Our next stop on this grand Japanese beer adventure was Talmary. Up in the mountains on the edge of Tottori-ken and about 4 hours away by car. So, of course, we decided that we had to rent a car to get there.
The rental went fine was no problem and soon we were off. It was a 3.5 hour drive there and we needed to interview multiple people and take plenty of b roll then we had a 3.5 hour drive back to get the car back by 8. Giving us a rather tight schedule especially considering that it was pretty contingent on us not making mistakes on the road and getting lost. And obviously driving on the left side of the road in the right side of the car is a bit nerve racking and disorienting especially in terms of spacial awareness of the car. We learned the radio is funny and often just as lame here in Japan. We learned that some roads are quite narrow and terrifying to pass by oncoming traffic with the previously mentioned spacial awareness issue. But most of all we learned that there is no way to travel in Japan like driving. I know I have mentioned it before, but having the freedom to truly go where you can’t and stop is wonderful.
So we were off into the mountains of Tottori, a prefecture to the north west of Osaka. The final stint especially was incredible because now very few other cars were on the main highway and especially when we got off the highway we were the only car. Into a mountain village we went. The history and feeling of peace in these places was palpable. Up and up and up we went. We saw beautiful landscapes from the top, though much of the land, similar to oregon, was quite blatantly scarred from checkered patterns from logging. Down the other side and into their town.
TalMary, (http://www.talmary.com) called so from half the names of the couple that started it, inhabited an old elementary school and sat next to an abandoned middle school–a sign of the sad fading youth in the rural countryside. The atmosphere however was still warm and loving. The play structures were freshly worn and frequently played on and the smell of fresh bread and brewing barley comforted the air. Enter the space you saw some small tables for eating and a large case with all the fresh baked goods. Mariko-san (Talmary’s ‘Mary’) greeted us warmly and showed us around. Kids were playing around the rooms and you could tell this was an open communal environment. This place gives true meaning to words like homie. The brewery, which occupies just a small room and only produces 1 barrel (500 liters) per batch, sat in the back corner next to the main baking room which took up twice if not three times the space. The brewer Miura-san has worked hard with Tal, the owner, to cultivate two wild yeast strains that they use in their beer. Harvested directly from the surrounding forrest and after years of cultivating it to its current state, they are making many farmhouse/saison style beers. Additionally, they are making bread with the left over yeast after ferment!
In the other direction was a bar positioned in front of the kitchen space and next to their six tap handles. In the other direction were whole other rooms for relaxing. These rooms were quaint and comfortable and though they were no desks there were still cubbies, chalkboards, and other remnants of when they were classrooms. Finally on the far side was an old gym. Smaller than american standards but still very spacious for an elementary school. Later we actually helped the couple open up some speakers they had bought second hand, they have plans to make the gym into a small community movie theater.
Everyone really should visit just to remind themselves that beautiful, slow, peaceful community life is still a valuable lifestyle. And we talked to much of these points in the interview. Not only did they have their opinions on why a rural lifestyle was better for them, for their children and for happy living of all community members, but they also took very seriously issues of sustainability, environmentalism, and personal health. Along with their bread there were organic oils and some body care products for purchase at the front. Sitting down and talking with a truly gorgeous family couple about their lifestyle choices and philosophies got us very close with them very quickly. Not to mention just meeting people like this that give you hope in a world where there is much hope needed is a wonderful truly inspiring thing–one we both hope to be able to pass on through our film. Sawada-san whom we had met at the future conference , and who had recommended we go to Talmary, had joined us and was a great help when trying to translate some harder concepts of nature and lifestyle. We got to play soccer with their kids, two awesome kids, and after eating some wonderful bread and both buying and receiving some gifts we took our leave and left quickly getting on the road to meet our schedule. After a few hicups getting lost on the way back–navigation systems suck here as well–we made the long journey home, grateful for the peace and tranquility that this loving couple has created throughout their brewery, bakery, and life.