I almost didn’t take advantage of the excursion to visit the Tulip Factory since there appeared to be so much else to go see in Hiroshima. It turned out to be the highlight of my entire trip.
The Tulip Company sent a coach to greet us at the ship – right from the beginning, we were made to feel special and very welcome. There were bags with gifts and information about the Tulip Factory waiting for us. Our delightful guides handed out bottles of water and dainty cookies and held a little trivia quiz (I won a prize!)
The further we got from the shore, the more it snowed, it really was beautiful. I wish I could’ve snapped the houses we passed, but had to settle for scenes near the gas station we stopped at for a refreshing break:
Our visit to the factory was a real treat, not only did we see the machines they use, and how they make double-ended crochet hooks and sewing needles, but we had a peek into the culture of their employees. Everyone was so friendly and cheerful, and seemed genuinely proud of their work. Many of them came outside to clear snow and welcome us, all added their names in English beneath their Japanese name tags:
Following a walk around the factory, and an explanation of how sticks of metal are turned into finely crafted needles, we were given fresh tulips and indulged in much photograph taking. Then, we were totally spoiled with lunch at the most elegant restaurant imaginable with views of lovely gardens from all windows:
The owner spent most of the day with us – he had every right to be proud:
Near the entrance to our dining room:
(If you’re hungry, or do not care for pictures of food, you may want to scroll down quickly
After our meal, we had our shopping frenzy – some of the needles are available through a small number of US retailers, but we pounced on neat sets in zipped pouches that included an array of crochet hooks with scissors, tape measure, darning needles, and so forth. At a glance, the kits really didn’t look so impressive, but closer up, I was thrilled with the fact that one set had hooks small enough for beadwork, and all sizes up to a hook you could use to work with worsted weight yarn; I can’t find my kit right now, I sure hope my friend packed two in her luggage….
Oh, we must go now:
But wait, there’s more! Our lovely guides busily decorated folders containing a group photograph of us all with origami flowers and other pretties, and presented us each along with another gift. I feel like knitting-tourist royalty.