunami’s Tanabata fest with its dancing a warmup for Nagoya’s 15th annual Nippon Domannaka Matsuri, or Domatsuri for short, to be held from August 23rd to 25th. Some 23,000 dancers on over 200 teams from all over Japan and the world will carouse and compete for championship original folk dance honors.

The only rules, according to the official website, are “each dancer must hold a naruko, or clapper, and … a melody from a local folk tune of the participants’ home area must be incorporated in the music.” As with Mizunami’s revelry, they encourage the audience to join in the dancing as a means of cross-cultural communication, and welcome last-minute entries without reservation, so to speak.

And as long as we’re on the subject of Nippon Domannaka (the very center of Japan), it’s not just figurative talk when people speak of our central location, or the logistical benefits of relocating the national capital to Gifu to help alleviate congestion in Tokyo.

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Here’s a picture of Yasaka Station, the centralmost station in Japan, on the Nagaragawa Railway Etsumi-Nan Line. The diesel-powered single-car line, which you can use to get from Mino Ota on the Taita Line to Gujo (station photo below), also stops at the centralmost hot spring in the country, accessible directly from Manthatsamouthful Minamikodakaraonsen Station (station and spa are under the same roof). Of course the all-night trance-like dances at Gujo are for many a must-see, gotta-groove to thing this time of year as well…

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…as is, for those who can bear to watch, the bridge-jumping, river-plunging tradition on the river you may be able to view from this walkway. I think they jump from the bridge just a few steps to the left of where I took this photo.

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Cool Fresh Pasta, Hot Off the Press

I’ll start off this restaurant intro while I’m still on the premises waiting for my after-lunch coffee to cool. I have, as they say, a cat’s tongue.

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I’ve just tried out Mare Melo, a new (update: since last August) “pasteria” in Mizunami. It looks like a nice new choice for a fresh pasta casual lunch, stylish and jazzy (a word used the way cool is now when I was growing up, though the music is a sort of mix of jazz and electronic lounge anyway).

Though seats are a bit limited (twelve seats at six easily rearrangeable tables and four at the counter), it’s wide open space-wise. All non-smoking all the time. Mare Melo is situated halfway between Cafe Crepuscule and the Mizunami route 19 McDonalds. Open for lunch 11 to 3 (dinner 5 to 10), closed Tuesdays.

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They have three levels of lunch specials (no drink, which makes it reasonable for people at work on a lunch break, drink included, and dessert included). All include salad and fresh-baked roll. There are five pasta dishes to choose from. I had an amatorichana. The food was good, though the iced coffee had run out by the time I ordered, thus the cat getting my tongue. And now that I’ve finished my fresh cuppa, I’ll post and run.

Expanding in Many Directions

Bonjhorton has been in Mizunami for a couple of months now. It’s in the area near Komeda Coffee and Cabin, where parking space is more plentiful than at the original Tajimi branch.

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At least for the pizza/pasta/risotto lunch specials, the rotating menu choices are different from Tajimi at any given time. I think the Bagna Càuda is more voluminous in Mizunami, as well. I had a pork risotto this time.

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The Artist, Up Close and Personal

Picture of the Artist As a Maker of Young Men

I made the acquaintance of artist Mitsuyuki Sakai recently at Lotus Cafe, where I learned from the owner he’s something of a local legend, having variously taught/mentored/inspired/corrupted/otherwise delivered into adulthood many a lusty local young lad throughout a long career in education (no mention as such of young ladies, but I presume it’s much the same). Yesterday I caught an exhibition he’s having in Mizunami.

The show was at Cafe Realize, which I’d often noticed signs for but never ventured up to. It’s located toward the Sony plant, somewhat between Komeda Coffee and Cabin Pasta & Pizza.

After having a pasta lunch in the sunken central dining area here, I had other business in town, but briefly stepped up to see the paintings around the raised perimeter. The boardwalk is quite narrow, meaning you can’t stand very far away from the works, which is a severe limitation from an artist’s point of view, but then again I, um, realize this isn’t a gallery first and foremost.

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Working on board, Sakai mixes, if I understood correctly, earth materials with black and white acrylic paint for varied texture and color. Punctuated by occasionally exposed bits of underlying primary colors, simple geometric shapes dominate in different ways in each of these works. I found myself preferring the more bold, iconic ones.

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I’m not sure how long this show lasts, but Realize is worth a visit any time at any rate.

A Little French in Mizunami

Sometime soon after La Belle Équipe French restaurant in Mizunami opened several years ago, I had an enjoyable lunch there, and had always meant to get back. So recently I finally did.

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Originally, the little restaurant had only a few tables, all dugout-style Japanese seating. They’ve since expanded with regular tables in intimate nooks. This appetizer was a quiche I unfortunately can’t remember what was in (I can at least vouch for acorn squash), but it was good.

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I had the oniku (meat) lunch, which was a unique-tasting tender pork with walnut, whose other ingredients (while certainly memorable, clearly not memory food) I’ve also forgotten.

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New York, New Pork

One recent night, I gave in and ordered a delivery pizza from Aoki’s Pizza in Toki.

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This was their medium-size New York style grilled pork (and bacon) pizza (though I’ve never had pork on my pizza in New York) with a thin and crispy crust. ¥1980 (no tips, at least, and a memorable year at that) including French fried potato wedges for two, and two cans of Coke. They apparently have a discount if you pick it up there (across the street in back of the Toki McDonald’s) yourself. In fact, it’s on my way home from work, but this particular night I was already home when hit by the need to feed.

I’ve been something of a pizzaholic recently, having Jazz Inn Papa’s “C” lunch special today, a ¥1050 set including arugula & shaved parmesan pizza, salt & pepper-sprinkled salad, and a drink.

There seemed to be an endless stream of dump trucks and cement mixers going by Papa’s, which I thought might be headed toward the Amazon distribution center that’s been under construction. But maybe it was some other destination, the trucks simply avoiding the delays now experienced on the nameless/numberless road that functions as a diagonal shortcut between route 248 proper and route 19, around the Autobacks intersection (don’t blame me for the lack of road names in this country!). I think this may show up on some maps as a fork of route 248. Anyway, beware of traffic holdups in this perpetually sawhorse-strewn, flagperson-festooned area. The city’s got to keep those contractors suckled.

On the subject of pork in all its forms, someone told me today about a new style of pork originated and sold in Mizunami. Called bouno (maybe a linguistic meatball of Touno and buono?), it’s a combination of foreign pork (which apparently comes from black pigs) and Japanese pork, which I guess comes from white ones. Supposed to be very good, and possibly poised to become a big seller nationwide.

Time Travel at Crépuscule

Below is the healthy and tasty ¥880 (¥1000 with coffee) lunch special at Café Crépuscule in Mizunami. I’d never realized until this time they have such a good selection of coffee table and other artistic/antiquey books (English and Japanese), especially of Americana/kitsch/retro/design.

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I guess the aluminum trays your food comes on also give Japanese a retro kick – apparently they look just like the ones they used to get their school lunches on.

I had fun flipping through a book of photos of sixties and seventies roadside North America. Like a time machine because the high-quality photos captured slices of life that normally would never have been deemed important enough to commit to expensive print.

The bookshelves themselves may be made of a cedar that triggers an allergic reaction. Just be warned. The heating was also set quite hot – the two man crew, which normally includes a woman, seemed pretty overwhelmed and hard-pressed to keep up with such things. They could have used a time machine themselves to keep up with orders. But the food and atmosphere were worth it. All the more chance to check out the books. A bit of time has passed since this trip, but I’m pretty sure Crepuscule is a Softbank wi-fi hotspot.

Geography Project? No, Just Lunch

Topography 101

It’d been maybe a couple of years, so I went to Pizzeria Cabin on the Mizunami-Toki border for lunch.

Smoke’s Gonna Come Out, an’ Lava’s Gonna Ooze All Over…

Curious natives looking on, our team approached the remote jungle island with trepidation

This mammoth of a pizza pie now lining my loins could easily serve two. It’s like a vegetarian garbage plate/Loco Moco thin-crust pizza that happens to bear an uncanny resemblance to a 1/25th scale model of a small volcanic Indonesian island, complete with miniature terraced agriculture and other signs of human habitation dotting the dense jungle. One of ten ¥980 pizza lunch special choices at Cabin (ten pasta choices come in at the same price). There are also daily higawari specials at ¥700. No non-smoking seats, unfortunately.

Below, the sun sinks behind the mountains into the western sea as the native inhabitants of the sleepy island begin their return to the village from their daily ritualistic hunting and gathering forays.

Unidentified tangled vines could be seen in the distance

All is well as the island reposes once again.