The Kindness of others.

So yesterday Ansen started off early to go meet up with Yukiko and her family at their home. The plan was for us to meet up around noon. Needless to say, that didn’t happen. When we got up Keara was feeling a bit under the weather and Ansen was nowhere to be found. I slowly started getting out of bed and got a call from Ansen to meet them in Sakae. Since Keara didn’t feel well she didn’t come along.

Thank God for the rail systems in this country being so intuitive because I had no problem meeting up with the group. Ansen had picked up a few more friends, so the lineup was Yukiko, Mayumi, Eunjeuong (Jon Jon), Ansen and myself. We walked through some of the shops of the town where we saw more examples of hilarious English on t-shirts:

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I know I try to live life to the “full” all the time. Since Ansen had lived and studied here before everyone knew why he was here, but the girls wanted to know what my reason for being here was, when I told them it was a cultural and culinary research trip they asked if I had tried a local favorite: slow fried balls of octopus. I had been looking forward to this dish in Osaka, but since we didn’t make it out there I sadly said I had not had any, they replied by letting me know that this delicacy was also native to Nagoya and quickly led us to the closest purveyor of the tasty treat. The balls start off as more of a slurry that is poured into heated pans that have half spheres indented into them, the mixture is stirred and handled with some impressive skill until you get these delicious balls of octopus:

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Here is what they look like served.

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The batch on the left has fish flakes on it while the one on the right is prepared with an egg sauce. Both were delicious but the ones with the egg sauce were my favorite. Here’s a shot of me enjoying the little guys:

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The octopus was good but It really only got our appetites going. We walked around and window shopped for a bit longer before agreeing on a Thai restaurant. The food was pretty good but I wouldn’t advise visiting a Thai restaurant in Japan if you don’t like spicy foods, as there seems to be no restriction on spice here. We ordered a bunch of dishes and shared, I went a bit out of my comfort zone on a couple of things including a tapioca coconut milk concoction that looked like a joke meal served to kids on Halloween, but it all ended up being pretty tasty. Here is a shot of Jon Jon and Mayumi enjoying the bounty we had all ordered:

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And here’s a shot of that tapioca coconut milk soup… you can make up your own mind as to whether or not you would have tried it, but it was actually very kind on the pallet.

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After lunch it was time to check up on Keara. Jon Jon let me use her cell phone… Did I mention the mass market that this country has for cell phone trinkets?

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Keara was feeling much better so we arranged to go pick her up and meet back up with our gracious hosts closer to the part of town where they lived. Once we got there we did some more walking and talking and ended up in a more traditional Japanese restaurant. I continued on my tasting of strange meats with some goat skewers and Keara Ordered some mysterious dish that needed to be cooked, under pressure, at the table for 25 min. Another of ansens friends Shingo met up with us and the joking and melding of cultures continued. When the 25 min were up what arose from the now unsealed cooking device was a delicious steamed muscle rice, it was nothing short of amazing. The food seemed to disappear and before we knew it everyone had to head home. Here is a shot of all of us after dinner:

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Oh right, not all of us, Yukiko couldn’t make it because she had to get to class or work, I can’t remember.

Well that was pretty much the day, thanks to the kindness and warm hearts of Ansens friends here in Nagoya we have been having an experience here that very few first time travelers to Japan get to know.

Almost forgot, with all the fun we’ve been making of people sleeping on trains guess who joined the club…

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No surprise there right guys? So, that is all for now, next will be the Tokugawa museum.

Kampai!

Robbie

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