So for four days and three nights the Tokyo IES students took a long field trip to Kanazawa, the "marshes of gold" - a historical city on the opposite side of the big island from Tokyo famous for its gold leaf production and ancient buildings.
The first place on our list was the Ninja-Temple. No, this temple was not for Ninja, but it received that name due to its many traps and secret staircases The temple was actually the home of a lord Daiymo, who worked under the shogunate. There is a secret tunnel under the floorboards behind the main shrine that allows one to escape to the nearby castle. There are stairs with white paper on the backboards, concealing square holes that guards in a room underneath the stairs, when shadows of intruders are spotted on the white paper, can thrust their spears through the paper to stab the enemy's feet. There is also a room with 4 tatami mats (the number 4 has the same sound as the word for death "shi") and a door that locks automatically when you close it. This room was for seppuku, or ritual suicide There are 29 rooms and 23 staircases, when one really thinks about it, that is a ton a staircases!! Many rooms have many openings and secret doors to allow those living in the castle to move freely and quickly in times of invasion, meanwhile confusing the intruders. I wish I had pictures to show, but because it is a place of worship picture taking was not allowed. Have to respect the shrine.
Next we went to a beautiful Japanese garden. Inside the garden we went to a tea-house and watched Sado, or tea ceremony. The tea was super gross (I dislike tea of any kind - it all just tastes like leafy water to me), but I drank it all out of respect. The anko dessert served with the tea was really sweet and helped me finish the tea.
Next we went to a Gold Leaf studio, and created our very own gold leaf chopsticks! I chose a simple design of a simple gold spiral, mainly because I could actually execute it relatively well. A lot of students tried complicated design that usually failed because of their inability to properly execute them. I learned that the hard way many years ago during ceramics. Sometimes simple is always better.
The next day I ate at a sushi-go-round for the first time. I never ate sushi back home, but here I really love it! Although I do still worry about contracting a parasite, but I feel like the Japanese know their fish so I trust their judgment and preparations. Though I don't think I'll ever have the balls to try fugu (poisonous blowfish).
At the ryokan (Japanese style inn) I went to the public bath for the first time. I was a bit nervous getting naked in front of people, but since it was just the female students (no Japanese were using it at the time) it wasn't so bad. Actually the bath was very relaxing!!
It was a very tiring, but awesome trip!