September 6, 2007

You Say Hurricane; We Say "Typhoon"
This is only the second typhoon I've had to deal with since our move to Japan a year and a half ago. Matt has to leave when one is coming near which means (joy!) I get to move everything indoors and buckle down on my own. The eye is supposed to hit about 30-50 miles from us which means this should be more exciting, wet and windy than the last one. I did get the day off work though...

Click the image below to see a larger version. There are two red dots: one being the eye of the typhoon and the other, our town.

Rather than fill up the tub with water, I filled up the fridge with beer. Instead of canned goods, I opted for Japanese potato chips and ramen (not pictured.) The pups are good too with plenty of rawhide chews and dog food. I did get my lighters, bottled water and candles stockpiled...just in case.

September 3, 2007

Gifu & Itadori Trip
Click the image to view the Itadori/Gifu Album:

Ukai Fishing in Twelve Seconds

Pissing Off P.E.T.A.(again)

Last weekend, we went to Gifu, (A few hours west of Tokyo,) an hour outside Itadori, a rustic town filled with rivers that sits in pine tree coated mountains. Our purpose for the journey was to see the World Bike Trials Championships in Itadori, a sport that Matt is passionate about. (Click here to see the photos from the event.) The closest hotels were in Gifu and since I wasn't about to camp in 90+ degree weather, we stayed in the city. The first night, we lucked out and got reservations on a boat trip to watch cormorant, or "ukai" fishing, a method of fishing for delicious ayu that's over 1300 years old. This lantern shot was taken on our flat bottomed boat but also decorated many small shops and restaurants in the area, the ukai being a symbol of the city.

Attached to strings linked to the choker around their neck, the ukai dive into the shallow water to catch the shy ayu. Full moons and swollen lakes mean the fishing is canceled. The fishing master watches the birds carefully and quickly begins to untangle the many strings in his hand to pull a bird toward the boat if it has a fish. It looks a bit rough, but he then forces the fish from the throat and pushes the bird back to the water where it quickly starts fishing again. They claim the birds are very spoiled, live longer than the ones without careers in tourism and eat very well after they finish working.
We got to paddle down the river next to this boat for a good five minutes. It was pitch black except for the blazing cluster of pine wood at the front of each boat, a near-full moon, the lit castle perched atop the mountain along the river and the glowing paper lanterns on each boat. There was some spooky, japanese banjo and flute music filtering down from the castle and oddly, I could only hear the music, the quiet splashing of the cormorants and the cooing noises that the boat master was calling to them. I felt like I was back in time a few hundred years and the entire boat of people behind me didn't exist. I was surprised when I played the video I took and heard all the chatter that I'd tuned out while I floated along next to the fishing boat.

Here's the standard method to cook the small sweetfish: bamboo skewered, heavily salted and grilled over super-hot charcoal. The fish is truly delicious and needs nothing more than the salt. We had it again later that night at an izakaya near the hotel. (Gifu, Japan)