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More from Kofu

poster for shingenko festival matsuri

My heart was filled with excitement when I reached the Kofu Station. I’m not sure if it was the fantastic weather, anticipation of the Takeda Shingen Festival, or the fact that I hadn’t been to Kofu (甲府) in almost 22 years. Probably it was mostly the latter. I was thinking that maybe my thoughts of Kofu were overblown in my head simply because it was the first place I lived in Japan, and I hadn’t been back in so long. 懐かしすぎると思って But that didn’t turn out to be the case. I wasn’t let down upon arrival. I do in fact love the place and wasn’t disappointed.

The people were friendly, the weather was spectacular, and the cherry blossoms were just past their peak. I overheard the ladies I met on the train talking quietly amongst themselves about how they should invite me to hang out with them for the festival. While this would have been fun for about an hour or two, it was barely past noon and I had lots of old, familiar territory I wanted to see again. So I said goodbye before we exited the train station and before they had a chance to continue their niceness to me. I was hoping I’d see them again later in the day, but that didn’t happen.

武田信玄像

I had made no plan of what to do once I arrived in Kofu. My first instinct on exiting the train was to see Takeda Shingen’s statue (武田信玄像) in front, which I had gazed at daily for seven months back in 1988. He looked as good as ever, especially with the cherry blossoms.

kofu city

I kept going in that direction towards my old apartment in Asahi Cho (朝日1丁). Most of the stores and buildings were different, but something felt the same too. The only stores that hadn’t changed were a doll store and a glasses store on Asahi Dori. The building I lived in was still there. It was one of the newer buildings on the street in the 1980s, I think, but now it looks like one of the oldest. Nearly everything has been rebuilt.

Before my conscious mind could catch up with my unconscious one I was in the elevator, then facing my old apartment door, and then knocking on it. No one answered which, in hindsight, was probably best. I took the above photo from the front door of my old apartment. Maybe I have a similar one from 1988 in an old photo album somewhere that I can compare it to when I get back to the U.S.

武田通り 甲府市 山梨県 武田神社 桜

I kept walking up Asahi Dori to see what else had changed, and before I knew it I was making my way to Takeda Jinja (武田神社)–again completely unplanned, my feet just started carrying me there. This brought back memories of my first night in Kofu, a cold and rainy one in January 1988 in which I rode a bike up Takeda Dori and thought the street would never end its gradual uphill climb.

This time I walked up it. Takeda Dori (武田通り) is lined with sakura (桜), but they were several days past their peak. The University of Yamanashi (山梨大学) is on this street, although I don’t remember it being located here in 1988. Was it?

I passed kids while walking up the street, and they all said hello (harro actually) to me. I really miss this in Tokyo. Kids in my neighborhood in Tokyo only say things to me if I say something to them first. Most don’t even glance at me on their way school in Nishi-Waseda. It’s as if I’m Japanese to them. Not so in Kofu.

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