Monday, November 29, 2004

The magical mystery tour

Yesterday I went on a bus tour with the Sabae International Association. I was a little reluctant to go at first, partly because the trip clashed with a Franz Ferdinand gig in Osaka, and partly because the bus left at 6.50am, which is bloody early for a Sunday by anyone's standards.

Anyway, once underway I had a great time. We stopped off in Izushi in Hyogo prefecture and had a look at some of the fantastic old buildings they have there - check out the photos of the castle below. Lunch was interesting... Sara soba is the local speciality, which is basically lots of tiny plates of soba noodles, which you have to dip into a sauce you make yourself. I was a little worried when I discovered that the main ingredient of this sauce was raw egg - we were literally given a bowl of eggs to crack into a cup. Still, it didn't taste too bad, and I haven't died of salmonella poisoning yet so it can't be all bad.

We also visited Amanohashidate in Kyoto prefecture, which is one of the three wonders of Japan. It's a natural sand bar which separates a lake from the sea, and it looks pretty amazing, especially at sunset. However, the highlight of the trip for me was the boat. We took a tour round the bay, but when the boat arrived I was amazed to see that along with the usual seagulls which were diving for food, there was a flock of eagles! Once on the boat we could buy some fish-flavoured crisp things, then throw them off the stern and watch the eagles dive and catch them in their talons. It was probably one of the most impressive things I've seen in my whole life - these birds are huge (wingspans of over a metre) yet they swoop and dive like they're lighter than air. Awesome.

Still not sure if they should be eating crisps though.

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