Himi City 1
Photos & Written by Naoko Kumagai

The People of Himi

On the Hokuriku Shinkansen bullet train from Tokyo station, I arrived in Takaoka station to transfer to a local line. It was just around the time when school was over, and there I saw many young students in school uniforms heading their way home. The sunset and the sight of the teenagers were a beautiful thing to see.

As the train kept running along the coast, all we saw from the window was just the waters of the Japan Sea. How great to have a scenery such beautiful in one’s everyday life, I thought. But as I looked around, the only people looking outside the window to admire the fantastic sight were the elders that came for sight seeing, well, like me. I guess if you get to see them everyday, you wouldn’t always have to appreciate it and stare at it like you might not have the chance see them again.

Arriving in Himi sometime after the sun went down.

I saw few dog owners taking their loyal friends for a walk, but not many. I guess the day is about to end and people are settling down for their first drink of the evening.

We had made no plans for this trip, so we just followed our intuitions and walked toward the center of town, expecting to running into something, or someone.

I found a interesting looking store in the arcade so I decided to check it out. “Tanaka Kinbun-Dou”was it’s name.

It was a very old store which sold Japanese traditional stamps, and the space was filled with nostalgia. Once I stepped in I almost had the feeling as if I had time traveled to the good old days in the mid 20th century Japan.

An old lady, whom she must have been running the store for decades, starts the stamp processing machine as the once silent atmosphere was suddenly filled with the machine’s driving sound. Her hands looked rugged. Those were the ones that belongs to the sincere and the hard working.

She suddenly took my hand and started observing my palm, and simply said “You’re going to get married only once”. It seems a little fortune telling comes as an option when you visit this historical little shop.

As I walked on for a bit more, I spotted a little light glowing in the dim area indicating there is a nice spot to drop by for a drink. So It was, a nice izakaya (Japanese casual bar) called “Haraya”.

i couldn’t see inside but there was a feeling that the place served good food and drinks so I decided to give it a try.

As I stepped in, I saw the walls filled with cards listed with various menus, which is another sign for a nice izakaya. Luckily one seat was still unoccupied at the counter space so I sat down listening to the other members joyfully having conversations with the lady master. I had chosen the right place.

There I met a charming couple (Katsumi, and Satomi) who runs a restaurant called “Nada” located nearby, saying that it was their regular day off and had come for an early evening drink. Katsumi says he also tours for events and markets all over the country to demonstrate his dynamic “tuna filleting“. One of the purpose of this trip was to meet great interesting people, and so I did.

As my hunger had been satisfied after having a few dishes, I was thinking about somewhere nice to go afterwards for another drink. Katsumi saying he knew a good place, he kindly suggested we go together.

Snack Kotone”. A comfortable bar with a retro feel in the space. A perfect place to relax and to unwind.

The two sitting at the bar counter are Katsumi and Satomi. in the back are some of the local regulars that showed up that night.

The lady in the counter with the charming smile is the bar’s “mama” (meaning “female snack bar master”), Yoshimi, and her daughter Sotoe.

It was of course my first time there, but somehow they made me feel like they were all long time friends. Perhaps because it was Katsumi who had invited us, and his open minded friendly character. But there are more than just that in this little place that makes it a perfect place to sit down for a drink. As I was wondering what the magic was, the bar soon was filled with the bar’s regular crowd.

Appreciations to Katsumi and his friends, it was a fantastic night that I had encountered the deep warmness that lies in the heart of Himi city that night.

Series Himi City