Sunday, the air was really REALLY bad. The kosa (yellow sand, dust cloud) from China was thick like fog. I swear it smelt like sulpher too. Makes me sick that we were breathing this stuff.
Anyway, Satoshi and I headed out to Fukui prefecture, this is in the Hokuriku (North area) of Japan, near the Japan Sea.
From Osaka, it took about 2 hours and it was raining by the time we reached our first stop, Tsuruga. We had some time before our connecting train, so we walked their covered shopping arcade and checked out the bronze statues.
These statues are of characters from the Japanese anime, "Ginga Tetsudo 999" (Galaxy Express 999) by Reiji Matsumoto. Though the artist did not grow up in Tsuruga, he donated some items when Tsuruga celebrated their 100 year anniversary in 1999.
Some food items we found in Tsuruga were tororo konbu (a thinly shaved kelp which is slightly seasoned)...400 yen (about US$4) and katapan (literally hard bread). This was a very VERY hard cracker.
Not sweet, but with lots flavor from the aonori (green seaweed)...be careful not to break your teeth on these. Apparently there were 10 shops that made this in Tsuruga, now there is only 1, Daruma-ya Kinsei...6 crackers for 250 yen (about US$2.50).
From Tsuruga we took a train to Obama. This city got a lot of attention when President Obama was running.
There are banners, even shops selling Obama items.
The area is often referred to as Wakasa, as it is near the Wakasa Bay.
Anyway, this area is the start of the saba kaido (mackerel road). When Kyoto was the capital of Japan, it is said that most food items (including mackerel) travelled from Wakasa to Kyoto.
You can find whole saba grilled on a stick at fish shops as well as all sorts of other fresh and dried fish.
Unfortunately by the time we got to Obama, the wind and rain had picked up.
We stopped for lunch at the Wakasa Fisherman's Wharf and also to get out of the rain. A great place to have some sushi, pick up some omiyage (souvenirs) or just to sit and look at the ocean.
The restaurant on the second floor, Kaikoen, serves many different teishoku (set meals). Satoshi had their kaisen donburi (seafood donburi)...1850 yen (about US$18.50). His lunch came with some crab miso soup, tsukemono (pickles) and some tsukudani (salty sweet preserved foods).
I chose the oroshi soba and mini amaebi donburi (northern shrimp)...1350 yen (about US$13.50) Oroshi soba is soba (buckwheat noodles) topped with grated daikon (long white radish) and green onions. My donburi had the northern shrimp, some egg and onions.
Everything was delicious and the seafood very fresh.
After lunch, we battled the wind and rain and walked to the Miketsukuni Food Culture Museum. This museum had all sorts of displays about Japanese food culture (only in Japanese). They also have a bathing area, where you can look out at the ocean while bathing), and a craft area.
The main craft of this area are lacquered chopsticks. Abalone shell and other items are lacquered onto wooden chopsticks. Then by sanding the lacquered chopsticks, what was embedded onto the chopsticks are revealed.
I'll continue with more of our adventure tomorrow, stay tuned!
Kaikoen (on the 2nd floor of Fisherman's Wharf)
Miketsukuni Food Culture Museum