Hakone–> Katsamasuri–> Odawara–> Kangawa–> Shinjuku–>Nishiogikubo–> Host Family Home!

Katsamasuri Station, where the smallest public areas are transformed into moments for reflection, gratitude, and appreciation. From Katsamasuri Station, we walked to our next destination to make traditional soba noodles.

When you’re with Porter’s people you’re usually in for a grand adventure of ideas, action, adventures, and inspiration. With Yasuko and her family, hold onto your hats! We began the day with a beautiful, traditional Japanese breakfast at our ryokan: grilled fish, miso soup, steamed rice, natto and rice, pickled radish, steamed spinach, and soft-boiled eggs in broth. Strong tea and western coffee complemented the meal, and after folding our futons and a final visit to the hot spring, we boarded the us to Katsamasuri.

There, we made soba noodles from buckwheat, flour, and water. The process is loving and forgiving, and relies on touch and texture as the foundation for creating a delicious and traditional regional food.

Here we begin: buckwheat, flour, and water.
Amanda, Seo, and Marjorie getting a feel for the wheat, flour and water.
Soba activity in a hive of production!
Bonnie cutting the noodles: soba precision!
Alice, Samar, Maya, and Elena in process!

From there, our soba noodles became our lunch. The texture was toothsome, almost nutty in flavor, and served cold. To them, we added soy, thinly sliced green onions, and wasabi. Perfection!

From Katsamasuri, we took the train to Odawara for a brief respite at the Odawara Castle, “a former stronghold of the Kamakura period,” and later revived as a Shogunate holding during a tempestuous and fluctuating time in Japanese history. While original parts of the fortification remain, much of the first structure was destroyed by a significant earthquake in 1703. The castle was rebuilt (and refortified), and serves as an important shrine and landmark to the country and its cultural heritage.

The entrance to Odawara Castle. Unseen in this photo, but the mountains rise high behind and the ocean swells in front. It was a safe and effective fortification surrounded and protected by the natural landscape!
Porter’s knocking at the gate!
Such power and resonance for thousands of years.

Our nest stop took us to VENEX, where we met the founders and directors of Recovery Wear, a technology fiber company dedicated to the healing and restorative properties of “platinum-mixed minerals and polyester fibers” to stimulate the parasympathetic / sympathetic nervous system. Research in the US and in Europe suggests a booming global market, and anecdotal evidence–including our limited but powerful experience–provides an overwhelming affirmation of VENTEX as a global industry and powerhouse.

Yasuko and Taiichi Nakamura in the VENTEX Headquarters in Kanagawa, where the VENTEX Recovery Wear clothes are manufactured.

From Kanazawa we took the train to Shinjuku, allowing a 15-minute door-dash for food and other treasure and trinkets. We boarded a rush-hour train back to Nagano and then Nishiogikubo to meet our host sisters. After long days of activity and transportations transfers, it’s safe to say that we were ready to be in hearth and home with our wonderful host families.

Until tomorrow, sayonara.

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