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  • So after five years and a hundred videos we're finally gonna feature some

  • food in a video that doesn't contain meat in it.

  • I know there are many vegans and vegetarians that watch this channel

  • and it's a miracle that you watch at all

  • given how nearly every video features either Wagyu beef pork or fried chicken

  • but today we're visiting the ancient northern capital of Hiraizumi, a town

  • which once even rivaled Kyoto in size and scale and on our trip we plan to do

  • some meditation, explore one of Japan's most picturesque temples, and of course

  • eat some vegan dishes.

  • I say way because my good friend Ryotaro is going to be

  • coming along as well and who knows amidst the meditation and the vegan

  • cuisine I might come back a better person.

  • Yeah it's pretty unlikely.

  • So we're at a UNESCO world heritage site; Motsu-ji temple.

  • It's been here since 850AD

  • So it's most almost like 1200 years.

  • 1200 years. Older than Ryotaro even.

  • Just two years older than I.

  • And we're gonna do something called zazen which is

  • a Buddhist practice; the best way to summarise up is it's that thing where

  • they hit you with a stick while you meditate.

  • That is too much of summarising mate.

  • It's a bit of a simplification, but what's the actual purpose of this Zazen kind of Buddhist practice.

  • So it's almost like a meditation but this is

  • this is to stimulate your five senses.

  • Stimulate your five senses?

  • And enable you to concentrate even more than you can.

  • So by the end of this I'll be like in touch with myself.

  • In touch with yourself; yeah that sounds very romantic.

  • But it's not.

  • Alright well let's go and stimulate our five senses.

  • Zazen literally means seated meditation with the posture requiring the

  • practitioner to sit with folded legs and arms on a small cushion.

  • For one hour we sat in silence with the impending presence of the stick.

  • The awakening stick is used to gently slap the meditator to reset their concentration

  • or to reinvigorate those who are struggling to meditate under tiredness or stress.

  • It's not a form of punishment, you actually ask for it by bowing and

  • putting your palms together and unsurprisingly it was difficult for me

  • to hide my delight at Ryotaro getting whacked.

  • It's more difficult than you think to concentrate especially when you

  • are incredibly aware of your feet being frozen solid by the cold temperatures

  • The stick didn't hurt thankfully; you kind of find yourself lost in the smell

  • of the incense, the cool crisp morning air, the sound of the bell being rung,

  • You feel you're in a heightened state of awareness with your senses and it's

  • quite nice it's a nice way of starting the day I guess, but given its the morning

  • It's still 9 o'clock I was trying a little bit to not fall asleep

  • it's easily done what you're doing that.

  • Before heading for lunch I asked our

  • guide about the kind of benefits you'd get from doing zazen regularly.

  • If you could summarize the experience in three words, what would those words be?

  • Refreshing, concentrating, crispy whacked.

  • What?

  • Oh Chris being whacked

  • I though you said crispy whacked.

  • Like some sort of new biscuit snack.

  • Crispy whacked.

  • See you can think up new products for biscuits when you meditate.

  • Having meditated for an hour and being whacked with a stick we went for an

  • early lunch at a nearby restaurant serving vegan cuisine inspired by Zen Buddhism

  • So today is the day I finally give something back to vegan viewers recently

  • we've been having a lot of meat in the videos in fact I think it's always

  • just been meat in the videos; this is the first time we've actually had some sort

  • of vegan dish.

  • First time in how many years?

  • In 5 years!

  • It's called Shojin Ryouri; Shojin literally means Buddhist cuisine and ryouri means cooking.

  • And it's an array of wonderful multicolored dishes, each and every one is Vegan.

  • Actually at first glance it doesn't look like a vegan dish,

  • when look at everything you think these mushrooms must contain some sort of

  • chicken or pork in

  • This tempure must have some shrimp or fish in.

  • It's all Vegan; 100% Vegan.

  • So this is sesame tofu with wasabi on the top.

  • This is vegetable tempura

  • It's a Koya tofu deep fried

  • and they put some hot ginger sauce on the top with the mushrooms.

  • It's a sashimi konyaku potato

  • and they actually slice it so that it looks like a sashimi.

  • It's soba buckwheat noodles on the side

  • and there's seaweed on top.

  • It's actually sticky rice wrapped with seaweed.

  • Tempura is an absolute miracle you take a

  • nice freshly picked vegetable and then dip it in batter

  • and it just makes it so much better; you know tempura was actually the first

  • Japanese food I ever had back when I was about nine and that was what I decided

  • Japanese food must be good, it'll start there.

  • To be fair one of the reasons we

  • haven't made a video on vegan or vegetarian cuisine is it's quite

  • difficult to come by if you're eating out many people that who I know who live

  • in Japan that are vegans cook at home and that's the way they get around it.

  • If you eat something like soba noodles or udon noodles yes they

  • are vegan but the dipping sauce broth they come in usually often contains

  • things like fish.

  • Tempura is a good one though.

  • Yeah but the dipping sauce actually contains fish bones so what want you to be

  • careful is that we have two kinds of broth when it comes to Japanese

  • food normally it's a tuna base broth or Konbu based broth which is seaweed based

  • broth which is okay for vegans to eat.

  • So if you ask the restaurant for eating soba or udon, ask them to bring the konbu

  • which is the seaweed broth and with that you can get by.

  • Ok, that's quite a useful point there.

  • A good friend of mine who is a vegan

  • his name's Regan, when he lived in Japan he used to just eat nuts from the

  • supermarket; nuts and bananas, but I think he was just being a bit austere.

  • There are ways around it, so if you do your research you don't have to let it get in a way of your trip.

  • So we're about to journey out into the countryside to see one of the most

  • most picturesque temples in all of Tohoku and we're going to get there by

  • an ancient method of transportation; the same kind of transportation they would

  • have used about a thousand years ago.

  • I am of course talking about go-karts.

  • So we're gonna drive to this really famous photogenic temple

  • with this go-cart and it's 50CC and it can go up to speeds of 70 km/h and how

  • much is that in the miles?

  • Not a clue mate.

  • I've seen a few cars driving down the road with rather surprised and shocked

  • looking drivers seeing a go-kart with a chubby foreigner just driving it down the road.

  • It's a bit weird I think; quite a rare sight.

  • So here we are at the Takkoku no Iwaya temple

  • There's a temple in a cave

  • Yeah that's a pretty dramatic looking spot

  • It's got a bit of a sinister story to it

  • There used to be the Ainu people

  • the native Japanese people living here in a cave before this temple was

  • built but the new Japanese people came and tried to get rid of them.

  • So you got rid of the natives, forced them out

  • Yeah forced them out

  • So they actually took the cave and then they actually built the temple

  • to cover the cave.

  • Bloody hell yes. That is quite sinister.

  • Steal their cave and put a temple in front of it.

  • So they could not get in.

  • Within the temple there are 33 statues of the God of War Bishamonten

  • However, they're only put on public display every 33 years and given that the last time

  • was 2010 you'll have to wait until 2043 when you can revisit the temple in

  • your flying car. While you're waiting 33 years there you can still grab yourself

  • some good fortune.

  • So now I bought a good luck charm and this good luck charm

  • is said to be the strongest in the whole Japan

  • Why is that?

  • I'm not sure; it's just said to be the strongest

  • and people say that it can make you rich

  • make your butler go away

  • Make your what go away?

  • Your bad luck

  • I thought you said make your butler go away.

  • That's not good luck. I hate it when my butler goes away.

  • And it also makes Chris go away.

  • it says that the you should hang this on to your house entrance

  • does it say

  • anything particular

  • well here I can't really read it

  • You can't read it? It's the best 1000 yen you ever spent.

  • Yeah it might work you know it may just take Chris away from my sight

  • And it did! And it did!

  • Despite getting slapped in the face with numerous flies while

  • driving I do quite want a go-kart now as fast as a scooter but with the comfort

  • of a real chair; the perfect way to explore the countryside.

  • Hiraizumi is

  • about a two-hour ride north from Tokyo by bullet train or 30 minutes from

  • Sendai and if you're interested in visiting any of the places we visited on

  • our trip you can find the details in the description box below

  • but for now guys as always many thanks for watching we'll see you next time.

  • I want one. I don't know how much it costs. I don't know how much they costed or

  • where to buy them, but I want a go cart for Christmas. So if father Christmas is

  • watching, you know what to do.

So after five years and a hundred videos we're finally gonna feature some

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