In the bitter blackest of night the streets of Taketa were lit with bamboo lanterns leading a path from the station to the warmth of where wine flowed and eyes smiled. The three day annual festival of Chikuraku illuminates the city with lanterns, to make use of the dropping demand for bamboo and to preserve the bamboo forests that scatter the land. The magical steps to Kannonji Temple glow with amber flickers and their warmth is restorative. We wander the cobbled paths, through tunnels, into parks, each dotted with bamboo oval suns. Queuing for hot anko pancakes made by poetry in motion by four aproned masters. A free thimble of tea to accompany the sweet bean paste. An artist offers us warmth and a portrait, samurai style, with the fluidity of his calligraphy brush and a play on our kanji names. There is a bitter chill but it fails to cut through the warmth of Taketa's people.
Midnight onsen pierces our chicken skin.
We sleep roof bound and wake to mouthfuls of mountains.
The countless violet orange saffron inspires the growing of our own.
The castle ruins provide sun light, perspective and dried hanging kaki/persimmon. The Koyo still gives as we climb higher and gaze further. I catch the eye of Mr. 'How charming are you?' and his attention flatters and tickles me. We eat saffron curry and drink german wine, we help to serve cake made by families living in the woods. Dogs kiss our salty hands while we bilingually converse with all the words we have. The community is giving and shares everything it has with two strangers from the west.