Sunday, September 10, 2006

Sea Bream, Caves and a Buzzing Bra

Yes, it's been a pretty interesting day!

This morning Kanji and I went to a fish filleting class. It was just one of many free classes put on by the city council (I teach an English lesson for another council as part of a similar scheme). We saw it in the town magazine, and signed up for it. It was actually a men's cooking class, but me and one other wife were there. For some time, Kanji and I have been tantalized by the huge variety of whole fish in the supermarket, and at a loss for what to do with it. We have tried, and made an awful mess. So this class was ideal for us (Kanji likes cooking, but doesn’t have much time for it. We often cook together on his days off, and constantly get under each other's feet!)

We learned to cut sashimi! I'm quite excited about that, but after trying it ourselves after watching the Pro make it look easy, we realized we have a lot of practice to do! So beware, Kiwis, I will be buying a rod and catching my own damn snapper if I can't find a fresh one to chop up next time I come home! Next we learned how to bone and fillet a Pacific saury, a fairly small fish that NZers don't bother with, although we probably have it, or something similar teeming in the oceans around us. We pan-fried the saury. And finally we learned how to cut mackerel. This was the easiest, as it was not boned, but cut into quarters. Mackerel bones are strong and hard, so you can easily pick the fish off the bones, and if you get one in your mouth, you're not going to mistakenly swallow it. The mackerel was boiled with miso flavoured with soy sauce, mirin, sugar, and ginger.

After all that cutting and cooking, yes, we did get to eat it! Here is our midday feast:

Clockwise from left: miso soup, tai (sea bream) sashimi, saba (mackerel) miso, green tea, rice and pan-fried sanma (Pacific saury)

(Interestingly, the four lady cooks who taught us the recipes – the professional sashimi chef was a man – put on an anti-sexism video, with actors chatting in a café, talking about things like, is a mother’s life or a businessman’s harder, non-traditional jobs, like male nurse and lady truck-driver and wanting a boy or girl baby to follow the parents in a job – their little contribution to dismantling gender stereotypes in Japan).

After lunch I had coffee in a café in Youme Town with Hiro-chan and a friend of hers, who is going to New Zealand in January, and wants to quickly learn English before then. I will teach her on Friday nights. That makes a nice replacement for Shu, who quit after getting into a little moody with me after two weeks of mix-ups. I am not without fault, but only a man as insecure as Shu would assume I was trying to snub him, as I think he believes. Two weeks ago, at our Wednesday lesson, I told him I was not free the following Wednesday, and could we change to Tuesday. He agreed, and I turned up at the café on Tuesday, but he didn’t. I didn’t have my phone with me however, so I could not call him. I tried several times to contact him after that, with no reply, and he also tried to contact me – I often do not hear my phone, but I saw that he had called. I needed to contact him to change the following week’s lesson to Tuesday as well, because of my filling in at Shoyokan in Kokura for Keio. But I did not get in touch before the day, and he must have turned up by himself (which would be for the second time). I think he thought all this not turning up and not contacting means I don’t like him and don’t want to teach him anymore, because when I finally got in contact with him, he was very abrupt and said he would not have any more lessons. Well, I will email him and let him know he can email me if he gets into trouble during his big trip to NZ and Australia!

After coffee I went to the CD shop and bought The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe for the kids, to keep them happy all afternoon while I (groan) cleaned. And to bribe them to actually come home. They tend to get stuck when they go to Baachan’s.

After the movie ended, we went to Kanairo Onsen (hot spring) in Sanko village near Mount Hachimen. We have been there several times, but this was the first time I have been to the public bath – we usually get a private family bath. Well, it was every bit as gorgeous as Birgit told me! It truly is special and anyone I know who sets foot in Japan will be taken straight there by me to relax after your plane ride. There is a big, very hot pool indoors, but it’s the outdoor section that’s really cool – it’s hot!

When you first go outside, there is a large pool set into rocks, with a huge rock in the centre. At the back to the left, up some stone steps, is a smaller pool set into a little grotto, with two waterfalls – hot water falling from pipes in a narrow and very fast jet, so that it’s like getting a shiatsu massage to stand underneath them. To the right of the main pool, up some more stone steps, is a shallow pool with logs set in the centre to rest your head on to lay down flat in the water. Behind the main pool in the centre are more stone steps leading up to a thatched-roof bay, with another, smaller, rock pool to the right, and a fantastic cave to the left. You enter the cave, and it turns through rocks round a corner to open out into a final hot pool at the top. It was a fantastic place, and the kids had a marvelous time. I got exhausted with the hot water and all that climbing, and never sitting down long enough to relax in a pool because you wanted to get up and see what else there was!

We finished up our day at a family restaurant in Jusco. The kids were almost too tired to eat, but Lena ordered a Hello Kitty kids’ set and Amy a Bullet Train set. Kanji had soba noodles, and I had a special dinner set menu with a little bit of steak, chicken, a scallop, and pasta. Yep, diet starts tomorrow. Again.

If I am not too busy at the doctor’s! Amy has a cold again. Her immune system is weak, from her asthma and from the drugs that keep it under control. So she never gets a simple cold, she gets it bad. She’s complaining of a sore throat, and sore chest, so it’s off to the doctor’s for us. I hope to get her a new allergy test, or view the previous one, as I want to see if animals were on there. I’m thinking pets.
Oh, and that buzzing bra? Today while I was still in the shopping centre, looking at a Star Trek magazine of all things, I felt a vibration in the underwire of my new bra (thank you very much Jolene!). How odd, but I soon recognized the pattern as that of my mobile phone, which I could not hear in the busy store. It travelled from my handbag, up to the shoulder strap,and somehow into the underwire, where I FELT my phone ring under my right boob.