Mr. Powell Mponela from Malawi, Ms. Juliet Wanjiku Kamau from Kenya, Ms. Bibiana Betancur Corredor from Colombia and Ms. Shova Shrestha from Nepal visited ZEF’s partner institute IPADS in March 2017. They attended the ZEF-IPADS Symposium on One Health, as well as joint seminars with IPADS students and excursions to field sites. Besides, some tourist sites near Tokyo were visited. Read about an excursion to Chichibu here:

Excursion to Chichibu, Saitama Prefecture
Saturday, March 18, 2017. At 8:30 a.m. departed from our hotel located near Kumegawa train station in Tokyo, towards the city of Kawagoe, located in the northwest of Tokyo. In the city, we visited the Warehouse District and the Candy Alley. The Warehouse District is full of clay-walled buildings constructed during the Edo period. Along the main Kurazukuri Street many houses constructed with this architectural style can be observed and an historic atmosphere can be enjoyed by hundreds of pedestrians who walk through the narrow sidewalks. In the Candy Alley we could enjoy traditional Japanese sweets like rice crackers, purple sweet potato ice-cream, dumplings filled with delicious bean paste and many other culinary delights.

At 11:30 a.m., we departed towards Chichibu, which is a city located in Saitama Prefecture, in the central Kantō region of Japan. Chichibu is located in the western part of the Saitama prefecture, where its closeness to Tokyo attracts many tourists every weekend who wish to see the local attractions or pass by the town on their way up to the mountains. Many cement trucks can be seen passing through Chichibu, given that excavation of limestone and cement production is now a major industry of the basin.

Making your own pasta
Once we arrived to Chichibu, we went directly to the Soba restaurant located in the Higashichichibu village, where we would experience the art of making soba noodles. When we arrived to restaurant, we were asked to arrange in groups of five to six people. For each group, kind women in the restaurant provided a table, the mixture of buckwheat and wheat flour and water required to start with the dough preparation. After mixing the ingredients thoroughly with our hands and kneading the dough until smooth, we were asked to shape the dough into a disk and roll it out until we had a very thin layer, which we sliced with a special soba knife. At the end of the lesson, we were rewarded by eating our tasty soba noodles, accompanied with sweet potato, onion and carrot tempura.

Paper maker
After finishing our lunch, we went to Washi no Sato: a place for traditional Japanese paper making in Saitama prefecture. In this workshop we could participate in paper making. For this process we used screens designed to make postcards, in which the washi pulp commonly made of natural fibers of gampi tree, cover the screens evenly. The sheets of freshly molded paper can be decorated with flower petals and grass to create different textures. Each one of us had the opportunity to create and decorate our own postcards, which will be then dried and cut according to our preferences.

Wine tasting
Our last destination for the day was the Japanese winery, where we got a broad explanation on the production of sake (Japanese wine made from rice) and some interesting facts regarding the sake fermentation process. After the technical visit, we gathered in a small salon to taste different types of Japanese sake. The Saitama Prefecture has several sake breweries, each one of them with a long tradition. As good quality water is essential for sake production, the Saitama prefecture is a perfect location for the breweries, given its two great rivers Tone and Arakawa that are considered as one of the 100 most exquisite and well-conserved water as selected by the Ministry of Environment. At the end of this wonderful day, we went on our journey back to Tokyo that due to heavy traffic, lasted a couple more hours than expected.

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See also: Crop modelling