One Week Down

It’s snowing and blowing and seems like a blizzard today. We had hoped to ski this afternoon, but the weather is just too bad. I’ve been here a week; we’ve toured a hydro facility, a biomass plant, an efficient hospital with a large PV system and a junior high PV system. We’ve met with a vice governor and vice mayor, and we’ve even had our picture in the paper. We’ve also had tours of a saki brewery, a winery and a museum of Shigeo Fukuda (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shigeo_Fukuda). The saki brewery was a very small, local brewery and it was fun to have tour of the whole process. The best part was drinking the fresh saki out of ladles from the finishing pot. Also, at the end of the tour we were in the office of the brewery and I saw a saki bottle with a World Cup 2010 logo on it. Spencer translated to the owner for me that we’re going to the World Cup. She got so so excited and informed us that this brewery is the ‘official saki sponsor of the World Cup’. She gave me a World Cup-logoed bottle of saki as a gift (on top of the plum wine and saki cup she’d already given us; everyone here is so generous). I told her we’ll seek out the saki and promote it heavily in South Africa.

The Fukuda museum was amazing. He does work that is similar to optical illusions. My favorite was one that appears to be a big jumble of silverware. Then a light is shone on the silverware and the shadow of an intricate motorcycle appears. Amazing!

As I mentioned, everyone here is very generous. We received business card cases at both of our government official meetings, children’s toys and towels and washcloths from Rotarians, saki and plumb wine, coasters and lots and lots of food. I am worried about the fact that I’ve acquired this many items in just 1 week; I may have to ship some items home.
 
I had my first home stay this week. It was with a lady, maybe in her late 40s or early 50s. She lives with her daughter, her son-in-law and her three grandkids. The grandkids were adorable. The oldest, 6, spoke about 10 words of English. That was about all the English any of them spoke. So it was an awkward couple of nights with lots of silence. But they were great hosts, had a nice home and a warm bed for me. They cooked a traditional Japanese breakfast the first day (sashimi, rice, miso, egg) and a fairly standard American breakfast the second (pastry, fruit, yogurt). The first night she cooked me pasta and the second night she and other Rotarians in her club had a party/dinner for me at a traditional Japanese restaurant. Nobody spoke much English so it was quite interesting. We are now in the middle of a long string of hotel stays (5 nights!) but it will then be followed by two back-to-back home stays, totaling another 5 nights. Should be interesting…

We’re finding that the Japanese are very VERY prompt. Even when you’re on time you are late, b/c they are always so early. This is taking some getting used to as well as some compromise, as we would all rather have the extra time to explore or relax on our own. But we’re getting a handle on it slowly.
 
We’re in a seaside town called Miyako City for the next three days. It is freezing cold so I don’t know if we’ll be able to hike like we’d wanted to. It is definitely way to cold to go in the ocean. So I’m not sure what we’ll do tomorrow, on our ‘free day’.

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