…was short but sweet. We’re already on a bullet train bound for Kyoto, but over the last couple days we were able to do quite a lot!
When we got off the bus on Saturday, Mr. Oki was already there waiting to pick us up. We stopped briefly at the house to drop off our things and then went to eat lunch at the most famous udon shop in the city that is already famous for udon; Baka Ichidai Udon!
Afterwards we went to drop off my mom and sister’s belongings at a Japanese inn named the Makiya Ryokan, which is very conveniently located in between Takamatsu Station, the ferry port, and a local train line station Kotoden Takamatsu-chikko. It offers traditional Japanese-style lodging in a tatami room, which is nice, but from what I heard from my mother and sister, it is a bit old and slightly rundown. However, considering the international art festival, the Setouchi Triennale is currently going on, they were lucky to find a room available even remotely close to downtown Takamatsu, let alone one so perfectly located.
Once their things were dropped off, we made our way down through the city via the shotengai, the famous covered malls of Takamatsu. There, we ran into a beer festival that happened to be going on, and so grabbed a beer and continued walking. One thing that is fairly common is Asia that is not allowed in the States is that one can openly drink alcohol and even be openly drunk in public without any repercussions under the law.
As we continued walking, we eventually made it to my host family’s shop, Olive Hills! It is a gorgeous little shop where they offer exquisite olive oils from Italy as well as some local offerings. One of the best olive oils in the world comes from olive orchards located on an island near Takamatsu called Shodoshima. The Oki’s also have an olive orchard and have even begun to produce their own olive oil as well!
Still being jet-lagged and also having traveled that day, Mom and Meg were tired so we decided to head back to the Oki’s home for a rest. While they were resting however, magic was happening in the kitchen…
They had prepared an incredible meal! There was squid, locally caught sea bream (both of which Mr. Oki prepared himself!), salmon, garden-fresh tomatoes, home-made pickles, cucumbers, Japanese basil, avocado, chicken, red bell peppers, and specially cooked thin-cut beef. The theme of the meal was centered around temakizushi (手巻き寿司), which means hand-rolled sushi. After putting some rice on one end of a seaweed wrap, you can pick whatever other ingredients you want, put them on the rice and then roll it up and eat it. After we had all eaten our fill, we all found ourselves in the car heading for karaoke at around 11pm, ready for the night to continue!
We all very much enjoyed ourselves at karaoke. For Mom and Meg, it had been their first time singing Asian-style karaoke, and they had been slightly hesitant at first, but after a few songs, they had gotten used to it and we’re really into it. After a couple hours, the Oki’s drove them to the inn, and we all got a good night’s rest.
The next morning took us to the port where we boarded a ferry bound for Megijima, an island in the Seto Inland Sea! It was a short ride, about 20 minutes. There are lots of things to on these islands, especially during the art festival season, however we opted to simply have some lunch and then enjoy some sand and sun on the beach.
This particular hot spring is special because of its diverse types of baths. There are hot baths with natural oils, warm carbonated baths in cedar tubs, as well as cold baths in stone tubs. This place is easily accessible by taking the train from Takamatsu-chikko station a few stops to Busshozan Station and then walking for about 10 minutes down a quaint, narrow village street. Also, I should mention that if you tell the person working at the Takamatsu-chikko train station that you’re going to the onsen, they’ll give you a package price that not only includes the entrance fee for the onsen, but also round-trip train fare, a special fan called an uchiwa and a Busshozan Onsen towel, for only ¥1000!
After soaking for an hour or so and relaxing with a beer afterwards, we meandered our way back to the Oki’s home to have a rest before going out to meet my former research advisor, Kii-sensei, for dinner and drinks. Mom and Meg, not able to get enough raw fish yet, were very happy with the food selection.
After dinner we migrated to my favorite bar in the world, Amazon! There, I was able to meet a few more friends of old, Shin-san, the best bartender in the world, and Dejan, my successor from the University of Toledo. As always, we had a blast at Amazon until late in the evening when we all began departing in ones and twos. Last but not least, was Dejan and his friend from the dormitory, and we all got some late night food together before parting ways. Dejan is also keeping a blog! You can check it out here: The Long Route Around the World