Fuji-San

Here is where it all began........Crave, Jaewon, myself and Jackie embraking on our Fuji challenge

Climbing Fuji San (Mt.Fuji) was something that I have desperately wanted to do. Since I landed in this country I did not want to leave without a solid attempt. And so I got my dream and last Sunday I reached the summit, which stands 3,776.24 m (12,389 ft) above sea level. It was an amazing moment, something I will never forget, reaching the top was without a doubt one of the best moment of my life. Here’s how we got there…

After weeks of research we (a group of 4 friends from Aomori and 2 from Akita) decided to brave the climb outside of ‘official climbing season’. Friday night it all began with catching the overnight bus from Aomori to Tokyo. We arrived into Tokyo at around 7am where we then caught another bus at 9.40am to Mt.Fuji’s 5th Station, which was a 3 hour long journey. We arrived around noon and stayed at the station for about 2 hours, waiting for our bodies to climatize to the altitude, change into our walking gear, eat some last bits of decent food, organize bags, go pee etc. We set off just after 2 pm extremely excited and yep prrrrrrrrrretty nervous. Soon after we started we were stripping down all the layers we had just put on, the sun blaring down on us along with the steep walking had us out of breath and sweating in no time. After finding a happy medium with the layers of clothes it took us just over 4 hours of climbing to reach the 8th station. Four hours of hiking but that included constant breaking, the breaks were not only for our tired legs but also to combat the altitude sickness. We were all terrified of getting the headaches, dizziness and sick stomachs after reading so many warnings, so we took it nice and easy. The climb itself is not that taxing, at parts it gets quite steep and you have to use both hands to clamber over the rocks but at other times it’s a steep winding path (that’s up the the 8th station, beyond the 8th is another story). People of all ages do the challenge just so long as you are fit, healthy and you break enough to avoid the altitude then you are ready to go…well actually you also probably need to have a huge desire to do it.

Just below the 6th Station on Mt.Fuji

Walking above the clouds

Approximately 300,000 people climb Mount Fuji ever year. The most popular time for people to hike up it  is from July to August, which is known as ‘climbing season’, this is when huts at all the stations are open and other facilities are fully operating. The huts sell really expensive (but greatly appreciated) water and a small selection of food along with providing a hole in the ground for you to pay 2 euro to toilet into. Pretty much none of them where open last Saturday even though it was only a few days out of season, but we had kind of expected this so came well prepared with endless trail mix, energy bars, chocolate and about 3-4 litres of water each, which yes was EXTREMELY heavy to carry. Climbing from October to May is very strongly discouraged because of the severe cold weather and the fact that Mt.Fuji’s volcanic cone is covered with snow for most months of the year….unfortunately for us this had not fully melted. We thought it would have but it didn’t. Thankfully though a day or two before we arrived it had been cleared from the trail by some hero’s with shovels… otherwise we would never have made it.

Scrambling at 7th Station

A rainbow above the clouds, confusing yes

Snow on Mt.Fuji June 2011

After we reached the 8th station where we had booked to stay and sleep for the night (before the last 2 stages and the summit) we ate a very basic but hugely satisfying dinner and climbed into the cosy and thankfully provided sleeping bags. Before I could even think of where I was I was asleep along with dozens of other snoring hikers all sharing not only the same sleeping floor but also the same dream, which was just within a grasp. Four hours of sleep and the alarms rang at 12.15am, without a second thought we were unzipped and lashing on our layers of thermals…ready, this was it.

The Night climb, myself and Jacki just above the 8th Station,

Pack of lunatics above the 8th station

A howling wind made us think twice about heading up the volcano in the pitch black but we decided we had not come this far just to simply give up. We were ready to at least give it a shot and decided we would be happy to turn back if it became too much, but we had to try.

Unlike our climb from the fifth to the eight station which was tricky but enjoyable this one was a whole other story. It was steep, cold, dark and very VERY windy. If I didn’t desperately want to finish what I started I probably would have run like a coward back down the mountain, I’ll admit there were times where I was properly scared. Having a great bunch of friends though meant the constant encouragement between us kept us all calm. All you could see was a step or two ahead of you lit by your flash light, but having the others around meant you could catch glimpses of little lights ahead or behind you, which was a huge comfort. It wasn’t the darkness that was scary, it was the insane wind. Still worried about the altitude affecting us we found that small yet frequent breaks were best both for our legs and our thumping hearts. After a long break it was difficult to start again without running out of breath in the first few steps. Sometimes we felt fine but the heaving of our breath and the feeling of our hearts thumping through our chests (and several layers) made us keep stopping for fear we would just fall apart.

Here she comes

Every turn we took we thought (and desperately hoped) it would be the last (this is where a guide would have been ideal), eventually after over 4 hours of blind climbing we made it with our last few steps in natural light that the approaching sun encouraged us with. The sunrise came at 4.30am and we watched from the summit, sitting above the clouds with smiles on our faces and tears in our eyes.

Top of the mornin to ya' from top of the world

The wind at the top was truly terrifying but the view was so breathtakingly beautiful it distracted us from the fear. We clung to rocks while we watched the sun peak through and congratulate us after our persistant determination, what a welcome!

Sunrise at Mt.Fuji Summit, Sunday 26th June 2011

The morning sunshine is called 御霊光 “Go rei kou” which means spiritual light.

My Japanese pal also says “Unkai, it means a sea of clouds, spread below you and its colours…..what a beautiful prospect!! I think.” Couldn’t have put it better myself.

Sunrise at Fuji-San

 

Descending Mt.Fuji 4.45am

We didn’t stay for long at all, both the fear of being blown away or being frozen to death had us turning to head back after about 20 minutes. During the official climbing season because of the intense number of people climbing the mountain it is split into ascending and descending routes. When we were at the top it was beyond too dangerously windy to walk over to the descending route so we headed down the way we came. After about an hour we managed to find a link and joined the descending route which we had heard was easier. It was different alright but I wouldn’t necessarily have called it easier. Imagine running down a very steep never ending sand dune with chunks of rocks, yet this one we couldn’t run down and it wasn’t sand it was filhty black volcantic ash. It took us 7 hours to reach the 5th station, and I have never meant this more before in my life…..my legs where pure jelly.

Descending Fuji San

It’s Thursday now and my legs are just about still attached to my body.  We are rebuilding a damaged friendship and I hope they will forgive me soo. Right now I never really want to climb a mountain again but the pain and exhaustion will never take away any of the happiness of that moment when I returned to the 5th station and officially completed the Mt.Fuji challenge. That moment I’ll treasure for the rest of my life.

The Japanese say ‘Anybody would be a fool not to climb Mt.Fuji once- but a fool to do so twice.’

I did it, but I am no fool, and I’ll gladly say I’m never doing that again!

Mt.Fuji descent Sunday 26th June 2011

 
For more photos check my facebook album by clicking this link
 

HipHop Sayonara

 

Hiphop Class 2010-2011 (Sonomi and Jackie visited for the farewell)

Another painful goodbye came and passed this week. Monday night I actually thought it was our second last hiphop class but I got robbed of the extra week and had the sad sad occasion by surprise.

This dance class was something that without a doubt made Mondays the best day of the week, including weekends. Gone are the ‘I hate Mondays’… Sunday evenings were great too as it was when I religiously and eagerly packed my bag. To have an exciting focus like this during the dark winter months helped me stay sane and made me very happy.  I will remember every single class with a big smile.

Rui and sisters Misaki and Yuka

Me and Misaki

Our class mates went from shy non-English talkers to our best friends, it may have taken 3 terms but now we are all great mates.

Nicole and little Yuka

With regards to actual dancing ability I improved most definitely but I’m still really really bad , we stood out 1) for being way to white and tall 2) for being far too stiff, but still they welcomed us as if we were hiphop queens.

Rui one of the girls is somebody who it will kill me to leave, she is an amazing kid. I will miss her more than anything and anyone. She visits me several times a week at my desk in school, checking if I have enough food (force feeding me her lunch), if I’m happy in my house, is my supervisor taking good care of me?

She wants to come to Ireland some day and I hope with all my heart that she does.

Our hiphop sensei was very upset to see us go but made us promise we would sneak into the beginning of the next term once or twice and join in without paying, pretty sound of her. We’ll bring them pressies and watch but its probably best we retire from the insane dancing and let the class go back to its usual speed and skill!

This class is something that made my year here in Aomori so special.

Sayonara Byebye

Sayonara Pan Sensei

 

Pan Sensei and Sonomi-Chan

 

We started last October as bread lovers eager to soak up some skills, and it ended last week on June16th. With bigger bellies and a huge respect to the bread bakers of this world we owe our wiser heads (and hands) to our wonderful Pan Sensei. It was a sad occasion as we took our last full baskets of bread and drove away from that amazing smelling house.

Our Pan Sensei is what we will miss the most, we can study the notes and we know that practice is all we need to do right now. Our teacher though taught us so much more than just bread recipes. She took us in like wandering ducks and helped us understand not only about bread tricks but she opened up her house and gave us an insight into a true Japanese lifestyle. She was our Japanese mammy.

 

Almond Cookies

 

 

 

Almond Cookies

 

 

 

 

Almond Cookies

 

As we drove away not knowing when we would ever meet this wonderful lady again, we spotted sparkles running down her cheeks, it is truly a rare and touching site to see a Japanese person cry. Even with the wonderful memories I have taken from these classes, I left a little heartbroken.

 

English Muffins

 
 
 

English Muffins

 
 

English Muffins

 
 

French Cheese Bread

 
 
 

French Ham Pan

 

Wassao

Wassao

Here is “Wassao”, he is one of the most famous dogs in Japan.

A pure bread Akita he was found as a young puppy abandoned at the local fishing port in Agigasawa, Aomori prefecture.

How could somebody abandon such a beauty?

Wassao

His owner runs a little squid shack by the main road and somebody who visited the shack noticed the dog and wrote a blog about him. From that one blogger he became a famous icon of Aomori and grew to stardom.

Wassao's Squid Shop

 

 

 

Wassao's squid shop

He now has his own block buster movie dedicated to him, which comes hand in hand with thousands of `Wassao’ merchandise.

My Wassao folder

When I visited him he was swarmed with a bus load of onlookers but he lies peacefully in his little house un-affected by all the staring and photographs, a true celeb.

Wassao at his gaff!

The Japanese adore him because they say he is ‘busu-kawa’ (busu=ugly, kawaii=cute), he is not ugly one bit in my opinion, for some reason they think he is both ugly and cute but either way we all love him.

 

Sleepin Fluff Pupp "Wassao"

 

 

Magical Lake Juniko

Aoike Pond at Juniko

On the Western Coast of Aomori prefecture is a small village called ‘Fukaura’ where lies the most mysterious and over-whelming of beautiful places. It is known as ‘Juniko’.

‘Juniko’ literally means twelve lakes, it consisting of 33 small and large ponds created by a major 6.9 magnitude earthquake over 300 years ago. I spent hours researching how they became a direct product of the earthquake but it seems a mystery to more people than myself, in a way though it is better that way, as the absence of logic adds to the magic of the place.

Driving to get to the ponds you travel though Shirakami-Sanchi (白神山地, white god mountain area) which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This mountainous, unspoiled expanse of virgin forest straddles both Akita and Aomori Prefectures. Of the entire 1,300 km², a tract covering 169.7 km² was included in the list of World Heritage Sites in 1993. Siebold’s beech trees make up a large portion of the forest.

Shirakami-Sanchi Valley

Allie @ Shirakami-Sanchi

People in Aomori know about ‘Juniko’ but I found it astonishing that some merely knew of it and nothing more, others had maybe visited once but a surprising amount of Japanese had actually never even heard of the place.

It is like a different world, a sparkling enchantment straight out of a fairy tale.
When visiting Juniko, you can take a full day and tour all the ponds. Myself and Allie were on route to our sumo weekend in Akita so unfortunately we didn’t have the time.

Lake Juniko, Fukaura Town, Aomori

Lake Juniko, Fukaura Town, Aomori

Allie messing at Juniko

Lake Juniko, Fukaura Town, Aomori

Lake Juniko, Fukaura Town, Aomori

We had heard that the best of the best was the ‘Aoike’ pond. This one is tucked into the park a little bit but you can easily drive around the park and walk for about 15 minutes to get to it. We stopped a lot of times on route to view numerous lakes on our way to the ‘Aoike’ pond.

The ‘Aoike’ pond is known as the best because of its transparent crystal blue colour. I had seen pictures of it before we found it but it genuinely took my breath away, no photo will ever capture its true magnificence. We stood in absolute awe for a very long time looking into a world of blue that was so amazingly beautiful it left us totally speechless.

Aoike Pond, Lake Juniko, Fukaura Town, Aomori

Through the water you can see the beech trees at the bottom of the 9 metre deep pond. It’s difficult to tell from the photographs which part of the trees are below the water and which are above because of the reflections…it’s just as tricky and magical to the eye when the lake is right before you.

We were very lucky the day we visited, it was overcast but a very bright day which meant the pond was sparkling but without the glare of the sun.

 

Aoike Pond, Lake Juniko, Fukaura Town, Aomori

Aoike Pond, Lake Juniko, Fukaura Town, Aomori

We LOVED it

If you live ANYWHERE near Aomori, go here and I promise you won’t regret it…you will never get the blue sparkle out of your head. Blue has officially regained its strong position as my favorite color.

Sumo Basho 2011

Akita Sumo Basho 2011

The 7th annual Akita International Sumo Basho took place on June 5th at the Akita Budokan in Akita City. Myself and Allie signed up for the laugh and had what turned out to be one of the best days of our year here in Japan.

The tournament is run by the AJET community in Akita Prefecture and invites all foreigners and Japanese people in Akita and surrounding prefectures to experience sumo following traditional rules and guidelines.

Nappy's on

A fantastic tournament that had us laughing and laughing and laughing.

A normal match goes like this, two names are called one from the West Wing and one from the East Wing, you step up to the ring, step over the line of salt, bow to each other, walk closer, squat down, have a stare off (or blow kisses like me and Allie), stand up, the referee orders you to take your positions, you squat again but this time place two fists behind your line on the ground, then sumooooooo. The idea is to either push/ lift/ shove your opponent out of the ring or if any part of their body (apart from their two feet) touches the ground you win. Grabbing of clothing/ hair is out of bounds and the girls decided on the day that the bone breaking kick to the knee should also be a no no no…along with the throat grab! The matches don’t last long at all, a minute or two, one mistake and you’re a gonzo.

Sumo pre-match squat

 

Sumo pre-match pose

Sumo

We arrived bright and early on Sunday morning, a little nervous to check out our competition but mostly excited for wearing the nappies, or in correct terms a ‘Mawashi’. We really only came for the nappies and also thought it was a fantastic opportunity to do something that we would never get to do anywhere else in the world…grab love handles, wedgy our opponents and slap our thighs!

Allie getting dressed into the Mawashi

 

So after four rounds of provisional heats I was undefeated and Allie had lost just one fight. We couldn’t stop looking at each other and roaring laughing. With absolutely no prior training (other than a few tips the morning of the tournament) we had no idea what we were doing, then again neither did the other girls but it still came as a huge surprise that we headed on to the semi finals. After a tie breaker and a semi for Allie and a semi final for me, we were destined to sumo each other in the final.

Allie winning another heat

Our job as finalists we were told is to ‘get the crowd going’ and to pump both ourselves and the crowd up. So here we are two best friends from Aomori in a foreign prefecture (Akita) told to rev up a crowd of complete strangers. This was too funny for us to handle.

Being a finalist means that the lead up to the match is a little different. After the step over the salt and bowing, you squat and do a kind of arm dance, then a long long stare off (which was almost impossible for us through our laughter) then you have to back out of the ring and shout at the crowd and do weird stuff like slap yourself. This was actually great fun but we went a little crazy and when we walked back into the ring to sumo I was totally out of breath.

Aomori-shi Represent at the sumo final 2011

I tossed Allie (sorry AL) outa the ring and took the Gold trophy, while she settled for a proud silver.

Aomori take gold and silver at Sumo Basho 2011

Delighted with ourselves we headed back up North giggling obnoxiously…very unaware of the week long muscle aches that followed.

Well worth it though, what a memory!

For more photos you can check my Facebook album throug http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10150195418876426.315739.504801425&l=41aff447b9  even if you don’t have facebook you can still look! 

Osorezan, The Gate Way to Hell

Lake at Osorezan

Mount Osore (恐山, Osorezan) is a region in the center of the remote Shimokita Peninsula of Aomori Prefecture, Japan.

I heard about Osorezan on my first few days here in Aomori. Some people say it is a must on the ‘Aomori to do’ list. It’s bizare location meant it took me 9 months to eventually visit or maybe it was a little bit of the fact that its known as ‘The Gate Way to Hell’… but it was worth the wait (and ignoring the name) , this place is incredibly beautiful and mysteriously creepy all at the same time.

Osorezan

Osorezan, Vocanic Sulphurous Landscape

Wikipedia says…’According to popular mythology, Mount Osore (literally “Mount Fear”) marks the entrance to Hell, with a small brook running to the neighboring Lake Usorisan that is equated to the Sanzu River, the Japanese equivalent to Styx. The reputation is not surprising, given that the very volcanically-active site is a charred landscape of blasted rock filled with bubbling pits of unearthly hues and noxious fumes.’

Osorezan

It  sounds first off pretty horrible when you read the above, the Japanese equivalent to the Styx especially is not an attractive thought. But this place is really not so horrible and haunted at all. It’s smells pretty strong from the sulphur but your nose adjusts surprisingly quickly and I found myself not even noticing it after the initial blast. The sound of the sulphur bubbling in some open earth pits is freaky alright but quite exciting too and the steam that billows from the cracks in the earth intensifies these feelings of fear matched with excitement. The stream and lake seem like normal, sitting perfectly still between the surrounding mountain hills, but then you see areas of blubbling water, yellow sulphur deposits at the edges and then of course the strong eggy smell hits you with a force. Either way these bubbles and stuff cannot take away from the natural beauty of this perfect lake.

Bubbling Lake at Osorezan

Lake at Osorezan

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Sulphur Lake at Osorezan

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Osorezan- Pinwheel for a Child

The peaceful silence of this place is captivating.

The landscape is charred and chipped yes but has a back drop of lush green which gives it a nice balance of good and evil. The ground below you may contain the devils brew but up above it is comfortably warm and cozy, it was just like walking around on under floor heating.

Osorezan Temple

Hear no Evil, Speak no Evil, See no Evil

Osorezan

There is in fact an onsen (natural bathing house) on site but I could not bring myself to climb into the yellow steaming pit after hearing the boiling noises only meters away and there was also the fact that the image of the bodies in the ‘Dantes Peak’ film kept flashing in my mind.

Onsen at Osorezan

Sulphur Stream at Osorezan

Would it be weird if I said this was one of my top favorite places in Japan? It is more beautiful than any other place I’ve been and although it smells bad and the name describes it as something very much un-desirable I would wonder if this is hell, what is heaven’s equivalent?

Osorezan

Osorezan

Osorezan

Mini Buddhas at Osorezan

Jaqueline, Allie, Josie and I at Osorezan

Sulphur Lake at Osorezan

Offerings at Osorezan (Gate Way to Hell)

 

 

 

 

Osorezan

Shiriyazaki, Aomori

Shiriyazaki Lighthouse, Aomori

The last weekend of May on our weekend trip to Shimokita we had two goals, these hairy horses and the lighthouse was our first. “Shiriyazaki Lighthouse” (尻屋埼灯台, Shiriyazaki tōdai) is a lighthouse located on the outermost extremity of Cape Shiriyazaki, the northeastern-most point of Honshu, in Higashidōri, Aomori Prefecture, Japan.

Shiriyazaki Lighthouse, Aomori

Shiriyazaki Lighthouse, Aomori

Shiriyazaki, Aomori

Shiriyazaki Lighthouse, Aomori

The lighthouse is surrounded by free-roaming wild horses that are very tame and friendly. The area is famous for these lovely animals which are also known as “Kandachi-me” which literally means “horses standing in the cold wind.”

Shiriyazaki Wild Horses

We arrived late morning to find most of them flaked out on the damp grass snoozing. These wonderful animals stay outdoors all through the year, battling the most extremes of weather from the freezing snow blizzards and tons and tons of fallen snow all winter long to scorching hot humid summers. They seemed to be at perfect peace during this spring Saturday, happy as Larry with the luke warm damp day. They are fairly hairy and have huge bellies, no doubt the bellies are in preparation for a sudden change in weather which can be expected at any time. These horses are true survivors, not even a slight chip on their shoulder from the miseries they battle, no obviously cranky ones at all, the gentlest of creatures. Among the huge bellied creatures were brand new baby foals, I couldn’t help but feel a little sorry for them born into a family of the most enduring of creatures. They will soon be big and hairy though and I hope it won’t be as miserable for them as I imagine. Gambatte (GOOD LUCK)

Shiriyazaki Wild Horses

Shiriyazaki Wild Horses

Shiriyazaki Wild Horses

Shiriyazaki Wild Horses

Shiriyazaki Wild Horses

Shiriyazaki Wild Horses

We drove through hours and hours of green, the GREENEST of GREEN. The mountains are carpeted in a think fluffy layer of forest that had us drooling with greenness.

Shiriyazaki GREEN

Hidden inside the carpet are many wonderful creatures, unfortunately we never made it to the area famous for monkeys but we spotted a ‘Marten’ (we think) and a ‘Kamoshika’ which are like mad hairy goat animals that stand and stare a lot. Click here for Wikipedia. They are timid animals but they wait a while to check you out before doing the skidaddle. We managed to catch him for a quick photo shoot but then Allie got a little ambitious and stomped too loud and he scampered. This cute fella was missing a horn.

Kamoshika

 
 
 

Josie and the Kamoshika

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Unfortunately just us, no kamoshika!

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Yokohama, Aomori

Rape Seed Blossom at Yokohama

Yokohama Rape Blossom…yes unfortunately that is what they call it, ‘Rape Blossom’. Pretty unfortunate name alright but it is pretty damn beautiful so you forget about the dreadful translation quickly. It is in fact ‘Rape Seed Blossom’ that they produce rape seed oil from, but that’s not what they call it. I’m not sure why they dropped the vital ‘seed’ in the name but sure that’s how it goes.

Rape Seed Blossom at Yokohama

Yokohama town is about half way up the west side of the Shimokita peninsula which is East Aomori. On a weekend road trip to Shimokita we passed through Yokohama on the return leg to stop and view the Rape Blossom. The country-side for the majority of the journey is rolling green hills, mountains and fields and then without any gradual notice or warning there is an almighty burst of yellow, the brightest and most amazing of yellows. It was rainy and grey when we hit this booming yellow, at first we were disappointed it wasn’t lovely and sunny for us to frolic among these sweet smelling lovely’s but I think it worked to our advantage (they do in fact smell fantastic) .The yellow was even more beautiful with the grey clouds and misty atmosphere, it stood out like a beacon of hope. Fields and fields of yellow could be seen in strips beaming out among misty grey green clouds and fields. Yellow is such an understated color, so powerful.

Rape Seed Blossom at Yokohama

Rape Seed Blossom at Yokohama

Rice Paddy Field Yokohama

Yokohama has fantastic ‘Rape (seed) Blossom’ which is a proud thing to be famous for, not only does it pretty much own the color yellow but it has THE best doughnuts going. I would almost call myself an anti-doughnut person, they’re just not my thing but these little warm beauties I scoffed and munched barely lifting my head for the yellow fields. This delicious (tofu made) doughnut shop was 110% worth the pit stop. For all the anti-tofu people out there, don’t shy away it’s not like drinking wheat grass or anything horribly healthy like that. The tofu in them is probably what every other doughnut in this world is missing.

Tofu Doughnuts Yokohama

Tofu Doughnuts

Tofu Doughnut Sugar

Don't miss this place!

Dine’d, Wine’d and Full to the Brim

'Shirako' May

A fantastic Japanese dinner, with my good friend (and Japanese adopted father) Atsushi San was enjoyed last Thursday May 26th at ‘Shirako’ Restaurant in Aomori City, Japan. This may have been one of many wonderful feasts we shared together yet each time is so different, so full of wonders, and every bite is so far from tasting like the last.

The restaurant was quiet on this Thursday night which meant lots of opportunities to chat to the chef, a culinary artist as well as a chef come to think of it. A few visits ago he told me all about the puffer fish he gets from Tokyo with his special license, I got a bit worried when I saw it belly up on the bottom of the tank. Apparently they are very temperature sensitive and the poor guy was too hot so went into semi hibernation.

Puffer Pal Having a Snooze

He told me he was a very happy man as ever time a dish came back from me it is always scraped clean, he said it makes him his happiest. I told him if I could I would also eat the plate, if he had made the plate then I would eat it…let’s hope he doesn’t take me literally and go and make a plate, then of course …I’d have to eat it!

Sea Urchin

Shrimp Cake Dish

Tai Fish (Sea Bream) Sashimi

Fish Fillet with Cream Mushroom Sauce, 'A Western Dish'.

Japanese boiled veggies with a tasty lump of Miso sauce

Every time I eat the oysters here the size of them blows me away, they are truly monstrous, my mouth is maybe getting smaller or else the spring oysters are fatter, either way I’ve learnt it’s important to take a huge breath before the big swallow.

GIANT Oysters

Atsushi San at Shirako

It’s become an important tradition to pause before the last hurah. Dishes one through six come consecutively one after the other, sometimes even overlapping, you receive and you eat.  In Japan at traditional diners and enkai’s like this you take a pause after the main batch of dishes, this is to allow the food to settle before you finish with a ramen/ soba/ udon hit to fully satisfy the belly and of course a treat as a sweet ‘congratulations you made it’.

Ramen Noodles

Congatulations Dish