I tend to have “I hate Japan” moments and “I love Japan” days. The former normally occurs when I’m driving and am lost due to Japan’s crap signposting, am confronted by a bike riding granny happily peddling along the wrong side of the road, or I encounter some other driver who should be banned. Driving in Japan has made me realise that the drivers back home in Blighty are actually quite good. Even Fat Bob looks good compared to the J-Drivers and he’s had 9 crashes.
This weekend was two “I love Japan” days in a row. It was a lovely cool sunny autumn day, and I was out on my bike heading for a mountain trail. However, the bike ride was soon cut short when my suspicions became highly aroused after spotting a group of 8 people –together at the same time. Normally a sighting of four people together implies an event of some sort, so I knew that something really big must be going down in O-Town that day. Using the tracking skills picked up from Bush Tucker man whilst in Australia, I was soon sniffing out the action, hot on the heals of the local Ono-ites.
My inquisitiveness was to be rewarded. I had just stumbled on perhaps the biggest gathering of people I have yet seen in Ono. It seemed that all 40,000 of the “city’s” inhabitants had come out of hiding to attend a bustling market place featuring traders from far and wide, selling arts, crafts and delicious foods*. It occurred to me that the residents of Ono must come out of their lairs for this one weekend to purchase provisions for the hibernation period, which lasts until the market returns the following year.
Being the only white boy around I was subject to the normal goggle eyed looks and stares, but the locals are really very friendly, and were keen to chat and impart their free gifts on me. Unfortunately some of the gifts had to be later binned due to their ming factor, but it’s the thought that counts. I whiled away a couple of hours perusing the stalls selling giant crabs, fish of all shapes and sizes, mushrooms of many colours, whilst wondering why anyone would want to buy a soil encrusted root or eat an entire octopus tentacle.
As the market wound down, and the traders packed up, I headed home, satisfied that I had been part of something special, and loaded with purchases including locally made grape wine, and a miniature bamboo bow. It had been a great day, but I couldn’t help wondering if I would ever again see a gathering of such magnitude in the city that always sleeps.
*Foods may not be delicious