Carlos has a few days left in port, and then his ship leaves for good, never to return to Japan. The USS Kitty Hawk will be decommissioned after 47 years of service. I will remain in Japan for several more weeks.

Even though Carlos has been home only two weeks, we’ve attended many bittersweet sayōnara dinners. We shared meals with friends. The Yokosuka Chamber of Commerce held a big bash to bid the USS Kitty Hawk farewell. The JMSDF gave a party on its rescue boat/pleasure barge. In Hayama, we ate an elegant kaiseki meal at Hikage Chaya, a 350-year-old restaurant, so Carlos could say goodbye to Japan itself. The past week has been devoted to memorializing our excellent life here.

Red flowers
Photo: Flower pots in Taura.

Today we had a different kind of Memorial Day. We headed into the early summer sunshine and walked through the old streets of Taura. After Chozenji Temple, we turned left and walked up steep steps to the ridge road leading up the next valley.

Farm stall

We climbed up and up, finding small farm plots with little stands offering potatoes, lettuce, onions, and sugar peas: 100 yen per bag on the honor system (change goes in the wooden box).

View of Yokosuka

The top of the hill offered views of Yokosuka and the sea beyond.

Soon we came to Tsukayama Park, which is the site of the tomb of William Adams (or Miura Anjin, in Japanese). You may have read James Clavell’s Shogun, or perhaps you are ancient enough to have watched the mini-series on TV in 1980. The story is based on the life of William Adams, an Englishman who was shipwrecked in Kyushu in 1600.

After Adams was shipwrecked, the first shogun, Ieyasu Tokugawa, made him teach ship building and other military technologies. Adams built the shogun an English-style sailing ship in 1604, and then completed a 120-ton ocean-going ship. In return, Ieyasu gave Adams a fief in Hemi (now in Yokosuka City). Adams married a Japanese woman and had two children with her. He chose to stay in Japan, often acting as a diplomat between Japan and other nations attempting to trade with Japan in Nagasaki. He had some trade and exploration adventures in China and Okinawa before he died in Nagasaki in 1620. There are several monuments to the “blue-eyed samurai”: one where he was shipwrecked in Kyushu, one in Nagasaki, one where he lived in Tokyo, and one near Anjinzuka Station (on the Keikyu line).

Anjinzuka
Photo: Anjinzuka, the memorial to William Adams and his wife in Tsukayama Park.

Anjinzuka means “burial mound of the pilot” (pilot as in nautical piloting). As I wrote before, Aoi me no samurai (Blue-eyed Samurai) is the local sake named after Adams. Look for it in the Yokosuka area.

Anjinzuka angle

In April, there is an annual festival (usually coinciding with the cherry blossoms) in honor of Adams in Hemi and Tsukashima Park. The park has at least four different kinds of cherry trees.

We walked down along forest paths, surrounded by birdsong and the flickering of white butterflies in the trees. Then we passed neighborhoods built on steep slopes and enjoyed the familiar views of Japanese gardens and lines of laundry. At the Anjinzuka station, we were lured into a restaurant by the aroma of curry and meat.

Buranco lunch
Photo: One of two daily specials at Buranko (“Swing”) Restaurant, next to Anjinzuka Station.

We shared a daily lunch special: menchi (fried minced pork and onion patties breaded with panko flakes, shredded raw cabbage, braised bamboo shoots, potato, and a touch of beef, gobo (burdock root) and carrot kimpira with black sesame seeds, soft poached egg in dashi, and mixed salt pickle of carrot and cucumber. Not pictured: white miso soup with tofu (served in a mug) and a huge bowl of rice. The meal came with a drink and cost 850 yen (about $8.22). The other special was a curry rice set.

(I’m not letting myself think about Carlos’s departure. It’s sometime in the future, but not today.)

Postscript: Well hello! It’s the first anniversary of You, madam, are no Sei Shonagon. Last Memorial Day I wrote my first post on this blog. Thanks for reading and commenting. It’s been fun.

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