Today, Osamu Murao, of University of Tsukuba, invited us to Enoshima for a traditional Japanese style BBQ. We enjoyed a very relaxing day at the beach with an amazing spread of food prepared by students of Sam. The menu included grilled clams, fish, shrimp, and rice balls (yaki nigiri). We played the traditional game of suica wari, or watermelon crush. This is where one person is blindfolded,then they must spin around 10 times (on top of a sword), and then be guided towards the watermelon. Once the group screams go, the person swings the sword down to "crush" the watermelon.
Earlier in the day we enjoyed a lecture by Benika Morokuma, on historic preservation in Kagurazaka, which is an area that was renowned for its numerous geisha houses, of which only 4 remain. The area is known for its roji streets, which is a term describing a narrow alley with a width of about 13 feet. They are made of pincora stone in the shape of a geisha's fan. This area is in danger because it has become a popular place to live. New setback lines are threatening to make the roads wider too. The current laws do not protect roji. Benika sensei is suggesting a system to preserve the roji, and the remaining geisha industry. This would preserve the common elements including the stone paving, the high walls on the front facade, vestibule gardens, shrubs, and the traditional Sukiya style architecture.
We spent a short time there, and I think we all could recognize how special this place is and how necessary it is to preserve it.
Early this morning Brad from the wireless company came to our hotel to fix our wireless connections. We were all very impressed with this type of customer service. He was very apologetic, and without question refunded the charge for the days that it did not work. We learned that he is from Canada and first came to Japan on a trip before college. He went to college and took Japanese classes, and has now been living here for 20 years. I hope that in 20 years one of our group will be saying this too. -Karen