In Japan (Week 3): Monday

Happy Canada Day from across the globe! When we realized it was Canada Day we all felt a little homesick but we were all excited to embark on our last week of this amazing trip. In the morning we went to the famous Kikkoman soy sauce factory in Noda. As soon as we exited the train station I said “It smells yeasty…” and everyone nodded in unison. The factory was only a five-minute walk away with many fermentation silos spreading the smell of soy sauce. We toured the facility and learned how Kikkoman has modernized their 300-year-old soy sauce production process. Kikkoman even exclusively develops soy sauce for the Emperor of Japan; a year-long process using only domestic raw ingredients. At the café we tried some soy sauce ice cream, which was surprisingly tasty, although Dr. Garcia disagreed saying “it is too salty for ice cream!”

In the afternoon we went back to Wayo University for our final food lab in diet therapy. Half the class made a typical Japanese meal with peanut miso maki, tempura, wintermelon stew, salad and matcha pudding. The other half made a meal designed for renal patients with low sodium and low protein alternatives including agar, low protein rice, and maltose. Stefania loved learning how to make maki and we all enjoyed socializing with the Wayo students in our groups. Many of the therapeutic diet options were tasty and I actually preferred the therapeutic diet tempura because it was crunchier.

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In the evening we had an ikebana class, which is the art of Japanese flower arranging. The philosophy behind ikebana is to create harmony with the flowers by balancing the yo (light) and in (shade). The process was very precise and difficult for us beginners to learn. We learned that ikebana is not only aesthetically pleasing but also represents the harmony and balance between man, earth and heaven. After all the flower arranging, we all got to try on some traditional Japanese kimonos and learned a bit of origami, the art of folding paper, for example to make a (bird) crane.

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