Finally I have made the time to get out this blog about the last Chiba-kun tour (the last one I went on at least). It’s the end of February and Spring is slowly becoming a thing, but this tour happened in November and all the stops were in Chiba City. Some of you know that I live in Makuhari, which is in Chiba City. I really wasn’t the most excited about this tour because I thought after over 3 years of living here, I had seen everything there was to see. I wasn’t right, but I also wasn’t totally wrong. Chiba City is a great place to live. All of the stores that I need are here, trains leave about every 10 minutes, and I really feel no need to own a car. Everything is at my fingertips and I don’t have to deal with the craziness of Tokyo. Basically, I really love living in a city. When it comes to tourism, Chiba City can be a fun day trip. There is a zoo that has a plethora of red pandas, museums of the art and science variety and a lovely park that is easily accessible on the monorail. Oh and there is a monorail… maybe the longest in Japan? I need to research that, it definitely is famous for something…. just forgot what.
We started our morning at the Chiba City Market. Here we were guided through the produce and fish buildings. I would call this market “the poor man’s Tsukiji market.” For those who do not know, Tsukiji is in Tokyo and is where the famous fish auction is held most mornings. When I first came to Japan as a study abroad student, my host family thought I wanted to go to this market and I had to wake at 3am in order to witness this auction. To be honest, I’m happy that they took me because it was really cool to watch the auction go down and to see these huge bluefin tuna carcasses. But back to the market in Chiba…. It was ok. By the time the tour started, the fish auction was already over and that is the most interesting part of a market. The guide first took us into the produce building and then talked about the fruits and vegetables for fifteen minutes. You ever wonder what a bunch of fruit and vegetables packed in a room smells like? Wonder no more, because I’m here to tell you that it smells like garbage!
There are only so many pictures of boxes that one person can take before it starts to look like a weird fetish, so eventually I tried my best to understand what the guide was talking about. After the produce building, we were slowly led to the fish building where workers were cleaning up because the auction was over. Finally, we were taken to where the public market was held. This was when things started to finally get interesting and of course, this is when the tour was rushed the most. I did my best to get cool pictures of the fish and other seafood being sold.
We were shown some different types of fish being sold and then were allowed to wander around until 10, which was when we would be getting lunch. Yeah, not a typo. I did not accidently write “lunch” instead of “breakfast.” Good news is that I did not have breakfast that morning, so this was a nice replacement. Bad news was we wouldn’t eat again until 5pm. So…..
It might’ve been early, but this lunch was the best thing about the market place. This was amazing! Sashimi is one of my favorite things in Japan and this went down like butter.
There were two options presented to us for the 2nd stop of the tour. We could choose to either 1. ice skate or 2. go sailing. In theory I love ice skating. My ankles, however, do not. So as much as ice skating appealed to me, I knew that I would be hurting the rest of the day. That left sailing… Here’s the thing, I’ve been sailing a few times and it is a little terrifying every time I do it and I have a reason for feeling this way. Let me regale you with a little story. A long long time ago when I was a little high schooler, I had my first real boyfriend. This boyfriend had a sailing license and a tiny little sailboat made for two people. He wanted to take me sailing because it was romantic and how could it go wrong?! I also thought it sounded romantic and plus, I’d never been sailing and I could trust him because he had a license and he knew what he was doing, right?! So we went to Lake Winnebago and put the sail boat in the water and sailed off into the sunset…. sorta. About 3 minutes into our romantic adventure, the sailboat started to take in water and started sinking and then it flipped over. I didn’t freak out, because it was A: Lake Winnebago and B: I generally know how to swim. We weren’t out there for too long before these two veterans in a boat (like a decent boat that doesn’t flip over and has an engine or two) came to our rescue and helped us flip the sailboat upright and once again we sailed off to finally enjoy our romantic day. Yeah, ten minutes later we flipped the damn boat AGAIN and at first my reaction was similar to the first flip; calm and collected. It wasn’t until my flip flop fell off my foot, that I started to lose it a little, not because “OMG that was my favorite flip flop and how will I ever survive without it,” but because I realized that as that flip flop sank into the deep, never to be seen again, I, too, could sink into the deep never to be seen again. Not the best time to have a moment of morality, but I did and I was so over any of the “romanticness” that the sailing could bring me and my beau. After feeling like all was lost, the veterans once again appeared and once again saved us from our doom. This time when they asked my boyfriend if we wanted to try again, I gave him the look of death and he smartly declined their offer. Our saviors took us back to the dock and after spending forever trying to drag that damn boat back on land, my “wonderful” boyfriend finally figured out that he forgot to drain the water out of the boat the last time he took it out. Lovely….
So there you go. That is why I am a little skittish when people suggest sailing. It was the option that I knew I had to take though and I knew that once we started sailing, I would enjoy myself. We went to Inage Yacht Harbor for sailing. I don’t know if boat rides are available on a day to day basis, but I know that it is a place where someone could go and take lessons for their license and rent boats for sailing. So if you’re interested, there you go.
We arrived at the harbor and were split into two groups. The boat my group went on was aptly named:
There is another reason that I am not the biggest fan of sailing and that is it is a pain in the ass to get on the boat. Look at the picture above. Do you see stairs? Or a stepping stool? No, you do not. There is a rope ladder, which is not the most stable thing to put your feet on. I knew that this was going to be a nightmare to get my butt on, and it was. My purse got stuck on those rope guard rails and I have never been that great at swinging my leg very high. It was an experience… I have found that I generally dislike getting on anything that that takes a ton of effort to get on. Once I’m on all I can think about is how at some point I’ll need to get off and that it will also take a ton of effort, if not more. Same goes for horses. It doesn’t help that horses are basically living cars that can make the decision on whether or not the person on top of them will live that day. Leave it to me to freak out on a therapy horse…. I’m starting to ramble, so maybe we’ll save that story for another day.
Ok, so it took a bit of effort, but I finally got on the boat and I slowly crawled my way to a safe place. One of the sailors (is that what they’re called?) came over and popped my safe bubble and led me to on top of the cabin which made it so I was above the guard rails. Once he made sure I was
terrified safe enough, we set off.
As I predicted, about five minutes in I started to get used to being on water and started to slowly enjoy myself, because in all honesty it was an amazing day to go sailing. It wasn’t very cold and the sun was shining.
Of course, all good things must come to the end and eventually it was time to get off. I spent a bit of time during the ride thinking about my plan of attack. I decided that it was ALL coming off. My hat, jacket, life vest, and bag would be handed off to someone off the boat already and that way I wouldn’t be so cumbersome. Unfortunately, some of the guys that took us on this ride were also thinking of how they would get the most clumsy girl off the boat. When it was my turn, I handed off all the things and prepared my dismount. Everything was going to plan until I felt hands (not just two) gripping my body and trying to guide me off the boat. This wouldn’t be so bad if I actually was losing my balance. I most definitely had two hands on my butt at one point and let me tell you, that was the most action I’ve had in years….
Our third stop was a place that I have actually been to a few times. We toured the Mihama Garden which is actually about a 30 minute walk from my apartment. It’s a pretty little garden in the middle of the city and for a little extra, one can enjoy matcha tea and a traditional sweet. It’s only 100 yen to enter the garden and an extra 400 yen for the tea.
After our tour of the garden, I was starting to get a bit peckish, which makes sense because, if you remember, lunch was at 10 that morning. Thankfully we ended our tour at this thatched room place where we made miso and pizza. I should really look up what this place was, but it was far away from any train station, so the chance that anyone that reads this and will go there is low in my opinion. Also, there was a lack of English on the pamphlet they handed out to us. When I heard we were going to make miso and pizza, I for some reason thought the two would be going hand and hand and wasn’t looking forward to this. For those who don’t know, miso is a paste used in a lot of Japanese dishes and is made by mixing soybeans, rice, and salt together and then left in a bin for a year to ferment. It’s good, but it would be really salty on a pizza. I was wrong, thank God, and we would be making the dishes separately.
My group first made the miso. This required a lot of hand mixing. I have a weird thing about getting my hands dirty. It’s gotten better, but even with gloves on, the feeling of gunk on my hands and not being able to wash it off right away is a my own little hell. So logically I tried to give others in my group silent support as my hands stood on the sidelines, hoping no one noticed me.
Eventually, I was spotted and was encouraged to join in on the “fun.”
Then we were taught how to mix it using both hands. This was done by one person at a time and of course I had to have a turn…
Once everyone had a turn, we then put the mixture in a grinder thing and pushed the dough-like mix in a bucket where it will stay for the next year. As soon as I could, I washed my gloved hands in water before taking off the gloves and washing my actual hands to double make sure that all of the graininess was off. Writing this out and reading it now, I now can now understand the looks on peoples’ faces when I tell them about this little quirk of mine.
Lastly it was our turn to make pizza. I was very much “hangry” at this point. It was close to 5pm and I needed food. While everyone made a pretty design with their pizza, I literally dumped out all the ingredients and once I made sure they were all on and not going to fall off (I’m not a total monster), I ran out to be the first in my group to make the pizza.
This picture almost didn’t happen. I inhaled this thing and everything around me slowly started to not to be as annoying as it was in my hanger rage.
This was my last tour on the Chiba-kun Ambassador Program. I was in China for the last one. I’m still going back and forth on whether or not I will do a few blog posts about China. I think it might be fun to write about if I can find (or want to find) the time.