Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Japan 2011 Day 5 (July 1): Sightseeing, more shopping

This morning we managed to sleep (or at least, rest) past 6:00 am. Hooray! We got up & Charlie & Brendan showered, then we had a western-style (mostly) breakfast of scrambled eggs, home-made bread & marmalade, bean & soy milk soup, & green salad. In Japan it’s really common to find green salad as part of the “morning set” fixed-price breakfast meal at restaurants. Also, soup is always part of breakfast & Nobuko-san’s mame soup was delicious. 
After breakfast we opened the boxes that’d we’d sent to Nobuko-san about a month ago. They’ve been sitting in her genkan (entryway) for weeks & I’m sure she’s very relieved to have them out of there :) I was so glad to see them!! I really worked up a sweat opening them, because I had to organise them into recipient-piles & was bustling around in a lack-of-air conditioning area. Then we got ready to head out for the day’s adventure. In the next town over, Ashiyama, there’s a famous workshop (one of Japan’s national treasures) that is rediscovering lost techniques for making iron pots (kama) used for boiling the water for tea ceremony. You can tour the place & also have ocha prepared from a kama. They had an intro video with an english soundtrack so we really enjoyed learning about how the kama are made & looked forward to looking into the workshop when we walked around. 

There was also a beautiful building housing tea rooms for special occasions in the midst of a gorgeous garden. Even though the day was overcast, it was just wonderful.
Okama workshop

 After looking around, we went to the public tea room & had tea sweets (wagashi) in Tanabata shapes, & delicious match in beautiful cups. And did I remember to take a picture before scarfing it all down? No! Darn! There were some really cute decorations outside for tanabata as well, so we posed in front for a picture. 
Tomoko & her mom, Nobuko-san

Tanabata is a Japanese festival that’s mostly for children, that occurs on July 7th (7-7) commemorating an old folk tale about Orihime & Hikoboshi, which are represented by stars that only “cross the river” (the milky way) once a year around July 7th. For this festival children write wishes on slips of paper & hang them on bamboo branches. 
Next we went to lunch as an organic food restaurant nearby called Totoya. The food was fabulous, & I remembered to take pictures, with Pikachu even!
Tomoko ^ Nobuko-san's lunches
Brendan's & my lunches of tenpura
chawanmushi custard
Pikachu enjoys some tea
After lunch we took a drive to the seaside, just about 5 minutes away. We took a short walk along a seaside walkway that led to the entrance to a small temple. It was really windy, but in the humidity it felt great. 
Yes, we're counting Priuses in Japan :)
On the way home we stopped by the local Daiso hyaku-en store & picked up more gifts & fun stuff to take home :) There was a book store & I found the latest issue of LaLa magazine, my favourite manga. 
In the early evening we got to see Tomoko’s sister & family & give them some gifts that’s we’d sent & brought with us. It was like a mini-Christmas. Afterward we had a brief, late dinner at a the home of a former middle-school student of Tomoko’s who had gone on to  study psychiatry in the US. We were home a bit late so kind of fell into bed.

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