Sunday, July 31, 2011

Misty Mountains

This morning was overcast and cool, and after waking up early I went for a walk before everyone else got up. Breakfast was pastries again, only notable because I chose a tasty, custardy slice of something like bread pudding or a piece of col
d french toast...
Our day was riding the transportation loop around Hakone; a series of cable cars, ga
ndolas, pirate ships and buses, and after breakfast we headed for the station and up into the misty mountains.
After going up, over and down the mountain, through the mist and over the trees and
clouds of sulfur steam from the hot-springs below, we took a "pirate" ship across
Lake Ashi and visited a temple on the other side. We had lunch in a favorite restaurant of Yoko's that specializes in Tempura (deep fried anything in a light, flaky batter). We started out with a plate of little tempura Wagasaki fishes, pulled straight from the lake outside, and then ordered lunch. Mom got a tempura assortment, a veritable kitchen sink affair, of prawns, mushrooms, eggplant, peppers, onions, lotus, etc., and Dad got a pair of enormous tempura prawns over rice that looked more like two golden-brown lobster tails.
I did the thing where I pointed to a picture on the wall, and what I got was a beautiful bowl of cold white soba noodles, topped with a mound of grated daikon, wasabe and sprigs of watercress, scattered with little pink tempura shrimps that dad's gargantuan prawns probably eat for breakfast. It was served with a soy and sweet sake sauce to pour over top, and boy was it good. One of those hit-the-spot meals.
Next we went to an art museum of modern Japanese art, the majority of which in my opinion, was too busy, and strayed too far from the usual simplistic and sparse Japanese aesthetic. Afterwards I bought a drink at a 7-11, and had to take a picture of the AMAZING
and fresh prepared foods offerings, a far cry from the Bahama Mama hot dogs and nachos offered in America.

Next, we went to another museum of ancient Japanese pottery which had an absolutely gorgeous grounds of small hills and gnarled trees, carpeted in thick green moss, with a tumbling creek running through it.

Although the plan had been to go out for dinner, we were all feeling pretty tired after such a busy day and opted to get take-out delivered, and let me tell you, I'm glad we did, because delivery in Japan is not like delivery in America! First off, the food is HOT, but more than that it comes delivered on a painted tray and each dish is in its own lacquered wood box or in ceramic pots and bowls.
You enjoy your meal, and then when you're finished, you either clean the dishes or not and leave them stacked on the tray outside your door. Later that night, or the next day, the delivery boy returns to retrieve the trays...awesome.

Mom and Dad ordered katsudon which is a tempura pork cutlet over rice with a sweet-Worcestershire type sauce, and Kathryn had her favorite chicken and egg on rice. I wasn't feeling too hungry so just ordered steamed rice and topped it with some skudani (sweet soy glazed) Wagasaki fishes which Naoko had bought me. It was a nice finish to a day of trekking.

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