Ok, so I've been slacking on updating this, but I will admit that I finally experienced a "Japanese cold" (I don't think its much different, if anything, it was shorter!)
Last Saturday (the 16th), I joined a group of ALTs and some Japanese friends and watched Kabuki in Nagoya. For those of you who don't know much about Kabuki (that was me before Saturday, don't worry), it is essentially a long play consisting of dancing, acting, and speechless story telling. Before the actual play we went to a lecture that gave us some important details about the history of Kabuki and what to expect. That, combined with my recently Wikipedia-ed knowledge, I was all set to enjoy Kabuki. The actual Kabuki “session” was broken into 4 parts, the first and third were dancing, and the second and fourth were an actual play. In-between the 4 parts were relatively long intermissions, enabling us patrons to eat dinner or a snack. That being said, Kabuki lasted from 4:15-9pm. I only lasted through the first two parts before deciding to return home. It was definitely something that I enjoyed watching and I’m glad I went, but I think it will be a one time occurrence, unless friends or family members visit me, that would be the only exception.
Outside of the Kabuki Theatre and seeing people walk down the major roads on a Sunday...normal?
Having returned to my lonely apartment at 8pm on a Saturday night, what else was there to do except get some rest. Yes, such an eventful night, but I had my reasons, I was going hiking at 4am the next day!
Sunday morning came much too early, I actually missed my first alarm at 3:50am and ended up getting about 15 minutes of extra sleep than I had planned. So, being a little late, and combined with the early morning haziness, I rushed through my routine and was ready in no time. Once the Watanabe’s picked up me, we were on our way to Mt. Kisokoma. It was about 90 minutes Northeast of our town in the Central Japanese Alps. At 6am, I’d never seen so many tourists up and ready to hike a mountain. To get to the mountain, we had to park at a bus stop, take a 30 minute bus ride up a windy mountain road, and from there, board a 60 person cable car for 7.5 minutes, and voila, we were at the base of our hike at about 2,512 meters (about 8241 feet). After a quick stop for breakfast, we started up the mountain.
Starting Out at the Bus Station
The View From Breakfast
The First Leg of the Journey
Typical: A Shrine at the Top of a Mountain
My Hiking Buddies (From left: Mrs. Watanabe, her friend, her daughter Ayumi, and her granddaughter)
Looking Down From the Top
Nice Autumn View From the Cable Car
The hike was broken up into 3 different sections, the first was the longest, but time wise, not length wise. It was a quite the tiring climb, but once we made it to that checkpoint, it was relatively easier sailing from there. When we got there, we took a nice break in a little hut, just like the ski lodges at the top of a lift. After a 1 hour break, we hit the mountain again and made it 2 more stops to the top of the mountain. At 9,868 feet, I felt like I was on the top of the world. The view was amazing, we could see in all directions, I even got a nice glance at Mt. Fuji. We stopped for lunch at the top of the mountain which was a well deserved break. I had some udon, oatmeal, and Starbucks coffee. What a treat. At the top of the mountain, we guessed the temperature to be at 32F, as the ice was not melting. It was cold to say the least, and this being my first time hiking, I didn't have all the adequate clothing I needed. Nevertheless, I was decently enough prepared thanks to a lesson my dad taught me long ago, better to me more prepared than under-prepared. So dad, thanks for that advice, it definitely paid off (but next time, I'll wear 7-8 layers instead of 5). Once our backpacks were a little lighter, we trekked back down the mountain, to the cable car, and then the bus. After we got to our car, we took a trip to a nearby Onsen or hot spring. Oh man, that was a great way to end the trip and relax our tired muscles.
There you have it. One awesome weekend spent trying new things.
Now, let me intrigue you with my Monday.
Yep, that’s right. I ate cow tongue and I still can't believe I did it. On Monday night, two teachers from a JHS took me out to dinner at a Nabe restaurant. Nabe is where you have a gas burner at your table and you cook different kinds of food either over the burner or in a big pot. The first item: cow tongue. I can honestly say I never thought I would try it, but here I am writing about it. The taste wasn't so bad, I didn't like the texture of it, but hey, it was a cow’s tongue…. I even took a picture of it to prove that I ate it. After that were some chicken wings and then the real nabe started. Nabe is a big pot put over the burner. In the pot is a sauce/liquid of cow stomach (or intestine...or so I'm told) and you boil different kinds of food in it. So we had chicken, veggies, tofu, and there was one more thing, I think it was chicken heart (I passed). It was quite good and I’m glad that I got to try a different kind of food.
The Nabe Pot
Yum, Chicken Wings