The last few exciting things about Shizuoka pretty much revolve around Fuji-san.
We went to make washi (a type of traditional Japanese paper), which was pretty cool. First you get the bark from this bush, boil it and mash it with a big wooden mallet, then mix it with this sticky stuff. Thus far was already prepared. What we got to do was use this sieve to get several even layers of gloop (accomplished by sticking it down vertically into the gloop, before scooping it back up). I somehow managed to make most of mine fall out, so I got two gos 😛 After that, you pick the leaf or decoration you want attached, and pour some more sticky stuff on top. And then! Vacuuming it dry! And ironing it dry! And sticking it on top of a heater at ~200 degrees Celcius.
I do wonder how they managed before they got all the technology.
They gave us picture postcards of Mt Fuji as souvenirs :). And the washi too, of course.
Another cool thing was wandering through these old buildings-a plaster one used to keep valuables since it wasn’t as flammable as all the thatched, wooden houses-a building with lots of little firepits used to raise silkworms, I think (the staircase was very very ladderlike)-and normal paper-walled, thatched, tatami-floored houses. By the park with old houses was this rose garden (in full bloom of course, at this time of year), and a statue of this Russian guy and two Japanese men on a small boat. The boat was oddly resemblant of a Maori waka, which is what caught our attention at first. But the inscription talked about the Diana, the same boat that was sunk at Heda! Pity we couldn’t decode it all 😛
Oh yes, and this young guy from the Japanese House of Representatives visited us. The rep for Shizuoka, I think. We gave him presents from our home countries, and so the next day he came to return the gift!-With chopsticks from Mt. Fuji! 🙂 Cool guy. Makes good jokes. According to our guide this was a bit of a big deal :P. Mr. Politician is in the front left of the weird standing-in-a-circle-photo.
That night (after leaving Heda), we stayed at the YMCA. Here I was in for a bit of a surprise. I assumed that they’d have western style food (not because I wanted it, but because, hang, it’s the YMCA), and I assumed that the YMCA in Japan is as quiet about their Christianity as it is in NZ. I’m most glad to say I was wrong on both counts! The food, though plain, was very Japanese, and the bibles they had were the only I’d seen besides mine and the Gideon bibles in our hotel! (Amusingly, the hotel provided a copy of Buddhist teachings besides the Gideon).
After tea, we made good use of the space in trying to learn the words to Fuji-san, the song our regional group would be singing at the cultural festival. How do you like my wonderful co-leader Chanu’s kilt? He went from asian sensei to aussie farmer to scotsman in an amazingly quick succession. 😀
Also take note of how I’m counting down in the photo just above…Here is where we learn the golden rule: a photo montage should never have more than 5 cameras. THERE WAS A PILE.