Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Wajima, Ishikawa Prefecture

This weekend I left Tokyo for a spontaneous little escape to the prefecture of Ishikawa, in a small town called Wajima. It's located right at the tip of the peninsula of Ishikawa, going right into the Japan Sea. I had never been to this side of Japan, or to this prefecture, so it was quite exciting. It was a short one-hour flight from Tokyo, but being there made me feel so far away from the city: it's peaceful, smells of the sea, and is surrounded by mountains and tall trees. It's not such a touristy place, but they have interesting things, like a morning market filled with sun-tanned obaachans (grandmothers), fishermen and locals selling products of the sea. The market is called asaichi, and it's one of the best ways to sample all of their local products- although swallowing a piece of raw octopus before lunch was maybe a questionable idea.

Speaking of raw fish, I had the most delicious sushi meal I've ever had. I've probably said that same thing a few times in Japan, but this was by far at the top of the list. The sushi chef made us customized menus based on our taste and the day's catches. I like every single thing with sushi, so I tasted everything from tuna to sea urchin. I loved it all, and the sushi master was so friendly- like everyone else in that town. He gave us many samples of other dishes, which were washed down with the local nihonshu- sadly not so much for me, as I was careful not to drink much, thanks to the heaps of medicine I've been taking those past few days.

My other favourite part of Wajima was a visit to a salt factory and museum, where they take saltwater straight from the sea, spread it over sand, wait for it to dry then collect the salt. I also carved my name in katakana on a pair of chopsticks, which was then filled with gold powder. It seems like I did a lot in such a short time, but I also spent a lot of time napping (recovering from my cold) and bathing in the hotel onsen. All the food I ate in Wajima was so fresh and tasty, except from the hotel breakfast, which included onion rings, French fries and potato salad as part of the menu. Why?

I wish I could have stayed in Wajima longer. The hills and rice fields reminded me of Marugame, and small-town living in general. Sometimes I cannot believe that I used to live in a countryside town only a few years ago. It seems worlds away now. I really miss it a lot- or rather, I miss how quaint and friendly it was. Yet those trips always make me appreciate the life I built in Tokyo, too.

Bittersweet.

The mascot of the asaichi morning market

A rice bowl topped with strips of steak, tasty

Local liqueur

Fish, fish, fish

Why don't people like uni (sea urchin)? 

Sushi restaurant, lots of knives

Chawanmushi, an egg custard dish

Thick green tea

I met the mascot, of course

Rice fields and sea

He brings sea water to retrieve salt

Spraying the saltwater on the sand

Plane sunset


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