|Hatcho Miso Home Delivery Service|
We were all dying to go on a tour of the place and go through the tasting room. By the time we arrived there was only one tour left and although the tour guide didn't speak English, it was easy to understand the gist of the story. How the soybeans were transported in the old days, how the laborers crushed the beans by hand, and hauled them up to rafters for first fermentation, then later packed them so tightly in the cedar vats so no air could get in or out.
|Each Giant Cedar Vat stores enough Hatcho Miso to feed 300,000 people|
|In the tasting room|
|Peter-san asks, "now what do I do?"|
|The master chefs show him how.|
|Dave-san is an expert!|
My favorite office worker ran to get my wi-fi deposit and then walked me out of the building saying goodbye and he hoped he would see me again.. I plan on returning next year and I told him so. A nice way to end my stay at Yamasa with him watching over me as I made my way to the train station.
As I headed up to the Okazaki station, which I knew so well by now (even knowing which platforms headed where, and how much money I would need for each stop without having to read the map), I watched older women in kimono buying coffee and young artist types with odd hair cuts reading the unfathomable newspaper. I didn't belong there, but I didn't not belong. I was not an outsider in the way I was three weeks ago. I shopped at the same grocery store, made dinner and breakfast every night in my kitchen, hung my laundry out to dry, just like they did. I put up with the local election megaphone trucks that roamed the streets each afternoon yelling out political slogans, sat mindlessly drinking a beer in my living room letting Japanese television dramas wash over me, just like they did. I was greeted by charming business suited crossing guards every morning on the way to school - one stationed at each corner of the least busy streets imaginable, and I dodged battalions of after school bike riding children in their school uniforms every afternoon, just like they did.
I was outside of the culture but had been able to somehow enter it, one layer deep. Like the language itself, every layer revealed more complexity, more flavor, more joy and yet more frustration for me because I had a deeper understanding now that I had not "arrived." How did I ever think that three weeks immersion would get me closer to my beloved adopted language and culture? In fact it took me further away from it because now I could see just how far there was yet to go, how many layers there were to peel back. And the layers seem infinite. And yet even knowing this makes the pursuit seem sweeter somehow.