Trip Start Oct 18, 2005
Trip End Dec 15, 2005

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Flag of Japan  ,
Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Day 6: We started off by taking the subway into downtown Osaka just to check it out. We got completely lost because we wandered around an underground food court before we emerged into the sunlight, but once we got our bearings it was pretty cool. Downtown Osaka is basically a big underground maze of subways and shopping malls. Who needs sunlight when everything you need is underground!

This was a travel day, and we took the Thunderbird train to Kanazawa, and we enjoyed looking at the beautiful Japanese countryside. Nothing too eventful except that in one of the small towns there is a HUGE golden statue of a woman holding a baby. The town
wasn't in our guidebook or on our map, so we don't have any idea what it is.

When we got to Kanazawa we found a tourist information center where they helped us book our hotel. We felt like celebrities when we walked in with our overstuffed backpacks and were greeted with "Are you the Hosches?" Another lady even accompanied us to our rooms to make sure everything was in order.

We went to Katamachi (downtown Kanazawa) for dinner. Even though I went to school here for six weeks seven years ago, I didn't spend much time in Katamachi, so I didn't know where to go. We stumbled into an izakaya, a place where you drink beer and get small portions of many different foods. I could only read part of the menu and a lot of the food was new to me, so the waitress pointed at various parts of her body to explain what the food was. I'm pretty sure we ate pig boob. Also, we accidentally got liver when we thought we were getting ribs. The Japanese word for liver is "ri-ba". When we left there we got a special gift of dried shrimp-chip snacks. I think they liked us.

Day 7: We spent the morning exploring Kenrokuen, which means "Combined Six Garden." It is considered one of the top three gardens in Japan because it has all six of the elements that make up a Japanese garden. It's really pretty, but you'll have to take my word for it until we get some pictures posted. We got to watch them getting ready for winter by putting up big poles with ropes to protect the trees from the snow.

We went to Omicho Market for lunch. It is basically a farmer's market type place except it is mostly fish. Lots of fish. Many different kinds of fish. So, of course, we had sushi for lunch.

After some more sightseeing and a nap, it was time for dinner. It took us quite a while to find a place but we finally poked our heads into an Oden restaurant (basically boiled stuff). Imagine walking down a dark, deserted alley and opening a door to find a vibrant, although small, restaurant. Again, I couldn't read much of the menu, but luckily all the food was cooked right in front of the counter, and the lady just picked stuff for us. The man next to us spoke English and was eager to practice on us, so that
was good. The Japan Series (baseball championship) was on the TV in the corner. I asked the man which team he liked, and he said he doesn't like Japanese baseball since all the good players are in the Major Leagues now. He likes Seattle, of course. Also, a
lot of people in Kanazawa like the Yankees because Matsui is from there. We really had a lot of fun at this place.

Day 8: This day started with a Japanese breakfast. Janell LOVED it! Actually, she tried everything and only made a face at half of it. Although I had to taste test everything first just in case it was poisoned.

We finally got to the main reason we went to Kanazawa. I wanted to show Janell where I went to school, so we took a bus to KIT (Kanazawa Institute of Technology). It took me awhile to get oriented, but we finally found the dormitory where I lived. I was suprised to see that nobody lived there anymore (it looked a little condemned). We walked around the campus and checked out the bookstore and the cafeteria. Being a technology school in Japan, it was almost all guys. I think we only saw seven female students out of a few hundred. They are probably very popular at this school. I went to look for my favorite place for lunch, nicknamed Montana Lounge by the students in my program, but either it wasn't there or I couldn't find it. The location where I thought it should be had some new looking KIT dorms in that location. Some of the other old haunts, like the pool hall, were gone, too. I guess college areas in Japan change just like in the U.S.

After the KIT visit, we went to a place where they make gold leaf. Kanazawa is very famous for this type of art, as roughly 99% of all the gold leaf in Japan is made in Kanazawa. We watched how they make it, and by the time they are done the gold is only 1/1000 mm thick! They then use it to coat basically anything (including the air freshener in the bathroom). They gave us some tea with gold flakes in it, and Janell got it all over her teeth.

As we were walking back to the hotel, we noticed four litlle kids in yellow hats and big backpacks walking home from school. The three little boys started harrassing the little girl, and Janell was ready to open up a can of whoop-ass on them. I had to position myself between her and one of the little boys at the next intersection to keep her from starting an international incident.

After dinner, we tried to go out to a bar in Katamachi. The bar was very small and would fit only about 20 people, as are most of the bars in Katamachi. After we sat down, we found out there is a 1800yen (about $17) table charge per person just to be there. That coupled with a 800 yen beer ($7.50) drove us to a hasty exit. We decided to find a different bar and found ourselved in a sports bar watching the Japan Series. This place only had a 500 yen table charge and 500 yen beers. We watched as the Chiba Lotte Marines beat the Osaka Hanshin Tigers to claim the championship (ironically, these are two out of the three cities where we stayed). Although the Japan Series was on, the other patrons were more interested in talking to us about the Astros and White Sox.
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