Sunday, July 4, 2010

Reporting From The Beautiful, Lush Country of Japan

Today marks the half way point of our stay in Japan. We are looking forward to six more days in this beautiful country. There is much to digest: from our days in the bustling city of Tokyo, to a relaxing day in the countryside of Hakone, and then onto an unbelievable rewarding time spent with a Master Tea blender in Shizuoka ( a premier tea growing region). This morning, we awake excited with anticipation of embarking on another day in Kyoto, the home of  many world heritage sites.

Comments, musings, and experiences thus far:
~ Japan is a very clean country. The streets, subways, train stations, hotels, and restaurants are spotless. Someone is always wiping done one surface or another.
~ The Japanese people are extremely courteous, helpful, friendly, and QUIET.
~ Cha(tea) is served at every meal, and is complimentary in all restaurants. What a great concept!
~ Tea bushes line the valley and hillsides of Shizouka- it reminded us of the vineyards back home in Napa Valley. The community was busy with the second harvest. We were able to visit a tea factory, and experience the behind the scenes of production. We were giddy as we took in our surroundings. The smell of fresh picked tea leaves was intoxicating. 
~ If you love seafood, you will not be disappointed in this country. However, open your mind and palate to new delicacies. It's eel season, after all.
~ Udon noodles are delicious, and the process of preparing your own treasure bowl is enlightening. All the flavors really pop( Japanese ginger, radish, green onion, sesame seeds, snap peas, and etc). Be prepared to hear lots of loud slurping noises going on around- it's common and a sign of appreciation.
~ Sashimi, and sushi (not an avocado in sight). We have consumed the freshest fish possible. Melts in your mouth. Hamachi, fatty tuna, salmon roe, urchin, unagi, and our personal new discovery: horse mackerel. Stay away from raw octopus. Let's just leave it at that!   
~ Don't be afraid to navigate public transportation. Subways, trains, and buses are an adventure in themselves, and you will save money. 
- Visit shrines, temples, walk down  alleyways, and peer into nooks and crannies- Japan is a maze of culture and history at every turn.
- I love fried food, and Japanese tempura served with my second love(flavored salts) is the bomb.
- Try out the Japanese language.  You will be well received, despite a few giggles. Konnichiwa, arigato,  and sayonara will do just fine.
 - Sake,  sake, and sake. Refresh palate with beer. Repeat.

Upon our return, we will post photos, and give a more in- depth look into our experiences into this amazing country. Pour yourself a cup of Drink the Leaf tea- make it a sencha, gyokuro, or genmachia! 

** excuse typos- writing on Ipad.

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