Slow life in Otoyo

· Food, Illustration, Travel

As I told you last time, it’s time to slow down the pace since the programme of today fully illustrates what the “slow life” or sweetness of life is… Japanese version!

During or japanese road-trip, we left Matsuyama toward the prefecture of Kōchi and the district of Nagafuchi in the small town of Ōtoyo. The idea was to cut the road between Matsuyama and Takamatsu and what a wonderful step it was!

 

Small detour by Imabari

Before our arrival, I’ll let you admire some pictures taken on the way to Ōtoyo. At the beginning, we thought we would spend several days riding around Shimanami Kaido by bike (=a bike path that connects the town of Imabari to Onomichi, near Hiroshima).

But laziness makes things well, change of program! Instead, we were going to discover this hundred-year-old house in which we spent a night and which finally turned out to be one of my best memories of this road-trip.

 

However, we still made the detour to admire the bridge over the Seto Sea. If you have more time (and motivation than us) the crossing by bike can be planned in 1 or 2 days (depending on your physical performance) and it seems that the islands, villages and fishing ports crossed on the way are worth a look.

 

The guest house in the mountains

After this panoramic stop, we took the road again towards our lodging Oyamanoyado Michitsuji for the night, which was located at the end not far from the Oboke gorges that I showed you previously.

Once again, I would like to thank my SO who is at the origin of this find lost in the mountains… so lost that we had a lot of trouble finding the house, even with the GPS. But a call to the owners and with a nice neighbor coming to meet us, we finally arrived safely.

 

Welcomed by the smiles of Yumiko and her husband Daisuke, we immediately felt that we were going to have a good time.

The time to leave our things on the big tatami in the room, Daisuke showed us the house, which is more than 100 years old, decorated in a very simple and minimalist way but in which reigns a cosy atmosphere.

 

The view of the gorge is probably the main reason for this, not to mention the quietness of the place, but it is also disturbed by a (very) early morning crowing of the rooster.

 

The couple, who’d lived a few years ago in Tokyo, wanted to escape the stress of the city to reconnect with nature in order to raise their two boys in the most serene conditions possible.

Upon our arrival, the two boys, who soon returned from school, frolicked in the garden and settled down to do their homework on the living room table, not at all disturbed by the noise of our discussions.

Daisuke showed us the bathroom and toilets located in a small hut outside the main building. I have to admit that I begged my bladder not to get up at night (I already imagined myself stumbling on the small, dimly lit, gravel path half asleep) and my prayers were fortunately heard.

 

We also visited the surrounding fields: rice and tea cultivated in these heights. Everything that is consumed by the inhabitants is produced nearby: it could not be more local!

 

Yumiko invited us into her kitchen when she was preparing dinner. On the menu, tonkatsu breaded pork (pork from the neighboring farm) accompanied by rice, soup (Pink potato soup if my memories are good) and vegetables and herbs from the garden. Her husband was in charge of watching the rice cooking in a pot.

 

Watching Yumiko delicately carve vegetables and lemon, we talked and exchanged about our very different daily life, to the sound of the pork frying and the carrots and corn frying in the pan. As Yumiko speaks very good English, we didn’t have to use our hands or google translate.

 

It was then time to go to the dining table, sitting on the tatami. Itadakimasu! I still remember the crispy melting of the tonkatsu as well as the crunch of the vegetables, with that nice little fresh air that came to tickle us through the sliding door, as the sun was starting to decline outside.

 

We continued to talk about everything and nothing: kintsugi classes that Yumiko regularly practices (the art of repairing broken dishes with delicate dripping gold threads), their life in the countryside, Instagram…

Yumiko regularly posts selected pieces of her daily life on her account, which I find very pleasant to follow, since we can see the seasons just by looking at her photos of fruits and vegetables and the dishes she likes to prepare.

 

After enjoying a caramel flan (always homemade), it was time to take our futons to spend a sweet night. In the morning, the rooster committed to cancel any plans to sleep late, gave us a nice vocal demonstration, but it was not so bad since we had to get back on the road.

 

 

Before leaving, a salty breakfast with grilled salmon, miso soup and small vegetables, always so delicious!

 

A few souvenir pictures together, it was then the moment to say goodbye by warmly thanking Yumiko and Daisuke for their hospitality and for this so comforting evening.

 

The stage of the day was a little less touristy and stirring than in my previous tickets but staying in this guest house remains one of our most beautiful travel memories by the simplicity and sympathy that came out of it.

We continue to keep in touch and to follow each other via instagram and coincidence, we even met the next day in Naoshima since the whole family had decided to spend a few days in Takamatsu as well. See you then at the next step of the road-trip: Direction Takamatsu and Naoshima Island! (English translation by Quiterie)

A cosy fall

· Decoration, Fashion, Food

Autumn is here, and the bad weather and dreary days has come along. To make the most of this season, which often discourages people from going outside, there’s nothing like staying quietly at home to hibernate in a comfy cocoon. Last year, I have already talked about the pleasures of autumn and my tips on how to feel good at home.

Today, here are a few additional tracks and little pleasures of the moment that help me face the gray outside. Hopefully this will inspire you to make everything around you cosy… and more especially during this special year!

 

Warm candles

Candles “La bougie herbivore”

 

The obvious accessory to bring a little comfort inside your home… and above all a warm olfactory atmosphere. My favorite candle is the crackling candle from Wabi-Sabi (“Nuage végétal” perfume) but I like it so much that it is finished (I have to order another).

In the meantime, I use two candles that were given to me by a friend on my birthday in January (Thanks Sylvain<3) : “Okinawa Mist” from La bougie herbivore, which has a spring rather than autumn scent: cherry blossom, sea air but since there is no more season, it doesn’t matter! The 2nd one is “Eternal Fig” with more greedy accents (fig, edelweiss) in accordance with the season. An ephemeral pleasure but so pleasant!

 

A comfort at all times

Whether furniture or clothing, it’s time to take refuge in soft and comfortable materials.

If you have an eye for decoration, you’ll see that I’ve swapped my Eames chair for this new rocking chair, more “cottage style”. We gave our Eames to a nephew who is settling in his studio for the first time and took the opportunity to replace it with this one, even more cosy! When it will be colder, I will add a plaid but the seat is already very soft.

 

Socks “Dirty dancing” Odette & Lulu (Thanks Noémie <3)
Rocking chair “Dilma” AM.PM

 

On the clothing side, I’m betting on natural materials: fleece cotton sweatshirt and fun socks (I haven’t taken out the thick woolen socks yet) and off-camera, you can count on me to hang out in a Winnie onesie, UGGs and wrap myself in a plaid! By the way, I’d like to invest in flowing, stylish, comfortable and warm indoor pants. If you have any recommendations, I’m very interested!

 

Comforting series and movies

It’s time to balm your heart with an avalanche of romantic comedies! I’m quite a fan of romantic comedies (much more than Halloween horror movies). So here’s my selection of favorite “soppy” movies/series (I’m excluding for the moment the romantic Christmas comedies because it’s still too early: let’s save some ideas for later!).

  • Emily in Paris : The series that is very popular at the moment and that people love to hate. For my part, I came out of this screening with a big smile. Of course, one is tempted to be sarcastic by pointing out all the unrealistic and extremely cliché situations of this series… but, let’s put aside our cynicism a bit, let’s take what these romcom episodes have to offer (i.e. lightness, romance, humor and good humor (and cherry on the cake with the charisma of Lily Collins, Lucas Bravo (Gabriel) and the mostly endearing characters) : Of course it’s far from perfect and it irritates, us, french people (and influencers haha) a little bit, but I had a great time watching it (I detailed my personal feelings on highlighted stories on Instagram).
  • The kissing booth A teen movie I’ve already talked about here
  • Isn’t it romantic ? A rather successful parody of romantic comedies
  • Clueless For the nostalgia of the 90’s and a Paul Rudd really really cute
  • Far from the madding crowd Country atmosphere and romantic love story (I was already talked about it here)
  • Dawson’s creek My all-time favorite series, with beautiful and cozy fall moments spread throughout the 6 seasons.

 

An inspiring reading

The Monocle guide to cosy homes

 

To dream and be inspired by cosy homes from around the world, I found this book “The Monocle guide to cosy homes” (I was so seduced by the book Monocle about Japan that I had to look at this one too).
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It shows different ways to bring cosiness in the house: you don’t necessarily have to add plaids and candles to make a cosy interior and that’s the interest of this eclectic book about decoration. Photos, portraits, texts, the cosy is analyzed in all the details.

 

Caring sounds

How about a comforting fall playlist? When it rains, I really like to listen to sweet and nostalgic sounds from bands like Travis (they released a new album “10 songs” absolutely perfect for fall!), Keane, or to throw some folk playlists, as if I was in a cabin in which a fireplace crackles (with marshmallows! = haha! You can feel the irreversible after-effects of an untimely viewing of romantic comedies )

Another way to hear relaxing whispering in your ear: Podcasts! I discovered 2 podcasts of Florie Vine quite “feel good”: an old one called “Simple & Cité” rather oriented towards minimalism and slow life.

But she also hosts a second one called “Bulles nomades” which describes her vision of happiness in various themes (optimism and realism, how to develop her creativity and confidence etc…). The tone is always benevolent, non-judgmental and allows for a certain introspection and keys to appreciate more what is presented to us every day.

 

Pamper your body

Since we’re staying at home, we might as well please our skin! Here are a few fetish products to take care of mine, especially with the first cold of autumn. I am now trying to prioritize natural cosmetics with little impact on the environment and those of the Les inspyrées line fully fulfill this task.

I had already talked about it in the past: I am fully seduced by the sustainable and reasoned approach of this brand (I know well the founder’s, a friend, ethics and environmental convictions). Here are the products that I use at Les inspyrées and from which I’ve got full satisfaction:

 

LE SERUM MON OEIL ! : A 100% organic vegetable eye contour oil (prickly pear, jojoba oil, calophylla, arnica …) that reduces wrinkles, bags, dark circles while preserving this sensitive part of the face. I like the fresh side of the roll-on.

LE BAUME FONDANT APAISANT CORPS : No more crocodile skin with this nourishing and soothing composition (shea butter, hemp oil, sacha Inchi, calendula, chamomile, rosemary): the pot lasts really long too!

EAU TONIQUE “PURIFIE MOI !” : A hydrolat which regulates mixed to oily skins, made up of a mixture of floral waters, always organic and from French origin (Melissa, thyme, laurel): I apply it morning and evening instead of the lavender water which I used before (this one regulates even better!).

 

This list of cosy little pleasures is far from being exhaustive and there are many other ways to bring cosy into your home: you can also choose to cook good little dishes, do manual work (embroidery, knitting), sleep or simply do nothing! The most important thing is to enjoy yourself, no matter what the weather is like outside! (English translation by Quiterie)

 

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My Outfit

Sweat-shirt American vintage (déjà vu ici)
Pantalon La Redoute collections (déjà vu ici)
Chaussettes Odette & Lulu

The city of Ozu

· Food, Illustration, Travel

Let’s go back to our Japanese road-trip which is more than a year old. This trip seems so far away now… as if it was lost in another dimension! I’m holding the good end to finish telling you everything but as I don’t think I’ll be going back to Japan anytime soon, this gives me an excuse to continue traveling with you by proxy.

Today’s stopover is the small town of Ōzu in Ehime prefecture. We did a day-trip and fell under the charm of this unknown city. More beautiful discoveries!

 

Go to Ōzu

If you followed our previous stop, you know that we were in Matsuyama and that we stayed there 3 days (2 nights). During this short period of time, however, we chose to go to Ōzu for one day knowing that the car ride is only about 50 minutes.

This would certainly not have been possible if we hadn’t rented a car (or else, we would have had to keep an eye on our watch all the time to not miss the train and manage the possible buses while here, we had a total freedom).

 

The city of Ōzu is nicknamed “Little Kyoto“, which already gives you a glimpse of its historical profile. Traditional alleys and remarkable monuments did not make us regret this escapade and you will understand while reading this article!

 

Hike in Shirataki Park

As soon as we arrived in the city, once the car was parked, we headed towards this completely deserted path.

 

 

The red Japanese bridge spanning the Hiji River and the sign indicating the route imply that it would be even better to go there in autumn. I let you imagine the same scenery tinged with flaming leaves.

 

In the meantime, these pictures taken at the end of May reveal the summer side of the place. It was so pleasant to walk on this shady path, discovering a waterfall, then traditional statuettes hidden in the moss: the “yume warabe (夢わらべ)“.

“Yume warabe” statuettes on our path

 

These jovial looking statues are supposed to make the person who looks at them regain the soul of a child and, in a way, encourage the walker in his ascent.

 

Even if the path is admirably well maintained (impeccable cobblestones and hiking poles graciously provided = Welcome to Japan), it’s steep!

 

At the very top, we can cross some altars and mini-temples to meditate: Spirituality is deserved given the steepness of the stairs to get there… but the reward is at the top with a nice view of the village.

 

Pokopen Yochoko

 

Back to civilization (or almost, since the village of Ōzu was particularly empty), we wandered through the alleys looking for an open restaurant, which was not easy (I will list some addresses at the end of the article).

 

During our stroll in this almost ghost town, we stopped at Pokopen Yochoko square, for a return to the 60s. It was quite confusing to wander in this fairground, without the laughter of children, the crowd and the animation.

 

Creepy? A little… but it makes you want to go back there on a Sunday because it must be more animated that day since they open these retro booths, as in the old days (=every Sunday from April to November and every 3rd Sunday from December to March: you’ve been warned!)

We still had the chance to visit this museum called “Coke & Van goods museum”. If you are interested in the Japanese pop culture of the 60s and 70s and you have a cult for vintage objects, this place is for you.

This Ali Baba’s cave is filled with anime figurines (Goldorak and Astro boy!) as well as an astronomical collection of Coca-Cola merchandise.

A traditional Japanese dwelling from the 60s has even been reconstructed to recreate this vintage atmosphere. A real time travel.

 

 Ōzu castle

This castle is older than the one at Kōchi since it was built in the 14th century. It also overlooks the city. I just have this picture to show you knowing that we didn’t arrive in time for a visit of the inside nor of the dungeon (the view from above could have been nice).

 

Garyu Sanso

 

Visiting this house was like a dream and zen. Garyu means “sleeping dragon”… not so zen!

In the past, this house was used as a place of contemplation and stroll for the Shogun but quickly fell into ruin and was then restored from 1897 to 1907 by a rich merchant, Torajiro Kochi, an aesthete in his spare time.

 

Thankfully he decided to spend his money in the reconstruction of this house! Beauty comes in the smallest detail, whether it is in the garden, the door handles that would please Batman or this round window with the light coming through, supposedly representing the moon.

 

And final blow with this “Furo-an” tea pavilion overlooking the river, with its pontoon looking like a boat. We liked this place so much that we chose to post a picture of it in our living room, to feel like we were there every day.

 

Stores and restaurants

During our period of visit we did not meet any tourists and hardly any inhabitants. In spite of this low affluence, we found some addresses where we could eat and bring back souvenirs.

 

TOKOTOKO Tearoom : The only address open for lunch that day (it was about 2pm, that explains it).

Zenzai

 

They mainly serve coffee, tea and sweets but we managed to find a delicious “Cheese on toast“: toasted bread with cheese that served as lunch and as dessert, the “zenzai”: a sweet red bean soup usually served with mochi but here, with a sticky rice cake and a dorayaki (Japanese waffle). We still remember how delicious it was!

 

RARIRURERO Restaurant :This restaurant next to the castle was also a source of delights and a change of scenery.

 

We discussed (a very big word considering the language barrier!) with the owner, who was also part of a team of traditional Yosakoi dancers (=the dance of Kōchi) considering the numerous photos and trophies which decorate the establishment.

She was happy to introduce her discipline to two French tourists… so I would like to pay her a tribute with this article!

Mmmmmmh ! A Parfait !

 

The menu was entirely written in Japanese, so we picked a little bit at random by relying on the pictures: spaghetti with mushrooms, stew with melting cheese, Parfait and fruit tart, sesame seeds for dessert. Copious and once again a delight!

 

HANANOHITONOHIBI : This dried flower store was a pure marvel: we bought this dried branch of ??? (if anyone knows the name of the plant I am interested) and a small glass bottle.

My little souvenir from this shop

 

If you are a fan of a refined and country atmosphere, this delicate store should be a must for you. Here is the instagram account of the store, for the pleasure of the eyes.

 

Other points of interest

Here are a few other ideas to visit, if you are lucky enough to stay around for a longer period of time:

INARIYAMA PARK : In November, a festival takes place in this park in the middle of the blushing maple trees.

TOMISUYAMA PARK :To be admired more in spring, when the rhododendrons are in bloom; in shades of pink and fuchsia.

LE PONT MIYUKI : A roofed wooden bridge built in 1773 over which the hero of Kōchi, Sakamoto Ryoma (I showed you his statue on Katsurahama beach) crossed.

 

 

I hope that this visit of Ōzu pleased you and made you travel.

The next step will be even different as we return to Kōchi Prefecture for a night in the mountains at Otoyocho, Nagafuchi, in a 100 year old house transformed into a guesthouse where the sweetness of life and the notion of “Slow life” take all their meaning. Slow down a little bit… and see you soon! (English translation by Quiterie)

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