A reservation? To go fishing? I mentally added this to my “only in Japan” list, not realising that this list was shortly going to overflow with absurdity.

Yuko’s boyfriend opened the back of the van and loaded us each up with a fishing rod. The shiny green one he handed to me looked suspiciously new, but when I asked, Tsuneo said it was one he’d owned for ages. I didn’t believe him: just the month before another Japanese friend had suggested we dress in kimonos for a festival, and offered to lend me one of her old ones. My wardrobe was now home to a brand new kimono that she wanted me to keep forever. I was sure this fishing rod had been bought just for me, too.


A short walk up from the car park brought us to a hut and Tsuneo went ahead to talk to an old Japanese man sitting just outside on a wooden chair. The man soon nodded and disappeared into the hut, returning with a large bucket. He gestured for us to follow him and we climbed down the other side of the slope towards a trickle of a river. It would have been a faster river if it hadn’t been divided into ten parts by barriers of rocks damming most of the water while still allowing a small amount to flow.

“This is our part,” Tsuneo told me, pointing to one divided part of the river. Unlike most of the other spots, nobody stood on the shore of this section. The old Japanese man went ahead of us, then emptied the contents of his bucket into our allocated patch of water.

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