Hi friends and family,

We wheeled off the ferry; it was pretty dark (the ferry was wi-fi connected, so I worked on the travel blog). Our plan was to get a taxi, but there were no taxis. There was a bus, so we got on, figuring it would take us somewhere more central. Little comedy routine as Don put too much change into the bus and at the wrong time. The other few passengers seemed pretty amused. We followed our route with the iPhone's Google map (sometimes Google map works better and sometimes Apple map works better) and sure enough, we were going directly to the train station in Tokushima. Right across from the small plaza was our hotel, Daiwa Roynet, which is a rather nice hotel, not luxe, catering to business people. Very comfortable room, and larger than our very small room in Kyoto (Unizo Hotel).

The next morning, one of those fabulous Japanese buffet breakfasts.

Reverently appraising his meal.

This is Don's tray, starting at the Upper LH corner of the square tray:
delicious pork and lotus root meatball, some sort of vegetable stew, breaded chicken
Upper RH corner: seaweed, slices of ham, vegetable salad
Lower RH corner: green salad
Lower LH: potato salad, burdock root salad, salmon and another fish
In the 2 leaf shaped dishes: chicken domburi (chicken, mushroom, egg, onion) and an omelet

Yes, we're obsessed with the Japanese breakfasts.

Hopped another train, a cute little two-car train. Aya and Craig were to meet us at the station in Awa Yamakawa at 9:30 (a half hour ride).

And back at the Awagami Paper Factory; this is the handmade paper area

Making the very large kozo papers; and a few days later we made gampi paper of this size. Gampi has become very hard to get, very expensive. They tell us these are probably the largest handmade  gampi papers ever made (definitely the largest Awagami has ever made). Aya is standing in the back; Mr. Fujimori, the head of the company is closest to us in the front.

Don gets right to work, making a small hikake test

Don pulling a wet sheet of 44" by 78" kozo across a Fujimori-designed vacuum.

Another view

We spent 4 days at Awagami Factory.

This is what our days looked like:

For some reason we did not take a photo of our room at Aburaya Inn. It was a lovely, quite large Japanese style room.

Got into our kimonos which were provided freshly laundered and pressed every day (seemed an unnecessary effort) and took the elevator down to the communal bath.

Usually no one is there in the morning; I never ran into anyone on this trip, although occasionally did in the trip past. You sit on the little stool, or stand and scrub and soap yourself all over, then blast everything off with the shower wands. No lack of water here; it is everywhere. Then you may take a soak in the bath.

Breakfast room; it's not high season.

A typical breakfast, which changed every day. Kabocha squash stewed with chicken; a slice of fluffy egg omelet, tofu with grated ginger, grilled fish with seaweed, miso soup. Kind of the opposite of a Continental breakfast.

Then if we had time we sat by the large window where the wi-fi signal was strongest and worked on emails  or called Magnolia (Skype) to see how things were going with Tallulah, Nicholas, Alyssa, Ken and our friend and new intern, David Wild.

As you can see, a 'sixties decor. This combined with their music, which sounded a lot like a Japanese Austin Power recording (Cherie Amour sung with a charming Japanese accent by someone who sounded as if she was 16 years old) gave us a feeling of being in some sort of time warp or alternate universe. I guess we are in an alternate universe here in Japan.

Meanwhile, Satomi-San, Fukunaga, Hitomi and others are already at Awagami and making large sheets of paper. 

Newly-formed large sheet

After vacuuming excess moisture out. That is one huge sheet of paper.

Time for lunch: Japanese version of a Salisbury (ground beef) steak, omelette roll, sauce, tempura'ed vegetables, sashimi, rice with a salted plum. I usually can't finish these lunches (after our big breakfasts). I am amassing a large collection of the cool plastic lunch trays.

Don replenishing the fiber in the more normal huge-sized vat


The post of newly formed gampi (much of which was done by Mr. Fujimori).

Making very large black gampi paper.

Era in front of indigo papers drying

And this is Don at the end of the fatiguing day, napping while propped up - Japanese train commuter style .

It's not all work.

Beautiful countryside around Awagami

These photos were taken on a walk with Craig. Craig says the hills have a lot of very old pilgrimage trails crossing them.

Our hosts, or some of them, Craig and Aya

This is how you order food at the local barbecue place

Love from Japan,

Era and Don