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Published: March 17th 2007
Hard at work in Tobe
So back in March, I forgot to mention one of the most memorable free tours I have had yet in Japan. Mike and I joined an EPIC (Ehime Prefectural Information Center) tour offered to foreigners living in Ehime. They provide these tours for free to get us out and about more (knowing not many of us own cars) and to explore the surrounding areas. Our tour started with a visit to the Tobeyaki pottery factory. Modeled after Korean pottery kilns (the original stone kilns flank the hillside, and spread as they move up like an ampitheater to efficiently use all heat) the Tobeyaki factory prides itself in offering original handmade ware at affordable prices. Much of the ceramics in Japan, as my parents quickly learned, is extremely pricey. The tour of the factory was awesome. Pictures describe most of it.
After buying some pottery for the fam at their shop, we headed to a "paint your plate". Except the glazes offered were blue, blue...and blue. So no matter what you painted, it would reveal a Tobeyaki-style aura. While Mike decided to depict the beautiful penguins (??) seen grazing on the hillsides, I painted the ever popular sakura blossoms.
Removing any discrepencies
Finally we toured on to the famous town of Uchiko with a street lined with Edo period houses and old storefronts. There we performed a little on the Kabuki stage. It is not common for theaters to remain long periods of time in Japan. Usually a new theater house is built for each new play, and destroyed at the end. This one had been preserved, with even the hidden hatches for ghosts to appear and a turn table center, man-powered below the stage.
Last was the Kite museum along a river in Uchiko. On May 5th they will host a "kite fight" in which thousands of people line the river with paper kites, each with a metal attatchment to snipe away their neighbor's kite. The last person standing wins money and of course fame. We flew a few kites provided by the museum and managed to destroy all but one by either dunking them in the river or catching them on trees. Thanks to our bus driver, we didn't lose any. What can I say, the wind wan inconstant that day.
All in all, for a free tour I was very impressed. And very tired. Otskurasama deshta.
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