Emma left us Jan 10th. I felt very sad to see her with a huge backpack, a little pack in the front and her laptop bag, walking to the train.
Liza and Steve arrived in the afternoon of the same day, they were both tired. Liza needed to see an eye doctor and Hiroko-san helped us find a doctor who spoke English and did alot of translations for us at the front desk.
Jan 10th was also the Tokaichi Market Festival. Most of the roads in the center part of town were closed to traffic. Hundreds of people milled around the many stalls of foods, drinks and wares. We bought some round cake with bean fillings. The cake reminds me of the ones they sell at night markets in Malaysia. We also bought some round Takoyaki – batter with bits of octopus cooked in little round griddles – with mayo, some brown sauce and fish flakes on top. Yummy!! I would have loved to browse some more but it was freezing cold.
We missed the Hadaka Mairi Festival. It was on Jan 7th and on this day, a large group of scantily clad men run barefoot up the many stairs of the Enzo-ji temple, climbed up a rope to a loft where they ring a bell. The noise was supposed to drive away the dragon spirit living in the Tadami river, thus bringing good luck for the new year. Dave wants to know when is the women’s turn!
It snowed today. We went to the flower shop to send a bouquet to Hiroko-san. Funnily enough, the pretty young shop owner was also Hiroko!
Lunch today was pot sticker, some round savoury cakes, rice pillows, and deep fried shitakes. We went to Nakago, which is more expensive than Lion D’or but they accepted credit cards. The market was classier than Lion D’or or Saty. The guy who was manning the pot stickers and other delicacies kept giving us samples to eat; a bite of pot sticker, then a tiny plate of rice , then it was a small bowl of miso soup, all the time chatting to us asking us where we are from. I stupidly asked if he was Nihonjin and he said yes but he laughed! He was not finished feeding us samples – he added shrimp soaked in some sourish marinate, then shell fish, some pickled veggy and finally sweet and sour ume (plum)! When he gave us the chewy sample we asked what it was and he said ‘shiroi kai’ and we guessed that it was some kind of shell fish when he made a ‘clam’ movement with his hands. So I said ahh a clam and he said cramu and I said no it is clam and he said cramu…later I realised that he could not say the ‘l’ – I thought that was funny!
The skies cleared up but the kids did not want to leave the aprtment so we watched some tv. We went out to dinner to this restaurant that Hiroko pointed to us. If she had not, we would not have known that it was a restaurant. The front gate had crisp linen banners that we had to part with our hands as we entered. Along the walkway were containers filled with beautiful huge flowering cabbages. There were only two items on the menu, a tempura set dinner and a sashimi set dinner- the set dinner included, a small plate of pickles, , a bowl of rice, a bowl of miso soup, some cockle shells, and either the sashimi, which Liza and Dave had or the tempura which Stve andi ordered.
Dave never knew about this restaurant and he stayed in that neighborhood for four months. Later we went to the Dog House restaurant for drinks. After that, we nipped into Lion D’or super market for desserts to go.