Saturday, January 19, 2019

mizore nabe

Recently we tried mizore nabe.

Mizore in Japanese means sleet.

Grating the daikon makes it look like "sleet".

I peeled then grated a 8-inch long piece of daikon, then set it aside.

Then, I filled up our clay pot with all sorts of veggies (chinese cabbage, chrysanthemum greens, carrots, maitake mushrooms) and a little pork.

Added 4 cups of dashi and brought everything to a boil then down to a simmer.

After cooking everything, I turned off the heat, squeezed out the water from the grated daikon and added it to the nabe, heating it in the clay pot for like a minute or two.

We ate this with ponzu (citrus soy sauce) and a little shichimi (Japanese 7-spice) but you can eat it with your favorite condiment.

I'm glad we tried this, it was a nice way to warm up and also use up some daikon.

Friday, January 18, 2019

ginza kikunoya

Ginza Kikunoya has been around since 1890...making these cute tiny senbei (wafers)...called "Fukiyose" (literally gathering fortune)

There are also tiny candies in the mix too.

I brought these to Kyoto for MIL, BIL in December and even sent these to Canada to Yumyumtofu as a thank you for sending me chocolates.

Great as omiyage or as a gift.

Ginza Kikunoya
inside Ginza Core, B1
Hours: 11:00-20:00 (Open when Ginza Core is)

Thursday, January 17, 2019

hanaichie

I found out about Hanaichie from a television program.

They are similar to the place V told me about in Kyoto as well as the one that I like from Kanazawa.

Their main shop is in Azabujuban, but I also found a kiosk at the Daimaru near Tokyo station.

When we went to Kyoto in December, I gave some to MIL.

This particular one has Asakusa nori (laver) in it.

Put some rice into a bowl.

Break it up and then pour some hot water or hot tea over it.

Delicious.

Hanaichie
Daimaru Tokyo, B1

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

mount fuji

Not sure how much you enjoy seeing Mount Fuji, but if you get excited about seeing Mount Fuji as much as we do, here are a few of our "secret" spots to view Mount Fuji.

Click the links to view short videos...

Tamagawa Sengen Jinja...about 3 minute walk from the Tokyu Tamagawa station.

The rooftop observatory deck Domestic Terminal 1 at Haneda airport.

No humidity is key to viewing Mount Fuji.

Good luck!

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

thank you

It's our 19th anniversary today...thankful for Satoshi always putting up with me.

Love you!

Monday, January 14, 2019

mikan

We've been enjoying different mikan (tangerine)....

starting with these Hinomaru Senryo (left) from Ehime (Shikoku) Nishi-Uwajima and Nagasaki Saikai's Ajimaru (right)...

The ajimaru's peel was so thin!

Ehime (Shikoku) Maana...all were so sweet!

I learned something new recently.

If you carefully take off the stem's nub, you will see...

these little partitions...and if you count them (click on the photo, I circled them)...

you should end up with the same amount of tangerine pieces...cool yeah?!

Saturday, January 12, 2019

tataki gobo & namasu

I mentioned that I made namasu and tataki gobo for our osechi...these two are really easy to make.

Tataki Gobo adapted from Orange Page
1 "stick" gobo (burdock root) about 8-inches long, scrubbed and cut into half then into fourths.
water

1/4 cup dashi

A: 2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 tablespoon mirin
1/2 tablespoon shoyu

B: 1/2 tablespoon sugar
1/2 tablespoon shoyu
1/2 tablespoon sake
1/2 tablespoon vinegar

2 tablespoons ground sesame seeds

In a pot, put the gobo and water and when the water boils, turn down the heat to medium and cook for 10 minutes.
Take the gobo out then using a rolling pin (or something heavy), "roll" over the cooked gobo a couple of times (to break down the fibers).
Then put the gobo, dashi, and ingredients for "A" into a pot and cook on medium until the liquid evaporates.
After the liquid evaporates, coat the cooked gobo with "B" and the sesame seeds.

Namasu
4 inches wide daikon
4 inches long carrot
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon vinegar

Peel and shred daikon
Peel and shred carrot
Add 1/2 teaspoon salt and wait for 3 minutes.
After 3 minutes, squeeze out water from daikon and carrot
Put daikon and carrot into sugar vinegar mixture.

NOTES: after making this, I felt the daikon and carrot should be marinated separately then put together before serving to keep the white and orange colors separate.

If you try these, let me know what you think.

Friday, January 11, 2019

naritasan

Since Satoshi had one more ride using his Seishun 18-kippu, we went to check out Naritasan Shinshoji (a temple) in Narita city, which is in Chiba prefecture.

From Tokyo, it took us about 2 hours.

And because it was the start of the new year, there were lots of people there.

After all the different shrines we went to in Tokyo during the New Year break, I was surprised that no one was selling baby castella...tiny castella in the form of different characters.

In Osaka, there would always be several vendors selling this at festivals and near shrines during their events, but in the Kanto area, we've noticed they aren't easy to come by.

During the New Year break (in Osaka) when we would go for hatsumode (first prayers of the year), I often would buy a bag, and Satoshi and I would munch on the warm little castella as we walked from one shrine to the next.

Luckily, we were finally able to get our fix in Narita.

On our way to visit the main shrine, we noticed that a lot of shops had lines in front of them, we looked at the time and it was nearing lunchtime.

This particular area has many unagi shops.

It was once said that during the Edo period it took at least 2 days to walk to Narita, so unagi (eel) was eaten to relieve the fatigue.

We stopped in at Surugaya (which if I understood correctly has been in business since 1798!) and got a numbered ticket for a table.

The man at the ticket machine mentioned it would probably be an hour and a half wait....

So, we went to the main shrine and checked out various areas of the property.

We also caught a glimpse of the priests making their way through the property...if you'd like to view a short video, click on the link.

At about an hour's wait (12:00), we went back to see what number they were on...they were no where near ours...sigh.

To kill time, we walked around looking at shops...the only thing is that there were so many people so it made walking around kind of tiring.

And the shops that they have all kind of repeat themselves after awhile...

In the end, we ended up just waiting in front of the shop where an hour turned into two and a half hours...

While waiting for our table, I shot a short video of the men preparing the unagi...here.

Then they called our number!

We were seated but were told that after ordering it would take at least 20-25 minutes for them to grill our unagi...nooo!

We ordered some beer and waited for "lunch".

(actually while waiting in line, we chatted with another couple and they had mentioned that they had tried other unagi places along this shopping arcade but loved this one because they actually grill to order. Some of the other places they tried would just bring out the unagi right after you ordered it...)

Finally at about 15:00 we got our meals...

Someone looks happy, yeah?!

It was delicious...the flesh was kind of fluffy, though I wished the skin was more crisp.

The wait was krazy but I'm glad the unagi didn't disappoint.

On the way back to Tokyo, we picked up some hand grilled arare (rice crackers) from Sakurayahonten and since Chiba is known for their peanuts, I was happy to find some of my favorite "peanut brittle" type of arare at Mame no Fukudaya, which kind of look like this...


It was a long day, but I'm glad we were able to use Satoshi's last ride using his Seishun 18-kippu and that we were able to visit Narita city.

Surugaya
359 Naka-machi
Narita, Chiba
Phone: 0476.22.1133
Closed Thursdays
Hours: 10:00-17:00

Sakurayahonten
547 Kami-cho
Narita, Chiba
Phone: 0476.22.0725

Mame no Fukudaya
526 Hanazakicho
Narita, Chiba
Phone: 0476.22.2471

Thursday, January 10, 2019

shima onsen-takasaki-tokyo

The next morning, the owner put all our futon away and then brought breakfast.

A lot of things...including natto and what we thought was a raw egg, turned out to be an onsen tamago (soft boiled egg)...whew!

After breakfast, the owner brought us back to the bus stop and we caught the bus back to Nakanojo station.

From there it was about an hour and a half by train to Takasaki.

Apparently, Gunma is the leading producer of daruma (the Japanese traditional doll modeled after the founder of Zen Buddhism).

We then caught the community bus to the Byakue Kannon.

This statue is 41.8 meters (137 feet) and you can climb the stairs all the way up to its shoulders (Satoshi did! (300 yen admission))

From the shoulder of the Kannon, you can see the city of Takasaki (Satoshi's photo).

Lunch (kind of sorta) was miso oden at Seishotei, a local dish.

Skewered pieces of konnyaku (devil's tongue jelly) slathered with a slightly sweet miso sauce.

Since it was near the end of the year, most of the shops in the area were closed, but I liked the atmosphere of their shopping arcade.

Back at Takasaki station, we picked up some snacks for the ride back to Tokyo.

I bought a sauce katsu sandwich by Fukuro.

Super thick pieces of pork that was very tender!

Satoshi bought a kamameshi bento that came with a teeny container of tsukemono.

Umeboshi (pickled apricots) not too sour, nor too salty, nor too sweet.

Oh em gee, this arare (rice cracker) topped with a savory caramel and shimonita leeks was so good! (wish I had bought more!)

And this shimonita leek wafer made by the same company as the arare above (Tsutsujian)...was also super tasty!

There was also some fried udon coated with curry powder that was good too (forgot to take a photo of it).

From Takasaki, it took us several hours to get back to the area where we live in Tokyo.

It was a quick trip, but we enjoyed ourselves....Hope you enjoyed this trip as well...

p.s. If you look under "Photo Gallery" under "Gunma" you can view some other photos not on these posts.

Byakue Kannon
2710-1 Ishihara-machi
Takasaki-shi, Gunma
Phone: 027.322.2269

Wednesday, January 09, 2019

kusatsu onsen-shima onsen

From Kusatsu Onsen it takes about 1 hour by train to Nakanojo.

From Nakanojo, it takes about 30 minutes by bus (and 930 yen!) to get to Shima Onsen.

Again the snow was coming down steadily, but a little "warmer" -3C(26F).

We grabbed some lunch at Sekizenya, a little eating area off to the side of Sekizenkan, a ryokan with over 300 years of history.

Tororo udon for Satoshi and sansai (mountain greens) soba for me.

It was nice to get out of the cold for a bit.

We also got to tour parts of the ryokan.

In the olden days, you would leave your shoes out in the hall...plus, there are no locks on the doors...eep!

After lunch, we called Chuseikan, the ryokan we would be staying at and they "came down" the mountain to pick us up.

With all the snow that had fallen, it sure was a trek back to the ryokan.

After checking in, we took a nap under the kotatsu (heated table).

Here is a short video of the area outside of our window...super peaceful, yeah?!

I loved the tile in the entrance to our room and the beautiful chair in the sitting area (which was too cold to sit in).

Dinner was served in our room and was an assortment of things.

There was also a pork hot pot.

After clearing our dishes, the owner came to take out our futon(s).

I say futons because the rooms weren't centrally heated so we definitely needed two!

He also gave each of us these yutanpo...lifesaver!

There was also a gas stove in the room, which I am not used to...it scared me because when we turned it off before going to bed, the smell of gas was pretty strong!

I was afraid there wouldn't be wi-fi nor television, but there were both.

It was a long day, but I was enjoying the quiet.

Sekizenya
4236 Oaza Shima, Nakanojo-machi
Agatsuma, Gunma
Phone: 0279.64.2101

Chuseikan
4374 Otsu Oaza Shima, Nakanojo-machi
Agatsuma, Gunma
Phone: 0279.64.2336

Tuesday, January 08, 2019

tokyo-kusatsu onsen

From where we live, it takes about 4 hours and a half to get to Kusatsu Onsen.

The reason why it took us so long was because we were using the Seishun 18-kippu, I've written about using this ticket previously, here.

By the time we reached the onsen, it was time for a late lunch.

There was also a steady fall of snow and the wind was fahreezing...the temps were -6C (27F)

I am usually good about checking the weather before our trips, but was totally unprepared for this weather...gah!

After leaving our bags with our hotel, we went in search of lunch.

Since it was fahreezing, we popped into Souan for some okkirikomi.

Okkirikomi is the local cuisine of the Joshu area (I think Joshu (joe-shoe) is the old name for Gunma).

It is a flat noodle in a broth with lots of veggies, kind of similar to Yamanashi's houtou.

Satoshi went with the standard miso version, while I ordered the tan tan style.

My version had soy milk in the broth, so it toned down the spiciness.

After lunch, we walked back to a fruit stand, Uocho, that I spotted on our walk from the bus station to the center of the town, and bought some "frozen" dried apricots.

To escape the semi-blizzard, we went a couple doors down to Seigetsudo for some coffee, banana dorayaki and chocolate manju.

I don't usually care for banana flavored sweets (most times the flavor is fake), but this was delicious.

The chocolate manju had a white bean filling...and was dipped in a semi-sweet chocolate.

From the cafe, we watched the steady snow fall being interrupted by sudden whips of wind.

In the middle of the onsen area is a huge yubatake (hot spring field) where you can see hot spring water being cooled as it makes it way down several tiers within the "field" (apparently 4000 liters per minute!)

By running the water down several tiers, they can cool the waters without diluting it.

Inside of Netsu no yu, there is also a yumomi (you-moh-mee) show (admission 600 yen for adults, 300 yen for children) where you can see them manually cool down the hot spring water while singing traditional folk songs.

I shot two videos while we viewed the show here, and here.

Dinner was buffet style.

What we noticed about this onsen area was that it was really popular with 20-somethings.

I also bought these senbei and boro (wafer orbs) from Nakayoshidohonpo, unfortunately the one on the left was made in Okayama prefecture!

boo! note to self: read the label better...

The boro (wafer orbs) are bigger than the type I grew up with.

But I love the crunch to them.

It was a long day and despite the freezing temps, we got to see a lot and eat a lot.

Souan
118-1 Kusatsu
Agatsuma, Gunma
Phone: 0279.88.0811

Uocho
82 Kusatsu
Agatsuma, Gunma
Phone: 0279.88.2063

Seigetsudo
25 Kusatsu
Agatsuma, Gunma
Phone: 0279.88.2166

Netsu no yu (Yumomi show)
414 Kusatsu
Agatsuma, Gunma
Phone: 0279.33.3613

Nakayoshidohonpo
118-1 Kusatsu
Agatsuma, Gunma
Phone: 0279.82.1237

Daitokan
126 Kusatsu
Agatsuma, Gunma
Phone: 0279.88.2611