Friday, October 28, 2016

Postcard from Japan: Monday, October 24, 2016, Part One

Noren, curtain at restaurant door, that indicates it's open.
I'm leaving today to travel on to Shizuoka.  I arrived on Friday afternoon so it's been a short visit but it feels like a week.  Tomoko-san has to leave for work at 6:30 tomorrow morning so leaving today gets her free time to prepare to teach her high school English classes tomorrow.  And she has to take the train also since her school doesn't allow anyone to drive in with a car unless there's a special dispensation.
The restaurant's sign.

There's about 4 hours before my train leaves, so we go to lunch to a restaurant that is famous for its tempura and Okayu, a rice gruel that is rice cooked in extra water that makes a very smooth watery soup.  The restaurant is excellent and famous enough that people line up at 11:30 in order to have a chance to eat there.  So we stand in line for 30 minutes along with others, and it's worth it.

We're able to sit right at the "bar" so that we can see the tempura-ya-san cook.  (I don't like aiming a camera at someone to take a picture unless I ask them first if it's alright with them.  Taking pictures is okay with them and hopefully with the other people sitting around the bar.)

He cooks and serves tempura to each person as he makes it so he is constantly busy.  Each piece is dipped in flour first, then the tempura batter, fried until it is just brown, and then served immediately.  A dark red laquered pedestal with a thin sheet of paper is the serving stand for the tempura. The tray in front of each of us has a bowl with grated white daikon root (upper left corner), small cooked tofu, pickled vegetables, a large bowl of shredded cabbage (bottom right) with flower-cut carrot and daikon shapes.  A bowl of soup comes later in between the huge tempura pieces of shrimp, green beans and shredded vegetables.  Then there's a bowl of Okayu, a rice porridge or gruel that sounds unappetizing but is very nice simple flavor with all the other tastes of oil from the fried tempura, vinegar of the pickles, and the bitterness of the daikon.  We are very full when we leave.  "Gochisoo sama deshita" is what you say when you've enjoyed a meal and thank the hostess and cook.

Front of Shinkansen--- so big it takes 2 pictures.
It's now time for me to get on the train to Shizuoka.  Again, it's really difficult to say goodbye to Miura Tomoko-san.  I'm hoping that she can come to visit me in Michigan as it's been about 25 years since she last visited.

We'd gone to the train station the day before to reserve a seat so I knew I'd have a seat, and a seat by the window.  The Shinkansen, or bullet train as we call it in the US, is fast.  I'm taking the Hikari, second fastest, from Shin-Osaka to Kobe, about a 2-hour trip.

From front, back to passenger cars.  I'm not going to
Kyushu, as this train is named, but trying to get a
picture of the train when moving is impossible.

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