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Published: October 14th 2007
I finally got around to getting over to Oki to visit friends for a lazy quiet weekend......... (I thought)....... :-)
My destination was a two and a half hour slow ferry ride from the mainland (Honshu), and as with most longer distance 'slow' ferries in Japan the majority of passengers lie down on open carpeted areas, grab one of the rectangular shaped spongy 'pillows', pay a few yen to borrow a blanket if they're cold and snooze the trip away. Of course there are a few TVs around, most tuned to the baseball channel, and if the slightly rough sea isn't enough to put you off having a few beers for breakfast just wait for the boat to leave shore and the bar will soon be open - just stand back, or get trampled in the rush.
The weather that day was pretty ordinary at best when we left, but I was me somewhere I hadn't been before so couldn't help myself but to go walkabout up top. After about quarter of an hour I decided that the people sitting on top deck had seen enough of me swaying from rail to rail with the odd lurch here and here, went back
to my staked out piece of carpet, and snoozed for most of the time left.
I was met at the other end by my two friends and introduced to their 'Oki okasan' (Oki 'mother'). Okasan loves having foreigners visit and treats them like they are her own family. First stop for the day was back to her house where we finished making ohagi (sweet rice cakes). On the menu that day were azuki (red bean), kinako (toasted soybean flour) and goma (black sesame). Then we were given lunch, finished with the first of a few rounds of ohagi :-P
Most of the afternoon was spent tripping round with Okasan on a variety of errands - from getting water from a local stream (much nicer than the stuff out of the tap), to picking cucumbers and other edibles from garden patches up winding paths - no, we didn't jump someone's back fence to get to them.
Back to Okasan's and we were found ourselves in Team Gourmet, given jobs in the dinner production line while Okasan zipped about seemingly doing twice what any of the rest of us were doing. One of the friend's and I were put in charge
of cooking the tempura, and we didn't do a bad job either if I may say so - particularly considering I'm culinary challenged. We were joined by another foreigner who lives in Oki and Okasan's husband for an entertaining evening with more than we could possibly eat. We were later given a ride home, packed off with leftovers and a load of fresh vegetables from her own garden.
The next day was pretty ordinary weather-wise but my two friends and I were still keen to get out so at their suggestion we headed for a beach about an hour and a bit walk away. We had planned on stopping by the local bakery for picnic supplies but they decided to be closed - bakery closed on a Sunday?? What's with that?? Maybe it was just as well.........even with all the walking we probably didn't work off Okasan's dinner :-)
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