December 23, 2006

Barrett and I took a day trip under the channel to the city of Shimonoseki, which does not mean "The Land of Fire and Ice" or "The Blade of Ten-Thousand Cuts" or anything cool like that.

One of the attractions was a section of town called Chofu, which had preserved the old style of Japanese villages.  The buildings and gardens were gorgeous, and we got to walk through an old samurai house.  It was perfectly recreated, including the 5'10" high ceiling beams.  I am becoming quite adept at the Japanese habit of bowing when I enter a room.

Last night we had what will probably be my strangest Japanese experience this whole trip.  I was invited to a small party with Barrett's coworkers, hosted by the 'big boss' himself.  His house was at a scenic location on top of a hill.  Inside, every single surface was covered in Christmas decoration, down to Normal Rockwell paintings on the walls.  The soundtrack for the evening was a series of campy Christmas songs on an infinite loop.  The bosses' wife was an amazing cook, and she had made a bunch of 'Western' dishes like tempura-fried zucchini, shrimp and scallop quiche, a sponge cake with a miniature Christmas scene on top, and (lol) California Rolls.

It was really bizarre to see them trying to be so Western, especially when coupled with entirely different Japanese customs.  It was also funny watching the other guests pull out all the stops to impress the boss, including piano playing, magic tricks, and (I kid you not) Ham radio.  One guy actually brought and set up his entire Ham radio kit.

Anyway, it was really fun, the food was great, and the boss casually poured me several cups of 200 year old sake, which is probably best described by saying "really" + imaginative string of profanity + "good!"

 



Clockwise from left: a penguin, Barrett, a penguin.


The tiny streets of Chofu, complete with two-way traffic.


Bonk.  Good thing I was not a samurai.


Shinto temple.


Is that not just the cutest manhole ever?


Another temple.  This one was Wild Cherry flavored.


Shimonoseki at night.