Friday was a busy day of trains, walking, doing the whole schmoozy meet-and-greet, and eating lots of free food. Just the way I like it! I got to ride on a shinkansen (bullet train) for only the third and fourth times while in Japan. My host parents and I arrived in Tokyo in the morning so as to spend the afternoon at the 69th Tokyo Gift Show. It was held in the Tokyo Big Sight where many of the city’s largest public conventions take place. We saw stands selling everything from copperware to salt-covered Tai fish to Hawaiian hula dancers to beer made from cactuses to blueberry soba noodles to strange stepping exercise machines. It was exactly what you’d expect from a giant international convention.
Today, Saturday, I spent a fun snowy afternoon visiting Karasuyama, the city where Miki works. We ate at a restaurant called Clover, which looks like a castle from the outside and serves delicious food. I ate escargot for the first time in my life. It was far better than I expected, being mixed with garlic, breadcrumbs, and bacon! Very tasty =)
After that we went to the sake company that Miki works for. We took a tour of their large cave dug into the side of the Karasuyama hills. It was going to be used for a bomb shelter, but is now used as a fermentation location for Nihonshu, or what we call “Sake.” We had to come back early because the snow started to fall so thickly. It wasn’t even in the forecast so everyone was a little surprised to wake up and see it snowing like heck this morning. I am supposed to go to a Rotary orientation tomorrow afternoon on the other side of Tochigi Prefecture so I hope the roads clear up.