the simple pleasures of authenticity

In a land predisposed to making ‘good impressions’ it’s rare and refreshing to find a town who either can’t be bothered or feels confident enough to simply carry on with everyday life.  It is wonderful to walk through the streets of this rural town and not be besieged with signs and pamphlets directing you to the vision that someone else has for your visit.  Kubokawa is an entire town filled with quiet but not abandoned backstreets, each with stories to share, in search of someone who may listen.  Like pages of a well worn book on an upper shelf they reveal themselves, slowly at first… tight alleyways, arched wooden bridges over babbling streams, the faded colors of Showa era ’snack bars’, hidden shrines, and a surprising sprinkling of mid-century modern and post modern architectural gems.  

Sure the guidebooks will all point you to the eclectic specialty trains of the Yodo Line, the breathtaking beautiful architecture of the century old Hanpei cafe,  and the eclectic Iwamoto-ji temple(#37) all indeed very worthy of your time, but that is rather missing the point of what makes a visit to Kubokawa so very special.  Here there is no ‘framed view’ for you to gaze your tourist eyes upon and you are left to ponder as you roam the alleyways and backstreets.  Why did they build it that way?  Why did they leave?  or,  I wonder what goes on there?  There is no sense of urgency or agenda in this town with its placid seas of rice fields set agains the ‘borrowed view’ of distant mountains.  The crystal clear waters of the mountain spring irrigation channels flow effortlessly down into the mighty Shimantoriver in its journey through this place to oceans beyond.  Everything is local here… every interaction is real, unscripted, and unrehearsed…

Isn’t that what we should all be traveling for?

The simple authenticity of Hanpei Cafe

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