March 1, 2009: “Day #12: Shrine Sale Adventures”

Today we slept in a little to recover from our early morning Tsukigi experience yesterday. We then went to a shrine sale in Machida. A shrine sale is essentially a large, local flea market held at a local shrine. The shrine sales typically have a lot of older items and antiques. Some people set up booths and others just dump out all their saleable items in an area and you have to rummage through them. It was interesting to see some of the Japanese antiques; however, the Japanese crowds were completely overwhelming. In order to maneuver around Japan, the Japanese do not hesitate to push through a crowd and today was no exception. We didn’t buy anything at the shrine sale as it was just too overwhelming for us to process everything (sensory overload).

We then went to a local ramen shop in Machida that had the best ramen we have ever had in our lives! They had very unique ramen flavors. We of course had to guess what we ordered based on pictures. I accidentally ordered tofu without realizing it but when I took my first bite I realized that the fresh, silky tofu melted as soon as it hit my tongue and it was so incredibly soft it was difficult to even use chopsticks. We also had gyoza (potstickers) that were delicious as well.

After lunch we wandered into an electronics store and browsed various items – cameras, fancy Japanese toilets, etc.

Then we went to the local Army base as they were having a flea market sale as well today. Their items were different – mostly local venders selling their goods (not necessarily antiques). Amongst those items were furniture, kimonos, pictures, paintings, purses, lanterns, material, paper, etc.

We returned to Lisa and Bill’s house to get ready for dinner. We then took the subway to Machida, switched to a different line and arrived at Fuchinobe. We took a cab to the restaurant where Lisa made dinner reservations. We ate at Gato’s which is an amazing teppanyaki restaurant. Most of you are probably familiar with teppanyaki as something you would get at Benihana’s. This teppanyaki was out of this world! First, the chef cooked our meal in front of us which was so entertaining! He spoke perfect English as he also used to be a chef in LA several years ago. Our meal started with creamed corn soup which was so delicious, I slowly savored each spoonful. The cream in Japan is positively heavenly and I honestly do not think there is any substitute available in America that can possibly compare. Our second course was a small salad that had the most amazing fresh dressing. The dressing was made from pureed carrots, apples, onions, garlic, ginger, and vegetable oil. Our third course consisted of grilled onions, grilled eggplant, and shrimp. Our fourth course was our main course which was steak and rice (our steak fat was poured over our rice). The steak was cooked perfectly (medium rare) and it was so tender that it nearly melted in my mouth. We were also served a side of homemade pickled vegetables. Our meal concluded with a cup of tea and a small dessert that was layered with a mango flan, kiwi sauce, sliced strawberries, and whipped cream. To accompany our meal we were served the best sake we have ever had. It was so smooth it went down like water and it had an incredibly subtle flavor. It was the perfect accompaniment to our utterly amazing meal.

Our trip to Kamakura has been postponed to Tuesday so tomorrow we will likely begin repacking and mail a few packages back home.

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