Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Japan 2011 Day 8 (July 4th!): Shopping & packing

We got up at 7:00-ish & Charlie ran the ofuro so Brendan could have a soak. Then we all put on the yukata there & posed for pictures :)
Breakfast came at 8:30 & it was amazing! There was ton-nyu nabe (soy milk stew) cooked right at the table. It was so delicious!! The variety made it easy for everyone to have what they liked (the guys put their shitake mushrooms in my nabe). 

Ton-nyu nabe- yum!
Tomoko & Nobuko-san picked us up at 10:00 & we headed into nearby Kurosaki for some shopping at the Izutsuya Department Store. I was looking for a higasa- summer parasol- because you can’t find them in the US & they are very useful & beautiful. I also did a lot of omiyage shopping (yay!). We had lunch on a “bai-king” restaurant on the top floor that was a branch of the one we had dinner at last night. Delicious! Then we drove home to Mizumaki, about a half an hour & ~35 Priuses :)
II spent a lot of the afternoon packing, which was no easy task because we’d completely emptied Brendan’s suitcase to take for our overnight at Budounoki, plus we had lots of gifts to fit into our re-shuffled bags. Dai hen! But it worked. We got it all in (whew!) with only a minor panic over misplaced knitting needles. 
Later in the afternoon I watched/helped Nobuko-san prepare dinner. It was one of the highlights of our visit to Mizumaki (for me) because Nobuko-san is an amazing cook & I learn so much just by watching her. 

Today she was making korroke and aga-dashi dofu for dinner (among other things). Korroke are potato-based croquettes with add-ins, usually meat or seafood, that are dipped in flour, egg, & then panko & then deep fried. Nobuko-san put veggies leftover from other meals into the mix in consideration of Brendan’s vegginess. 

Aga-dashi dofu is pieces of tofu that are dredged in potato flour & deep-fried. 

I have made both at home, but watching Nobuko-san do it was like watching an artist at work, & being able to lend a hand by turning frying foods & such was so much fun. She also made rice, in her old-fashioned okama rice-cooker, fueled by piped-in gas. 

You not only get delicious rice from the okama, which is made of cast-iron, but the crunchy parts closest to the pot, the koge, are delicious made into little rice balls. Koge onigiri are usually given to the kids, but Brendan graciously shared his with me- yum!
eggplant & tomatoes from Nobuko-san's garden
Shin-kun & Dai-chan joined us for dinner (their parents were working late) & afterward we had recorder music from Charlie & Dai-chan & Nobuko-san brought out her harmonica, which she’s been playing very seriously for a couple of years, & had music & general hilarity. Tomoko had bought hanabi (little fireworks) in the morning in the hope we could set a few off in honour of the Fourth of July, but it rained really hard all day & was still raining in the evening so that idea wash washed-out. About 8:00 Keiko-san & Kazehiro-san came home from work & we said our good-byes to them. Then it was time to get ourselves onto our futons for our last night in Mizumaki.

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