芋煮 - Imoni
The lab had a Japanese-style barbecue (literally, boiled potato, but much better than that sounds) get-together on the banks of the river near the school. It's a common place to have do imoni, so we weren't exactly the only people there.
The party started nominally at noon, and in actuality at one, when the first bottle of sake was opened. Yes, sake at one in the afternoon. Pretty sure no one got any work done that day.
It should also be pointed out that the ones opening the alcohol at this early hour were the lab's two main professors, Profs. Inui and Okazaki (the ones the lab is named after). I even have photographic proof over there on the right. In the same photo you can see Jun, the organizer of the lab's soccer activities and one of my "go to" fellas (officially designated as such).
Now then, turning away from the early afternoon drinking, let's go down the equally biblically immoral amount of gluttony we engaged in. I feel it would not be a lie to say I did not have dinner that day, but it may also be misleading. I simply had a lunch that didn't stop until well after dinnertime.
Hot hot heat (for the food)
We had three different pits going, two for cooking up the actual soup that gives the event its name (imoni), and another for grilling.The two massive pots for the soup were each used for imoni, but each was made in a different style. One was Sendai style (Sendai, of course, being the city Tohoku University is in), the other was Yamagata style. Yamagata is the nearby prefecture to the West, known for its mountains and rockclimbing. I'm sure I'll find myself there sooner or later. Oh, and while we're on this climbing diversion, the two gentlemen starting up a fire in the nearby photo both had their first taste of climbing with me last week and we're all scheduled to go again this Thursday.
Anyhoo, continuing the tale of gluttony, the main difference between the two seemed to be the base: one was a miso base while the other was soy based. Further down the cooking route, the miso imoni found some bacon while the soy started raising beef. Each was also loaded with a Japanese potato early on which made for a lovely little picture.
As time moved on, the leftover soup had udon added to it. I was told by Eric, the other white guy in the lab photo, that this was standard practice at parties with broth. Something is always brought to help soak up the leftovers. I've also seen rice used at another restaurant we visited during my time in Kyoto. I'm a very big fan of udon, so this was a happy switch for me. We even made a trade with a nearby group and ended up with curry to through on our udon. Delish. I was too busy eating it to photograph it.
Meanwhile, at the grill!The grill started off with whole fish (and yeah, you eat them just like that, and yes, with chopsticks) rubbed down with salt and cooked to a level of deliciousness well described by the word "delicious." Once the fish ran out, stranger things found their way onto the grill.
I give you exhibit A: the beard of Cthulhu
You can see a bit of meat up above Cthulhu's beard. What you're seeing there is the piece of chicken one of the professor's received from his parent's farm. Also derishous, and below photoed with a full squid.
And thenThe party ended with everyone cleaning things up, and finally gathering in a big circle so that we could clap simultaneously. It was very... uh, it was very - oh hell, I can't find another way to say it - it was super Japanesey.
Check out the rest of the party in the gallery.