I'm back from my trip to Japan, and yesterday I celebrated my birthday with the help of my wonderful friends. Today I recuperated and finally picked up the oboe after not touching it for a good 10 days (yikes!). Since my trip was rather busy, I'm going to break it up into days. I left July 25, getting up at 3 am to get a shuttle to the airport for my 6:20 am flight to Portland, OR. From Portland I flew to Honolulu, and then finally to Osaka (I was using frequent flyer miles, so my choice of flights was rather limited). I arrived in Osaka at 8 pm July 26, after around 24 hours of travel and a 16-hour time change. I was so tired I didn't even know I was tired.
My fellow USC oboe friend Aki met me at the airport with her dad, and they took me out to dinner at a Kobe beef restaurant. Her dad knew the owner, otherwise a meal such as this would have been exorbitantly expensive. Kobe beef is beef from cows that, as I understand it, are so pampered that they hardly move, and are thus nicely plump. But while the fat in other kinds of beef is stringy, Kobe beef is marbled. It is served in small, almost bite-sized portions, but there are round after round of different cuts served different ways. It was really delicious, but Aki and I decided we didn't need to eat any more beef for the rest of the trip.
After crashing at Aki's apartment (the apartment belongs to her family, and usually they rent it out, but it was between renters and thus conveniently available for our use) at 1 am, I awoke at around 6 am the next day. But we decided to get up and go since I was up. We took the train to Kyoto, the ancient home the Japanese empire. And I will post about that, complete with pictures, tomorrow!