Kagawa, I miss you!

Lately I have been missing my friends who live in towns around Kagawa Prefecture, on the island of Shikoku, Japan. I feel homesick for their company.

My big brother (Onii-san) Shinpei and his family, who adopted me and showed me practically all of Shikoku. Took me to the doctor when I was sick. Let me stay at his house. Invited me to meet his extended family. Had Cheryl and me over for New Year’s Eve dinner. (Thank you for your letter! I’m writing back to you soon!) My buddy Nacho, who helps me with my Spanish (and whom I’m begging to give us a tour of his home town in Spain!) Akira-san, my guitar partner who studied flamenco in Spain.

Aji no Tokeidai restaurant. Photo by Matt Anderson.

Yokoi-san, with his love for collecting coins. Yoshida-san, the journalist, who was always very interesting to chat with. Shintani-san and his beautiful family. “Keith-san” and his wife, whose classical piano skills brought me to tears. Jeremy-san, who knows the inside scoop. Rika-san, who spoke English with a British accent. (Extra special thanks to the ever-patient Aino-san, who helped me navigate the unfamiliar world of working in Japan as a gaijin. I regret that I was not more gracious in expressing my depth of gratitude!) And many more friends who showed me around (kaiten sushi, pokka-pokka onsen, karaoke…) and showed true generosity. Too many to name here!

It’s not that I think everything about Japan is perfect. Just like any town in any country, there will be people with whom I may connect, and people with whom I may not.

Aji no Tokeidai ramen. Photo by Matt Anderson.

Fortunately, I met a tremendous amount of kind people who have become lifelong friends. I’m truly blessed.

During my breaks between teaching classes, I used to wander around the hills of Yashima. I would get lost in the little neighborhoods, marveling at the houses, the cemeteries, the sushi shops.

Photo by Jeremy Booth

I could ride my bike for ten minutes and go from busy intersections (Kentucky Fried Chicken) to being in the middle of the country.

I’d lie down on a bench behind my favorite shrine and take a nap after eating a giant bowl of ramen (499 yen) at Aji no Tokeidai. (I never made it to Sapporo to visit their flagship ‘clocktower’ ramen shop, but somehow I don’t mind; I was too busy frequenting their Yashima branch.)

Gig at Hariraya Tea House, Takamatsu, Kagawa

Last year I wrote a song about Kagawa… specifically, the bicycle ride from Takamatsu to Yashima. (Or, more precisely, the Saturday evening ride back.)

You can listen to this song by clicking here: Like I Could Ride Forever.

You can listen to the entire album (Call It Blue) for free at  www.timbirchard.bandcamp.com. I love this song, because it takes me back to that very evening… I feel like I’m transported through time and space. Here are the lyrics:

Like I Could Ride Forever

Rain blowing sideways on this icy night
I’ve got miles to go
Headwind’s coming off the Seto Sea to my left
I’m drenched, head-to-toe

Almost feel like I don’t want to stop, like I could ride forever

Yashima beach


Almost feel like I may never stop, I think I’ll ride forever

Tiny little cars all racing by
We’re all out to win
Pedals pushing forward on the slick black road
Sudden stillness within

Almost feel like I don’t want to stop, like I could ride forever
Almost feel like I may never stop, I think I’ll ride forever

Take me back, take me back… Take me back to Yashima
Take me back, take me back… Take me back to Yashima

Lights flashing, Saturday night

Sea glass from Yashima beach, the day Shinpei and his family took me fishing

Locals looking for fun
Not another bicycle in sight
Looks like I’m the only one

Home’s just up ahead
The thought runs through my head…

Almost feel like I don’t want to stop, like I could ride forever
Almost feel like I may never stop, I think I’ll ride forever

How about you? What songs, poems, prose, ideas scribbled down on a napkin have you written? How do you infuse your love, your fears, your triumphs, your losses… your LIFE into your music or writing?

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2 Comments

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2 responses to “Kagawa, I miss you!

  1. Nacho

    Oh Tim, you are so romantic… that you are almost gay.
    In Spain they say “Todo tiempo pasado fue mejor”. In my case future is always better though.

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