I just returned from a jovial evening in our new host city of Miyako. After a warm welcome and fabulous dinner by the local rotary group, we accepted an invitation from rotary member Katsushi to finish the evening by visiting his bar. Our team, along with several other rotary members, enjoyed an assortment of specialty drinks that Katsushi himself prepared.
The Japanese culture of seamlessly blending ascetic appreciation into every aspect of life extends to drinking as well. Katushi prepared not just drinks, but meaningful works of art that we wanted to admire instead of consume. He served us a blue grapefruit cocktail with the fruit garnish carved into the shape of dolphins and fish. Next came an intricate fruit blend that took him 15 minutes to prepare: he hollowed out an apple and topped off the drink with a decorative cherry tree (sure beats writing your initials in Guinness foam). The drink, he told us, expresses the Japanese mind. For the last course, he carved a grapefruit skin in the shape of a dragon for our team leader Andy, as it represented good luck and safe travels. When I return home, my usual drink at the local pub is definitely going to suffer from comparison.
Tomorrow we will begin our first home stay, and we’ll also be celebrating the spring equinox by taking a boat ride in Rikuchu kaigan national park.