30 July, Japan – ‘All Over The Place – Asia’
The lavender fields in Furano are a big deal here on the island of Hokkaido, as they help draw tourists to the island in the summer months when there’s no skiing to be had. When we arrived at Tomita Farm we could immediately tell that they had thrown themselves into setting up this attraction with typical Japanese dedication. All the staff are dressed in purple, drive purple mopeds, farm the fields in a purple tractor and sell purple food in the cafe (where you can buy lavender flavoured smoothies, cakes and ice cream). Cel and I fitted right in, as we were wearing purple uniforms in the style of The Beatles’ Sgt Pepper era for today’s song – Lavender Fields.
We started up on the hillside where there are a few large strips of lavender, interspersed with strips of other brightly coloured flowers, so it all looked suitably psychedelic. Once we started prancing around in Woodstock fashion on the pathway the crowds of tourists seemed to think we were some sort of attraction that had been laid on and gave us a respectful distance in which to throw ourselves around (either that or they were terrified of us). Felt a bit sad when it was all over – I’ve always been a big Beatles fan and I enjoyed pretending to be one of them for a morning. I doubt we’ll be doing another Beatles parody on ‘All Over The Place’ as we don’t tend to revisit bands and genres.
In the afternoon we headed slightly out of town to an old abandoned school (one of the oldest on the island). It was bought by a man called Ikuya who is obsessed with kaleidoscopes, and who now lives there. All the old school equipment was left behind, including pictures of the old headmasters going right back to a hundred years ago, and dotted around the place are over 1,000 different kinds of kaleidoscopes of all different shapes and designs. In between filming he let us use the school’s old PA system to play tunes from our iPhones and generally seemed to love having us around (he got particularly excited when I dressed up in a tartan Victorian suit to play David Brewster, the inventor of the kaleidoscope. Just imagine what he would have made of it all!).
Then it was time to feel sad once again, as that was Cel’s last item done and dusted. Been lovely to have him back on the show, and now he’s off to go exploring round Tokyo on his own for a few days. However, we’ll be heading to the north of the main island to a town called Aomori for another week of (exhausting) fun with AOTP stalwart Johny Pitts…