Day 3: About sakura, forestry and sushi

Trip Start Apr 08, 2010
Trip End May 06, 2010

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Flag of Japan  , Ibaraki,
Sunday, April 11, 2010

Wake up at noon after the party in Roppongi the night before. A very nice brunch was awaiting for us, made of "crêpes", eggs, yakult ad so on...

The weather was not so nice during the afternoon. But we needed some fresh air anyway, so we headed to the agriculture science center in Tsukuba. All the buildings there are surrounded by sakuras, and many people had the same idea as ours making the roads very busy: a Champs-Elysées-like feeling, but much nicer with all the cherry trees in full blossom !

We also encountered many rapeseed fields, making a nice colourful and contrasted picture of yellow and pink.

A. then drove us to his Institute. We works as a researcher in a forestry center, the biggest in Japan. He was a wonderful guide to us, showing us his lab and explaining his research topics. The climax of the visit was the wood library: it is the largest in Japan, and they collect in there many samples of as many and different trees as possible. Everything is sorted by species latin names, and some of the samples are really astonishing! We could for instance weight how an ebony sample from Russia is heavy.

The idea is to have as many samples as possible so that identification of materials or unknown samples can be made easily. You can either identify them by comparing the aspect of the bulk material, of make vet thin slices of it (a few micrometers thick). The institute thus keeps a whole library of sliced samples, making Dexter Morgan look like a real amateur ;-)
We finished the visit in the museum part of the institute, where children are often welcomed. Many small and visual experiments are exposed, along with japanese insects and bears specimens.

A after such a brain nourishing moment, it was time for us to think about more pragmatic food ! N. and A. thus drove us to a classical sushi restaurant, where we had a wonderful dinner! We could enjoy sashimi with different kinds of fish: red tuna, salmon, bori,… and for the first time for us, unagi !  Sooo goooood !

At the end of the dinner, we could practice and improve our japanese, saying "Gochiso sama deshita" to the chef for thanking him for the wonderful meal!
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