Saturday, January 26, 2008

The Annual Kazamaura-Doshisha University Exchange Student Experience

Every year, four exchange students from Doshisha University visit Kazamaura, and every year Kazamaura treats them to the "North Pole of Honshu" tour . . .

. . . so that young whipper snappers like these from the balmy south of Germany can get a taste of what life is like on the outer fringes of their planet. (Note: the gentleman on the left has his two month-old daughter tucked inside his jacket. The shocked locals were either awakened to the fact that human infants are actually much hardier than they had previously been aware of or, more likely, confirmed in their conviction that all foreigners are utterly insane).

Other than the North Pole of Honshu (which is actually in Oma, not Kazamaura), the awabi hatchery (awabi being Japanese for "abalone") is pretty much the only other stop on the official tour of Kazamaura. I get mixed up in this official village tour at least once a year, but I still learned something new this time.

These farm raised awabi are green (instead of reddish brown) because they are fed solely on something that looks like green dog food. Apparently the stuff is manufactured from kelp growing in regions inhabited by sea otters . . . .

As a special treat, the workers at the hatchery chopped up some of the more lively awabi so that the exchange students could put pieces of them into their mouths with disposable chopsticks . . . which they did with stoic determination. Predictably, one of the girls gagged, but I thought it would be rude to take a picture so instead I told her not to worry and that in all honesty I wasn't feeling that great either (I had to eat some, too, just to save face).