Goodbye Japan

I’ve booked one final dive trip with Mariko-san and this time we’re going to Odawara.My last dive It’s down in the western part of Sagami Bay, more or less on the opposite end from Zushi. Mariko tells me that it’s about this time that the squid eggs hatch, so we might see some wee ones. We actually do get to see some, but they’re so impossibly tiny (~3-4 mm) that it’s more or less impossible to photograph them with my camera.

The rest of the dive isn’t all that interesting, but I take some extra care to appreciate the environment since it’ll likely be a good while before I see it again. When done with diving Mariko-san suggests we go visit the nearby Odawara Castle Donjon.Samurai! First built back in 1447 it looks like the quintessential samurai castle and inside is a historical museum. But first Mariko-san pulls me over to a shack in the yard where you can pay to dress up in a very shoddily made samurai costume. Since I have a really hard time saying no to Mariko I end up in the suit together with a couple of giggly Japanese girls who also dress up.

The museum is actually superb with lots of old samurai weapons and armor on display. It’s very cool to see a sword forged back in the 12th century looking like new! It’s also a lot of fun to see real versions of all those weapons I read about as a ninja-obsessed teenager like kasurigamas, naginatas and kama. What is not so nice is the deplorable petting zoo in the castle yard with tiny cages and very unhappy animals.

Back in Yokohama after saying my goodbyes to Mariko and Umeda-san I meet up with Ken as he gets off work since he’s taking me to one last dinner.Yakiniku He had originally planned to take me to a place serving chicken sashimi (which I’m not very sorry that he didn’t (yes, that is raw chicken)), but we end up going to a very nice Yakiniku place serving category A5 Waygu beef which is among the finest beef you can eat. We get the grade 10-12 marbling (where 12 is the highest), Ken also orders in an intestines platter featuring two kinds of stomach, heart, liver, upper intestine and some facial meat! It’s all incredibly gross of course, but I manage to eat it all and it’s actually not bad, the taste is nice on account of all the fat but the texture is iffy. The beef itself is incredible, the thing about beef of this quality is that the fat content is something like 50-60%, but since it’s so evenly distributed it blends seamlessly with the meat. It does make the texture a bit spongy though, which isn’t all that pleasant. We finish off the evening by going for drinks in Roppongi before saying yet another goodbye.

My last day in Tokyo I spend once again wandering around Harajuku before heading over to Shibuya to the wonderful Fab Café. I decide to get a notebook cut in their laser fabber and it comes out great! I also buy a bunch of their little papercraft kits for a rainy day. Shibuya is also where I’ve booked my goodbye beers session, at the same place as the diver pub was. It ends up being over ten people there, including Bonnie from my diver pub adventure. Kenneth brings a couple of surprise guest in my colleague Eva and her boyfriend Carl who I didn’t even know where in Japan, but are staying with Kenneth! It ends up being a lot of fun and a fitting end to my sejour in Japan!