Just a short blog before I go off on my holidays - well I say holidays, its two weeks with my in-laws, but the sea-food will be very good (and also the beef for those who don't like the sea-food - the local speciality is tongue (salted and barbecued, or cookied in a rich stew)), and I'm looking forward to dipping my toes in the Pacific for the first time.
It is possible to fly there, but given travelling time to the airports, the bullet train is faster and more comfortable. One of the things Japanese look forward to when travelling is the railway lunchboxes (Eki-ben) usually filled with local specialities. They have always been cullinary gems, but they are becoming little technical marvels as well - last time I had beef on rice, the box contained a chemical heater (Pull a string to mix the chemicals) and the food was almost as hot as if it had been just cooked.
One thing that I always find hard is the diet - my mother-in-law, in common with old people throughout the world, has reverted to very conservative tastes, and eats rice three times a day. My digestive system can't cope with this (try rice as your only carbohydrate for a few days, and you'll see what I mean) and even though they get bread for my breakfast, I will be trying to eat out as often as I can.
I'm also looking forward to visiting one of the local noodle (ramen - 'Chinese' style noodles in soup) shops, which ragularly wins awards for the quality of its food. Ramen is taken very seiously in Japan (an attitude parodied by the director Itami in his film 'Tampopo' - a very funny film if you don't mind subtitles), and this particular shop makes wonderful ramen.
Anyway, my mother-in-law hasn't got an Internet connection, so my Samurai rabbit will be silent for a couple of weeks.