Lord Date's tomb was bombed out in World War II but was reconstructed at huge expense in 1979. It was garish and beautiful. Vivid paint outlined carved phoenixes, dragons, and whatnot. In the tiny museum next door was the coffin pot, a big iron cauldron, and mysteirous items like a plaster "footprint of a servant found in the ceiling." An eyeglass with crystal lenses, two reconstructed heads.
Around a tree lined path were two more similar masoleums, but, please note, not with dragons on the roof ends. The third lord had been retired by the Tokugawas and spent his life as an artist, and after him, I guess nobody rated a masoleum. There was also a cemetery for the Date dynasty children. Figure 20 generations, and 60 stones.
A shrine was near the bottom of the area, sharing land with a kindergarted full of children in orange or yellow billed caps. We stood at a row of rocks carved into figures, including O-Jizo-Sama, lord of dead children. They were all dressed in red plastic shower caps with red aprons, and as we sketched, the kindergarten blasted out some oompah cleanup music. Much later, Yayoi said that the red clothing on the stone statues were to keep them warm in cold weather. Okay.
The temple was as expected, with winding paths, mossy stelae, peaceful buildings. Lots of photos. Those two dragons on either side of the stairway? I've always wondered. The one with open mouth is saying Ah, the beginning, and represents life. The one with the closed mouth is saying Oh, the end, and represents death.
We had lunch at the bottom of the hill, in an Italian restaurant with an owner-chef who looked just like Buddha in a filthy white chef's robe. The place was small but open, with a grand piano that the wife plays, and landscapes on the wall. The food was gourmet - a fusion antipasto with prosciutto, lettuce, flower petals, and daikon, followed by spaghetti with oysters, and a divine tiramisu, all for 1000 yen, or about $12. Susan performed there last year, and we met the chef again at her performance the following day.
The divine Susan! We finally met her in the humorously ornate lobby of her hotel. She has a queenly figure, draped with dramatic clothes, amber jewelry, and has a vivid, warm, happy personality. She has us all laughing right away, with a story of how her first Japanese host family taught her the most important word to say in any situation. When dealing with taxi drivers, waiters, and important people you meet for the first time, you bow and say, "shoulder blade." This she did, and it took some time before someone dared to ask her why she kept saying shoulder blade.
Susan left to rest, and Tokiko took us in hand. She is a stooped 82 year old dowager, with flowing designer robes, a floppy flowered hat, and a raucous personality. A true grande dame. She danced for General McArthur in Okinawa, married a doctor and ran his clinic and cooked for the patients and raised three children. Then she got a job as an art director of a big department store and invited world artists to exhibit there, back when the Japanese economy was so strong they could offer huge cash incentives.
Twenty years ago, at 60, she learned to do a kind of modern traditional dance (possibly nihon buyo, but I'm not certain of this), and has danced in Korea two or three times, and taught a member of the royal family.
She herded us to a second hand kimono store embedded in a white-walled warehouse of a department store. Stacks and stacks of kimonos lined the shelves, but Tokiko gave them a glance, poked a few, and selected out a red and white one. "Camilla will get this one," she pronounced, and so it was. Two ladies fitted her, everyone exclaimed "kawaii" (cute), and then obis were discussed at length. I was instructed to get a blue one with a design from Okinawa, which I am to wear with a brooch at the front closing.
That settled, we went to a fabric store and must have touched every one of the offerings. The japanese ladies like soft, garish fabrics but Camilla got some kimono scraps and I got a length of indigo cloth with fish on it.
Italian food! The shop was tiny, the pizza pesto and camembert, the chestnut gelato delicious. We spent over an hour there, chatting and giggling.