Today was an interesting day here in Toride, as the WCI group were to explore some old established stores, hear about their interesting trade and then make some PR material for them.
In the morning we started out as usual with our morning meeting, where we were quickly briefed about the stores. Then we took off into the burning morning sun. Although it was a short walk to the first store, there was still need for sunscreen and hats. The first shop we went to was Shinroku’s Narazuke shop. Narazuke are traditional Japanese pickles made from fruits and vegetables and only with natural ingredients. The process includes the fresh vegetables and fruits being pickled with sake lees, which is a by-product from sake production, salt and sugar. This procedure was shown to us at the factory, which was extremely interesting. We also got to pray to the god who protects the production and shop at a small shrine in the backyard. To top everything off, we went back in to have some taste tests of pickled ginger, white melon and eggplant. The reaction was varied amongst the participants, but personally I found it quite nice, even though I would prefer it as part of a meal.
After the visit at the pickle shop, we went to a shop specialized in making traditional items for festivals. The whole store was filled with traditional paper lanterns, fans and handmade dolls. The owner and maker of the dolls and lanterns showed us different videos of the process of making said things. It was very interesting to see, as we don’t have anything quite like that back in Denmark. We also took a group photo that was later put on fans and given to us as a present from the owner.
After the visit to the shops, we went back to have lunch, which today was Japanese curry with fried pork cutlet. When everyone was done eating, we proceeded to the next event of the day, which was to visit an old, well-preserved house in Toride. The house was about 200 years old and looks almost exactly as it did back then. We had a guided tour around the building and were surprised to hear that not a single nail had been used in the making of the house. All the beams and pillars that support the house had instead been carved to fit into each other like a giant jigsaw puzzle. This was but one of the many unusual and interesting facts we were told about the building.
The last scheduled event of the day was making of PR material for the shops we visited earlier and the old house. We were divided into three groups, where my own group was in charge of the pickle shop. All groups where then given paper to make a pamphlet. We decided on a design that included both history of the shop, the process of making pickles and our own testimonials. As mascots, Stella from Greece drew some happy vegetables and fruits dancing around in sake lees, salt and sugar. It all came out nicely, if I should say so myself.
All in all it was another great and eventful day here in Toride.
Anne Kathrine Lilholt, Denmark