Friday, March 30
Sake For Two

Best sleep I've had in ages. However, my body quickly reminded me of the 74 km that I walked the previous day with a single shock of electricity. Starting from my still-tired ankles, firing through my calves, thighs, lower spine and culminating with a violent shoulder-shiver. From just the first few moments of my day, I felt what exhaustion marathon runners must feel around the thirteen mile mark.

Seventeen pieces of toast and a few cups of coffee I was feeling much better.

Time for a road trip. "Over the hills and through the woods". The Sakata's wanted to take us to some pottery stores about an hour's drive away. The ensuing trip proved that only someone who had lived here for a lifetime could drive these mountain roads. Akihiko performed maneuvers with a BMW that I've only seen in Air Force training videos. The one saving grace on the 10 foot wide, winding mountain roads are the strategically placed mirrors positioned at each perilous turn.

These mirrors are also frequently found in the city at intersections where peeking around the corner often risks the from bumper of your car. Such devices could be useful in a country like Canada where the snowbanks can still be four to six feet high at this time of the year and where the nose of the car is measured in feet - not inches.

On the other side of the mountains, we started seeing large, fat raccoons. Plentiful in number, they lined the front of every pottery store at least ten feet deep and forty feet wide. In Japan, it is good luck to have a clay, chubby raccoon in your garden... and this is where you buy them. The first pottery store we pulled into had four or five statues towering above us... and considering that they are traditionally built "anatomically correct", it was certainly.. overwhelming.

Browsed through this place and a second before buying myself a clay, traditional sake serving set. It normally includes a flask for the sake and two small serving cups (a silhouette of one can be seen by moving your mouse over the Words to Learn button above). Of course I will need some help breaking it in when I get back to Canada, so I'll need volunteers to help me.

The third and last store we visited is owned by an old friend of Miharu. A lot of local artists sell their pottery in this shop, so there were some of the most excellent and unique designs of the day here. We also had box lunches in a traditional Japanese dining room.. where my feet quickly lost all feeling from a seated position.

Two of the children in the house came in to play with the Gaijin. They started to show us their gaming card collection for "Dungeon Dice Masters" or something. Basically the current fad for kids. Given the history of Japanese imported fads it will start to gain momentum over the Summer, become an essential once everyone gets back to school and be the competing product on the Christmas shopping shelves to the extended Pokemon toy line.

Flying though a few more caverns we arrived at a ceramics museum with a special showing of ancient glass. OK - so it doesn't sound that exciting. However, the building was positioned on top of a mountain, at the end of a long mountain tunnel and designed like a typical James Bond bad guy headquarters. This place really looked like a young Sean Connery was about to parachute in. There are a lot of pictures that will be going into the photo gallery of this area so my incomplete description should hopefully be compensated for.

My feet really needed a day off today and it just did not get it. I did some more updating of the website and dragged my ineffective feet up to bed.