Wednesday, September 30, 2015

tartan nady

Yesterday, I met up with Fiona and her husband WR for lunch at Tartan Nady.

They are moving back to Singapore soon, and with their busy schedule, I was happy they made some time to meet up.

We all ordered the sapna lunch...salad, tandoori chicken, our choice of curry (we all chose mutton spinach), naan and a beverage.

The naan was on the sweet side but everything else was tasty!

I hope Fiona and WR have a safe trip back and that we'll re-connect in Singapore or in Japan again.

Take care you two!

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

the winner is

Yesterday, we celebrated our blogaversary with cakes from Patisserie Hare. It had been some time since we've been back so I thought it was nice to re-connect with them.

I had their fig tarte. This had a nice custard and coffee gelee in the middle, as well as sweet figs.

Satoshi had their bear cake, which I've written about here.

On to the giveaway winner.

Can I just say that I loved reading all your comments?!

I hope you will all be able to visit or re-visit the places in Japan that are on your lists!

and now to what you've all waited for..

we picked a's Mona!

Please email me your snail mail address so I can send you your care package.

I'll post a photo of what was in the box after I know it has reached Mona.

Thanks again for participating and for helping us celebrate a milestone blogaversary!

Monday, September 28, 2015

we're 10

Looking back, the past 10 years have relatively been a blast.

Sure, there have been ups and downs with real life stuffs but for the most part, blogging has become my passion.

We've made a lot of friends over the years.

I hope to be able to share more stories with you in the coming years.

Thanks for being a part of the adventure.

Sunday, September 27, 2015


A night in a smoking room was not the best accommodation, but what were we to do? They were fully booked. On the other hand, I made Satoshi promise to always get a non-smoking room from here on out.

After checking-out, we walked to our first destination, the Toyota Museum.

Along the way, we made friends with this guy. He was sitting in front of a temple, we said "good morning" and he insisted on giving us a hug.

We arrived near the museum early and decided to get some breakfast at a coffee shop called Happy End.

I had a Nagoya favorite, Ogura toast. I've made this in the past, but wanted to try the "real deal"....450 yen

They put a lot of sweet bean paste on their!

Satoshi just had buttered toast, his toast also came with a hard boiled egg....350 yen

In Nagoya, they are known to give you more breakfast than you order...nice!

We "thought" it wouldn't be too busy at the Museum...wrong, there was a massive line! a very chaotic massive line.

You would think places like these would have lining up down to a science already...nope! boy, did Satoshi chew out the guy in charge of the line we were in...definitely rare to see him so peeved.

I was amazed with this museum. It starts out with the history of Toyota.

Thing I learned was that Toyota actually started out with the invention of automated weaving machines not cars.

They show you how people weaved before automation and then they also show you all the machines in action.

Then when you move to the car area, they show you how Toyota invented their cars.

They took apart a Ford to learn how cars were made.

Gear shifts, brakes, wooden body enthusiasts would definitely have a blast here.

From this museum you can walk about 10 minutes down the street to the Noritake museum.

This paled in comparison to the Toyota museum.

For one thing, no photos allowed.

And another thing is that most of the explanations are by video, no real demonstrations...meh!

It was getting late so we headed to the station for a late lunch at Kitchen Nagoya before making our way back to Osaka.

This was where we got most of our Nagoya food fixes.

Miso katsu and ebi fry for Satoshi.

In Nagoya they use hatcho miso (a red miso), so their sauce is quite dark and rich.

I got their sampler (mini miso katsu, an ebi fry and some tebasaki (chicken wings)). This also came with some edamame and hiyayakko (cold tofu).

We also tried Kinshachi beer, Aichi's craft beer.

Blue label is a Pilsner.

Akamiso is an Alt bier (German for old beer, which refer to the brewing technique) that has hints of red miso.

Both were good with these foods, though the alt beer was quite bitter.

We also tried Nagoya cochin pudding. Dense custard pudding made from the eggs of Nagoya's brand chickens, good!

It was a great Silver Week. We were blessed with great weather (for once! usually we have a couple of bad weather days during our trips) and we got to do a lot and of course, eat a lot.

I hope you enjoyed our adventure as much as we did.

Happy End
3-5 Noritakeshinmachi
Nishi-ku, Nagoya

Kitchen Nagoya
1-1-4 Meieki, inside of Umaimondori
Nakamura-ku, Nagoya
Phone: 052.561.6669
Hours: 10:00-22:30

Saturday, September 26, 2015


If you've ever travelled in Japan by a local train, not the Shinkansen (bullet train), you may have noticed that what you see from your window, will usually be out of sight seconds later when you take another look out your window, you can't see it from another angle.

This was the case with the large maneki neko.

Over the years, on several occasions, we've travelled to Hawaii and other places from Nagoya's airport, Centrair, zooming past Tokoname, we've seen a large maneki neko.

At first when I saw it, Satoshi didn't believe me.

Then he saw it too.

We've had Tokoname on our list "to travel to" but never got around to until this past Silver Week.

From the station you walk past Maneki Neko Dori (literally welcoming cat street)...all sorts of different maneki neko made by various artists.

Tokoname has a little pottery village.

At the top of the hill, you see the large maneki neko that can be seen from the train.

To tell you the truth, we were disappointed. We thought it was going to be a whole maneki neko, but it was just the head, nothing more.

Bummed about the huge maneki neko, we thought the rest of the day was going to be disappointing too...until we came upon Tampopo, a rustic café, serving dandelion coffee as well as other beverages and food.

We liked the vibe of the café and after looking over the maps, decided to explore more of this pottery village.

The village is hilly, with little pathways connecting one area to another.

There are a lot of trees and flowers here and there too.

There were also some real cats too.

Loved this art sculpture made from thousands of ceramic triangles.

And then we were drawn in by the smell of bread baking...snacktime at Fusha...baked curry pan for Satoshi (nice and spicy) and an anpan for me.

This was nice with ice cold milk! Satoshi grew up drinking coffee milk or as they call it (co-he-gyu-nyu)...blah! the coffee milk was too sweet for me.

After re-fueling, we tackled more hills and checked out more pottery shops.

Lots of cosmos were in bloom and the scent of kinmokusei (sweet olive) was in the air...Autumn!

Lunch was at Tokonameya.

I chose their chirashizushi. This started out with some nishime with peanuts in it...I want to re-create this!

The chirashizushi had thin slices of kisu (sillago japonica). I loved the combination of shiso (perilla), myoga (Japanese ginger), and pickled ginger.

Satoshi chose the spicy hayashi rice (hashed beef), he said it wasn't too spicy.

All in all, Tokoname turned out to be an interesting place to explore.

After lunch, we headed back to Nagoya to check-in at our hotel.

Satoshi wasn't able to book a non-smoking room and they were booked solid, so we had to sleep in "tobacco land"! *cough*

We decided to cheer ourselves up with some gelato from The Cups.

A hipster café, we enjoyed the gelato (milk and hazelnut for Satoshi, pistachio and chocolate for me). And we also enjoyed their lime water.

Super refreshing on the super humid and hot day that it was.

After coming out of the café, we noticed this huge "Star Wars" type of building and decided to check it out...turns out it was Nagoya's Science Museum.

After resting a bit back at our "smoky" room, we headed out to look for dinner.

Dinner was ebi fry (fried shrimp) at Maruha Shokudo. Ebi fry is one of the local favorites in Nagoya.

Look at the size of those shrimp and it is mostly shrimp not the batter! Someone looks happy, yeah?!

I had their maruha roll which was a large ebi fry (not as big as the one Satoshi had) rolled into a sushi.

We also shared a seafood salad, this would've been better had they shredded the lettuce or at least torn the leaves into bite sized pieces.

After dinner, we walked back to the hotel and wanted something sweet, so we stopped into a convenience store for soft serve. The guy at the counter asked if I was taking out and I said we were...look how they packed it?!

Edible cone, yeah?!

Yet another long day with lots of walking and lots of eating.

2-88 Sakae-machi
Tokoname, Aichi
Phone: 0569.35.4222
Hours: 10:00-17:00
Closed Wednesdays

3-90 Sakae-machi
Tokoname, Aichi
Phone: 0569.34.8833
Hours: 11:00-17:00
Closed Tuesdays

3-111 Sakae-machi
Tokoname, Aichi
Phone: 0569.35.0470
Closed Mondays

The Cups
12-14-1 Nishiki
Naka-ku, Nagoya
Phone: 052.209.9090
Open Daily

Maruha Shokudo
4-4-10 Meieki, Nagoya Cross Court Tower B1F
Nakamura-ku, Nagoya
Phone: 052.414.6018
Open daily 11:00-15:00 (lunch), 17:00-23:00 (dinner)

Chiyoda Hotel Nagoya
1-16-10 Nishiki
Naka-ku, Nagoya
Phone: 052.221.6711

Friday, September 25, 2015

gujo hachiman-mino-nagoya

You might be curious as to what we were served for dinner.

It was an array of the specialties of the area.

Kishimen (a flat noodle), ayu (sweet fish), keichan (a spicy chicken dish which I want to re-create), tebasaki (chicken wings) and kaki (persimmon).

I didn't upload a photo because it wasn't too colorful.

As usual, the kaiseki dinner had way too much food. I gave up halfway and passed a lot of stuff onto Satoshi to finish.

The next morning we woke up and had breakfast kaiseki...this was also another assortment of specialties of the area...houba miso (miso that is cooked on a magnolia leaf), dried fish (sorry they didn't say what kind), TKG (tamago kake gohan (raw egg on hot rice)) as well as a few more items.

> They also served us myogata ham. This ham is different from the types we've had before.

First off the shape, it is kind of octogonal rather than round. They also add spices (though I couldn't quite place what spices they were) to the ham when making it which to me made it taste more flavorful than the types we've had before. When served they often serve thick slices.

After checking out, we had some time before the train to our next destination, so we went back to the village to explore a little more.

We checked out Igawa Komichi, a tiny waterway that is home to really huge carp.

And since we still had one more free entry to a museum, we checked out Yudokan, which features the artwork of Mizuno Masao. (300 yen without the coupon). This guy is so imaginative! Animals made from pieces of wood, paper!

We had just a little time to rest at Machiya Saito, a teahouse that is connected to the Saito Museum. If I'm not mistaken, this family run teahouse/museum has been around for over 300 years.

Satoshi had some coffee while I had some frozen matcha. It was like eating crushed matcha ice, super refreshing!

From Gujo Hachiman, we then took the train to Umeyama which is part of Mino City.

If you are familiar to the city where we live, it is spelt "Minoo" but this place is "Mino", also the kanji (chinese characters) are all different...

Mino City was recently added to the UNESCO intangible cultural heritage for washi (literally Japanese paper) which is made from 100% Japanese mulberry pulp.

It was neat to watch a woman who is following in her father's & grandfather's footsteps to make chochin (paper lanterns).

The "frames for the lanterns are made by hand, then wire is wrapped around the frames.

Then washi is glued to the frames. When the lantern is dried, the frames are disassembled. Really amazing stuff!

Another thing Mino City is known for is udatsu (firewalls). Between most houses are these elaborate firewalls.

Mino City also has the oldest suspension bridge in Japan (since 1917?!)...can you tell how blazing hot it was??

Lunch was unagi (eel) at Ozeya, since it is a popular dish in the area.

I've said before that it isn't my favorite, but this was tender and flavorful...delicious.

Satoshi had their unagi-mabushi which was more like a chirashizushi of unagi.

After lunch, we walked a little more around the town and then made our way to the train station.

On the way, I noticed some children and adults sitting on the side eating ice cream.

I read the flag/sign that was outside of the store and it said that they have been making ice cream monaka for over 60 years!

We stopped to try their vanilla (100 yen) and azuki (130 yen)

The owner was a cute grandma. Monaka is made out of the same ingredients that ice cream cones are made of except that monaka are shaped to look more like a shell.

The ice cream was more like ice milk, very hard not too creamy, I'm glad we got to try these.

By the time we got to Nagoya, it was getting dark.

We checked in and then went in search of dinner.

Instead of finding some Nagoya foods, we ended up at a bar that served Hokkaido fare.

Our favorites were the
corn fritters,
fried scallops and
ramen salad topped with shaved frozen foie gras.

Another long day, but we were able to see a lot, eat a lot and walk a lot.

Machiya Saito
927 Hachimancho Shinmachi
Gujo, Gifu
Phone: 0575.65.3539

2170 Tawaramachi
Mino, Gifu
Phone: 0575.33.0361
Closed Wednesdays
Hours: 11:00-14:00

2686 Tarawamachi
Mino, Gifu
Phone: 0575.33.0044

Wine Watanabe
4-5-6 Sakae
Nagoya, Aichi
Phone: 052.228.9860
Lunch 11:00-14:30, Dinner 17:00-24:00

Hotel Route Inn
4-7-12 Sakae
Nagoya, Aichi
Phone: 052.259.7300

If you're interested in tourism info:

Gujo Hachiman

Mino City


Thursday, September 24, 2015

osaka-gujo hachiman

 From where we live it takes about 4 hours and 3 different trains to get to Gujo Hachiman in Gifu prefecture.

One of the trains that we took was the Nagaragawa rail. They had a 2 day ticket with all you can ride and some coupons for different things in Gujo Hachiman.

The ticket is in the shape of a fan and they also give you a tenugui (traditional Japanese towel)...2500 yen.

I was impressed that the fan was made from one piece of bamboo.

There are many rivers running through Gujo Hachiman and during this time of year it is ayu (sweet fish) season, so you can see many fishermen fishing in the water with really long poles.

One thing we saw was Sogi Sui, an area that is used for public awareness for water conservation as well as a historic spot where 15th century poet, Sogi traded poems with Tsuneyori.

Walking around the village, there are many fire buckets hanging alongside of homes, in case of an emergency.

Up the mountain overlooking the village is Gujo Hachiman Castle.

This is a steep trek but the views are spectacular.

Our train ticket had a coupon for free entry to the castle. (310 yen without the coupon)

Our coupons also included choices of two different souvenirs per person.

We shared this free mini matcha soft serve.

We picked up these two bottles of mineral water.

And we also got this free plastic sample cellphone strap.

Did you know that plastic samples in most shops throughout Japan were first created here in Gujo Hachiman?!

Another museum that we got free entry to with our train ticket was to the Gujo Hachiman Hakurankan (520 yen without the coupon).

This museum shows the traditional dance, Gujo Odori, a dance festival that runs for 30 days from mid-July to early September (we just missed the end of the festival by a couple weeks).

This museum also shows traditional crafts and some of the history of the village.

Right outside of the museum is a tiny dango shop...Dango Marumasa.

This shop was apparently featured on "Soko ga Shiritai".

We tried one stick with the sweet sauce and one with the savory...80 yen each

Both were very flavorful and the dango (rice dumpling on stick) very soft.

It was a long day, but we got to see and do quite a bit and the weather was beautiful (read: HOT!).

Dango Marumasa
51 Hachimancho Tonomachi
Gujo, Gifu

Hotel Gujo Hachiman
208 Hachimancho Yoshino
Gujo, Gifu