Sunday, June 9, 2013

Kagehashi Japan (Day 7)

Makuhari Messe | Japanese Garden | Chiba City Council | Hanging Monorail

Bright and early, we toured the Makuhari Messe, Asia's largest convention center. We were given a special presentation by the officials who managed the center. There was also a geology convention going on at the same time and some of the booths were showcasing very high-tech gadgets.

Inside one of the convention halls. Imagine an anime convention in one of these rooms. Apparently renting this place out is $2,000,000 - that's crazy!

After Makuhari Messe, we visited a beautiful Japanese garden in the middle of the city. There was a small teahouse in the center so some of my friends and I decided to allot half our time in the gardens to partake in a traditional tea ceremony.

The inside of the small teahouse - the view to the garden was so serene and majestic.

Red bean mochi and matcha tea!

Scene taken from inside the tea house. I could have stayed there at least another hour...

The main focus of our activities today was to meet the mayor of Chiba city, Toshihito Kumagai. Because Houston is the sister city to Chiba, we received this special privilege. The reception was very formal and political in nature - a proctor read our welcome statement from a piece of paper and that was followed by a Q&A session with the mayor. I got to ask him what his favorite places in Houston were. He mentioned beer.  

The overall visit with the mayor took only 30 minutes and then we were on our way to the next destination via Chiba's hanging monorail, the largest in the world. This looks like something straight out of a sci-fi movie!

I loved the scenery so much! It was hard to recognize the city below from such heights.

We stopped at a cultural center where volunteers performed the traditional shamisen for us. The man on the right was such a pro, by the end of his performance he had a brow full of sweat.

Rice kids trying out the shamisen.

Dinner at a local restaurant. It's so weird to see establishments that look like American Denny's but serve Japanese food.

Tempura dinner to end the day! I had no idea people ate it with matcha powder - it was delicious!

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