Our accommodations were surprisingly excellent-- spartan rooms at the Shirakami Retreat Center, which turned out to possess, among other things, an excellent view of the Japan Sea, an excellent onsen bath, as well as a spacious gym, of which we made good use.
|Hrrk. These pictures taken by Kobayashi-sensei.|
Dinner was served late-- a good thing, since it turned out to be one of the most elaborate meals I've eaten here so far-- an elaborate multi-course affair, joined by a few of Kobayashi-sensei's acquaintances from the area, during which, among other things, I was encouraged to eat whole raw shrimp, most of a largish whole-roasted flounder (I couldn't get through the liver and egg sac), several different pickled mountain vegetables, tuna and squid sashimi served with astringent burdock leaves, tiny deep-fried octopi, yakitori, konnyaku, vegetable tempura, miso soup, tofu-rice inari-zushi, a cold, creamy corn pudding, salad, and rice, refilling and being refilled on beer all the while, as is customary at formal dinner events.
It was, to say the least, quite a spread. As a somewhat reluctant "I'll try-anything-once-tarian" by necessity (actual vegetarian options being so far as I can tell, bizarrely unthinkable to most all my hosts around these parts), I was somewhat surprised to see not a few of my meat-eating colleagues making obvious faces of disdain at a few of the items on offer.
Full somewhere beyond capacity and more than slightly buzzed, we bedded down at midnight, in order that we have enough sleep for what Kobayashi-sensei assured us would be the trying main event of the retreat-- weapon practice at a nearby shrine.