|Tea Bowl by Ajiko Hiro|
The tour being focused so intently on ceramics, I hadn't really reflected on how fantastic Japanese food is, particularly in the autumn. But we ate really well for eleven days, including some fantastic kaiseki meals.
Japanese kaiseki meals are elaborate, with countless small dishes, normally including boiled, stewed, sauteed, grilled, pickled and fried items. In fall, most meals include chestnuts in some form and red maple leaves, both natural and formed of vegetables, such as carrots. Rice in some form always follows the meal, and a fruit dessert generally follows. Although this may sound a bit formulaic, the enormous array of perfect ingredients -- exquisitely and imaginatively presented -- never fails to dazzle, as the picture below demonstrates.
Our tour's first stop after Tokyo was in Izumo, far to the Southwest of Tokyo. There we visited two brilliant ceramic artists, Ajiki Hiro and Mihara Ken, and enjoyed a marvelous lunch with Ajiki-san at a lovely 200-year old house that has been maintained as a restaurant for eight generations. (Ajiki-san's wife also gave us formal tea served, of course, in the artist's wonderful tea bowls.)
|Garden View from 200-Year Old Restaurant|
A lovely start.