My final morning in the clinic was spent observing the bustle behind the 20 exam room doors. At any given moment, I counted patients being seen or treated by vets in four or more of the rooms. I was informed that this was a slow day. All exam room doors are sliding, not hinged, which is probably a necessity to prevent concussions. Imagine a busy breakfast joint on a Sunday after church and you get a sense of the business at Inuyama Animal General.
Curiosity got the best of me lunchtime on Friday. I was compelled to buy a beverage from a vending machine, something I rarely do in America. The options looked so different from anything offered at home. From what I could tell, there was green tea, water, Red Bull-type sodas, a group of completely unrecognizables, and an array of coffee drinks. I chose what I assumed was a Starbucks-type bottled drink. When I went to grab it from the dispenser slot, I almost burned myself. For a brief moment I thought that the machine was malfunctioning, causing the aluminum bottle to heat up. On second thought, I realized I had a fancy hot coffee drink without the barista’s attitude.
George Sensei took me to the Meiji-Mura museum in the afternoon, right in Inuyama. Its brochure says to “Slip back a hundred years into Japanese history” and that’s exactly what we did. We walked through a late 19th century hospital, peaked inside an antique dojo, and wondered what it would be like to sit on the wooden planks in the old kabuki theater. Of course every day trip requires ice cream, at least according to George Sensei. I indulged in sake flavored soft serve.
That evening we ate at a bar (Izakaya) with George Sensei, Junko, and a group of his staff members. This was the first time my cultural alimentary boundaries were pushed to the breaking point. After eating many delicious courses of various types, a propane burner was placed on the table, heating a metal bowl of onions, chili peppers, chives, and small bits of whitish flesh. I was a bit perplexed when my hosts were pointing at their abdomens to explain what the mystery meat was. Eventually the term “intestines” arose from the confusion. I was reluctant, but I did eat it. Not horrible, but I wouldn’t order it for myself.
We capped off the night with some whiskey on the rocks, discussing the upcoming trip to Connecticut, Japanese veterinary medicine, and all the things I learned about Japan. It was truly the trip of a lifetime. I will miss George Sensei, his gracious family and friends, and his inviting staff. Luckily I will get to see him again in a few short weeks. Having known the man for a week now, I bet we’ll have a great time, despite our lack of intestinal menu options. Kanpai!