Monday 6th October 2014
Early start (7:30am on the coach) for a day of travelling. Luckily we seemed to skirt the typhoon, only suffering from torrential rain and strong winds for most of the day ! There were lots of tunnels – some 2 or 3 km long – and every time we emerged it sounded like someone was throwing gravel at the windscreen. One tunnel entrance was faced with white stone to form two enormous swans. We drove across to the western coast of Japan, and then along the coast; there were lots of off-shore sea defences – caltrop ridges, with gaps, but with a second line of caltrop ridges overlapping the gaps in the first row.
We also passed a few coastal hydroelectric plants.
We stopped for lunch at a specialist sea-food restaurant which was next door to a sea-food shop (so that you could buy your own fresh fish to recreate at home the meal that you’ve just had). My veggie lunch was the same sort of selection – rice, tempura vegetables, tasteless tofu, etc – but by now everyone was becoming envious of me, particularly when it came to their shrimps and crab’s legs !
After lunch, more time in the coach until we finally arrived in Tsuruga. By now the typhoon had dissipated into squally showers, so we didn’t get wet when we walked to a restaurant for our evening meal – this time a sort of cook-your-own soup with burners on the tables heating large ceramic bowls of stock, and loads of stuff to add to it. Perhaps because of the typhoon, the travelling, the cumulative effect of so much food at every meal, or the closeness of the end of the tour, this meal didn’t seem to me to be as relaxed as usual; the room became very hot with all the burners going, and although the food was of the same standard as usual, there were one or two grizzles.
After the meal some thank you speeches and presents were given, as this was our last evening all together; most of us would be returning to Tokyo tomorrow, but some were staying on and spending an extra week sight-seeing in the Kyoto area.
Back at the hotel I gave Maou a box of chocolates to thank her for sorting out all my vegetarian meals on the trip, a minor complication that I’m sure she could have done without.
In some respects, this was a strange day – only travelling and eating, no meetings, speakers, etc. But I think that we needed a quiet day to try to process and make sense of everything that we had seen and heard in the very intense days of the study tour up to this point – I certainly did – and to start thinking about what we were going to do when we returned to our home countries.