A Travellerspoint blog

Suntory Whisky

Some things in life ARE free

semi-overcast 21 °C

The weather was continuing to cool down. The bright washed out days were now cloudy; the suits now accompanied by light Autumn jackets.

K. and I decided to head to some place warming ...

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... the Suntory Whisky Distillery.

We reserved our position in the tour and signed in at the security station in front of the complex. We made our way across to the starting building and wandered through a photographic history of a man's dream; Japan's first world class whisky distillery.

The pole position for the events was a large hall with hundreds of bottles; wall to wall oranges and yellows locked in glass like a futuristic prison ...
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... rounding corners and disappearing inside giant replica whisky barrels.
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A large wooden structure held many of the worlds best brands; empty glasses below beckoning to be consumed.
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We travelled through the complex, overseeing each stage of the process; malting, mashing, fermention, casking.

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We wandered through the darken bowels of the complex, travelling back through time past barrels prepared in 2006, 2004, 1998, 1993, 80's, 70's, further and further until we reached a cask marked 1924; its inaugural year.

Finally we emerged back into the sunlight; the crisp air and soft creaking of the bamboo forest replacing the bubbling grind of the machinery.

After a short walk through the garden, we were seated in a large hall. 2 free samples of 17 year whisky was handed to us; its light smooth texture slipping easier down our throats.
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Slightly tipsy, we staggered out of the building and back down to the train station. The warm glow leaving a fond impress of fine whisky and one mans dream.

Posted by ImpBob36 04:44 Archived in Japan Comments (0)

Nara

sunny 20 °C

Of all the places I've been to in Japan, Nara has always struck a chord deep within me. A feeling of serenity and calm washes across my soul as I remember the open parks, forests and temples.

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Nara View

K. had mentioned that the Shoso-in Treasures were on display at the local museum and it provided the excuse I needed to once again head out to this rural city.

The train line took us out towards the mountains which lined the north and western views from my home. It was somehow comforting to see the range and always reminded me of the Great Divide back home, never threatening but adding flavour to the otherwise flat horizon. The hour ride took us away from the concrete and smog, through the mountain and into rice fields and open spaces.

We headed for the museum and wandering through the silent halls staring at objects from a by-gone era. After the emperors death in the 8th century, his widow donated over 800 objects to the local temple which he had loved. Decorative red glazed rulers hung suspended in soft-lit glass boxes. Arrow heads and quivers. Ornamental sliding doors and faded violet pouches. His horses bit and sweat pads complete with a pencil drawing of their glory days. Brass incense holders with intricate lion handles. In the lower sections, a corridor held step by step instruction of the construction of wooden Buddas. 4 wooden blocks locked together with hidden joints. Hands carved seperately and attached at the end. Insides hollowed out and a glass ball position in front of colour paper to stare out as eyes.

After the museum, we wandered towards the hills. As they loomed closer, we saw our first deer of the day, resting peacfully in the shadow of a tree.

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Monk and Deer

Thousands of deer roam the hills and parkland and have adapted to the city life with ease. A constant stream of tourist provide a source of food; on every other corner, old people sell deer biscuits for a few hundred yen. The wise traveller will avoid the temptation. Instead, they will sit on any corner and watch the deer swarm around anyone who holds one like a flock of pigeons.

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Wood and Words

School girls dressed in their sailor blues run screaming as the one deer they had been feeding is now a gang of hungry horned beasts; their brown fur thickening with long patches for the winter making them like an army of hunchback homeless.

We continued. The cobble pathways lined with old stone lanterns.
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Lantern Line

Wandering past shrines and temples, the forest and lanterns continue to guide us.
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Moss and Stone

Here in the hills, the sounds of city have disappeared. All the breeze tickleing the trees fills my head.

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Latern around the Shrine

Even here, vending machines stand proud and tall and we rest to enjoy an Seventeen Icecream treat.

As the sun sets, the shadows deepen through the folliage and we weave back down the path.
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Green, Red and Sunshine

Posted by ImpBob36 02:39 Archived in Japan Comments (1)

Wedding party

22 °C

I recieved an email from my Japan friend I meet in OZ (Aussie Slang lass for those keeping score)

She was getting married and she was pregnant. I was so happy for her. She had moved away to Nagoya but was returning to Osaka for a post-wedding celebration with her husbands friend. Did I want to come?

Those that know me realise that I'm not the most socially graceful person. But a chance to see her again and observe a more intimate gathering of friends, I felt like Id regret not showing up.

The day arrived. I had looked up the Latan-Peruvian resturant and attempted to replicate the crude map on the back of a napkin before throwing on a pin-strip suit and leaving. I got into Umeda with 5 minutes to spare.

I stood in the busy station area, looking lost, confused. At this hour, the information booths were closed. The large map on the wall, despite having english named streets criss-crossing it, refused to divulge the location. I sprinted into a hotel and got some basic directions in Japanese. Every few blocks, I confirmed that I was heading in the right direction. Finally I found it.

She was standing outside and a fine pink dress.
"Go ahead up, I'm waiting for a friend," she said. "Oh, you maybe shocked," she added, "its fancy dress."

Indeed it was. Power Rangers ran around the room next to pro-wrestlers and monks.
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Power Rangers

It was an open bar and after a few speeches and congratulatory toast, the food was served. I filled my plate with green rice, corn chips and avocado, spicy chicken, prawns and other strange looking food I wasnt prepared to commit past a bite or 2.

We watched a beautiful presentation of photos set to soft music. Starting as children, they both grew before my eyes. The room danced next as one of the staff came out with a guitar and sang an accoustic version of La Bamba.

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La Bamba

At one point, the new bride said her hubby and friends would perfrom a dance in their suit-suits. For a second, I though she meant birthday suits but before clarifing, the groom with his backup dances had stripped down to blue speedos and started gyrating. Everyone not performing had wipped out a camera, mobile phone or both to capure the routine.

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Groom Dance

The night continued with much drinking and laughing. We sang Country Road acappella style; while sombre it still seemed deep and stirring. Gifts were exchanging and some beautiful speeches were given (despite not understanding it too well, it still managed to bring a tear to my eye). The night ended with a big dance, many laughs and many cheerful faces as we spilled out into the neon-lit streets and scattered into the crowds.

Posted by ImpBob36 21:31 Archived in Japan Comments (0)

The Difficulties of Teaching English

Part 14

sunny 23 °C

How are you today Hiro?

"Oh. I'm be terrible?"

Really? Why?

"I've had diareha for 2 months."

Um. Thanks for sharing.

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So do you have any questions for me Toshi?

He responses, "Yes. You have a very sexy voice."

Gee. *Blush*

Posted by ImpBob36 02:35 Archived in Japan Comments (2)

Nabe Cooking

sunny 24 °C

Recently, I was texted if I wanted to go to a Nabe party. Nabe, I hear you say, what's that? According to the SMS I recieved its a traditional Japanese dish cooked in a hot pot. Sure, sounds fun. Oh, BTW its at your house.

Ms S. had left her job to move back home for awhile before her trip to OZ so she had time to kill. She arrived at the appointed time carrying 4 large grocery bags of vegetables, meats and other things in bottles.

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Her sister was due to arrive at my house soon, so I grabbed a knife and started chopping ; cabbage, onion, chicken, ginger, daikon (Japanese radish) and tofu.

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Ms S's sister arrived as did Ms K. just as they pulled out the pot. What I had assumed to be a large earthen-ware ceramic dish was sleek, white and electric. Thats right, Im in Japan.

We 1/2 filled the Nabe thing with water (as a teacher, I feel compeled to use more decriptive words then thing, but its morning now and the caffine has yet to energise me). We placed the food in the Nabe thing ; we talked, we drank.

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After a few mintues we pulled a selection from the pot and enjoyed a laugh.
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Posted by ImpBob36 21:10 Archived in Japan Comments (0)

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