Saturday ended up being Downtime Day, both because we had been going pretty heavy the whole week and because we figured it would be smart to rest up for a day before heading back (especially since plane travel is extra-rough on Greg & Robb).
So we slept in really late and did a whole lot of not very much. Jerry showed me the Kansai Gaidai campus for a little bit. It's, y'know. A small college campus.
And then in the evening we packed up some gifts and went off to meet Hiroshi for dinner.
Hiroshi is the guy that Jerry met in the park near the dorms when he would be there in the evenings and Hiroshi would be walking his dog. (The dog is named Rahb, which is to say, "Love" pronounced Japanese.) Hiroshi is also the guy who insisted that Jerry come over to his house one evening when he was being in particularly destitute student mode, and then made sure he had someplace to be during the holidays. Jerry wanted us to meet him, and vice versa (we brought a bottle of Boulder-brewed mead for Hiroshi, because he owns a liquor store) so a plan was developed to meet for dinner.
Hiroshi decided to take us out for fugu.
Which is, y'know. Wow.
There are restaurants that specialize in just fugu. (There's all kinds of licensing and so on, and yes, technically the puffer fish have toxic bits, but nowadays the risk of actually getting poisoned is on par with getting hit by a car on the way to the restaurant. I mean, it was a pretty crowded restaurant.)
It's a multi-course meal, different parts of the fish prepared in different ways. The first course was a seaweed salad with strips of fugu skin. It had a soy-daikon-yuzu dressing that was tasty and accompanied the other courses as well. The skin was mostly texture, but seaweed salad: yum! After that the waitresses came and filled up big bowls with fish stock for a hotpot. (There were burners on the table.) Once the stock was simmering, they brought big plates of various ingredients to stew, including pieces of fugu that were very fresh. As in, um. A couple pieces still had some leftover muscular contractions going on. But in the pot it all went, and it all came out pretty tasty. To be honest, fugu doesn't have a very strong or distinctive taste; the mushrooms & napa cabbage contributed just as much to the meal as the big chunks of fish with bone. The thin strips of meat were the best bits. You only had to hold them in the broth for a few second to cook them through. Afterwards, they add rice and egg to the leftover broth to make a risotto / porridge kind of dish. And there was maple ice cream for dessert. Which had no fugu, but was very yum.
So yeah, it was an amazingly generous outing. Hiroshi's wife (help, Jerry, what's her name?) was with him, and their son's friend Hajime, who did a lot of translation for us. There was a pretty high language barrier, but it was neat to see how much of a conversation we were able to carry on anyway.
Ooo! I have a picture!
It was a really amazing cap to the trip, and it made me happy to know that Jerry has met some people who are that awesome out there.