Wayo Women’s University in Japan (Week 1): Wednesday

wednesday-01It is extremely obvious how important energy conservation and environmental preservation is to Japanese citizens. This includes a heavy reliance on public transportation, walking and biking, always turning off the lights and even turning off the bus engine while at red lights. Also most washrooms do not provide a hand dryer or paper towels. It is expected that you bring a small towel with you in your bag to use rather than wasting many paper towels. The Japanese make sure to put a great effort into keeping their environment and public transportation clean, even though there are very few garbage cans. It is expected that you bring your garbage home with you if you cannot find a garbage can on your route. Also when you purchase food at a street vendor it is intended to be eaten directly in front of the vendor to avoid creating a mess elsewhere.

Once we arrived at school we attended Namba sensei’s tennis class. We started with running three laps around the tennis course, then Namba lead us through some stretches and drills and finally we played two matches. Yuka joined us and she helped us through the drills. We were all very happy to get outside and work up a sweat.

This was the first day that we ate lunch in the cafeteria. At Wayo’s cafeteria there were about five options for lunch. There is a table at the entrance of the cafeteria where you are able to see each of the options and then you can purchase a ticket for the food you would like to eat from a vending machine. With that ticket, you give it to one of the women working behind the counter and they will give you your lunch. We all thought this cafeteria system was so cool and we were amazed to see the differences with the typical Canadian cafeterias we are used to.

Following lunch we headed to Konodai station to take the train to a restaurant that doubled as a school for a lesson on making Soba noodles. Hashimoto sensei taught us how to make Soba noodles. We started off with 100g white flour, 400g buckwheat and 230g of water. Slowly you add the water to the flour mixture while mixing it with your finger tips. The second step is to combine the dough and then the intense physical manipulation starts. We formed the dough, folded in multiple times and then cut it into small noodles, a much harder task than you might expect. I do not think any of our students realized how much physical labor goes into making soba noodles. But the best part was when we got to eat the noodles we just made, and they were delicious! They prepared the noodles cold for us to try, which is the common way to eat soba noodles in the summer. The rest of the soba noodles were packed up for us to take home to our host families to try!