Monday was a national holiday, so we took a special express train to Sawara, Chiba, a town that is famous for its Edo-era buildings. Rie thought the place was more like Showa-era, since most of the buildings seemed more modern . . . modern and run-down. Still, there was a fair share of quaint old structures like this traditional storehouse, or kura, along the canal. There were also boats that plied the waterway for about 1600 yen a ride, boats a bit more sea-worthy than the one in the photo, but we skipped it, since we could see everything on foot anyway.

For lunch we ate one of the local dishes, black soba (above). The noodles are black because they are made with a mixture of kombu, a type of kelp, and buckwheat. The soba had a nice al dente-ness to it, whether it was cooked that way on purpose or it was a result of the recipe, we don't know. Whatever. It was good, even if the color made it look a bit like long, skinny worms in a dish.