Friday, December 31, 2010

Your Friendly Neighborhood Mochi Pounder

日三番:Day 3

In order to prep for the impending New Year’s celebration, the hostel host family demonstrated for us how mochi is prepared as part of the tradition.

The sticky rice used for mochi is soaked overnight, steamed, pounded and then formed in order to become what people consume. Each of the students in the group got a chance to pound the mochi, most of them stating that it was a lot harder than it looked.

Sensei at work!

On the third round of mochi, the gentleman who had been instructing us kept urging me to try and it was then when I realized I was the only blonde in our entire group ^^;

After we had pounded the mochi, we were given plain mochi in soy sauce and (some extremely spicy) daikon, as well as mochi filled with sweet red beans (yum).

Following the mochi pounding, an “emergency” lecture was called, mainly to address the issue of behavior. The previous evening, a few people in the group had become a bit drunk, rowdy and loud, causing a concern for both our sensei and others, such as myself, in the group.

When traveling abroad, especially in eastern countries like Japan where foreigners are very easily recognized, behavior is something that needs to be kept in mind. That is not saying that you must restrict your normal mannerisms and have to be extremely strict in monitoring yourself, but in any country, shouting profanities outside in a dense neighborhood at one in the morning is no way to establish a name for yourself.

As a tourist, you are putting an impression of the state, province or country you represent when interacting with locals and I believe it is important to try to leave behind the best impression that you can. You can never be sure of all the rules or customs when you are visiting a foreign country and you are bound to make mistakes or do something small that may be frowned upon (like leaving your plates on the table in a café or talking on a cell phone on a train), but it is not difficult to make those incidents minimal.

After all was said and done, we headed out to the city flea market and then returned to the main market street for lunch and to browse again.

Sensei asking for directions.

Market stalls.

We found a small area behind a building with a golf practice device set up.
I pretended to give it a try.

And inside the market place, we took some fun photos:

Debating on where to have lunch, the three of us who had been to Japan before decided to take the three that had not visited before to Mos Burger, where I was admittedly happy to have my shrimp burger again.


Four of the group enjoying their Japanese sodas.

Things along the way:

Kimono shop

Statue of a long tailed rooster.


I ran back into Jam so I would be able to get the Milky Planet socks to match the skirt I had purchased a few days ago.

Then, we took a tour of another hundred yen shop, which a couple of the girls had dubbed their favorite place to buy things.
I took advantage of the opportunity to obtain a few more accessories toward building my Deco piece.

We also found the perfect gift to give to our sensei, a stick with a pointing hand on it. Sarah wrapped it and we decided to present it to her the following morning at breakfast.

Throughout the day, we had runs in with some fun signs, including a T-Rex instructing us not to park bikes against the side of a shop.

Treat of the day:

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