Viking Invades Hinuma

At the beginning of October, our friend Martin became our first guest aboard Bluesette. Martin is from Sweden and has lived in Japan for a long time. We met through blogging a few years back when my only blog was Pacific Islander. Martin writes Kurashi - News from Japan which is all about being GREEN and covers the issues of sustainability, food safety, ecology and energy as they affect life in Japan. He is the author of a new book (in Japanese) which is a guide to consumers on which foods are safest and what additives various Japanese companies may add to their food products. Japanese readers can check out the book here: Food Safety Ranking in Japan 2009

It's a two hour trip from Martin's home by train and bus. We picked him up at the bus terminal in Itako City and drove up the eastern shore of Lake Kitaura and on to Hinuma. The weather was going to be wet, but we were determined to go no matter what. Thinking the weather would likely be better in the afternoon, and not wanting to have to break for lunch later, we stopped at Mama's Kitchen.


K & Pandabonium - are we really gonna do this in the rain?

Martin is ready. Bluesette is ready.

We could barely make out the north shore 1 mile away - definitely IFR weather. The Hakutas obliged by launching Bluesette for us anyway, then retreated to the club house. Not sure what they thought of us at that point. Perhaps "baka" - crazy.

Ignoring the rain, we had a blast. The wind picked up a bit and we got sup some speed. Rather than trying to have 3 people change sides with each tack, Martin and K sat on either side of the boat manning the jib and trusting me to keep them from taking a swim.

Agent 99 -"we're soaked to the skin" Agent 86 - "and loving it!"

The mainsail acted as a great catchment system, intercepting the rain and sending it down and into the cockpit below. This insured that the crew got a double dose of rain and also kept them busy bailing.


None of us had prepared ourselves well for the rain. I left my rain gear at home by mistake, K didn't have any, and Martin brought a temporary rain suit, but only wore the pants. I guess we were just determined face the elements and beat them. Lucky for us it was fairly warm with water and air temps around 21C/70F.

After tucking in Bluesette under her cover for the night, it was nice to enjoy a hot shower at the club and get into some dry clothes.

Then it was time to head for Ikoinomura Hinuma - a prefecture run resort just half a kilometer from the harbor. K and I had had lunch there before, but had never stayed overnight.

Ikoi no mura Hinuma - " village of rest at Hinuma"

Our accommodations were spacious Japanese style rooms with tatami mat floors and lake views.

After settling in and having a bit of rest it was time for dinner. Two meals a day are included in the room charge and dinner is ordered ahead of time so it is ready when you arrive in the dinning room. In addition to the set meal, I had ordered a plate of fried freshly caught "haze" (Japanese Goby fish). While we did enjoy them, it was a bit much food as the set meal itself was quite a feast.

A couple of hours later, it was time for the onsen - hotspring baths - to relax the muscles and warm one's body for a sound sleep. The baths at Ikoi no mura Hinuma (separate for men and women) have big windows overlooking the lake. After our long, active day, it felt great.

While one is out for dinner, the maids move the furniture in the room and set out futons.

K is wearing the yukata which Japanese inns (ryokan) provide guests. They are worn everywhere in the resort [men are additionally provided a sort of jacket that goes over it (haori)]. The yukata is also for sleeping.

An occluded front had formed over the area. That's when a cold front and warm front collide and duke it out as to which will win. It can be very hard to predict the weather with any certainty when this occurs until something breaks. I bet on the warm front winning and bringing improved conditions with it.

The weather bureau, however, was forecasting more rain and even thundershowers for the next day. Ha! What do they know?

つづく (to be continued)

Until next, sweet sailing!


Panda Poop Earns An "Ig Nobel" Prize

From CNET News:
"A team at the Kitasato University Graduate School of Medical Sciences in Sagamihara won the [Ig Nobel] biology prize for "demonstrating that kitchen refuse can be reduced more than 90 percent in mass by using bacteria extracted from the feces of giant pandas."


A Japanese and two Chinese researchers who developed a method to cut kitchen waste by using bacteria from giant panda poop were awarded the 2009 Ig Nobel Prize for Biology in Boston on Thursday.

The award, a parody of the Nobel Prize, is handed out each October by the Improbable Research organization at Harvard University for "research that makes people laugh, and then think."

Fumiaki Taguchi, pictured, is a professor emeritus at Kitasato University's graduate school of medical sciences in Sagamihara, Kanagawa Prefecture. He shared the prize with Song Guofu and Zhang Guanglei of China. (IHT/Asahi: October 3,2009)

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