Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Cooking group

This week Laura, Scott, Alex and I formed a cooking group! As anyone who knows me knows of my love of cooking, this is great fun for me. I cook, the rest of the group buys the groceries. Though I am not feeling as skilled as I would in my own kitchen, or even with a grocery where I could read the labels, I think the meals have turned out fairly decent, and it's healthier than eating out all the time. Tonight Scott even said he might be turning vegetarian, which is about the best compliment one could give me. Yae! :)

Monday, June 26, 2006

MFA in Nagoya

On Sunday Laura and I went to the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, Nagoya to see "The Allure of Edo" a show of Ukiyo-e paintings from the Edo period (1600-1868). This was an absolutely amazing show!! Over 80 paintings by artists like Hokusai and Utamaro. The museum is an extension of the Boston MFA. After a coffee break, we headed over to the Atsuta shrine, dating from the 3rd century and housing an important sword that according to legend was handed down to the imperial family by the goddess Amaterasu. Unfortunately only the imperial family and a few shinto priests actually get to see the sword, but the shrine was pleasant to visit nonetheless. In the evening we watched one of my favorite movies ever, "The Big Lebowski" and ordered pizza, which was incredibly tasty. While I like Japanese food, there are just sometimes that I can't betray my American-raised tastes. :)


On Saturday I took a day trip to Inuyama with Laura and Alex. We went to the Inuyama castle, the oldest extant in Japan, dating from 1537! While the castle was small, it had a great view of the Kiso river and the surrounding city. We were given a tour by a volunteer guide (in English!), which was really fantastic.

After lunch we took a bus to Meiji-mura (Meiji Village). This was an open air museum bringing together over 65 buildings from the Meiji period (1868-1912), including part of Frank Lloyd Wright's original Tokyo Imperial Hotel. :)

Park and Bowling

On Friday after class I went to a local park with Diego, Laura, and Alex. We rode the ferris wheel (!), walked around, and had ice cream. It was quite pleasant to be in a wide open space, and to get an overview of Okazaki from above. Later in the evening a large group of us had dinner out and went bowling.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006


On Monday a group of 14 of us went out for Okonomiyaki (literally 'cook to taste'). One orders from the menu, or selects their own ingredients, and they are brought to you raw in a bowl. I had mochi and cheese, which included cabbage and eggs. You mix the ingredients, and pour onto the hot griddle at the center of the table, cooking yourself. At the end you add sauce (kinda like bbq sauce), mayo (not like American mayo), and seaweed flakes. Yum! Pictured are (from left) Scott, Amy, me, Alex, Alex, and Lily, all dormmates. :)

Saturday Around Nara

On Saturday we took a train and bus out to Horyuji, a Buddhist temple founded in 607. This was an absolutely amazing place which houses many important art objects as well as having fantastic architecture. Definitely a highlight of visiting Japan!

After lunch just outside the temple gates, we caught the bus to Yakushiji (founded in 680) in the pouring rain. It was a relief to sit on a dry bus for half an hour, and fun to see the other temples along the bus route. At Yakushiji we saw more sculptures and architecture, and were rained on even more. After catching the bus back to Nara we ate dinner at a Chinese restaurant near the station and returned to the Ryokan for a bath and relaxing evening in our beautiful surroundings.

Monday, June 19, 2006


In Nara we stayed at a Ryokan, or traditional Japanese inn, Ryokan Seikanso. This was a pleasant change from the usual dormitory situation, and also just a very cool place to stay. Supposedly parts of the inn were from the 17th century and had been used as a geisha house. The garden in the middle of the complex was very beautiful, as was the dining room where we took breakfast. There was a traditional bath, which was very hot. Much like a spa one cleanses before entering the bath, which is communal and meant for soaking, and felt really good after a long day of touring temples in the rain. The rooms had tatami flooring, so we left our shoes at the front door and used slippers in the halls, special slippers for the toilet, and went barefoot on the tatami. The entire inn had a lovely scent of tatami, incense, and wood. We slept on traditional futons on the floor, which we unfolded at night, and back up again during the day. :)

Sunday, June 18, 2006


This past weekend I went to Nara with one of my classmates to see the many temples and sites in and around the town. We had a really great time, and I took so many pictures that I'm going to split the trip into three posts. This post includes the sites in the town of Nara, which we saw on Sunday. We started at Todaiji, which is a huge temple surrounded by Nara park. There are hundreds (maybe thousands) of deer which roam freely here. One can purchase deer biscuits to feed the deer, though they will come up to you and sniff you out for food regardless. I don't think I have ever touched a deer before, so this was an interesting experience. Once purchasing the biscuits, of course they swarmed me, and one even bit me in the behind!!! The deer are sacred, so perhaps this is a good sign, and nonetheless a humorous story. The photos show the Nandaimon gate which houses two huge Nio guardian statues dating from the 13th century, and the Daibutsuden Hall which is the largest wooden building in the world, and houses a 16 meter high bronze Buddha. We also saw many other amazing sculptures on the grounds.

The next stop was the Kasuga Taisha shrine, a Shinto shrine nearby Todaiji that was founded in the 8th century, with the present structures dating from the 19th century. Prior to that the shrine was rebuilt every 20 or so years according to Shinto tradition. The site and the grounds were really beautiful, set in an old forest, and with over 3,000 lanterns, and of course many deer. We also had some green tea ice cream nearby for an afternoon snack.

The final stop of the day was Kofukuji, where we saw more deer, a large group of pilgrims, the 5 and 3 story pagodas, and more wonderful sculptures. This temple dates from 710, but many of the buildings were rebuilt throughout history due to fires and other destruction. After some quick shopping near the station, we took the trains back to Okazaki, eating bento on the Shinkansen. :)

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Okazaki mall

So, this evening we set out for the Okazaki mall. This was not the best idea, as it is about a thirty minute walk, and it is rainy season, but it was fun nonetheless. At many points I could have easily forgot that I was not at Woodfield, or any other American mall, but then we would stumble upon the kids kimono section (complete with Hello Kitty kimono) or the tea shop. Ah, globalization...The Sanrio store (Hello Kitty) was probably my favorite. We ate dinner at a Chinese restaurant in the mall that was pretty good (see photo), and walked back in the rain. A good Thursday evening in all. :)