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Day 5, Niigata, Don’t Drink and Fly

Mar. 9 ~15, 2010 - Experiencing the Culture of Snowy Regions and Sake Tasting by Brayton

Yesterday I already posted a lot of pictures from the sake festival. It was a pretty nice experience. I was also able to talk to my employer yesterday. We met Mr. Sekine of the Niigata Tourism Board. I was able to walk around the exhibition hall with him and try a lot of his recommendations. I was even interviewed by the Mainichi Newspaper from Niigata! If there is one thing I love, it is being in Japanese newspapers. So hopefully I will be mentioned in the paper. But after the sake festival we ate lunch in one of the restaurants in the exhibition hall. You’ve already seen my lunch. That was so awesome. A literal two story house of Japanese food. I have a thing about eating the restaurant’s special, and in this case the sushi meal was recommended. I didn’t expect it to come out like that. A very pleasant surprise.

After lunch we parted ways with Mr. Sekine and we went to the Shirane Grape Garden. This vineyard is open year round. At this time in the season, there weren’t grapes to grow, however, they had strawberries. And not just any strawberries. The best strawberries in Japan. This variety is called the Echigo Hime. Echigo being the old name for this region of Japan and hime meaning Princess. Here I am cutting strawberries right off the vine.

After picking and eats lots of strawberries we got some complimentary gelato (which was fabulous) and we went to the kite museum.

This place was so rad. I love Japanese traditions and history like this. The museum is actually called the Kite Fighting Museum. What they do is they build these giant kites.

See that jacket to the left of the kite? That is something a man would wear. That is how big the kites are. Except those kites are the kites the CHILDREN fly. The kites the adults fly are MUCH bigger.

So how do they fight these bad boys? Well. There is a river. Each community area has a side of the river they start on. They fly the kite and then fly it low on the river. The opposing team then flies their kite. They then try to fly the kite over the other kites rope and crash into the water. This then makes both kites crash into the river. The flow of the river then entangles the ropes of the kites together. Then the real fight begins. They have a tug of war using the thick rope that was connected to the kite that is now tangled up with the other teams kite. Pretty cool. So we watched a 3D movie explaining the kites and the tradition behind the kite fighting. Then we proceeded to the museum part where they have tons of kites from all over Japan and from the world. They even have a wind tunnel where you can fly kites.

This was really fun.
But then we got to fly a big kite!

The gentleman standing next to us was the museum curator. A very nice man who showed us around the museum and answered lots of my questions. Unfortunately it wasn’t very windy so we didn’t get sustained flight. But we did get it up in the air.

After the kite museum we stopped very briefly at the Furusato mura. It has a type of Niigata history display and at the time it actually had a tulip show going on. They also had a green house. I got some pictures of some beautiful tulips and some cherry blossoms they had set up indoors.

Then we did some shopping in the gift center. I got some beer brewed by local breweries and some rice made in Uonuma (were we had visited the other day). Then we went back to the hotel and we went out for dinner to a sushi restaurant. Niigata’s sushi is the best!

We then came back to the hotel and I promptly went to sleep.