Dear Friends and Family,
Our best meal in Japan so far, brought to us once again by Fujimori-san and Awagami. We are truly spoiled. In a land of great restaurants the meals we had with Fujimori-san have been the best. In a little over 2 weeks now, we've only had one bad meal here in Japan so far, and it wasn't that bad. They used a bottled sauce which was shocking as none of the other restaurants did such a thing, or if they did, we weren't able to tell. We even went into a fast food restaurant in Osaka. We are in Oasaka now, and our fast food meal there, one a little less than $4 and one a little more than $4 were astonishingly good.
They did not hold a candle to this meal, of course, in a restaurant in the little town near Awagami Paper Factory. Sorry, I did not get the name, but if you visit Awagami, perhaps the good folks at the paper mill could tell you.
Clock-wise, starting at one o'clock, daikon stewed with shiitake, beef and onions; shell fish, probably clams with wasabi and who knows; sashimi in what I think was a miso-based dressing with Japanese green onions, which are more like baby leeks. I should have documented this right after eating, but we had very spotty internet in the Japanese countryside.
Same dish, with dipping sauce and sake.
Beautiful fresh sashimi with sliced raw onions, wasabi and grated ginger
Tempura'ed baby shrimp with gingko nuts
Mushrooms in aspic, but Japanese flavorings. There was some type of potato-like pancake at the bottom
Melt in your mouth beef.
Another fun meal, Era, Don, Craig and Aya (I am having fun, although I look tired). Maybe too much pigging out. Somehow we are managing to lose weight.
Craig took this picture as we are about to get on our toy train. It is 2 cars long. We are sad to leave. What an incredible experience and how well we were hosted at Awagami. Arigato gozaimasu.
Our little toy train went for a few stops, where we transferred to a slightly larger train...and then finally to the mighty Shinkansen.
The Shinkansen slides into the station exactly on time, looking like a bionic sea creature. We will soon climb on / into it and take a smooth slippery ride within its comfortable gullet. We didn't purchase the Japan Rail pass this trip as we were making a couple stops of several days' length, so we've been purchasing tickets in Japan like the Japanese, or almost like the Japanese. When you buy your ticket they usually give you a train which leaves in the next several minutes. This time we were given reservations on a train which was leaving in 2 minutes. (Later we were given tickets for a train which left in a minute and a half - we barely made it.) Slight freak out as we frantically looked for our track and ended up running downstairs with our suitcases. I was the last one in the door. Those trains arrive and leave exactly on time.
Dozens of 1000 cranes, folded and strung by people, many of them school children, from all over Japan and the world, who probably pray for peace as they fold each one. I remember doing this as a kid myself; the cranes were strung and sent to Hiroshima when we had 1000 of them. This is not the only festooned column at the shrine.
There was a rap performance with loud music, singing and a break dancing contest, which we could hear, even though we were up about 14 floors. I was a bit concerned that it might go on till late into the night. (Don's comment:) "Yet here in the considerate First World, everything was over at precisely 8:30, and the streets were quiet." The next morning, the streets were again immaculate and you could not tell anything had happened the night before.
Era and Don