Wonda — "Koku Latte"

by David Cady

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While setting out by bicycle ostensibly to buy this coffee*, I discovered that not only is there a river in my neighborhood, but that this modest waterway cuts a verdant, wildflower-choked swath through the seemingly endless grey plain of buildings and concrete that is much of Tokyo. Best of all, the "mighty" Senkawa is obligingly flanked by smooth paths ideal for embarking on trips of discovery on warm spring afternoons accompanied by a four-year-old with chicken pox and a strong-willed two-year-old inclined to startle elderly passers-by with operatic cries of "To infinity... and beyond!"

Ten minutes upriver, tooling beneath an all-star lineup of sakura, Japanese maple and flowering dogwood trees and still marveling at my find, an impressive stand of bamboo exploded just ahead. As I pulled even with it, I could make out the gently arcing roof of a Buddhist temple through the riot of segmented trunks up the hillside to my left. Wanting to explore the temple, I pulled off the path at the first available opportunity, finding myself on a steep, narrow road that forced me to get off and push my bike and its two nattering passengers up and up until I crested the hill. Then came another blessed revelation.


The housed parted and gave way to a diminutive forest, complete with meadows and herb gardens. Hanging above a small dirt path leading into this deserted wonderland was a charming wooden sign that said "Mina no Mori (Everyone's Forest)." I unbuckled the boys and set them loose to chase butterflies across the sun-dappled glade. It couldn't have been more rustic had we been at their grandma's house on Flathead Lake. I sat down on a large log and watched the boys get a healthy dose of nature, wishing that it could be like this every day, wondering if I was making the right choice in raising them in Japan. But at least I can take solace in the happy fact that just a 20-minute bike ride from my apartment in bustling Chitose-Funabashi is a little corner of my native Montana.

*I haven't even opened the can yet. It seemed somehow wrong to drink it in the forest, and I'm just not in the mood now. I'll venture a prognostication and say that I'll bet it's really sweet but pleasantly creamy.

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