Towada City

A few weekends back, Ryan and I got in the car and started driving towards Towada City.  It's not too far from where we are, and we had not had the chance to visit yet.  We went for the day and found some pretty neat stuff, including their evening of Trick or Treating for Halloween, which was coming up at that time (yeah, I know I am behind!).

Have I mentioned that we live in rural Japan, in the northern part of the island of Honshu, which is considered mainland Japan?  Well, we do, and while it is rural, and many people stationed here consider this to be remote (in winter it snows a lot making it hard t get out, so I'll give 'em that), there are lots of things nearby that are pretty neat and unexpected when you first try and picture the area.  I personally do not consider this remote and I know it has to do with perception, and since we came from Lajes, which on a tiny island and very remote, I am overjoyed to have so many things nearby, and with a McDonald's off base 5 minutes away, I honestly can't call this remote.  To me, remote means 1 way in and 1 way out, and this has none of those.  It is expensive to get out of here, but the same can be said for a lot of other places that are not considered remote, and all of Japan is expensive, so it does not seem like much of an argument for me.  Nothing is going to stop me from exploring, and there is not much anyone can say to convince me this is a remote base.  But enough of that, let's move on to Towada City.

Speaking of things you might be surprised to find in a small town in northern Japan, check out this bakery: 
Oh yum!  I credit my husband with spotting this.  I was driving and he somehow spotted this out the window inside a small building.
Everything looked so good and it was hard to make a decision, but finally we picked these.  Ryan had the blueberries and I had the chocolate strawberry.
What I love most about Japanese baked goods, and you may find this surprising, is that they are not too sweet.  The Japanese just don't do sugar packed foods, and if it is too sweet there is a good chance they won't like it.  This means not only that the same size piece of cake that you might get in the US probably winds up with less calories (I have confirmed this more or less with ice creams, not so much the cake, but I have a pretty good hunch on this one), you can also taste the ingredients, and I mean really taste the ingredients.  There were actually flavors here and not just sweet.  I discovered that I actually do not need super sugary desserts.  Oh, and I save the strawberry for last.  Get this, it actually tasted extra sweet because it was paired with a cake that wasn't packed with sugar.  I will definitely be going back to this bakery.

I took this picture of Sunkus as we were walking down the street.  This is a popular convenience store in Japan.  It's owned by Circle K, which by the way we also have in Japan.
We found a Shinto shrine there.  Wanna know how we knew it was a Shinto shrine?  This is a Torii gate.  These are the typical gates you find at the entrance of a Shinto shrine.  So we took a look around.
It's always so peaceful at these shrines, especially when you are the only ones there.
Then we headed towards the main street and started looking around.  The first thing we discovered was that trick or treating and Halloween activities were that afternoon.  We decided to try and stay around to check it out.  In the meantime, Ryan did a good job discovering what looked to be an art museum.

Sure enough it was!  We had found the Towada Art Center.  These outside sculptures tipped us off to the possibility of an art museum near by.  The street was lined with these great pieces of art.

This is a close up of the picture right above. 
This is the museum, which was back across the street.
I love this sculpture, which is by Jeonghwa Choi, from Korea.
Once inside, we looked at the works in the permanent display.  There were some amazing pieces inside, and in some outdoor areas, including a piece by Yoko Ono.  This was more like modern installation, mixed media types of work, rather than paintings.  I had 2 favorites, although I enjoyed all of them.  

The first that we both really loved was by Hans Op de Beeck from Belgium.  The work is titled Location 5, and is designed to make you feel like you walked in to a diner at closing, dimmed lights, and then out the window from the booths you are overlooking a highway that winds off into the distance, as if the restaurant is part of the overpass.  It is truly amazing, as all that is really behind that wall is the backside of the museum, yet it seems so real that it is a road that keeps going and going.  If you are really curious about what this piece looks like (I was not able to take pictures as it was prohibited), click on this link, go to Art Works, then 2004, and then location 5.  You will see what the room looks like from the inside. 

My next favorite was called Sumpf Land by Takashi Kuribayashi from Japan.  You walk into a white room with a dining room table, all white, in the middle.  Hanging from the ceiling you see the bottom part of a seal, and assume this is like a seal popping it's head up through the ice.  It is all white too.  Then there are dining room chairs too and a sign that says to remove your shoes when you step on the table.  In this case someone already put a chair on the table, so this helped draw our attention to the whole in the ceiling.  When you climb up you poke your head through, just like the seal and you are transported to a different world.  the scene becomes a small pond with fog rolling in, and mossy rocks all around.  You take a look around, and then can spot the seal looking out too.  It was very cool.  Here is a link to the picture of the room.

After we left we found the Halloween activities going on.  It appeared as though kids could trick or treat to each of the stores and get a piece of candy.  The store owner would check off a card once the child had gotten the candy, so they could not come back, or at least that is how it appeared.  Then we saw something that seemed odd.  It was a long table, like a block long, with what looked like a jelly roll cake.  First thought was a cake eating contest, and then we thought maybe going for the world's longest cake.  Who knows!  But we did discover people were lined up to get a large chunk of this cake.
I wasn't kidding, it was really like a block long.
Oh, and we did score some!  I just walked over and a nice young lady handed me a cake piece in a bag to take home (see pic a little further down).

Walking back to the car, I discovered this picture, which seems to confirm something that I always knew...carbs are fuel!
Then I just couldn't resist this pic.  I was born in 1980!
We also passed by the food area at this town festival.  Fresh donuts!
Meat on a stick, which is known as yakitori (usually chicken on a stick).
Ryan and I split a chocolate covered banana, which is also a popular street food at festivals.

When we got home we inspected the cake.  Check it out!  So cool.  They just gave this to me for free.
Yummy!  It was filled with a light cream and blueberries.
Just a few more reasons why I love Japan and the Japanese people.

QUESTIONS:  What is your favorite kind of artwork (paining, sculptures, specific artist or type of painting)?  I plan on getting back to some more nutrition posts, so what topics would you like to see me cover?  Any ideas for my Thursday Thoughts series?


Ameena said...

I definitely agree that the desserts in Japan are nowhere near as sweet as they look. And this is a good thing since I can no longer eat as much sugar as I used to.

Fresh donuts...yum.

Unknown said...

HAHAHA carbs are fuel!

Biz said...

I love desserts that aren't too sweet. When I do have birthday cake, I almost always scrape off the frosting otherwise its way too sweet.

Hope you guys have a great weekend!

Special K said...

I love how you learn stuff about the world and culture just from walking around. I would share a chocolate covered banana with you any day! Strolling through markets is my favorite pastimes. How cold is it there? I am looking into taking you somewhere into Alsace, close to the german french border and doing a cooking class or a vineyard

Gina; The Candid RD said...

That art center seems pretty neat! I am not a huge art fan, but I do love sculptures, especially when they are whimsical like that.
I can see why they don't have much of an obesity problem in Japan. Our chocolate cakes are LOADED with sugar, and make a strawberry taste bland!
I'm excited for your Thursday thoughts series. I'd love to hear your thoughts on pizza being considered a vegetable in schools!

Roz @ weightingfor50 said...

What a wonderful looking exhibit. All the best for the week ahead. I look forward to more of your wonderful pictures.

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