Thousands of Miles from Home


Getting the Special Treatment

Aside from feeling a little homesick, I really don't have any complaints about japan. This is further bolstered by the fact that I get treated very well wherever I go (and everyone is so nice). I had known for a while that a trip to Hiroshima was planned, but I wasn't sure what we would be doing in the prefecture. Yesterday Shoko, Masatoshi, Shoko's mother (Kiyoko-san), and I left around 10 in the morning, but all I was told was that we would be going to a "steak restaurant." The drive was plesant through the mountains (although slightly windey at times until we got onto the expressway) and the weather was nice. We drove for about an hour and half until we reached the restuarant and were immediately greeted by two chefs and a man dressed in a tux waiting outside who directed Masatoshi where to park. Striding through a small japanese garden we reached the entrance of the restuarant decorated in marble. Inside the building was even more impressive with fountains and luxorious furniture scattered throughout the waiting area. The hostess led us to a room with a japanese hibatchi and windows overlooking the japanese garden.

This place could best be described at Morgantown's Habatchi meets Martha Stewart (sans jail sentence) meets "Great Chefs of the World" (which I frequently watched as a kid). A chef came to prepare the food in front of us who was very entertaining and had traveled a bit in the US. He didn't flip the food around quite as much as Hibatchi but the food quality was by far superior. Our appetizer of roast duck, salmon, and caviar was a good example of the food quality to come. Shoko and I ordered steak, while Masatoshi and Shoko's mother ate crab legs. The steak was delicious (and from japan too) served with salt from the andies and a bunch of other side dishes which I cannot remember. The crab legs would have made my mom jealous (they were huge).

After the main part of the lunch was concluded, we were moved to another room for dessert. It's furnishings were a little more cosy and I suppose intended for relaxing. I had rasberry chocolate cake with tea, and felt very very full. Shoko's mother paid for the lunch, to which I am very grateful and will write a very generous letter in addition to thanking her personally.

After lunch we drove back to Okayama (sight seeing in Hiroshima will have to wait for another day) to try and find a Kendo gee (traditional kendo dress). Amazingly (in JAPAN no less), no stores carried any sort of Kendo outfits. Shoko says that there might be a store in Okayama where I can order one, but I am sure that there must be a store that she doesn't know about (Later Sam told me that his friend knows a place in Okayama). I guess traditional sports just aren't as popular as baseball, soccer, volleyball, etc. We did stop in UNI QLO, a cheap but high quality clothing store where I found some very cool (pun?) winter clothing. One section was dedicated to Jean-Michel Basquiat, Keith Harring, and Andy Warhol so I picked up some super-rad hoodies and long sleve shirts (Japanese people, and most people I guess, like Keith Harring). I also found a pair of slippers for walking around in the house because I hear in the winter you can see your breath inside.

The other night at Kyudo we moved to the main dojo with very small targets. There is a certain process for entering the dojo area involving various bows, but after a few tries I got all the moves right. I took a bunch of shots at the target, and after a very very close miss finally hit the outside ring on my last try (no serious arrow related injuries yet!)


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