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Niigata Day 5: Back to Real Japan

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I was so happy to wake up to snow this morning. For you see, Niigata is theyukiguni (snow country), and needs frozen precipitation.

But I had to bid farewell to Sado and its haunted hotels with doting servants for the mainland once again.

As I crossed the sea and gazed upon the undulating beauty of the waves, I felt something that I like to think is akin to what Hokusai felt when he madeThe Great Wave( External link ), though I was on the wrong side of Japan.

We headed to a new city, Sanjyou [map( External link )], and were greeted by a new guide. For the past few days we've had older taxi drivers as defacto guides, so it was nice to have a pretty young lady guide us around today.Ow! I just felt the wrath of my gf.

So first we went to Honjyouji [map( External link )] [website( External link )], a temple that rivals the best that Kyoto has to offer. The monk that guided us around what kind enough to let us in holy areas that people aren't normally allowed in.

For instance, we got to encounter and pet cow statues, carved by my new favorite artist (Ishikawa Unchou, seeday seven( External link ) for pics that do him justice) in a back room. He is buried here too.

We had lunch at a local ramen place. Curry ramen is all the rage around here, so we had that. The funny thing is, I unknowingly invented the same thing a few weeks ago, but the restaurant does it better. I noticed that the noodles were eggier and the curry sweeter than normal and remarked so to our guide. Later the cook came by and mentioned these qualities. Our pretty guide related my observances of these very qualities, much to his surprise. I'm on my way to being abi-gurume (b [weird] -rank gourmet)! Here's a map( External link ) with tons of curry ramen places.

We stopped by a local... Uh... Nailry? Nail-beatery? Something like that. Anyways, I made two nails. We watched the old men there start a knife--one of the products this town, Sanjyo, is known for. I guess that makes it a knife-beatery as well. The town does copper-goods too.

Tonight's feast beat even the extravagance of old haunted onsen land. Tonight's place, an onsen named Minoya [map( External link )] in a village removed from Sanjyo by distance and mountains, also wins due to the karaoke rooms. If you want to practice some of the songs I sung tonight, just find the karaoke link at the top-right of this blog's sidebar.

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