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From Akita to a plate full of hormones!

The 26kms we needed to travel in order to reach Akita city had taken their toll on feet and minds alike, so we decided to take a day to catch up on all the things that needed catching up on. Wash dirty clothes, fix stilts, shop for wire for stilts, look for yet more rubber tires for stilts, shop for food for empty bellies that get us in trouble - the list ran longer than the looks on our faces when we realized that our day off was now taken up by all the little things that need doing to keep such a challenge alive. Such is the case with most of our days off. Before starting the challenge, we had planned to do most of the daily chores as we walked, meaning that rest days could be just that, days to recharge worn bodies and fill tired heads with anything but talk of walks on stilts. However, the daily grind proved to be much different in reality. With 10 hour days the norm, there was often little time left for the all the odd jobs that needed doing, with sleep taking us over soon after the last of the washing had been packed away. As such, there was always a weight that built up in the backs of our minds with each day on the stilts; this needs to be done, that needs to be written. Finding the balance was proving more difficult that we had first thought.

Akita city seemed to lack the spark that I had been expecting of it brought on by sign after roadside sign that proudly proclaimed it as the home of the Akita Bijin - or of the beautiful porcelain skinned woman. Obviously these visions of beauty didn't do their washing in the local coin laundry, which was a travesty as it seemed to be the only place that I was able to really get to for most of the day. With such disappointment clouding Akita's aura we decided to move on with first light the next day, back to the coast and to our path along it. Our moods seemed to have suffered at the hands of a day of chores and stifled both our concentration and our momentum throughout the day, leaving us baffled as to why there was nothing around us when we stopped late in the afternoon. With stomachs grumbling, we stumbled in to a local eatery that we would never have found had it not been for the kind directions of a local who sensed our predicament.

The olderly owner looked incapable of carrying his frail frame from behind the counter, let alone dishing up something for us to eat. However, as we ordered from his sparse menu, we noticed the life come back to his eyes at the mention of what must have been his love, and as such his restaurant's specialty - 'hormones' or boiled offal. For some in Japan, hormone is as good as an accompaniment to beer as nuts are, and as such fill the pages of menus in many drinking establishments. For us though, the site of a steaming plate of greyish noodly gizzards, was enough to put us off food for the night, even with a head full of beer. As such, we ordered what seemed to be the only other things left on a menu that brimmed with hormones of every imaginable kind. However, it seemed our frail owner had ears only for his beloved steaming gizzards.

"Could I have a rice and chicken set please?"
"Hormone?" he asked as if it had come from my own lips.
"Um, no the rice and chicken please," I said with smile that tried to ease that pain that I was obviously causing his heart by ignoring his specialty.
"Just 1?" he asked sadly as I confimed the order. "Would you like hormone too?" he asked again, the spark returning to his eye.
"No thanks, " I said as the spark began to fade. "Just the chicken and rice thanks." My words extinguishing it once and for all.

As he wonder away back in to the kitchen, shoulders slumped a little more than they had before, we both breathed a sigh of relief, Miki especially after having once had a feverish nightmare about them during a bout of flu. Just as we settled down to watch the high school baseball competition that was filling televisions around the country, our dinner was served.

"Here you are," he beamed as he placed our meals down before us.
"And try this! I've just finished making it." he said as he placed a plate of steaming offal, bigger that our own orders at the centre of our table. At that moment something in our eyes must have betrayed the grateful expressions we were trying hard to maintain because no sooner had the gruesome sight of gizzards registered in our brains than his reassuring voice added,
"Don't worry. It's on the house."
The words that had always meant so much, now seemed to matter little as we both sat wondering how we were going to get through this mountain before us.

posted by Mick and Miki Tan @ 7:39 PM,


At October 17, 2009 at 5:01 AM, Blogger James said...

Anyone tried to feed you guys shiokara since Miki's dad?????


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