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Full Circle

Day 27: Sado Island

Michael Palin - Full CircleIt's been a long hard day by the time I arrive at the Red Pear House in Ogi village on the southern tip of the island, and I am quite ready for the legendary hospitality of this traditional Japanese inn, or ryokan. But Japanese hospitality, like Kodo drumming, does not come easy.

I'm greeted at the doorway by Mama-san, a tough-looking little lady standing five-foot two with her clogs on, and four-foot eight without. We exchange bows and I am shown onto a slate floor where I take off my shoes. Water is sluiced across the slate to eradicate my footprints. I then step up onto a low, stripped wooden floor on which a pair of slippers awaits me. I put them on and they reach about halfway up my foot. As I'm shown upstairs I admire the reticent Japanese aesthetics. The well-crafted wood used throughout (it's hinoki, a juniper of sorts), the vase of fresh cosmos (picked out by an artfully placed spotlight), beautiful pieces of porcelain, and somewhat surprisingly, a Chagall reproduction. Mama-san, who claims to speak no English, accepts my compliments with a series of chuckles and further bows. At the threshold of my room I have to take off the slippers I've just put on. A sliding rice-paper door gives onto a low simple room with tatami mats on the floor. Apart from a black-lacquered table, raised about a thigh's width from the ground, and a chair with no legs, there is no other furniture.
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  • Series: Full Circle
  • Day: 27
  • Country/sea: Japan
  • Place: Ogi
  • Book page no: 51

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  • Around the World in 80 Days