Jeremy and Family: Our Angels

The Angel Family at home.

Jeremy Angel is yet another one of the many fine folks working with Fuji Television that we'd met in Alaska over the years.

A biologist trained at Oxford, Jeremy has lived in Japan for over 20 years. He met his wife Chiyoko when they both worked at Dr. Hata's Kingdom. They specialized in cats, and Jeremy has written a number of books on house cats, including the delightful "Kingdom of Cats." In addition he has traveled many times around the world with Dr. Hata on his filming.

Several years ago, Jeremy and his expanding family decided to leave Tokyo and move into the much more easy-going countryside of the Japanese Southern Alps. There they arranged to renovate a century-old Japanese barn into a home, and we were very excited about seeing them.

After our debacle at the train station, we wandered out to the streets of Fujimi where we met Jeremy. We piled into his van and drove the twisting lanes down to the open rice fields on the edge of town. There was his house, looking more like a Tudor style than Japanese, its white walls framed in dark wood beams.

We entered the house through an ingenious door system of a small door (requiring all of us except Cassidy to duck) nested within a larger shoji-screen door, and both of these riding inside a very large swinging door. Inside was a dirt and wood log-section floor that led to a simple dark wood riser. The family's shoes were all lined up here in front of a sliding panel that led to the inner house. We took off our shoes, shed our packs and entered.

Their family was back from school and all four children were lined up to greet us. As would be expected from such a family, the kids were bright, alive and raring to get busy playing.

After we settled in Jeremy took us on a tour of the house. Enormous hand hewn beam of dark wood, some as much as 350 years old, made the basic frame to the home. In traditional Japanese fashion no nails or bolts were used to hold this all together, instead an elaborate and inventive dovetail system was employed to nearly weld the beams and joists together, but allowing for the quick disassembly to move the building to another site if needed.

For the next few days we enjoyed this wonderful family's generosity and kindness. Together we explored the Jomo ruins nearby, learned how to make soba noodles, went to our first Pachinko parlor, ate baby bees in soy on rice, and failed at trying to cook them a Mexican dinner when we could not find one of any of the necessary ingredients.

Dancin' Daughters

But one night sticks out most. The night before we left the kids put on the stereo some good-ol-time Rock N Roll, and we danced and sang along. This revelry was followed when Jeremy's kids decided that I would make a great Ninja warrior (actually, I think they really knew how ridiculous I would look) and they dressed me up.

It was a wonderful and restful time visiting with this unique and very special family. I know you guys are reading this, and we want you to know how thankful we are of your friendship, and how often we remember back to those fun times. Thanks....

Samurai George
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