May 24, 2018
I love living in the Japanese countryside. Not to say that there are not friendly neighbors in Tokyo or Japan's other metropolitan areas, but the sense of community out here is stronger than anywhere else I've ever lived (and that includes military bases!)
The other day, I found out my neighbor was leaving town for a few weeks to take care of her son's family while her daughter-in-law recovered from hospitalization. I brought her a few boxes of American chocolates we had in the house to take, since sometimes what you need to cheer up a tough situation is a little sugary goodness.
How did she respond? By insisting that I come in the house so she could send me home with some of the food she was cooking up for her son--his favorites: kurumi miso and takenoko. She said, "Take these home. Eat the miso over rice. Dip the takenoko in your favorite dressing."
How was it? To die for.
The kurumi miso was made with walnuts they had gathered and dried. With some added goma and peanuts, this made the perfect topping over Niigata koshihikari rice. (In fact, I'm dreaming of it right now).
The takenoko was freshly harvested from the mountains. It was my first time ever have takenoko (though I've eaten the Takenoko no Yama chocolates more times than I can count). It was very good. Prepared the way my neighbor did it, the takenoko tasted an awful lot like artichoke, which is something I used to eat all the time back home.
All in all, the thoughtful meal was delicious, but the best part was the reminder of why I love living in the Japanese countryside so much--the sense of community that came with it!
Hitting the books once again as a Ph.D. student in Niigata Prefecture. Although I've lived in Japan many years, life as a student in this country is a first.
Blessed Dad. Lucky Husband. Happy Gaijin (most of the time).