I'm currently traveling in Japan, and since I've subjected you to seven Armchair Field Trips in the last two weeks, I think instead I'll let you see for yourselves what I've been seeing, via pictures (mine) and links (from elsewhere).

We've already talked about wasabi; next up: namako-kabe, an architectural style indigenous to Izu. "Namako" features slate overlaid with plaster cross-hatching, which was originally developed to keep wooden houses from burning down.

* It's not to be confused with the sea cucumber of the same name!

* "Though namako-kabe translates unappealingly as 'sea-slug walls,' these walls are in fact rather handsome affairs."

* Here's a quick history of namako-kabe, which "developed among the warrior elite," along with a few striking examples of the style.

* If you can read Japanese, this appears to be a site entirely devoted to the style.

And here are much better pictures than mine.