Yufuin, my favorite spot(No.1) tea room "Kotokoto-ya"

March 1, 1996

  
Mt. Yufu is shining white in the deep blue sky dressed with crystallized mist.

Yufuin is at the coldest on such days. But a stream, the origin of Oita river, gathers hot springs water and runs through the town, releasing steam here and there. Yes, Yufuin is a town of hot springs.

Brushing both hands against each other, I walk down a river side trail to one of my favorite spots --"Kotokoto-ya." When opening a creaking wooden door with a handmade glass window, the aroma of coffee drifts out as warm air brushing my frozen cheek. My snug reserved seat is in the right end of the counter.

Misako-san, one of my intimate friends in Yufuin, pops up her head over the counter to welcome me. "Hello, Misako, nice to see you again" I smile back. "Today, I'll take the usual coffee and oh, yes, wild strawberry ice cream, please"

        
        
One day in last early summer, when I browsed by alone, the pub kitchen was occupied by countless bamboo colanders full of crimson wild strawberries. An open door released sour sweet aroma abundantly just like today.

Misako-san, along with a female helper, was repeatedly cleansing strawberries with rushing water. In a big pot nearby, strawberry jam was simmering and bubbling. So, the pub was named °…Kotokoto-ya°…-like the sound of a simmering pot.

"Half of the fresh berries picked in the morning was directly brought here to make jam, and the other half was reserved in a refrigerator." Misako pleasantly said and smiled.

I taste ice cream made of the very strawberry. It brings the burst of an early summer day into my mouth. The taste of coffee in a Limoges cup warms me up. I look around the room.

Big wooden beams supporting the ceiling, wooden floor polished up by shoe bottoms, a big table and oval-and-round-shaped antique chairs are arranged spaciously.

In twos and threes, people in their cozy corners make themselves at home. As if I were here yesterday and the day before yesterday, I ask for another cup of coffee from a copper server.

        

"Kotokoto-ya" Kawakami 3000-1, Yufuin, Oita, Japan


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