Right on our Doorstep (Day 195)
Sometimes the best things are right on our doorstep and that is definitely what we discovered today.
The morning was spent writing, chatting and Airbnbing. We don’t usually plan that much ahead, however, Christmas and New Year we are not going to spend it alone like last year – we will be with our sons and their girlfriends in Brazil. Having done a bit of research and going with my gut, 2 places have been booked – how exciting is that. And what confirmed our decision is that Cleverson who we are staying with is Brazilian and approved of our choice. Cleverson has a couple of places he rents out on Airbnb, so being a very frequent user of this homestay website and an interest in interior design, I said I would have a look at his photos. Oh, I was in my element. I could see a few quick wins, we changed the choice of photo for the first page, deleted a couple of photos that didn’t do the place justice and for the future have suggested a couple of very easy changes to best promote the homes. Right on the doorstep of Cleverson’s home, well, two minutes away is Koganei Park. Ok, we’ve missed the cherry blossom here, however even this time of year it is a wonderful place to visit. A field of poppies greeted us, reminding me of my dear old Dad, his favourite flower. A fabulous place for families, with a large artificial turf slope for sledging and a couple of great playgrounds including zip-lines and log castle, heaven for kids. We saw an elderly man painting, another playing beautiful zen-like music with his shakuhachi made from bamboo. For fitness enthusiasts there is a whole suite of sporting facilities; courts for a variety of sports, an indoor swimming pool, archery range and miles of pathways for cycling, running or waddling. We saw a pond with turtles swimming amongst fish including Koi-carp and Dog lovers have their own fenced off areas where they can take their pooches off their leads. Two areas, in fact, one catering for the smaller species! The key reason that we came here was to visit the Edo-Toky o Open Air Architectural Museum. Oooh… my excitement was tingling when we were there. This museum was opened in 1993 and its purpose is to protect Tokyo’s valuable cultural heritage which is gradually being destroyed either from natural disasters such as earthquakes and floods or from social and economic change. Key buildings representing certain periods have been relocated here, reconstructed and preserved. With 30 buildings ranging from thatched farmhouses from the Edo period with their open pit fires; 1930s to 1950s residential houses with their gabled roofs, simple adaptable layouts using sliding walls, to a number of shops, a public bath and bar. The great thing about this museum is that these buildings were all formerly used, not some modern reconstruction. In some of the building were volunteers who informed us about the original residents or aspects of the building. During this time, Tim and I were getting loads of ideas for our future home that we would like to build. A very different design to our last home, which was a traditional country style. We loved noticing the flexibility of these Japanese designs, plus small touches like grates over the guttering, the large gables giving covering when walking around the house, and a seat by the front door with sliding doors underneath to put shoes away. Home design is something that interests both Tim and I so we thoroughly enjoyed our time here.
The museum was closing and we needed to get back home by 6 pm, we popped down to the supermarket, passed the many allotments with rows of fruit bushes and vegetables. Cleverson had invited his landlord and landlady plus a couple of other friends for a meal and we offered to buy some drink. Wow – it’s cheap here. A 75ml bottle of Bombay Sapphire was under £9!
We got back, helped clear the room. Shortly Becky, a lovely missionary from Colorado arrived followed by Ben, a young American student travelling for a month and then the owners of the flat, Todd (also American and a writer) and his wonderful wife Setsuko (who is Japanese) arrived. What a wonderful evening we had. Cleverson is a perfect host, cooking us some simple yet delicious food using an electric hotplate. He certainly knows how to create a great party. The conversations flowed and so interesting to hear about people’s lives. Setsuko and Todd have lived in Hong Kong as well as Seattle and now back in Japan. We shared about the Lonely Planet’s top 500 list and Setsuko was definitely the winner, having been to many of the top 10 places. Time was ticking and there were a few weary faces so we said our goodbyes. I was just closing the shutters when I heard a call. It was Setsuko returning to introduce us to her dog Ginger, a friendly and oh so furry Shibu Inu. A wonderful end to a perfect day right on our doorstep.