Saturday in Narita

2010
01.29

Last Saturday morning I got up, finished packing, and took a bus to the airport.  I met-up at the airport with a friend from college who I hadn’t seen in probably a decade.  We took a local train to Narita-san.  There’s a big temple on top of the mountain, with a gazillion vendors at the bottom, mostly selling food.

So I started by meeting my friend at the Narita airport.  I checked my huge bag, and stashed my brief case in a locker.  Inside locker 007 is a PC full of proprietary information, and cash from 5 different countries.   Yes, I am an International Man of Mystery.  :)

Can you hear the Bond them song playing?

We took a local train to downtown Narita, and walked to Naritasan.  Interesting Japanese note…the suffix “san” is like saying Mr. (or Mrs.).  So rather than saying Mr. Smith, you’d say Smith-san.  In nearly all circumstances they refer to each other in this way.  In less formal situations they’ll use their first names, but still with -san.   So Fuji is the big mountain near Tokyo, and I had heard it referred to as Fuji-san.  I always thought this was done as a sign of respect for the mountain, but I thought wrong.  Apparently “san” also means mountain.  So Fujisan (no hyphen) means Mt. Fuji, while Fuji-san (hyphenated) means Mr. Fuji.

Naritasan

We got this sweet bean cake from a street vendor.  They’re some kind of red bean that’s Asia-sweet (just barely).  They make these in cast iron forms, adding batter, then filling, then more batter, and flipping part way through cooking.  Delicious!

Red Bean Cake

Roasted chestnuts are very popular in Korea and Japan.  In Korea street vendors roast them over open coal fires.  But in Narita we saw these vendors roasting them in these pans.  The little black bits are some kind of smooth stone that helped to evenly heat the nuts.  The arm in the middle stirred them up as they roasted for about 15 minutes.  Then they would scoop the nuts out and sift the stones back into the pan.  What a cool system!  Much more efficient and consistent.

I’m still not quite sure what this stuff is called, but there was a bath tub sized bin full of this.  The big pieces are cucumbers, and the muddy looking stuff is a mixture of miso and sake.  This pickles the cuces.  I’m no ta huge fan of pickles, but I’ve gotta admit…these were pretty good!  They were very crisp/snappy.

Miso & Sake Pickles

I ate a stir-fried grasshopper, but didn’t take a photo.  They’re apparently fed only rice for a few days before “the end”, which somehow makes them cleaner.  Then they’re stir fried in a mixture of soy sauce and sake, till they’re caramelized.  Interesting, I suppose.

This was the gutter hanging from the temple.  Each of the round pieces was shaped like a chalice, with the bottom open to drain into the next one.  I’m sure this is more costly than extruded aluminum gutters, but man does it look cool!

Downspout

The temple at the top of the hill

Naritasan Temple

Curry for lunch again.  Thanks, Will!!!

Curry Rice

This hill had many of these little caves, with bronze statues “living” in them.

Cave Man

The decorations on the roofs of the smaller temples were all very ornate.

Golden Peacock

Three tiered pagoda outside the temple.

Three Tiered Pagoda

Under side of the pagoda.  So much work goes into all this!

Pagoda Decorations

There were incense burners everywhere. People would toss a few bits of the incense in with the bits already burning, then let the smoke waft over them.  I’m not exactly sure why, though.

Incense Burners

My flight left Tokyo at 18:30, getting me into Hong Kong very late (01:30 at the hotel).  If you zoom in on Tokyo you’ll see where we were walking around Narita-san.  If you zoom in on Hong Kong you’ll see the train and taxi route to the hotel.  In Hong Kong, green = flight, red = train, and black = taxi.

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