On Monday, November 23, 2015, I had the distinct pleasure of appearing on the Japan Eats radio show with host Akiko Katayama on the Heritage Radio Network. If you're not familiar with Akiko's show, it's a beautiful exploration of Japanese food and beverage in an easily accessible format through interview with local New York chefs, restaurant owners, and experts in a variety of areas.
In 2013 I wrote an entry for every day of my 3 week adventure in Kyushu. This year I didn't write a single post while spending 3.5 weeks in Japan. I'll blame a wonky laptop that was in the Fukuoka Apple Store until the day I left Japan, but mostly I wanted to immerse myself in the moment without the distraction of "What am I going to write about today?"
My 21 full days and 2 partial days in Japan represent the longest I've been outside of NYC since I moved there over 11 years ago and the longest I've been outside of the US in my lifetime. For the first time in my life I'd been able to get my mind far enough outside the US to gain some perspective. And for the first time in over a decade I'd been able to detach myself from the frenetic all-consuming chase that is life in NYC.
A typhoon that had been threatening Kyushu weakened and changed course so we were left with some clouds and light rain for my last day in Ichiki. A local TV station, MBC-Kagoshima, which had profiled my visit to Komasa Shuzo last summer, found me again for a piece on my internship at Yamato Zakura.
Today is another slower day at the distillery since Sunday's closure means no imo washing today. I get to sleep in until a decadent 7am before starting the day's work. Over breakfast Tekkan-san informs me that the local newspaper and government offices will be visiting to conduct an interview with me - they'd caught wind of my internship through his facebook page.
I was up at 6am to wash the sweet potatoes – all 900 kg this time. Each basket of imo are put into a washing machine for 90 seconds. The timer will tell you how long it takes for you to load your next basket. When I first started I was hovering around 60 seconds to make the transition – get the washed imo out and put the next basket of dirty imo in. Today I managed to get this down to 45 or so seconds on average and as low as 39 seconds.