Wednesday, April 8, 2015
Off to Saitama
After having spent too much time working, I had a bunch of vacation days left that they told me I had to use in March or they would just be lost. I convinced my professor that they could get by without me for a few days and went to Saitama. There is not much interesting going on in Saitama, but my brother and his wife were in Saitama on vacation (she was born and raised there) so I went down to meet them.
I brought a lot of cookies and things like that, because that is what you do in Japan. I sometimes bring LeTao cheese cake, which is from Otaru, our neighboring city. LeTao is Otaru read backwards in Japanese (O-Ta-Ru, Ru-Ta-O). They make great cheese cake. Now they had matcha flavored cheese cake too, which I wanted to try. Carrying around a cheese cake for hours and hours in the rush hour trains in Tokyo is not that pleasant, and eating a whole cheese cake in the airport is not that great either. I noticed that they sold ice cream cups with small pieces of cheese cake stuck in them and that you could select the new matcha type too, so I tried one of those. The original cheese cake is best, followed by the chocolate and cheese cake. The matcha is a distant third.
One of my friends recently mentioned that the "Genghis Khan caramel" (Genghis Khan is a Sapporo specialty: barbecued lamb with garlic; a strange flavor to use for candy) that is famous for being horribly disgusting had recently been slightly changed to taste better. I had never heard this before, so I bought a pack and brought it to Saitama. No one wanted to touch them since everyone knows they are horrible. I tried a few and they tasted exactly the same as before... But the friend that told me this was the same friend who ensured me that the Ice Hotel was still open even though the whole hotel melted away a week before, so she may not be the most reliable information source in the world.
Once in Saitama, I had excellent dinner cooked by my sister-in-law. Saitama is very far south compared to Sapporo (and Sapporo is very far south compared to Sweden), so winter is not very cold in Saitama. Indoor temperatures are however extremely cold in Saitama. It is usually slightly colder indoors than outside...