Several years ago, Mom and I visited Japan during cherry blossom season. While there, Mom found out that her mom had cancer and was awaiting surgery in the hospital.
That night, Mom lay on the bed in our room at the ryokan. “Emmie, my mom is sick . . . what if I lose her?” she asked.
I tried to think of something kind and comforting to say.“Well, she is 86,” I said.
Years ago, I saw an ad in a Japanese magazine that depicted a couple enjoying a refreshing, sumptuous lunch on a wooden platform built over a resplendent yet gentle waterfall in the midst of spring. I think it was a sake ad. I salivated over the memory of this magical image, and asked a Japanese friend where I could find something like it.
“That was just an advertisement,” she said, smiling. “There is no place like that.”
Recently, while watching an NHK nature/food/culture documentary (the kind with a tranquil English speaker’s voice and Ryuichi Sakamoto playing contemplative, tender piano), I caught a two-second glimpse of something resembling the ad, and the words “Kibune kawa-something.”
“It EXISTS!!!” I ran to my desk for a pen and paper.
The sake advertisement had depicted a gloriously Photoshopped version of kawadoko, a summertime dining treat made famous in the Kyoto area (and particularly in the mountain village of Kibune). Folks seeking escape from the heat and humidity enjoy kaiseki-ryōri and cold nagashi-sōmen on a deck over a rushing mountain stream.