Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Harumi and Satoshi

One of the greatest parts of travel is meeting new people. Oddly enough, I am not going to talk about how I met Harumi and Satoshi at the Gion Kobu Kaburen-jo Theater for the Spring Geisha Festival. I am going to discuss how Harumi and Satoshi met. 

They'd been married for several years when I met them. Satoshi (him) is from Kyoto and Harumi (her) grew up in Imabari on the island of Shikoku. 

Satoshi grew up in Kyoto working odd jobs, sometimes for his father (professional photographer) and other times at a restaurant as a chef. When he turned 21 he decided to go to New York City to see what it was all about. He had a friend working in a Sushi restaurant and found a job right away. 

Harumi grew up dancing in the (very) small town of Imabari located along the coast of the Inland Sea on the island of Shikoku. Her parents owned a business where she worked while she was going to school. After spending some time going to University, she decided to transfer to Columbia University in New York with a scholarship in dance. She had spent about two years at Columbia before one night when she went out with a couple of friends for dinner. That is when she met Satoshi. They spent another two years in New York together before moving home to get married. 
For them, it took traveling to another country to find love and realize that home was a better place for them. Instead of moving to Tokyo and living in a NYC style city, or Kyoto where culture dates back thousands of years, they moved to the small town of Imabari.  

Neither of them had traveled around Japan much (Harumi had never been off the island of Shikoku), nor had they met each other before NYC. Out of 25 million people in New York and easily the same (well, more) amount of people in Japan, to meet the way they did and connect like they did, almost makes a person believe in destiny. 

They now they manage Harumi's parent's business and commute to Kyoto regularly to visit Satoshi's father. It is a long way from New York, but they are happy and they were great hosts. They translated as we walked around the Geisha (it is Geiko in Kyoto) complex, showing me different items of interest and then explaining what parts of the tea ceremony meant as it was happening. I almost wish I could've packed them up and taken them with me for the rest of the trip. I did eventually meet back up with them for lunch in Imabari. They met me at the best ramen restaurant I had been to since the Ramen Museum. It is nice to have local knowledge of a place!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010


In the middle of the City, surrounded by a moat and enclosed by stone walls is Nijo-jo castle that is one of 17 World Cultural Heritage sites of Kyoto. I kind of had a moment where I swallowed a bit of vomit, so I missed the key part of the Ninomaru Palace... the inner bits. You see, in Japan, you are required (well, it is customary) to remove your shoes before entering buildings. You can bring your own sandals, use their own or walk around in your socks. Unfortunately, as I was removing my shoes, a German man (well, he was speaking German) removed his shoes right next to me. While that isn't a problem, the funk on his bare toes WAS! I have NEVER seen anything so vile in my life! And the SMELL! Oh, I can't even describe it!!! 

I went from taking my shoes off, to putting them back on in .00008 seconds flat. I didn't want to run the risk that my shoes would be placed even close to his, not to mention that I might even come in contact with anywhere he might step. 

Needless to say, I missed a few of the key features of the castle, such as one of the most striking features of the Ninomaru Palace, the "nightingale floors" (uguisubari) in the corridors. To protect the occupants from sneak attacks and assassins, the builders constructed the floors of the corridors in such a way as to squeak like birds when anyone walks on them. I can tell you how to do this... use nails on your floors instead of screws. It seems to work in my house! 
 The Castle grounds is surrounded by an inner moat and has a large garden with Cherry and Plum trees,  a nice sized pond and plenty of room to feel isolated and alone. Feeling alone in Japan is something that isn't easily accomplished.
I couldn't seem to walk past cherry blossoms without pulling my camera out. 
I am not an ornithologist, nor do I even think I know what I am talking about when it comes to birds, but I do believe this is a Black Heron. Yeah, I do know that they are rare, are from Africa and eat small aquatic tasties. Perhaps it is a Cormorant. Perhaps I am making shit up, but it certainly wasn't just me that thought it a rare find. 
Kurumayose entrance to Ninomaru Palace.
Detail from Kurumayose entrance to Ninomaru Palace. The hand carved detail is phenomenally intricate and delicate. 
I am so impressed that some artisan could detail the peacocks and cranes so elegantly. 
The rear entrance of the palace. This portion was very up to date and just like every other service entrance in the world... bland (except for the structure behind the walls)!
It is easy to imagine how old this structure is by the weathered look of the wood. Yeah, 1626 is old indeed!
 Behind the gardens and the lake is the barracks area. Since there wasn't any sign of military, ninjas or ronin here, I believe that these buildings aren't occupied any longer. You know... now that I think about it, you wouldn't seen any ninja anyways. Hmmm...

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Kyoto Protocol

As with a lot of travel, there can be unforeseen challenges. Finding dining options that were accessible to  someone that doesn't speak (or read) Japanese are a prime example of those challenges.
Some of the time, it became a bit of a game to see what exactly was I going to be eating. For instance, the below sign left me no idea what I had in store for me when I pulled into the parking lot. That (a parking lot), in and of itself was quite the luxury. Most places are on an alley or main street with sidewalk or some convoluted driveway out front. Typically, you can't get within 3-4 blocks of a place before you find somewhere to stash a motorcycle.

Other than the delightful aroma emanating from the building below, I would have had no idea this was a restaurant. Yet another reason that riding a motorcycle is much more enjoyable (perhaps I should say... desirable) than riding in a car.

I'm getting a bit off track here. Like I said, it is not easy to know what (or how) you will be eating. In this case, I found out as I sat down what it was I was to be eating. Since the ONLY thing on the menu was eel, I decided that I would have... wait for it... EEL! I could have boiled, broiled, deep fried, tempura, fried or raw eel, but don't ask for them to take American Express...

As I was riding away, I was trying to determine what the sign actually said. Was it Eel-a-teria? Perhaps, Trator-eel-ia? Eel-catessan? Unagi-stro/Eel-stro? Whatever you want to call it, IT was pretty damn tasty (except for the curdled-custard-like tofu pudding)!
One of the common themes for Kyoto was rain, as you can tell by the umbrellas below at the five tiered pagoda in Kyoto. This particular pagoda is in the Toji temple area surrounded by an amazing garden and several temples (that I was not allowed to take photos of inside). 

It is thought that pagodas originated in India though many would believe, due to the name, that it was first created in China or Japan. The predecessors of the pagoda, called stupa, were first created in India. This concept of a tiered structure then passed through Korea and China, which eventually made its way to Japan approximately 1,300 years ago. Though the general idea of the many tiers still remains, the shape of the stupa differs greatly from the pagodas that can be seen standing in Japan today.

The stupa, which can be translated to 'tuft of hair' or 'pile or mound' in Sanskrit, were used as relics that would generally be placed over the ashes of holy individuals, including Buddha. A stupa is generally a five-tiered system, of which each tier is a different shape that represents a different element. The idea of having the representation of the five elements, though not done through various shaped tiers, may also be seen in Goju no Tou (or gojunotou), which are five-story pagodas in Japan. Similarly, three-story pagodas, which are also fairly common, are known as Sanju no Tou. The reason why a large number of pagodas have five tiers is that each tier has a particular elemental meaning in Buddhism. The five meanings are earth, water, fire, wind, and sky. Similarly, the seven sections of the decorated 
sorin atop the pagoda each have a symbolic significance. Their names in Japanese appear below.
1. Hoju……Place to enshrine busshari
2. Ryusha……Symbolizes a courier used by high status people
3. Suien…… Originally, it meant fire. But people think that fire causes the pagoda to burn so they named it suien. Sui means water in Japanese.
4. Horinor Kurin)……Nine rings. It explains five famous Tathagata.
Symbolizes the five famous jina deities and four famous bodhisattva
5. Tairen……Symbolizes the hour scythe and it is found in some sorin, such as at Toji Temple. However people have not found the reason why tairenwas designed with sorin.
6. Ukebana……Symbolizes the lotus flower
7. Fusebachi……Symbolizes a grave

Like I said, the theme of Kyoto was rain. It took me hours to find the Fushimi Inari Shrine, but I kept after it because every wrong turn brought me to something new and exciting. Once I did get to the shrine, I rode through the large vermilion gates in the Japanese torri style mark the entrance to this shrine which is built on the bottom of a hill. Stone foxes (a theme that was quite prevalent in most of the shrines I visited) stand guard on either side of the large formal gates and of the main shrine, which is decorated grandly in bright red – which makes sense when you consider that this shrine is to the Inari kami, the gods who look after rice, sake and business. Built in the eighth century, this is Japan’s main Inari shrine, there are some 30,000 others, and so the best place to pray for and give thanks for good fortune in business

I parked the bike and went up the hill to the entrance of these vermillion gates (seen directly below).
Walking up the hill I didn't stop being impressed by the rows and rows of gates. In some places, like at the beginning and along flatter areas, the gates are put up right beside each other in almost closed corridors, which you can only see fingers of green through, but in some places they're set almost a meter apart from each other, looking all the more striking for being able to see the forest though them. The Torri were so close in the photo below, that I abandoned my umbrella to take this shot. If you walk the entire length of the 1000 Torris you will travel a distance of approximately 4 kilometers up and down the side of the hill. Since I had spent a good six to eight hours in the rain, I decided to turn back after the first 300 Torri. Like the old saying goes, "When you've seen one Torri..." 
Ginkaku-ji (Temple of the Silver Pavilion) is the more common name for Jisho-ji, a temple belonging to the Shokoku School of the Rinzai Zen sect of Buddhism. I was more fascinated by the sand sculpting in the gardens than I was by the actual Silver Pavilion itself (seen center of picture just below). Construction began on Gikaku-ji in 1460, to be halted by war. There is an engaging history of the construction of the Silver Pavilion involving a Shogun, a civil war (that used Kyoto as the battle field from 1467 to 1477), succession, sibling battles and in the end, reconciliation and understanding. 
As you can see, it was a nice sunny day in Kyoto, but with the sun, came the people. The garden path circled the 1.75 acre sand garden shown in the three pictures here (yes, 1.75 acres!!). 
In the background of the below picture you can see a cone shaped structure rising 2 meters into the air. This is called the Kogetsudai, or Moon-viewing Platform. There are several theories about this mountain shaped creation. Some believe it is meant to resemble Mount Fuji, while others say it was designed as a simple mound of sand used to replenish the walkways. Still others say that the cones of this type (they are located in other temples in Japan) are meant to reflect divine light into the hearts of the visitors. No matter what the true purpose is, the Kogetsudai illuminates the Silver Pavilion on moonlight nights, making for a magnificent sight.
As the crowd forces me forward, I find myself fighting to separate myself from the horde, so I took advantage of getting in front of some teenagers who, like teenagers of all customs, were intent on doing their own thing and going at their own pace. This allowed me a quick unobstructed shot of the path up the mountain. It was a short-lived respite and once again, I found myself pressed by the mob behind me. At least I had a clear path in front of me, all I had to do was walk faster than the rest of the people and take pictures when I found a good spot. 
A good spot! Since we weren't allowed to stray from the path, I couldn't tell if the "grass" was moss, but it certainly had that texture, but it was mixed with clover. Whatever it was, it was idyllic. I could picture that hundreds of years ago, someone might be watering their horse at this river looking at the exact same things I was. Perhaps the trees would be different, but the garden has been tended for over 600 years. 
Kyoto is lush, spread out enough that it doesn't feel so congested, it is situated amid some hills (I call them hills... the tallest being 1000 meters) and not so far from the coast, it is cultural and modern at the same time. Overall, it is a very desirable place to live. Perhaps that is why it has been the epicenter of Japanese culture and rule for over a thousand of years.  Kyoto is also important historically in the eyes of the world. Kyoto itself has been declared an UNESCO World Heritage area with seventeen sites within Kyoto declared. Each and everyone of them, alone, is worth getting on a plane to view. It is one of the most important cities in Japan to visit, but in general, Japan is a wealth of historical preservation. Only three other countries (China - 40, India - 28 and Australia - 18) have more UNESCO sites. The difference between those countries is, that in Japan, they have just designated cities as a singe listing. In the case of Kyoto, that is 17... so, if we just took all the UNESCO sites in Kyoto and added them to the others on the list, and pulled out all the sites that were lumped into the others, Japan has 68 UNESCO recognized sites.  Quite a bit more than China alone. 

To be fair, I did not tally up each of China or India's sites like I did Japan, so they may outstrip Japan in this count. But... for a country that is 1/25th of the size of (making shit up now) Disneyland*, it is quite impressive! 
*Not really, but it is just slightly smaller than California.
What I am trying to say is, there is an immense amount of history, culture and relevance to be found in Japan. 

Below you will find Kinkaku-Ji (Golden Pavilion) (yeah, the name is not a whole lot different than Ginkaku-Ji) or, the Temple of the Golden Pavilion, which is the popular name of Rokuon-ji (Deer Park Temple).

The design of the Golden Pavilion inspired several other buildings (Ginkaku-Ji being one) and Kinkaku-Ji's history dates back to 1397. Bad luck has followed the temple grounds since the civil war (Onin War) (briefly described above), when all the buildings in the complex, except for the temple, burned to the ground. The temple, however, did not survive a mentally disturbed monk in 1950 when his attempted suicide burned the temple to the ground. He was later sentenced to seven years in jail,  he spent five years in jail, during which time,  the temple was rebuilt and is said to be an exact copy of the original. 
Kinkaku-Ji is more impressive than its brother temple across the city. The crowds are similar, but with the expanse of the grounds, you have almost unobstructed access to everything here. 
Kiyomizu-dera (Temple of the Clear Water) could have been the highlight of the trip if it wasn't for all the other amazing places I stumbled upon. It is located halfway up Otawa Mountain in the Eastern part of Kyoto. As you enter, you will most likely pass through the Deva gate (below) and then past the three storied pagoda enroute to the Hondo (main hall)
The temple was dates back to 798 (even before Kyoto was the capital of Japan) and the current buildings were re-constructed in 1633. There is not a single nail used in the entire structure. Keep that in mind when viewing the following three pictures - it is a very large structure that is built 13 meters above the forest floor... and into the side of the hill-side; supported by 139 pillars almost appears to be floating above the forest. 
A view of some of the Cherry and Maple trees that dot the hillside.

Out of respect for those praying, I did not take a picture of the statue they are praying in front of. The Its formal name is "Eleven-headed thousand-armed Kanzeon Bosatsu" and is one of the sacred images in Buddhist religion. This Kannon is a little different than others for its two extra arms holding a small Buddha body above its head. It is said that this is the Kannon among Kannons which manifests the all-encompassing power of the Dharma teachings as it is taught in the Senju Darani Sutra. I think (hope) I captured the essence of what Kiyomizu-dera embodies in this photo. 
I truly don't know what this was all about. It seemed out of place with the fresh paint and Hello Kitty hat. 
The view of Otowa-no-taki from the Main Hall veranda of the shops, tea house and waterfall. In the background was a covered building going under renovation. It is another three-storied pagoda (Koyasu Pagoda), and a visit is said to bring about an easy and safe childbirth.
As you leave the platform of the Main Hall the Jishu Shrine is on your left, it is a shrine dedicated to the deity of love and matchmaking. It was jam packed with trinket shops, people brandishing umbrellas with the passion of a ninja warrior and others that were performing some blind-folded ritual to find love. I just moved past it and into an area that seemed MUCH less chaotic!
Bosatsu at Amida Hall. The statue is rubbed shiny just like the snout on the bronze boar in Florence, the the head of the brass lions on the Odeonplatz in Munich or the balls of the bull on Wall Street, NY. 
By about this time, I was in the mood to become a bit drier, but it would not be the case. I did get a bit of a respite when, at the top of the hill (to the left), I found a Ramen restaurant. It was probably the worst ramen I found in Japan, but still pretty damn good!
Drinking the water of the three streams is said to confer wisdom, health, and longevity. However, some Japanese believe that you must choose only two; if you are greedy and drink from all three, you invite misfortune upon yourself.
After I noshed on some piping hot ramen and green tea, I stumbled upon this grave yard over looking Kyoto (and part of Kiyomizu-dera). I do not know what the custom is for burying people in Japan, but there is certainly not a whole lot of room for a plot, leaving me to believe that cremation is standard with a head stone to give someone to pray to their loved ones. 
After several hours, it is time for me to go. Too bad the weather didn't sort itself out. I am not a fan of umbrellas!

Saturday, April 17, 2010


It was the American Mark Twain who reminded us all that "travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry and narrow-mindedness."

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

The peril of travels

Interesting thing about maps and travel guides is that once you have them, you can take them with you in a small handbag, satchel, pocket or whatever device you find reasonable for your comfort and amount of gear that you feel like schlepping with you. I employ both modes of determining where and what I am going to be viewing, in fact, I have added a couple of items to that repertoire... a Garmin Zumo motorcycle GPS and my IPhone in case I can't reconcile the GPS. 

I can understand that there is a fine line between having too much information and too little. I mean, what can you REALLY determine from a map? You can tell where you are. Where you might want to go to. You can use it to navigate between and betwixt places. You can also use it to get yourself "un-lost" (although, being lost is sometimes the entire point) and to determine a good itinerary (perhaps). 

What I saw tonight went far beyond ANY scenario that I could have EVER anticipated, outside of living in a war zone, that is.

As I entered the bar/restaurant of my hotel in Kyoto, I noticed a couple with a glass of wine in front of each of them, a map, three travel guides, two pencils and a healthy dose of "don't bother us, we're busy" written all over their auras. Now, don't get me wrong. I am highly in support of maps and guides, as I said above, but there was something about this couple that was out of sorts. Perhaps it was the lack of conversation and the determination shown in the male's posture. Perhaps it was that the man never once looked up past the map that we was committing to memory and the guide book that he was comparing to the map.

For a while, I studied the two of them and came to the determination that the woman must love him quite a bit to put up with this behavior and that she has taken the backseat to the relationship and is okay with that. As the minutes rolled by... which turned into almost an hour, I came to view it in a much different way. Instead of being in the back seat, she showed (when she pulled out the 3M Post-It flags and started to highlight the map) that she was firmly entrenched in the front of the car with her husband. This truly was a match made in heaven. Two people that needed a plan for everything, a list for each hour of the day and an addendum to any scenario that might alter those plans. As much as I would like to laud these people and give them props for ensuring that they "see it all", I still have to mock them within an inch of their lives for subjecting me to have to watch this... this... uh, crap! I can't even think of a polite adjective to throw in there to describe the disdain I have for this type of planning. Really! Post-It flags on the hotel tourist map? Who brings their office supplies on vacation?

When I worked, as a contractor, for the US Army, we would have planning sessions called "Rock Drills" that sometimes involved models (Planes, trucks, large scale replicas of terrain/buildings). I understand planning. I truly do! The draconian effort  involved was extraordinary and was only exacerbated by the complete absence of conversation between the two people. Perhaps that is why I found it so strange.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Out of Tokyo and into the Alps

One of the greatest things about Japan is the food, and the simple, often poo-pooed Ramen that is  overlooked by most foodies. Keep in mind, I say "most, not all. Ramen is very complex, very diverse and one of the most prevalent and cheap meals that you can find in Japan. Okay, not prevalent, but there is always some variation of noodle - soba, udon or ramen - easily found in any city in Japan, each with their own variation. What we are looking at in the first picture is the Ramen Museum. Yes, EVEN Ramen has its own museum. There are nine listed restaurants on the museum pamphlet and at least three others that are NOT on the map provided. You might be laughing right now, but honestly, it was perhaps the best museum I have ever been to... well, the tastiest is perhaps the most correct. A lot of times when I mention Ramen in the US, I get comments about the instant varieties that are sold 10 for $1.00. This is so, so, SO far from the reality. The reality is that it might take years for someone to perfect the recipe of the Ramen shop they are working in. The broth alone is a combination of ingredients ranging from Kombu, Katsuobushi and water to make the Dashi and then ingredients are added to that base. Depending on the chef, they might add pork bones, Miso, salt or Shoyu (Soy) Sauce depending on the flavor they are trying to get. Each region of Japan has their "own" version, and while none is better than the other, you might find yourself gravitating to a certain style based on your personal preference. 

Whew! Apparently, I can go on and on about the simple joys of Ramen (yes, I realize I capitalized it throughout the entire paragraph - it is that important!), but an easy way to sell it would be to say that a simple Ramen meal in Japan might range from $12 in Tokyo to $6 in smaller regions of Japan. With those prices in mind, I want to point out that, at the time I was there, a master chef was selling his version for over $150 US. I couldn't bring myself to trying it... although, I regret not doing so in hind sight. 

You can't go to Japan without trying to see Mt Fuji. Well, it was good that I could arrive at dusk to take this shot, because the next day it was under the cover of clouds containing rain and snow. 
From Mt Fuji I traversed the Japanese Alps to the town of Matsumoto. En-route to Matsumoto I passed through several thermal clines. At one point on the east side of the Alps, I was chilled, hungry and thirsty, so I ducked into a small town to find a little coffee and perhaps a bite to eat. As I rode around looking for something to eat, I couldn't quite find the right place to stop (this was a problem most of the time) due to my lack of knowledge for written (and spoken) Japanese. I ended up scoring after a complete circle of the town. I stumbled across a coffee house that served... spaghetti. Yes, spaghetti! I found out as I continued onward, this is not an uncommon theme. So, I'm cold and need to warm up from the inside, so I order my coffee. About 5 minutes later the waitress comes back and brings me water and bread and then asks me for my order. No coffee. More water is poured, food is served, I am warmed up and don't need the coffee anymore. Once she cleared the plate, she brought the coffee... about 45 minutes too late... AND, it was Sanka (or equivalent) - HORRIBLE! The spaghetti however, was very good, although a little out of my comfort zone. One note about the meal, it was spaghetti with crab. Sounds great, huh? Well, it was, but I didn't expect to get the ENTIRE crab (shell and all) on a bed of pasta and covered in sauce. It was VERY hard to get to the shell without making a mess of my table and myself. 

Further past this town I started to ascend into the Alps. Well, the entire day has been about the "mizzle". "Mizzle" is my word for mist and drizzle. It is just enough to keep a person damp all day long. When I hit the Alps, the mizzle turned into rain, which turned into sleet, which turned into "yuki" (Japanese for snow) - a word I am typically very fond of... but not on a motorcycle! As I was climbing the pass through the snow, I heard in my mind the lyrics to Harry Chapin's song Taxi rolling through my mind, "... and the snow turned into rain." I suppose that was my way of wishing for warmer weather - perhaps weather that wasn't a harbinger of something more than a wet snow. About 45 minutes later I found myself ready to call it a night, so I pulled into a business hotel just 30 minutes from my destination hoping that the morning would be a bit warmer. I didn't even mind the four flights of stairs I had to schlep my gear up.

As you can see, the next day brought me clear skies. Matsumoto Castle is one of Japan's National Treasures. It was finished in the 16th Century and is original except for some renovations done in early 1900s.  
Cherry Blossom (Sakura) season was what drew me to Japan at this time of year and as you can see, I hit it spot on. Well, within a few days, but I got to enjoy Hanami (literally flower viewing) in most of its beauty. 

One of the funny things about signs in other countries is translation. Well, in this case, even the proper translation wouldn't account for a sense of being out of time. With a brand new (looking) sign, how do you explain the Betamax portion? I felt like I discovered a "flux capacitor" to take me Back to the Future.
Another head scratcher in Takayama was this building. With a Star of David and Masonic symbols adorning the entire building, I was a bit stumped. After a considerable web-search I came up with it being the Sūkyō Mahikari Main World Shrine the head quarters for a Japanese new religious movement borrowing elements from Buddhism, Shintoism and Shamanism (amongst others).

Overall, Takayama was, perhaps, my favorite city for its quaintness and small town feel. The old town hasn't changed, the people are friendly and I had one of the most enjoyable dining experiences during the month I spent there. At a Sushi restaurant I engaged in a conversation with a couple to my right and we "talked" entirely using hand gestures and our iPhones. Nothing like passing phones between people (and then down the bar and to the chefs) to communicate with all the nuances of the written word:-). Dinner was followed by the most amazing ice cream. It was a subtle Sakura (Cherry Blossom) ice cream. It had just a hint of cherry and the aroma of fresh flowers... Too bad it is just a seasonal taste. I could easily get used to that flavor!
Snow covered passes between Takayama, Shirakawa-go and Gifu. The winding roads of the Alps are interwoven with tunnels surpassing any that I have seen before. One tunnel was 14km in length descending several thousand feet. I entered the tunnel at 32 degrees F and one point in the middle of the tunnel it was over 80 degrees F and I was spit out into 54 degree weather. One tunnel divided into a Y going off into another direction. Other times I would be out of a tunnel only to enter another in 25 meters. It seemed like I would never see the daylight when I reached Gifu - at least I was dry!
The following is Shirakawa-Go, famous for their traditional gassho-zukuri farmhouses, some of which are more than 250 years old. It was truly a fascinating day.