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 covers...cool, yeah?!
Yet another long day with lots of walking and lots of eating.
4-4-10 Meieki, Nagoya Cross Court Tower B1F
Open daily 11:00-15:00 (lunch), 17:00-23:00 (dinner)
Chiyoda Hotel Nagoya