2012.03.16: Hana (Flowers)
All right, I'm back in Japan! I'm afraid I didn't do anything particularly exciting today—I was pretty wrecked from the flight and just broke a stretch of about four days without real sleep, and I'm saving most of the traveling for when Abby gets here. But I did spend some time with my good friend and grandmother-in-Japan Taeko-san and her friend Aiko-san, who gave me a wonderful Japanese doll last year.
Aiko-san met us at Tonkatsu Kisen, a Japanese restaurant specializing in tonkatsu, or breaded pork cutlets. Aiko-san gave me these begonias, which should stay in bloom for the rest of my month here. I put them on the windowsill behind my computer desk at Taeko-san's house.
And this is my meal. Clockwise from top: fried jumbo shrimp with dill tartar sauce, tonkatsu, seasonal kobachi (literally small bowl, or side dish), sashimi (with sayori, a Japanese needlefish, spring; and buri, a type of yellowtail, late winter and early spring), and dashimaki tamago (Japanese omelette in a jelly-like sauce, tasted a lot better than it looks.)
Only getting lost two or three times, I drove Taeko-san and Aiko-san to Arimatsu, an old town known for its traditional buildings and a Japanese style of tie-dye called shibori. This doll, about two feet tall and with a kimono meticulously dyed in the shibori style, was at the entrance to an old manor that is now used as a high-end clothing boutique. About once or twice a year, the boutique sends out vouchers to past customers for a free cup of tea and a small gift. This gets Taeko-san to come back every time, and this was my second time coming with her.
And finally, Taeko-san and I went to an udon noodle restaurant that she and her husband used to frequent. (Sadly, he passed about ten years ago, and I never got to meet him.) I love udon, and these pictures are mostly here to make Abby jealous.