September 22nd, 2007 – by: nausicaa
Sake brewer, the tanks
This week we have again a 3 day weekend, this time there's Autumn Equinox celebration next monday, last week it was Respect for the Elder day. Anyway, the faculty had long prepared a trip to some famous scenic spots in Akita Prefecture (aparently they do it every semester) particularly targeting international students that generally lack the means to go anywhere without a train station. We gathered rather early (8:30) in front of the Komachi Hall and were divided in 2 buses. First stop was a 105 years old (and aparently very famous) sake brewer. We were shown the inside, explained the process and the materials, but all in all it was nothing more than a few machines and huge tanks for the fermentation process. The brand name is Yuki no Bousha and a bottle of their finest sake costes more than Yen 15000! They would't allow us to taste the sake (but we tasted frozen malted rice!) but we could buy sake in their store (smallest bottles at Yen 600).
Well, I think I know a lot more about the process of making sake now. After that we went to Kamenjita temple, once again located in beautifull grounds, like all of japanese temples and shrines in Tohoku, where nature is still so vigorous and vivid. There was a statue to Matsuo Basho (if you don't know him, you should), and I assume this is one of the temples Basho visited in his famous pilgrimage throughout Japan. Here one could see small shinto shrines inside and around the main temple buildings, a reflection of shinbutsu
, and there were several cats freelly roaming around, some of them actually looked rather ill. When the time for the visit was over we just went to buy o-mamori
and food, although they had started the distribution of the Bento
We were supposed to stop at Machi no Eki for lunch, but some people were so hungry they had lunch on the bus in the way there. At least in that place we could finally go to the ocean, as so far we were only able to look at it from the bus window, no sandy beaches there though, just rocks into the Sea of Japan. They had a small shinto shrine there, and also a huge wood penis. Before you all get shocked, it is only a ritual symbol for the kami of fertility, and it is inside this funny red house kind of structure. Then it was time for Mount Choukai, a really tall mountain from where you can see all the way to the sea and has some splendid views, that, according to the photos displayed, looks even better in winter. They had samples of the rocks, fruits and plants you can find in the mountain, and also animals like fox, tanuki, weasel, a local type of deer and bears.
There were also some notices of people being injured or even killed by bears in the whereabouts. Unfortunetely for us, time was short, so we couldn't really explore the mountain like I eagerly wanted to. The place was amazing, with or without bears! To finalize the day we went to the Shirase Antartic Expedition Memorial Museum. I won't waste any time to explain who Shirase is (I only learned it today anyway), and the museum is very good, though small. But the best part is the grounds surrounding the museum. They have a replica of the boat used in the expedition, and a giant whale made of stone, the museum faces a beutifull lake and woods and you can see Mount Choukai away in the horizon. I don't think my pictures have captured how wonderfull that place really is, everyone should go there, even if you don't visit the museum.
On the way back to AIU 75% of the people in the bus were sleeping, and it seems like they all went to bed early, even though it's saturday. Last week, around this time, a wild drinking party was going on the Lobby. Today I just sat quietly there drinking cappuccino and watching a Takarazuka performance some japanese student had on DVD.