On cars, old, new and future; science & technology; vintage airplanes, computer flight simulation of them; Sherlockiana; our English language; travel; and other stuff
YESTERDAY, WE BEGAN FOLLOWING Philippe Delord’s retracing the route of Hiroshige’s The Fifty-Three Stations of the Tōkaidō, as displayed in Hiroshige’s Japan—On the Trail of the Great Woodblock Print Master. Today in Part 2, I recall an unexpected Hamamatsu landmark and a Yokkaichi watering hole in which I am well connected.
Hamamatsu. Philippe describes Hiroshige’s 29th station: Hamamatsu: “The foreground resembles a stage set, with all the main characters assembled around a solitary pine, where they’ve made a fire…. Despite the houses that can be seen nestling against the castle in the background, the rest of the landscape is devoid of human presence, and the almost-monochrome color scheme gives a sad and desolate air to this portrait of chilly winter on Hamamatsu plain.”
My Hamamatsu. In one of my “early retirements,” I borrowed a press car from a Japanese automaker’s Tokyo fleet with the understanding that I’d swap it for another at its Hamamatsu facility. My meager knowledge of Japanese was just enough that my Tokyo contact was confident in giving me a Hamamatsu map entirely in that language.
Hey, no problem. A map is a map, right? And many of the landmarks were in katakana, Japanese characters used for foreign loan words.
I followed highway signs and other landmarks just fine until I read ボウリングピン, katakana for bouringupin.
Aha. “Bowling Pin.” I made the car swap successfully.
Yokkaichi. Philippe describes, “Reed fields stretch across the Mie River and hide the maritime horizon…. Upon this sad fall landscape, Hiroshige calls forth a sudden gust of wind, with an ironic nod to the old joke of the hat that blows away.”
“After World War II,” Philippe writes, “Yokkaichi became an important petrochemical hub. All along the Suzuka River estuary, chimneys threw up a dense cloud of pollution. But surfers are not discouraged even though the waves in Ise Bay are mediocre at best.”
My Yokkaichi. I cannot speak for the surfers, but I distinctly remember the intensely sweet emissions as I drove past.
Philippe’s mention of the Suzuka River suggests the proximity of Yokkaichi to Japan’s primary Grand Prix circuit. As noted here at SimanaitisSays, my visits to the Suzuka Circuit resulted in my being particularly well connected in Yokkaichi.
Favorite Yokkaichi recollections, worth the retelling: There is a Suzuka Circuit Hotel, but invariably it’s filled with FIA biggies. Regular folks stay at businessmen’s hotels in Suzuka or in nearby Yokkaichi.
One year, as a regular folk in Yokkaichi I was awakened at an unholy hour by what sounded like amplified Formula 1 cars. It turned out to be local young bloods revving their two-stroke motorbikes through a train station underpass. Showing social consciousness on their multiple runs, the riders made this racket with their emergency blinkers on.
All in good fun.
Around the corner from the hotel was a congenial place listed in my T&E reports as simply “local bar.” One year, its owner introduced me to a birthday toast of shōchū, a Japanese sweet-potato whisky. The next year, I returned the favor with a bottle of Johnnie Walker Black. He promptly wrote my name on the label in katakana, デニス, and the bottle joined a shelf of other potables. He said he’d offer it to anyone else celebrating a birthday. A nice thought.
Kyoto. Philippe writes, “Travelers finally enter the imperial city by the Sanjo Ohashi Bridge across the Kamo River.”
“Just like Hiroshige’s print,” Philippe says, “traffic on the Sanjo Ohashi Bridge doesn’t let up. An employee from a nearby Starbuck’s sees me drawing and brings me a coffee.”
It’s “One Hundred and Twenty-Five Leagues On,” with memories a’plenty, both for Philippe and for the reader. ds
© Dennis Simanaitis, SimanaitisSays.com, 2022
I am happy reading about all your travels. So many cool memories you share! I have to say the two years of non-travel during covid were not bad. August that changes and I have three international trips in 6 weeks. I don’t mind the transit when it is by train, but I’ve been through so many airports at this point in my life that the thrill is pretty much gone.
Hamamatsu is Yamaha’s headquarters, It is also, as i recall, home to the foundry where Yamaha cast piano frames–and cylinder heads for Toyota (or at least they did back in the ’70s).
Thanx for the images, I love looking at them .
I enjoy reading your posts but don’t often comment .
Thanks, Nate, for your kind words. I’m gratified you enjoy the website.