Sorry I didn't get this posted last night. We were out having fun. I took a nice long walk and ran some errands during the day and then met Craig in Sannomiya in order to go to dinner with people from RIKEN. There were a lot of people from RIKEN – I'd say close to 40 with all the people trickling in. We met at an Okinawa style restaurant named Gold Fish. It was set up so each party could be separated from the rest by curtains, we took over 5 sections. It was nice having Japanese speakers because they did the ordering. People just ordered whatever and then the bill was just split evenly at the end – the only down side since Craig and I drank mizu (water) and most everybody else was having alcohol which is way more expensive. However, we did get our fill of food. We had “buto no mimi” little strips of pig ear in a mustard sauce, the pig was really just texture and a method of carrying the sauce to your mouth - it's in the blue glass dish. “Goya” which is a vegetable native is Okinawa, I found bitter but it was in everything, in particular one dish where it was mixed into scrambled eggs. Pig Edge or Layered Pig, there was a debate on what to call it and I can't remember the Japanese. It was a square pieces of pork with a layer of skin, layer of fat, and then layer of meat – I thought it was delicious. 'Jack Sprat' wouldn't eat the fat, just the last layer. There was this thing that they gave you bibs to wear while you cooked it. They brought what looked like a pumice stone suspended above a flame and raw strips of more pork, carrot and daikon pieces and you grill them on the pumice. We were hoping for green tea ice cream for dessert but they were out so we got ping pong sized scoops of pineapple instead. We met a bunch of people, no one from Craig's actual lab but foreigners from his RIKEN provided Japanese class. Two guys live in our apartment complex, one from Germany and the other was born in Australia to Australian parents but his family moved to Japan when he was a little kid so he's fluent in Japanese. They're both post docs in other labs. We met a Japanese woman who works in a lab that managed to grow a retina in a petri dish. I tried asking more questions but between the noise and her (still way better than my Japanese) English we didn't get far. Apparently groups from RIKEN “party” like this almost weekly. I don't think as expensively, this was also a birthday party. A group is planning on hiking to the hot springs on Mt Rokko next Saturday and invited us. My only reservation is that they soak naked in the hot springs. It is segregated by gender but I don't think Americans are as comfortable with getting naked as Japanese and Europeans are. There was also talk of going to see the newest X-Men movie which I'm all about. Here it is common to add Japanese subtitles instead of voice over so I'll actually understand it.