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Dr John Hawkins

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Posted on 2014/11/16 07:41:31 (November 2014).

[Monday 3rd November 2014]
I woke up at something like 4:30am, of course, and couldn't get back to sleep. So as I often to when jetlagged I got up and spent the time sorting through pictures and getting my blog up to date.

Once the rest of the household had risen, I enjoyed one of Chie's Mum's excellent Japanese breakfasts, and then we generally slobbed around the flat for most of the morning until we decided what we were going to do for the day. Eventually we settled on the plan of getting the ferry to Etajima, an island not far off the coast from Hiroshima, where there was a farm where we could pick our own "mikan" - what we in the UK variably call satsumas / mandarins / tangerines / clementines.

Getting there proved to be a bit of a trek, as we first had to walk to the local station, then get a train from there to the centre, then a tram to the port, then a ferry from there to Etajima, and finally a ride in the farm's mini-bus from the ferry port on Etajima to the actual farm. So it was 3 o' clock by the time we finally arrived, which meant we'd only have an hour there before they closed - but that turned out to be plenty of time.

It was rather an impressive sight to behold, a grove of mikan trees - and this particular farm was perched up in the hills, with sweeping views down to the sea. Not sure if this was a bumper crop or not, but there seemed to my untrained eye to be an absolute abundance of fruit; a citrusy paradise. In return for a very modest entrance fee the farm lets you eat as many mikan as you want on the spot, and you could pay extra to take a bag or a box away too. We really didn't need to take any back with us, as Chie's Mum had already bought quite a lot a day or two before, but we filled a bag regardless. There's something really special about being able to eat fruit straight off the tree, especially what for me is quite an exotic fruit - whilst of course they're widely available in shops in the UK, you don't ever see them growing there. It was also really interesting to be able to choose mikan at varying stages of ripeness, a luxury you wouldn't normally have with shop bought fruit. In particular I found the under-ripe green ones excitingly sour.

Erika really loves mikan so I got the impression it was as exciting for her as it was for us, and she managed to eat a good three or four during our time there - most of which she also peeled herself, whilst sat on my shoulders, dropping bits of peel on the top of my head. It was really lovely.

Eventually we decided we'd all eaten as many mikan as we thought we sensibly should in a single afternoon, and had filled up our bag, so we headed back to the port and got on a ferry back to the mainland. It was a much larger boat on the way back - a car ferry rather than the entirely passenger boat which we'd taken on the way there - and there was a little carpeted area full of small children crawling about, which helped keep Erika entertained for the duration of the journey. Chie's Dad came to pick us up in the car from the port in Hiroshima which helped to make our return journey much quicker than the outbound one had been.

Chie's parents made okonomiyaki for dinner which was very tasty as always, although disappointingly we didn't seem to be able to get Erika to eat much. Too many mikan, perhaps.

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