A Travellerspoint blog

Culinary Kyoto

Of the cities visted so far, Kyoto has been the most pleasureable. The cultural capitol, the sprawling city is surrounded by hills and dotted all over by temples. We stayed at the best guest-house possible, Guest House Bon, in the northern part of Kyoto. Though an inconvenient half-hour by bus from the city center including Nishiki market and Gion, the famed geisha quarter, it’s a stone’s throw from several major temples and more importantly, away from the masses of tourists. However the most important factor is ever the human factor, and so it was here. Our host, Taniguchi-san, was an elderly but vivacious man with a weather-seasoned face and an easy grin who spoke enough English to get by easily and more than that truly embodied the Japanese spirit of hospitality. He was ever helping us out and giving us local tips (at the nearby okonomiyaki restaurant we got the best negiyaki -Kyoto style okonomiyaki with tons of spring onions-, for a measly 400 yen) and finding out where we should go for what for us. Whenever we did laundry, he would often hang it up for us and bring it to our rooms, and after our first night’s sleep we woke up to find a large platter of delicious yakitori he had grilled the previous evening at a small local street festival, accompanied by a large note going along the lines of “These are yakitori I left over from yesterday, please help yourselves, if you don’t mind. I apologize for the inconvenience.” Our reaction? Omnomnomnom.
Only in Japan will they apologize for giving you free food XP.
That evening was the 16th: in the evening was the Daimonji, and event when giant fires in the form of kanjis and symbols are lit on 5 hills surrounding Kyoto to see off the spirits of the dead . We spent it the local way, guided by Taniguchi-san to a neighborhood rooftop, along with the local families and their children, from where we could see 3 and a half of them (from most ‘recommended’ public spots only 2, sometimes 3 are visible)! Even from a distance, they loomed enormously in the evening dusk.

But I’ve gotten ahead of myself! Daimonji was in the evening, but during the day we decided to head on out to Nara, as it was the last day our JR Pass was valid. Well, Nara is about two things: temples and deer. I’m not much of a religion buff, so I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves.

Kodama visits Nara!


The next morning I took some time off to recoup, sort through things (yes, this is when I managed to catch up on the blog, all the way to and without Tokushima… >__< blogging takes waaay more time than I imagined, and it simply isn’t compatible with traveling in Japan! Hey, I only have 6 weeks here!), and plan the precious few days in Kyoto before joining everybody else at Nishiki market downtown. Nishiki is awesome! From spice shops


(gaaahhhh, I didn’t buy spices right away thinking I would make a second pass, but never managed T__T), to stalls with konbu, mocha confectionaries to specialist stores of candied fruit, it’s filed with every imaginable ingredient you might need for kyo-ryori, and many other cuisines for that matter.


Best of all, almost every shop had small samples out you could nibble at. From fish to pickles, you can easily tide over a meal in this place! But then, disaster struck >__<. I had scheduled a cooking class for the next day at three thirty. Around three thirty Jonas, a go-playing friend from Zurich who joined us, noticed “hey, but isn’t the class on the 17th? That’s what I saw in the e-mail…”.
“Yeah, tomorrow.”
“Ehm, sorry but the 17th is today…” S**t!!! I tried calling, but her sister answered, told us she already left for the meeting point and not to worry, just go now…
However the meeting point was at the Arts University of Kyoto, in the north-eastern side of Kyoto! A full hour and a half later we finally arrive, and found a merry white-haired gentle lady waiting for us patiently in the tortuous August heat. Profoundly ashamed, we all tried to apologize, but the more we tried the more she made excuses and then even started to apologize to us >__<. Pease, Japanese, it’s not a contest! We’re only sorry when we really should be, so please let us be! Emi then led us to her beautiful home in the Kyoto suburbs, and started us off, handing out recipes and a short introduction to the most important ingredients, all the while explaining and dishing out specific small tasks to Raph, Jonas, Patrizio and me. It was a truly pleasant evening with a magnificent dining experience a relaxed atmosphere, with Emi cheerfully chatting and joking with us while efficiently managing the cozy small kitchen.


Finally we left sated and educated! She even put us in her blog!
The next morning we rented bicycles from the guest-house and pedalled back to Emi’s home to present her a package of Cailler cooking cacao powder Patrizio had brought from Switzerland specifically, but which we did not have with us the previous day. Emi, we truly hope you enjoy the cocoa and can forgive us for making you wait so long for us. Thank you for the marvelous evening!
After that we proceeded to cycle down the philosophers path, a marvelous small path running through the wooded eastern limit of the city, following a small brook. At one of the first temples we came upon a camera crew filming a traditional series with samurais. If I understood correctly (of which I am by no means certain) the series is called Kunogiri nizaimon, but unfortunately we were not allowed to take photos and we were pressed for time, so we continued rather quickly.
Closer to the center, we visited yet another temple, before joining Jonas and his brother for a stroll through Gion. Unfortunately, we were too late for the geisha demonstrations and we saw none in the quarter itself, though the architecture was very scenic nonetheless and plenty of tourists were dressed up for the part, lending themselves to the backdrop.
Finally, that evening we headed to a special slightly hidden restaurant not far from Gion called Giro Giro, a special tip from Lena (a fellow taiko-drummer back in ZH, thanks!)! Tucked away in a small sidestreet building, several young chefs with somewhat punk haircuts crafted a series of amazingly intricate courses in restaurant kaiseki style but with a very unique modern twist! Unfortunately, I took photos with someone else’s camera, so I’ll do a post-travel post specifically for this restaurant later on. For less than 4’000 yen, the fixed-set dinner was a definite steal and I insist, for anyone passing through Kyoto, look this place up!
Finally on Monday we went to visit Takashi at Kyoto University. Takashi did an exchange at ETH last year and we did tandem together. When I told him I was passing through he organized for us to visit the robotics lab of Matsuno.


The professor gave us a lecture on his research, and then an in-depth presentation by various students of all the current projects, which was extremely cool! Hmmm, studying in Japan could really be an idea…. :D.
He also showed us his project, optimization of ZMP-based walking, which is apparently basically motivated by “my professor likes Gundams” XD. We then had a cool evening at an isakaya with some other friends, and after a much too short stay (we didn’t get to see the thousand tori, nor the bamboo grove T__T), we went on to our next destination: Kiso Valley!

Posted by dokobot 02:24 Comments (0)

Hiroshima to Tokushima

So Friday 9th we finished the summer school in grand style, first with an official closing ceremony and then with an unofficial closing ceremony, nomihodai (a popular fashion of "all you can drink for 2 hours") at a really nice isakaya, organized by professor Yoshida (space prof), where an american phd student introduced me to kokuto umeshu (black sugar plum wine). Which is really nice. When we finally left, the japanese students tugged us to karaoke, where we sang our throats hoarse till 1 AM (well, most peeps left earlier, a couple of italians & Lorenzo and I, and Hanna stayed an extra hour), when we finally walked back to the hotel to sleep 3 hours before waking up again to get on the shinkansen to Hiroshima. For the first leg we had managed to reserve seats, but as it's the week of vacation for Japan, all other trains were fully booked out (most Japanese trains have a limited number of reserved seats and then other cars with unreserved). We had about half an hour to change in Tokyo where we found Patrizio, and we just barely managed to get there in time, and between mishaps, Lorenzo and I were left standing for a long ride to Osaka. Another change, and finally we stepped off the train at Hiroshima JR Station at 14:00 after a long night and a longer trip, tuckered out and feeling worn, straight into the sweltering humidity and scorching sun! After dropping our bags at the J-Hoppers hostel, the infamous Röstigraben split showed itself again and Lorenzo Pat and I headed out to the A-Bomb dome, an old municipal building conserved in it's original post A-bomb state (the bomb blew up some 600 m above and 150 m away from the building). To say it is impressive is an understatement.
The building is surrounded by romantic little parks and filled with the cacophony of cicadas.


While taking the photo, a young Japanese student came up to us, quizzically looked at what I was pointing my camera at, strolled straight to the tree with a strong sense of purpose, grabbed the enormous cicada with two fingers then smiling offered the critter to me, flailing feet first. After Patrizio and I both declined his generous offer, he let the insect fly away again with a vigorous buzz.
After this we visited the Peace Memorial Museum which was equally impressive and almost more importantly, air-conditioned. Surprisingly, the history seemed very accurate: they explicitly included amongst the dead thousands of Korean and Japanese forced-laborers and in the panels explaining the history leading up to war, the rape of Nanjing was also explained. One of the most touching parts for me was the story of Sadako Sasaki, a girl who seemingly survived the blast unscathed at 2-years of age, but then developed leukemia roughly 10 years later. While hospitalised she started folding origami cranes, having heard the legend that folding a thousand cranes in a year would grant you a wish. She wished to get better, but she didn't. In the last weeks before her death, she was folding tiny delicate cranes out of wrapping-paper and whatever other material she could get ahold of. The next morning before leaving the hostel we all folded a paper crane in the hostel's common room before heading out to our next stop.

Well, we couldn't just pass so close and not go to one of the most photographed icons of Japan. So it was train, ferry and foot to Miyajima, a small island half an hour away from Hiroshima, home to several temples and shrines and the famed floating torii. Arriving at around midday we could see it in all it's floating glory at high-tide, amongst thousands of other tourists, Japanese and foreign. The Itsukushima shrine, built on stilts with pathways winding above the water, had a slight sense of coolness despite the throng of tourists and dirty-green water.


On the way back to the ferry was however the sweetest part of this short daytrip, in quite a literal sense: we sat down in a small momiji café for some delicious fresh red-bean paste filled momiji and cold barley-tea in a refreshing small seating space with a very zen atmosphere. After stocking up on Momijis from their store (now officially Patrizio's favorite sweet), we caught a train to Onomichi, where we were staying in a beautiful homey hostel called Anago. The front is a rather fascinating cafe filled with youthful bric-a-brac, and in the back an abandoned building was reclaimed and built into a lovely little hostel. Ungyon, a Korean architecture student, welcomed us there explaining all the different aspects of the place. Before we left, we all signed my samurai hat (it was awesome, but also rather difficult to carry on all the trips...) and left it there as a memento :).
The next morning we strolled through the local temple walk taking in temple after temple after temple....

And I will let this photo dump speak the rest. When we got back to the hostel around 3-ish, ready to take on the first leg of the Shimanami Kaido cycling trip now that the sun had abated (somewhat), only to find out that the camping grounds we had booked was half-way was on an island halfway across the sea, and reception was only open until 17:00! After much scrambling, we managed to ask for a different place a mere ~10Km in, then set off in search of the bicycle rental. Finally around 16:00 we set off first on a small ferry to get to the first island (a mere 5 minute ride) and then cycling across the island, the first bridge, getting utterly lost around a rest-pak/beach with a giant white diplodocus. Some kids finally indicated a hill and explained "mountain, other side other side", and on we went, through a thickly wooded patch with a steep uphill and then a trechearous downhill till we came upon the camping grounds, half an hour late. And there.... there were no tents for hire! Instead, the old man at the reception pointed out these funny-looking "bungalow tents" we could rent, 4'000 yen each, with space for 3 to a tent. After much back-and-forth in broken japanese and gestures, I explained to him we'd take one bungalow and the rest of us would sleep on the ground (it was a beautiful day anyhow), and after paying he said "12, and 13. Both, use, okay. 1 Service. Service, please use.". So we got two for the price of one! We also got him to explain where the nearest kombini was, and he pointed out on a map "10, maybe 15 minutes by bike, also restaurant, sushi, everything.". After a quick swim by the beach, we took off again.... over half an hour later we finally found a small village with a couple of supermarkets where we could stock up on food for breakfast and then went to a small Chinese restaurant. There a couple of young girls giggled ecstatically at us while we tiredly ate our fill. Reinvigorated, the way back took the promised mere 15 minutes.... Nope, no explanation, that's just the way it was.

The next morning we set off early in the morning, and it was a grueling morning of crossing bridges and islands. The bridges were huge feats of civil "engineering" (to all civil engineers, sorry about the quotation marks.... if you're in MAVT you'll get it though ^_~), beautiful white and cutting through a patchwork of small green islands in a bluey sea. Well, after the first couple of islands the sea was blue anyhow. But before each bridge we had to cycle steep uphill to get to the start, and by the second last island we were tired and worse, the sun rose high on a hazy but cloudless day.
large_20130813-ASC_3202.jpg The rest would be torture. So instead, with one island and two bridges left, we decided to return the bikes and take the bus for the rest of the way, and hopefully cut a few hours from our trip to Tokushima. At the cycle reception we received a gift of dried shrimp, a "delightful local snack, Japanese people love to eat this while drinking beer!" (the importance of this statement will be made in a next post), and took a comfortable air-conditioned ride back, and then it was on to Tokushima!

Posted by dokobot 16:34 Comments (0)


I know, it's been a week already, and I have plenty to tell of and lots of photos especially of the weekend, but I've also been pretty swamped. I'll get around to accounting for the past two weeks on the train next Saturday, but today was quite special, so I'm making a short post for it.

As most of you know, I'm into robotics. As some of you know, I'm mostly into bio-inspired robotics, in particular dynamics and control of legged locomotion. Before coming to Japan, I had crossed a paper on CPG (central pattern generators) control in legged robots, written by someone over here at Tohoku University. When I looked for the lab again though, I came up empty-handed.

  • Shrug* "I'll be at the robotics summer school, for sure I'll find the lab there.".

But when I got here, the program included no course from a bio-inspired lab, and no lecture on legged-locomotion. I initially dismissed it, thinking perhaps the lab had moved. Then, on a late thursday afternoon talking to all the folks at the Human Robot Informatics lab (we were split up into groups for a project, and I'm in a haptics project under profs Konyo and Nagaya), I casually brought up this mysterious lab I had stumbled upon but could no longer find, and Nagaya exclaimed:
"Oh? You mean Ishiguro's lab? Oh, he is, ah, how to say.... mad scientist!".
"Ishiguro? No, not the professor at Osaka who makes android copies of himself..."
"Oh, yes, Osaka also has a professor Ishiguro. Hmm, he's also mad scientist! But this is Akio Ishiguro, his lab is not part of TESP [summer school] because he's in the electrical engineering department, not mechanical!".

So apparently, Ishiguros tend to gravitate towards fields that earn them a reputation as mad scientists, and in Akios case, an Ig Nobel prize! Prof. Konyo then promised to get in contact with prof Ishiguro (whose lab is on the Katahira campus, which only houses research labs) to set up a meeting! I was looking forward to it all weekend, and started looking up what he did more precisely.

This guy's lab could not be a more exact copy of Fumiya Iida's lab. Here's a list of his research topics:
- Fully decentralized control of a modular robot (reconfigurable robot) that exhibits amoebic locomotion
- A modular robot that spontaneously self-assembles and self-repairs
- Control of a running bipedal robot by exploiting the intrinsic body dynamics
- Adaptive control of a bipedal robot using muscle-like actuators
- Decentralized control of a snake-like robot using real-time tunable springs

Everyone from the lab, you know what I mean. Right? Riiight???
Oh and, in case this seems too "regular", note that one of his more recent findings is that slime molds are able to solve shortest-path problems. Yes, he runs a robotics lab.
During the lab-work yesterday, Konyo hits me with the bad news: prof Ishiguro is really busy at the moment and doesn't have time. I was crushed. I had written to several labs all over Japan that I wanted to visit during my travels, and received almost no answers. Those that did had some excuse, including that "it is summer vacation and no-one is at the lab". Since when do phd students get vacation? When an American grad student suggested that most labs were very reluctant to show their lab to someone who didn't speak Japanese because they were too shy to speak English, I was even more disappointed. After a week at Tohoku University though, I had witnessed the truth in this. The vast majority of students spoke little to no English, and were terrified of attempting it.

That evening (after watching fireworks from the 6th-floor balcony - it's the start of Sendai's Tanabata matsuri) I dejectedly walked back to the hotel (okay, okay. We did stop at a run-down and dirty but bustling and quite yummy ramen shop on the way.). But the lab was too close to what I'm doing, and I was too close to just let it go. I wrote a desperate e-mail to prof Ishiguro "please, whenever you have time", ready to skip class to go see this lab.
This morning, <drum-roll please> he answered "please come at 5!". It took about an hour of trudging through the rain to get there, (Katahira campus is quite far from Aobayama campus, and very confusing too) and I arrived soaked but just in time.
Professor Ishiguro welcomed me with a big smile and a cup of tea, wearing an open plaid-shirt and one of those funny t-shirts with differential equations on it (it went on about black-holes and , "this is my problem, what's your problem?"). He was instantly friendly, relaxed and one hell of a lecturer. Lecturer sounds a bit odd I suppose, but we sat down in front of a computer and he explained all the research he was doing, so I'm not sure what else to call it...
And the research is just gorgeous. So, I won't go into the technical details, but basically they are looking at various types of locomotion gaits in various different animals, and trying to understand why things are different. Essentially, how to bridge the gap between the CPG field and sensory-feedback field. And it pretty much boils down to morphology and how things scale with size, speed etc. It's really elegant. You should read his paper. Really.

But anyway, it's getting late, Lorenzo got back as well and we just had a big debate about dynamics, and I've run out of steam to write much more... a quick wrap-up... I got lost trying to get back to the hotel again after, found a delicious ramen place to have dinner instead, and stepped on a snake on my way out. And since there have been no photos yet in this post, here's my official trip mascot, kodama!

Posted by dokobot 04:42 Comments (0)

Jumping in with a splash

They say there are two ways of learning how to swim: you can timidly test the waters on the shallow side, or you can just make the jump and see what happens. With Japan, we took took a leap.

The plan

Lorenzo and I, as well as 4 other ETH students got into TESP 2013, a 2-week summer school on robotics at Tohoku University in Sendai and since we were going half-way around the world, we decided to make the most of it. Most of it meaning staying on after the summer school for another 4 weeks and getting some other friends to join in! A quick rundown of our itinerary (post-summer school):

Zip down to Hiroshima with the Shinkansen where the 5 of us [ETH students] will be joined by Pat, and after spending a day there, we will move to nearby Onomichi. There is a well-known temple-walk around Onomichi, but the highlight is a 60-km series of bridges connecting it to the neighbouring Shikoku islands, with a dedicated cycling lane! From there we will proceed to Tokushima on the other side in time for the Awa Odori, a traditional dance festival. Then, it's off to Kyoto just in time for the Daimonji, a festival where they light giant bonfires in the shape of specific kanji on 5 of the surrounding hills! Jonas, a friend from the Zurich go club (go is an ancient strategy game popular in China, Japan and Korea) will join us in the cultural capital for 4-5 days before we proceed to Kiso Valley, where we will hike along the ancient route of the nakasendo, the old postal route between Edo (Tokyo) and Kyoto. From there we head on up to Matsumoto in the Japanese Alps, and finally to Sado-ga Shima, home of the renowned Kodo taiko group, for their renowned Earth Celebration! After beating our hearts out on this summer island Pat, Lore and I will take the ferry up to Otaru, Hokkaido, then on to Sapporo where we'll meet up with Kazuya, a phd student there who I met at a summer school at ETH last year! We'll all go camping along the two caldera-lakes Shikotsu-Toya, then Pat, Lore and I will visit Hakodate, another city of Hokkaido well-loved for it's nightscape. From there we'll be flying back to Tokyo and say our goodbyes to Pat, and... well okay, this part isn't completely planned out yet, but we'll have another week in Tokyo to finish up the things we didn't quite have a chance to before.

The Arrival

Lorenzo and I took off together from Lugano Friday morning, wangled bulkhead seats for the 12-hour Zurich-Tokyo flight (sweeet!) and landed at Narita airport at 8 in the morning, where we met up with Clemens who by chance had booked the same flight, and then at Tokyo main-station with Ralph, who had been in Tokyo since Tuesday.
We first grabbed a breakfast at a small ramen-store near the station, before moving towards Akihabara. There we visited the official "Anime Center" which turned out to be... almost deserted, rather small, with not much going on (except overpriced ramune...). Not sure if it's actually an expo-center specifically for anime events that just happened to be in-between events at the moment, or what, regardless we quickly moved into the neighbouring streets, which had the total opposite: throngs of people, 5 story shops ranging from random electronics (including a robot shop!) to anime-paraphernalia to arcades. On one of the top floors of a Sega arcade, we found one of the most interesting interfaces I've ever seen: on the screen was the view of an Edo-period castle siege, in which the player controlled a formation of cavalry and some other troops in the attempt of reaching the castle gates. To do this, he would direct and move a card representing each specific formation on the surface in front of him!


Now that's what I call creating intuitive interfaces!
We also visited a manga-merchanising store, with story-upon-story of figurines, from trinkets from the most popular series to mechas of all sorts, and from girls in ridiculously revealing outfits to girls that were just ridiculously cute.

As the day progressed, we noticed an ever increasing number of girls dressed in traditional yukatas meandering about, and Ralph informed us of what was apparently one of the biggest hanabi (firework) events of Tokyo, so we joined the flow of yukata-clad girls and couples towards Asakusa, ending up at the (what I think is) the Senshoji temple.
When I asked a group of girls if we could take a photo of them, their faces immediately lit up with joy "oh yes, photo!" like they were just waiting for some to be photographed : D. A young guy with them promptly offered to take the photo "Oh yes, okay, I am in charge of scene now.". I had set my camera to "auto", so after a small show of directing us into a good pose, he pointed, focused... and the flash popped up. "Ohhhhhh?!?!" he looked as if he had just rubbed my camera and a genie popped out of it. He quickly took the photo, then "Eeeehhhh, amazing photographing ya!?" somehow bowing and bragging about his downright amazing skills XD.
In proper Japanese fashion, even at such a crowded event, designated areas had been marked across the ground for where you were allowed to sit down and picnic, and these were strictly adhered to. After meandering about for a while, we found a free spot right next to the temple, crowded amidst small groups picnicking on crispy-grilled fish, yakitori and other savoury snacks. Seeing throngs of japanese in traditional attire at a bright red temple on the very first evening here, well... I couldn't (and in fact didn't) have planned it better. 20130727-ASC_2298-2.jpg
However just as things seemed like they couldn't have been more perfect... the first fireworks go off, and from the temple you could just barely make out the upper edges. We'd figured that the amount of people crowding around the temple would mean that this was a good place to view the fireworks... instead almost everybody started to pack away and move for a better view.


We followed suit, but after wandering around for half an hour or so, it seemed like everyone was simply walking haphazardly in the general direction of the last "booms", and since the fireworks were being set off in at least 2 different locations, we weren't getting anywhere. On top of that a light drizzle started. We had just about decided to call it quits, when the drizzle turned into a proper rainfall, and everyone started to scamper around with plastic-bags on their heads. We finally took refuge under the roof of a fire-station, but when conditions didn't improve after an hour and the fireworks were cancelled (a friendly American and his Japanese girlfriend brought us up to speed - none of us understood the announcements that blared through the crowd), we decided to just leg it through the rain: we had to make it back to the main-station by 23:00 to make our night-bus to Sendai!
But it seems everyone else had similar ideas, and the metro-station was packed so full it took us 15 minutes just to get back out of it! So after getting back to the station and retrieving our luggage we settled down for a nice 7-hour ride on the night-bus to Sendai, soaking wet and jet-lagged.

We arrived at Sendai just around 6 in the morning completely beat, lugging luggage for a month and a half of travel while navigating daunting street-signs (only in Japanese of course) with what turned out to be an incorrect map. "10-20 minutes by foot" informed the guide Tohoku University helpfully prepared for us. It felt more like an hour. At the hotel, we got to leave our luggage, then I inquired for the closest sentō (public bath). It was a few streets down. After a full japanese breakfast (which is very similar to an English breakfast in size), we headed straight for it. On the way we noticed several girls in short skirts and high-heels wobbling around the streets. Apparently our hotel is near some a not so reputable side of town. Just as we got to the street the hotel-manager had marked on the map, a whole group of them stumbled into the door next to the bath-house, gawking and giggling at us. I had my suspicions the hotel-manager was having a laugh. Instead the sento turned out to be delightful. After thoroughly washing down in individual cubicles (ever shower while sitting down?), we spent a couple hours blissfully moving between hot-baths, sauna, and even an outdoor artificial spring made out of rock (we were on the 5th floor). They also had a frigid 17 degree cold bath, which chilled your lungs if you stayed in too long.

At 14:00 we could check-in to the hotel, and that evening we formed a good group of 9 as the other students slowly arrived and went out hunting for an eatery. Reps form every isakaya (Japanese pub) came out to hawk at us, so we ducked onto a side street where I spotted a simple hand-painted sign with the words “手”-hand and "做"-made, and ラーメン-ramen. We entered, sat down, and after a moment discovered it was run by a family of Chinese! This made ordering simpler, getting us some delicious home-made gyoza and an assortment of different ramen. Then a group of Japanese came in, immediately spotted us and "ohhh?" came their surprised exclamations. They sat next to us, stared, then started toasting to us, finally refilling my glass with beer all while we tried to communicate in broken English and even more broken Japanese. Next thing you know, they bought us first a round of beer then a round of "Japanese Sake!" (is there any other sake??), and one of them invited us to visit his sake distillery, although "so sorry, only make sake in winter". Every stammered sentence was greeted with roars of laughter, as the night went on they started to join our table, and Clemens even got quite friendly with the lady of the group - sorry Clemens, let me clarify. Rather, she got very friendly with Clemens, until her husband joined our table as well and quickly stated his status! Finally we got home, and I started to pick out some pictures and write this blog... that was two nights ago, and I don't think I can write fast enough to keep up with living in Japan! So to all of you, oyasumi!

Posted by dokobot 06:05 Archived in Japan Comments (3)

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