During the summer while visiting the special needs school in Namioka they so generously donated a water melon to me one day. I remember being so delighted then suddenly realizing there was an epic task ahead of me…trekking the thing for a 30minute walk to the train station, a 15minute train journey and then (the trickiest of it all) a 15 minute cycle up to my apartment. A very large non-bounceble heavy oaf of an object was suddenly all my responsibility.
No way could I have just chucked it into a bush (some people actually are surprised I didn’t do this). First it was a gift, second they had encouraged this beautiful fruit to grow for months and months, third Namioka is a TINY country village somebody 100% would have spotted me chucking it or found it and linked it straight to me and lastly it was 34degrees during those summer days, I wanted that juicy watermelon. It was an epic journey for both me and the melon, I got my bike and I pushed them both up the hill for the last part of the trek….my arms also ached for a few days afterwards from the 30minutes walk. I was spotted by plenty of teachers and students both ends of the journey and they still talk about how funny it was that I actually bothered to trek it home, I find it funny they still remind me about it every other week!
The same teacher that gave me the watermelon also gave me a pumpkin at Halloween which was equally tricky to get home but a good bit smaller and less stressful, in September I got a large (of course heavy) bag of apples and sweet potatoes. So last Wednesday I arrived into the school and the minute I had changed to my indoor shoes there was my pal standing across the hall, she shouted ‘Hannah Sensei good morning, I have very special surprise for you’……..I waved and smiled and shouted ‘Good morning, I’m excited’ thinking to myself ‘most definitely a ridiculously heavy large sized fruit’.
Even though I may struggle on the journeys I adore these gifts, I would walk the journey twice if it meant they made it home safe. They are grown with such love by the kids and are always unbelievably delicious, plus my arms get a great work out.
Fourth Period I arrived into ‘Veggie Sensei’s’ class to help out with the lesson to see her standing and waiting with a student both gloved/booted up. ‘Come come we go pick surprise now’.
I was thinking gosh maybe she’s going to give me a tree of something! Usually I get a pre-picked, pre-washed and wrapped goods. So we walked around the back, down the grass path and into the woods with me constantly thinking ‘WHAT is she going to give me.’
What an amazing surprise when we came across hordes of fluffy mushrooms growing off the trees. Wow I could not have been happier, of all the veggies this has got to be the lightest and least awkward to carry. Great success! We picked a load of them, while she explained to me she wanted to give me enough to try in all kinds of shitake dishes; as tempura, in nabe, in ramen, fried, grilled, bbq’d.
These are ‘Shitake’ which is a type of mushroom, they have many many types of mushrooms in Japan, all with different names, ‘why’ I asked, well because ‘Japanese love mushrooms!’