Friday, January 21, 2011

Weekend in the Snow

The lunch on the last day of our trip

OMG! It's already the end of the month!! :O
Forgive me for this procrastination. I prepared the draft of this post with these photos about 10 days ago. And I forgot to finish it.

Anyway, on the 17t of this month, I went to Kumano Kodo Pilgrimage Routes in Wakayama Prefecture. It was a work-related trip, but still it was fun. But the snow and wind! Gee! We were worried that we might not be able to come back, because the ferry service between Honshu (main island) and Shikoku Island was stopped for several hours.

Wakayama is famous for umeboshi (pickled plums). Look. This entire section was umeboshi section!

And see? They make so many different kinds of umeboshi! Unbelievable! All these cute containers had umeboshi for tasting. Usually umeboshi is very salty and sour. There are some that are less salty or even sweetened with honey, but I wasn't too crazy about them.

But some of the umeboshi I tasted there on that day were amazing. They were not too salty, even slightly sweet, but not the artificial sweetness from something like honey or sugar, and had some refreshing fruit-like flavor. I bought a few packages for my family and relatives, and everyone loved it.

This is something to brag about. This is hot spring by the river. We bathed here at night. We (women) had bathing suits on, though. The water smelled a little strange, but it was quite a relaxing experience. But after getting out of the hot spring... Gosh, it WAS cold.

Kumano taisha shrine in the snow

It was just beautiful. The traditional shrine and the old pilgrimage road in the snow looked like a scene in totally different world.

I wish I could visit there again to enjoy several hot springs at different locations, and try more umeboshi. :)

Sunday, January 02, 2011

A Happy New Year!

As most long-term readers of this blog know, I went through a lot of challenges in the past couple of years. In 2009, the challenges were mostly related to adjustment issues, and in 2010, they came from the combination of mom's surgery, dad's hypochondriasis and my work. It is just amazing that I survived all the turmoil. I guess you can survive most anything if you don't really care about "how well." LOL

To minimize mom's workload in the kitchen, we cooked only a few kinds of new year's food at home. More than half of the food packed in our tiered boxes for osechi feast was store-bought this year, but it actually did not ruin any festivity and made things a lot easier for all of us on the new year's eve. So I was happy.

You see the cute pink-and-white thing in the top photo? It is steamed fish cake called kamaboko in Japan, and I cut it that way to make it look festive. If you can get kamaboko and want to know how to do that, the instruction is on this site -- the one at the bottom.

As a representative of my family, I visited the nearby shrine at midnight on the new year's eve, just like previous years. The stars were oh-so bright in the winter sky that I felt as if I heard their twinkling sound.

And at 7 am on January 1st, 2011, I was on top of the cape to see the first sunrise of the year at the highest lookout in the city, because I really, really need a good luck this year!

I wish you and yours the very best for 2011!!



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