Sushi, Sightseeing & Sports

Posted on June 1st, by Joni Montgomery in Trading Cultures. 1 Comment

On our first Saturday here, Megan, Maria, Grace and I went to Otaru with our hosts. Otaru is an ocean town known for its glass. We ate sushi (raw fish) and went shopping. The raw fish wasn’t terrible, but I do not foresee myself choosing to eat it again any time soon. Tuna was the best one because you could actually tear off pieces instead of having to shove the whole thing in your mouth! The sushi went around the restaurant on a conveyor belt (see picture above). If you saw something you wanted, you simply had to grab it. The price of the food was indicated by a plate color code system. Each plate contained a microchip. When you finished eating, your stack of plates was scanned to determine your bill. (See picture on left)
Eating sushi

Mami, Hazuki, Me and Maria eating sushi.

Adventurer Grace chose an adorable sushi topped with whole Firefly squid. She ate it and said it wasn’t horrible – so I tried it. However, I made the big mistake of just taking the squid to eat without all of the extra toppings, which complement the dish and make it more edible. Needless to say, I will not be eating whole squid for my birthday! The squid itself wasn’t bad, but the eyeball made a crunch and got stuck in my teeth… (See pictures below)



After lunch, we walked around Otaru and visited several shops. We tried some delicious chocolate desserts and green tea mochi. (Mochi is a gummy-like dessert, this particular mochi was coated in powdered green tea leaves.) The glass shops were incredible, although I felt like it was dangerous for me to enter – I am like a bull in a china shop. All around Otaru there are young guys who will pull you around in what looks like a small horse carriage for a handsome sum of money. All day we kept passing them on every corner and all day they kept winking at us and trying to get us to ride in their “carriage.” It was kind of funny how we got to the point of seeing one in the distance and making a definite point to NOT make eye contact with them!


A beautiful waterway that runs through Otaru.

After a long day of shopping, we headed back to my host’s home to eat pizza. The pizza was from Pizza Hut, but it was very different than our Pizza Huts in the States. The large size is about the size of our small/medium pizzas. Our two pizzas were sampler pizzas and contained four different types each. They were SO good! It was extremely refreshing and calming to our stomachs to eat food that wasn’t “raw.”



On Sunday morning I woke up early to go to the large animal hospital with my host. Shoko is specializing in large animal veterinary medicine and has to go to the animal hospital early every day. Before we left, Shoko taught me how to make Onigiri, which is a ball of flavored rice shaped into a triangle. Chobi, her super friendly cat (see picture on left), almost stole one, but we rescued it before he devoured it! Along the way to the animal hospital, we also picked up Maria. At the animal hospital, we scrubbed up and were shown around the facility. We made two new friends: Shotaro and Yusuke, both of whom are also large animal veterinary students. We learned that each student has a case (animal) assigned to them that they must care for and treat in the hospital. Their year in school determines how difficult of a case they are assigned. We had the opportunity to palpate inside a cow’s rectum and feel its kidney, which felt abnormally small and hard. I also injected said cow with an IM shot (injection in the muscle).

After this, we headed to another part of the animal hospital – the infectious disease ward. We changed boots and put on more coveralls. Next, we watched as a professor and his students (Shoko included) sedated a calf with Xylazine and treated it for Mycoplasma. Sometimes communication is very difficult here so we did not understand the full reasoning behind their treatment. They sedated the calf, cleaned out its ears with antibiotics and steroids, and also collected the calf’s dripping snot in a small cup. When the solution running out of the ear became clear, they switched to the other ear. Mycoplasma is extremely common in Japan. It’s a unique small prokaryote that travels through the blood stream and collects in certain areas, causing inflation, swelling, infections (the middle ear is often a site of infection), and respiratory issues. Mycoplasma is easily spread through contact with nasal discharge. After the treatment was over (which Shoko later explained was an experiment), Maria gave the intravenous injection of Yohimbine to reverse the effects of the Xylazine and wake the calf up. Maria hit the vein, aspirated and injected like a pro! Within minutes the calf was standing back on its feet again. After the episode with the calf, we changed out of our work scrubs and ate our breakfast with Shotaro and Yusuke. Yusuke shared his Onigiri with us as well – it was so good! Onigiri can be flavored in many ways; Yusuke’s had a sweet taste and was very yummy.

The baseball teams

Later that day, Maria and Rob joined in playing baseball with some Rakuno Gakuen vet students. Maria and Rob were on opposite teams and competed against each other. It was amazing how well the teams worked together with Maria and Rob despite the difference in native tongue! Rob had a great hit while batting, but Maria’s team still won the game! On the sideline, Megan and I cheered and began some new Japanese friendships.


Soup Curry

Soup Curry

After the baseball game, Maria, Megan and I, along with our hosts, went out to eat soup curry. Soup curry is a traditional Hokkaido food, that is essentially curry, but more watery – like soup. An interesting ingredient often used in Japanese food is pumpkin. The meat is yellowish-orange and the rind is dark green. It tastes sweeter than our pumpkin in the States and it is put in dishes to add flavor and as an extra filler. The soup curry was very delicious!
Me and my host Shoko

Me and my host, Shoko

 Thanks for reading and stay tuned for the next post, which will be about our first week!

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