The whole object of travel is not to set foot on foreign land; it is at last to set foot on one’s own country as a foreign land.” – G.K. Chesterton

Thursday, 12 October 2006

Onsen, okonomiyaki and yakiniku

It is mid-term exam time at my school and that means no classes for one week! BUT I have to write up lots of exams and I'm more busy now than I was when I had to plan and teach lessons :P

Something I've learnt recently about the Japanese people - they are real sticklers at routine. For example, they will eat winter foods like oden (hot pot) and nabe (hearty hot broth) ONLY in winter and summer foods like zaru soba and somen (cold noodles) only in summer. Kim's JTE said she was looking forward to winter so she can eat hot pot, and Kim suggested why not cook it now - her JTE looked at Kim as if she'd suggested something odd and responded with "You cook winter food only in winter". And apparently, the beach is only open for swimming during July and August. They shut off the public showers at the beach at other times. Too bad if you wanna swim huh?

Onsen bath time!

Last Saturday, us and a bunch of fellow JETs decided to spend the afternoon relaxing at a nice onsen spa place. Entry fee is pretty pricey at 1050yen (about AU$11 to AU$12?) but you can stay as you want, until closing time of course. This being my second time at an onsen, I found that I've totally gotten over any naked shyness. There was an outdoor bath and though it was chilly and drizzly (remember, it rained non-stop for 2-3 days), it was kinda nice chilling out in hot water with cold rain on your face and head. For some reason, onsens are also a good place to get to know your fellow (female) JETs. I think the whole nakedness thing helps people to be more open for some reason.

At this onsen spa, for 500yen extra, you can enjoy some light therapy where you basically go into a really warm room, lie down on some gravelly stones and stare at the ceiling while they play weird kaleidoscopic lights on the ceiling, some relaxing music and a narration in the typical cutesy Japanese girly voice. It lasts for 30minutes, and I actually fell asleep for a few minutes!

For 2000yen extra, you can enjoy a 20 minute massage. I'd never paid for a massage before because I never felt the need to (Rob's good at massaging) and also because I'm really iffy about people touching me. Took some convincing to get me to sign up for a massage. I actually had to ask if they massage hard because I only like firm massages. And boy do they do it hard. I could actually feel my internal organs move under the pressure! But it was good. I suppose. Well, I enjoy massages only if I need one, like if my muscles are really tensed due to stress or something. And I wasn't feeling particularly stressed on Saturday. Oh well, like Rob said, it's all part of the experience.

More okonomiyaki...

We went to have okonomiyaki for lunch at a nearby place called Deko's. Fellow JETs rave about this place, saying it has the best okonomiyaki. So off we went to try it out. It was nice, but we've had yummier ones before. This time we knew what to do so we did the cooking ourselves.

The restaurant interior:

The unmixed batter in the measuring cup:

The final product with seasoning:

... and yakiniku for dinner

As explained previously, yakiniku is a Japanese style Korean BBQ. It was decided that we ought to have yakiniku for dinner, and then a video night in at one of the JETs' apartments. Not much you can do when it rains so much.

Fumi-san, John's girlfriend from Osaka, loves yakiniku. Of course it tastes nothing like the Korean BBQ as we know them, but the basic idea is still there and it is quite nice in its own rights.

The gaijin table - the waiter was nervous serving us, the lady boss came out especially just to greet us with an "irrashyaimase" (welcome) and the table next to us started practising their English:

Cooking cow's tongue - Rob says the texture is like biting your own tongue... and I guess I agree with that:

Lots of meat:

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