Tuesday, April 1, 2008

tokidoki, tabun

One of my fellow JETs (in conjunction with the Japan-America Society) recently organized a day of cooking class, feasting and sake brewery tours. What struck me as interesting about the sake-brewing process was that rice is in no way naturally able to become an alcoholic beverage, in the same way that say, a grape can. It takes so many outside agents and processes, plus removal of all nutritious parts of the rice (the outer portion of each grain, which is harshly polished off). But the intensive process did lead to some unexpectedly drinkable portions in the tasting room.

For those of you in NYC, they talked of an upcoming sake festival, but all I could find on the internet was this (sorry, sold out). The breweries we visited were Kariho and Dewatsuru if you'd like to try to find their creations in your local liquor store.

mortar and pestle-ing some rice into kiritampo balls for the soup

a cute father/daughters team

I am sorry to say that this picture was seriously posed, I actually did very little "cooking"

the inner garden of the building where we cooked and ate

Our meal was followed by a koto performance (they then asked us to sing "Amazing Grace" together, which ended somewhat disastrously)

at the sake brewery

"don't fall in, you'll die instantly"

Back in August, I went to Akita city to get my re-entry permit so that I could leave and re-enter the country with ease during my stay, and also visited a park which had a lookout tower on a hill. From this tower I spotted a strange-looking cap of something looking very other-worldly in the middle of a forest on a far-away hill. I promptly forgot about the existence or this strange building/spaceship. Until...

On Sunday, I visited a tower in the industrial port of the city, which afforded views of the same spaceship, recognizable through binoculars. Our curiousity was then piqued enough to commence a mission to find this structure, which I'm happy to say was successful. Turns out it was a war memorial in a peace park, and the round unusually decorated dome held an ordinary golden buddha. Alex's response: "If he talks to me, I'm leaving." He didn't, but we left the eerie park after a few pics anyway.

album cover? david, mike, hiroki and alex

In school news, teachers have made their transitions to new schools. Although I stay where I am for the duration, over half the teachers in my junior high were transferred to other schools, including 2 of my JTEs. It was sad to say goodbye, but I am excited to get to know the new teachers, and a change of pace in the workplace seems quite welcome and in tune with nature. Our desks were also all moved around in the teacher's room and I now sit much closer to kochosensei and away from the no man's land I previously inhabited, so I feel like I have been up-leveled. Looking forward to classes starting again next week!

And here's one of my latest ikebana creations, which would probably have my ikebana-sensei crying/sentencing me to death. But I think it's pretty!

calla lily, sakura, and osmond shoot

The two words (sometimes, maybe) in the title of the post are probably some of the most important I've learned since coming to Japan. They are great answers to questions, like if your supervisor were to ask you if you go to a bar called Castaway's. And the reason he knows is because they've been chronicling every time you and your friends go there on their blog, with pictures.

A few of my local ALT friends, who had all for the most part committed to staying for a second year are now second guessing themselves for various reasons. It would be really hard saying goodbye, and makes me long for the not-so-long-ago days when we all first arrived, when everything was new to all of us and I first started thinking I might stay another year, when these were taken! Already nostalgic! Well, we have a few good months left together anyway, and it may be fun to introduce some new kids to the block.

(Thanks to Edel for the cooking/sake and nostalgia pics)

Back to Tokyo this weekend!


Jesse said...

So in Castaways blog... are you in the "Fast" half or the Second half of any given month? jk.

I love mistakes like those.

If I had a bar, I'd want to start a blog about it too.

sophiesaffron said...

you'll just have to find me yourself!

And, hey, maybe that was on purpose, maybe she (the bartender) is trying to say the the first half of the month goes faster than the second half? Maybe? I'll give her the benefit of the doubt.

Tricia said...

glad to read about the cooking/sake day. i wanted to go, but it was just me and jonas on that saturday and i did not think jonas would be so interested. your ikebana is beautiful. my favorite flower is the calla lily and it looks pretty with sakura.

sophiesaffron said...

Probably better not to give Jonas a taste for the sake too early, haha, jk.

Thanks! We told ikebana-sensei callas were popular for weddings in America (and Ireland) and she thought that was really weird!