Monday, April 26, 2010

Miso and Punk Rock and Matsuri

So, this weekend was really the most fabulous of fabulous weekends. Seriously.

I woke up leisurely on Saturday morning and read in bed for a couple hours, until about 10. And then I made myself a DELICIOUS pancake breakfast.

I ate them with strawberries and tons of maple syrup and black-strap molasses, and really, they were absolutely HEAVENLY! It was nice to have a reminder of some of the scrumptious vegan food I have been missing, even if this particular example of that had to be similar to intestinal glue.

Afterward, I headed over to the French/Japanese exchange, and once again it was absolutely wonderful. The Japanese people wanting to learn French are absolutely fabulous. When it was over, I went grocery shopping with a Japanese woman I had met, and it was very awkward, since I don't really speak Japanese, and she doesn't really speak French or English. And of course I had to lose not one, but TWO avocados under the fruit counter, which had her crawling around on her hands and knees while I stood aside feeling awkward and trying to hide how red my face was. It was maybe a "you had to be there" sitch.

On Saturday night, Matan, Alexis, and I went to see "Clash of the Titans." Lucky for us, it was in English with Japanese subtitles. It was a terrible, terrible movie, and I absolutely loved it! I thought the plot, which was lacking, I am sure, was wonderful, and all of the gods and everything were just so beautiful. What can I say - I'm attracted to pretty things. I was certainly never once bored, and to me, that's what makes a movie. So even though Alexis and Matan didn't really like it, well, I loved it.

On Sunday, I got to talk to my Dad and Tina in the morning, for the first time since arriving in Japan. So that was wonderful.

Then I hopped on my bike and rode up to Libra, the HUGE public library and community center, where I met up with my friend Carla and the nice folks from the library to go on a tour of the Hacho miso factory.

It was amazingly awesome, and I learned some very interesting things. First of all, you can buy Hacho Miso in the US, and it as advertised as having "100% US Grown soy beans." This sort of tricks people into thinking something that might not be true. Yes, the soy beans are grown in the US, but they are then sent over to Japan, where the miso is made and packaged and then shipped BACK to the US. Wouldn't it just be better if the soy beans were Japanese grown?

In those three barrels, underneath those stones, there is miso being fermented and created from organic soy beans that were grown in St. Paul, Minnesota. SIX TONS of miso to be precise. That's a heck of a lot of miso. And then the stones - yeah, there are TWO TONS of stones. Those are some HEAVY barrels!

Look at all that bacteria left over from miso making! They don't wash them too much, because this adds to the flavor!

You can also see that the barrels are held together by these sort of bamboo braided things. These stop the miso from exploding out and also cause the weight to go to the center so that the miso will not be lost even in the event of an earthquake. Unfortunately, no one in Japan knows how to make these things anymore, so they've started using iron ones in the place. As for the barrels, there are apparently only 3 people left in Japan that know how to make them, and when these barrels get too old to use, they will start using steel barrels, which will, inevitably, change the taste of the miso.

Okay, that was a lot about miso, I know, but I found it incredibly interesting.

After the tour, Carla and I hopped on our bikes to head over to the matsuri (festival) that was going on. On our way, we stumbled across a punk rock band playing in the street.

The picture that I attempted (and failed - grrr camera)to take. If you look really close, you can see some red and green in the top right. These are the colors of the mohawks of the guys in the band.

We didn't stop for very long, as we wanted to make it to the festival, but I thought it was so cool to see Japanese punk rockers. And I personally thought the music was quite good. I hope that in the future I will be able to find more things like that.

So then, on to the festival, which was absolutely AWESOME! There were these groups of Japanese drummers doing this really cool dance while beating on the drums.

At one point, some of them put their drums down and did this very martial arts esque dance that reminded me of the quen I was learning when I left France, which made me miss Viet Vo Dao. I am so sad that I can't be doing it here.

At the end, band started playing, and we all got up and did this weird dance where we flailed are arms around bizarrely and clapped and occasionally started jumping up and down, as if we were pogoing. It was super fun, and we met some interesting Japanese people and a very nice British guy.

Now that the weekend is over, though, I've got to get back to studying. We have a HUGE test on Wednesday containing everything that we have done so far. We "reviewed" today, which basically means we went over the things that will be on the test that the teacher hadn't told us yet. I'm sure it will be find, but I'm afraid that, because I am nervous about it, I will mess up simple things.

Sooooo, on that note, off to study

4 things said:

Ariane said...

I am seriously and honestly jealous of the wonderful week-end you had. I sounded amazing!
And for your test, I'm sure you will be fine. Just read the questions carefully and review each questions!

Cleverly Inked said...

LMAO...I can see you jumping and clapping.

Belle said...

So glad you linked to your blog here from your book blog, Audrey - it's wonderful to be able to see Japan through your eyes! Ward and I visited about ten years ago and loved it - the culture is so very rich.

And I found your miso information interesting - well, except for the bacteria part, which I maybe didn't really want to know ;)

Ms Baker said...

how much fun was your weekend! i loved everything though i am with you...why on earth on the beans just grown there...must be a government op...they like to spend money you know! so we met a guy in india who is from japan. we helped him get through all the strikes and stuff. i told him my name is cootie satan..he didn't get it. i miss you!