Tuesday, February 28, 2017

float lemon tea

IMG_9777 I think I first heard about this tea from a television program.

Mitsuura Brewery makes several types.

Even one where the lemon is formed into a heart while it is growing, sliced and then dried.

That version is only available by lottery, so I was excited to come across this when we visited Miyajima.

We happened to check out a teeny knick knack shop and the tea caught my eye.

Untitled We got the ginger version.

After brewing the tea, place the dried lemon on top of the beverage.

The lemon stays afloat while you enjoy the tea.

The tea, lemon and ginger are all made in Japan.

You can even eat the dried lemon after you finish drinking the tea because it is organic.

Different but delicious.

I'm glad we got to try this and hope to order some other items from their online shop.

Monday, February 27, 2017

matsuyama-okayama-osaka

IMG_9832 Being a history buff, Satoshi was interested in visiting the Saka no Ue no Kumo Museum.

The novel (Saka no Ue no Kumo) was written by Ryotaro Shiba and introduces several characters who were natives of Matsuyama in the Meiji Era and illustrated that with hard work, anything is possible.

Having not read the book or seen the television drama, I walked through the museum and just soaked in the atmosphere and architecture, which by the way was designed by Tadao Ando (a well-known architect from Osaka).

IMG_9830 On the property is also Bansuiso, a French-style structure built in 1922 by a descendant of the Lord of the Matsuyama Clan.

IMG_9831 Inside, they were holding a tsubaki (camellia) exhibit.

The camellia is the city flower.

IMG_9835 I appreciated that their street cars all had wifi access.

IMG_9817 One interesting thing we tried were mikan onigiri by Tamaya.

We got one beef and one chicken.

IMG_9836 Both were so tasty! the beef and chicken were tender and the combination of sweet, salty was delicious.

I've tried twice to re-create this already, and think I am getting close to posting about it...

IMG_9837 As we walked to the birth home of the Akiyama brothers (residents of Matsuyama that were written about in "Saka no Ue no Kumo"), there was a line outside of a sweets shop, Kiri no Mori.

While Satoshi went to check out the brothers house, I stood in line for these...Kiri no Mori daifuku.

IMG_9838 Pillowy soft mochi, sweet bean paste & whipped cream...dusted with matcha powder....mmm!

I'm glad I got one for each of us!

IMG_9818 We also tried Botchan Dango...Botchan is a character in the novel of the same name, written by Natsume Soseki, a novelist who lived Matsuyama.

These were really soft bean pastes, not too much taste...meh!

IMG_9839 Pon Juice...I've written about this juice here.

IMG_9845 I also came across this nice sized bag of brussels sprouts for only 100 yen!

It took a little over 3 hours to get from Matsuyama to Okayama then another hour on the Shinkansen to take us back to Osaka.

At least the weather was nice and we were able to see what we wanted to.

Hope you enjoyed this adventure as much as we did.

Tamaya
6-13 Dogo-yunomachi
Matsuyama, Ehime
Phone: 089.915.5014

Kiri no Mori
3-3-1 Okaido
Matsuyama, Ehime
Phone: 089.934.5567
Closed Mondays
Hours: 10:00-19:00

Friday, February 24, 2017

premium friday

premiumfriday The government came up with a "brilliant" way to get the working class to "take a break" every last Friday of the month.

They are calling it "Premium Friday" and it starts today.

Workers are asked to leave at 15:00...

Bummer that this doesn't apply to Satoshi's workplace.

Most people who are part-timers will work less hours which means they will receive less wages.

Most companies are busiest at the end of the month too, closing their books...

Japan also has a "no-zangyo" (no overtime) day weekly on Wednesdays, but if you ask me, a workaholic society will hardly be able to retrain their ways...

Have a nice weekend, I'll continue our recent adventure to Matsuyama on Monday!

Thursday, February 23, 2017

miyajima-kure-matsuyama

IMG_9741 We woke early the next morning to maybe check out the sunrise...(if you click on the photo, it should take you to the video)

Nope...it was all foggy...no deer in sight...yet the tide was out again and it was super peaceful.

In fact, we were wondering if the deer population had dwindled from our previous visit (pre-blog).

The day before there were some deer attacking the maps people were reading, but other than that, they were really low-key and there were not many of them around.

I suspected it was because there were no deer senbei (wafers) being sold like in Nara.

Though the day before, I did see a deer "almost" head-butt a little girl...it was her fault for taunting the deer though...

Blog friend, Rowena, mentioned that this area reminded her of Mont Saint Michel...coincidentally they are sister cities.

IMG_9754 It was cool catching glimpses of deer footprints on the sand...

IMG_9753 Walking around the area sans tourists was part eery and nice at the same time.

IMG_9771 This dude took one look at us and then made his way up the stairs in search of breakfast...

IMG_9775 After our own breakfast, we made one more trek to gaze at the torii and then sat down for a decent cup of coffee at Itsuki Coffee.

I was impressed that most shops opened at 9:00 even though there were not a lot of tourists around.

IMG_9780 We then said "goodbye" and agreed we would need to return to see the view from Mount Misen.

From Miyajima to Kure it takes about an hour and a half...

Since we had some time, Satoshi wanted to check out the Japan Self Defense Forces Museum as they had a huge submarine on display...

If you look at the picture above, you'll notice the sub is being freshened up...bummer but huge yeah?!

IMG_9783 You can sit in the cockpit of the sub...

I, myself would get claustrophobic if I had to work/live in a sub...

Then we headed to Matsuyama by speed ferry.

IMG_9786 Luckily we picked up some musubi for the trip (it was 30 minutes to Matsuyama)

Yakisaba (grilled mackerel) and Hiroshima-na (a type of vege similar to chinese cabbage) for Satoshi and fried chicken with a lemon sauce for me...both used ingredients from the Hiroshima area and were a nice snack to tide us over until lunch.

IMG_9788 When we arrived in Matsuyama, it was another 50 minutes by bus to Dogo Onsen, one of the oldest hot springs in Japan.

The building was supposedly the inspiration for the bathhouse in "Spirited Away", a Japanese animated movie.

By the time we left our belongings at the hotel and went in search of lunch it was almost 15:00!

IMG_9787 We shared this jakko-ten from Tanimoto Kamaboko...a bit too gritty for me, the tempura is made from jakko (tiny sardines) ground into a paste then fried.

This version was also coated with batter and fried again like a croquette.

As we walked in the shopping arcade...Dogonomachiya, a cute cafe caught my eye.

Since it was 15:00-ish, it was "tea time", so we had to wait for seats.

IMG_9790 I ordered their fried onion burger...teriyaki sauce smothered the beefy burger.

The fried onion rings were so good and crisp! (that orange on the plate was so sweet!)

Satoshi ordered their fried fish burger which he enjoyed.

We liked the laid back atmosphere and their garden was nice to gaze at too.

We also had ordered coffee with our meals but felt it had been sitting somewhere before they served us...lukewarm...bah!

IMG_9797 After lunch, we did a little exploring and came upon this huge yugama (literally hot water pot) which was apparently used before the bathhouses were built.

IMG_9799 We also visited Isaniwa Shrine.

Can you believe when Satoshi asked the guy at the tourist information for info on this shrine the guy replied, "it's just a shrine"...it really ticked Satoshi off...

IMG_9802 The steps to this shrine are steep and there really aren't any railings (except that chain thingy in the middle) to help you if you are about to fall...

After checking-in, we went to check out the Dogo Onsen baths before dinner..your admission fee determines the level of your "bath experience".

I had actually visited here when I studied in Japan (many moons ago) and was totally disappointed with our "bath experience" this time around.

Maybe because we took the cheapest route, maybe because it was the weekend and "everyone" was visiting...the ratio of bathers totally overloaded the size of the bath...it was so disappointing and not relaxing at all.

Also, unlike most hotel hot spring type baths, you need to bring in your own towels and soap, even pay to use the hair dryers.

More info on fees and hours can be found here.

Dinner was another assortment of different delicacies of the area.

It had been a long day, still I was glad the weather was nice and we got to see and do all that we did.

Itsuki Coffee
420 Miyajima-cho
Hatsukaichi, Hiroshima
Hours: 9:00-19:00

Tanimoto Kamaboko
20 Dogo-yunomachi
Matsuyama, Ehime
Phone: 089.933.3032
Hours: 8:30-22:00

Dogonomachiya
14-26 Dogo-yunomachi
Matsuyama, Ehime
Phone: 089.986.8886
Closed Tuesdays and every 3rd Wednesday
Hours: 10:00-22:00

Hotel Katsuragi
4-16 Dogoyuzuki-cho
Matsuyama, Ehime
Phone: 089.931.5141

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

osaka-hiroshima-miyajima

IMG_9597 From Osaka, it is about an hour and a half to Hiroshima by Shinkansen.

When we arrived it was raining, and actually the day was forecast for rain too.

We visited with a friend, Mihoko at her workplace then went in search of my Grandma's half-sister's grave.

It had been over 10 years since we had visited the grave and were not too sure where it was.

Luckily the woman at the temple was able to help us (Thank you!)

IMG_9605 We went a couple of stops back and went to pay our respects at the Hiroshima Peace Park.

It was actually our first time there.

Somber and thought-provoking area...we were too scared to check out the museum though.

We then went by light rail to the Miyajima station which took about 50 minutes, then hopped on a ferry which took us to Miyajima Island (about 10 minutes).

IMG_9616 The rain had stopped but the air was super icy.

We stopped into the first place we saw for lunch...Umeyama.

Satoshi and I shared an anago (salt water eel) donburi.

The anago was kind of "fluffy" in texture.

IMG_9617 We also shared these fried oysters.

Both were kind of pricey and (to me, because they are not my favorite foods) just so-so.

IMG_9657 Did you know that Hatsukaichi, the city where Miyajima is located, is also the birthplace of the kendama?! I didn't.

IMG_9619 We had planned to check out Mount Misen, but the ropeway is out of commission until March...so we spent a lot of time just walking around the shopping arcade and surrounding areas....oohing and aahing at the torii.

IMG_9627 We visited UNESCO site, Itsukushima Shrine.

Peaceful and beautiful to see (when there aren't a whole group of intermediate schoolers there at the same time...)

IMG_9629 This is apparently the size of the base of the huge torii...massive!

IMG_9690 When the tide recedes there are two pools called kagami-no-ike (literally mirror pond).

The reflection of the moon in these ponds are often quoted in tanka (31-syllable poetry) & haiku (5-7-5 syllable poetry).

IMG_9649 We also climbed up many stairs to check out the 5-story pagoda.

IMG_9698 Just before heading back for dinner, the tide was on its way out, so we went down to check out the torii.

I was surprised at how solid the ground was, I thought it would be squishy and that I would probably take a spill somewhere, but I didn't...

IMG_9706 So cool (and huge) up close!

Dinner was a hodge podge of different dishes. Stuffed, we walked out to the torii to see it lit up.

My legs were tired from making many round trips to see the torii, but I was glad the rain had stopped and we were able to see the torii up close.

Umeyama
844 Miyajima-cho
Hatsukaichi, Hiroshima
Phone: 0829.44.0313

Hotel Miya-Rikyu
849 Miyajima-cho
Hatsukaichi, Hiroshima
Phone: 0829.44.2111

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

we're back

Untitled Over the weekend, we went on a little trip.

If you follow us on Instagram or Facebook, you'll know where we went.

Here is a photo I posted on those two social media sites.

It is amazing what a filter can do for a photo.

Hope to write up about our excursion soon!

Monday, February 20, 2017

le sucre-coeur

Untitled Last March, Le Sucre-Coeur moved from Kishibe to Umeda. (I've seen different sites that say they still have their Kishibe store...)

I visited them in Kishibe back in 2008.

Of course when they moved to Umeda, "everyone" went to check them out...so the lines were krazy.

Some waiting for over 2 hours to get in.

Last week, after my dentist appointment, I finally went to check them out.

I got there 10 minutes before opening and there was a line.

Not a huge line, but still a line.

I picked up their quiche dauphinoise (potato quiche), pâté and tuna sandwiches and half of their fig bread.

The quiche was so creamy and cheesy! They also added some bleu cheese to it...so good! The crust nice and flaky.

The sandwiches were delicious too. Very flavorful and there were also caramelized onions in the pâté sandwich too!

We tried the fig bread before and it didn't disappoint. Lots of dried figs in it.

I'm glad they are closer and hope to be back soon!

Le Sucre-Coeur
1-2-1 Dojimahama, Shin-Dai Building 1F
Kita-ku, Osaka
Phone: 06.6147.7779
Closed Sunday & Monday
Hours: 11:00-21:00


Friday, February 17, 2017

scrubbies

Untitled My grandma used to make the best scrubbies (for washing dishes).

I still have a couple in my "stash".

Untitled The other day, we came across someone selling scrubbies made of the same material but in a different form.

These are stiff because they put starch on it.

After use though it should get softer (the salesman said so).

I know they will never be better than the ones my grandma made but hope they will at least get the job done.

Miss you Grandma!

p.s. have a nice weekend!

Thursday, February 16, 2017

square furniture stand

Untitled This past weekend was supposed to be snowy or rainy and it was neither, so we headed out.

We went back to Square Furniture Stand for lunch.

This time around Satoshi had their BLET (bacon lettuce egg tomato) sandwich...650 yen.

And I had their Salad Dutch Baby...650 yen.

We also ordered coffees so our total came out to 2000 yen (tax included).

Untitled Look at Satoshi's sandwich...huge!

Even though it was super messy eats, he thoroughly enjoyed this eating it with a knife and fork.

It was my first time having a dutch baby and a savory one at that.

I loved the poofy pancake topped with bacon, lettuce and tomato.

We'll definitely have these again and be back!

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

tamori-style shogayaki

Untitled Recently on tv there was someone raving about Tamori's favorite shogayaki (pork ginger).

Tamori is a popular figure in Japanese culture that hosts many shows.

I went online and found a recipe for the shogayaki and decided to try it.

Tamori-style shogayaki : serves 2 : Tamy Blog

300 grams pork loin, thinly sliced
1 onion, thinly sliced
some flour

Sauce
3 tablespoons shoyu
3 tablespoons sake (rice wine)
3 tablespoons mirin (sweet rice wine)
ginger

Coat meat with flour
Saute in pan
Add sauce

NOTES: this was super easy and tasty. If you use a non-stick pan, you don't need to add any oil.

I didn't coat the meat with flour (wanting to cut some of the carbs out), but realized that I should coat it the next time to keep the meat tender and juicy.

I only made half the amount of meat for the two of us and also cut back the amount of sauce.

This was good with rice.


Tuesday, February 14, 2017

anchovy potato salad

Untitled There is a tiny bar in Osaka that I've been seeing on social media and it seems by the amount of photos uploaded that their most popular dish is an anchovy potato salad.

Satoshi and I have tried to eat there, but it is always crowded, so we've never been able to get in.

Anyway, since I had some potatoes, I wanted to try to make it.

Of course, since I've not actually tried it, I don't know what it is supposed to taste like...so I made up my own version.

Kat's Anchovy Potato Salad : serves 2 depending on your serving sizes

6 fingerling sized potatoes, peeled and diced

Dressing : adapted from "Everyday Salads" : Masaki Higuchi
2 tablespoons olive oil
anchovy paste about 1 tablespoon
1/2 teaspoon of grated garlic
1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
freshly ground pepper
couple dashes of dried dill
1 tablespoon mayo

Mix dressing and set aside
Cook your diced potatoes and when tender, drain
Mash potatoes slightly and cool slightly
When potatoes are warm, add dressing.
Enjoy warm or chilled.

NOTES: this was delicious warm, nice with wine. We also had it the next day, chilled with beer.

I think it would be nice on toasted baguette also.

I am thinking to add some balsamic vinegar in place of the white wine vinegar and/or capers next time.

Untitled p.s. Happy Valentine's Day...we celebrated on Saturday with all sorts of sashimi (raw tako with ponzu, aji tataki (minced horse mackerel) & bincho maguro (albacore tuna)), anchovy potato salad & other nibbles.


Monday, February 13, 2017

this and that

Untitled What do you do during lunch?

I used to eat my lunch in front of the tv, but these days have been staying away from the television/internet as most programs only have been talking about US politics...

So now, I listen to Kamasami Kong on the radio. (If you grew up in Hawaii you may know who he is...blast from the past, yeah?!)

After eating, I read magazines or write in my journal...

I recently reconnected with this illustration kit that I had purchased awhile back.

When I got it, I thought it would be easy and fun.

While it is fun, it isn't easy.

You trace the item a couple of times then try your hand at it.

Untitled The back side of the paper has blank grids and a blank space at the bottom.

The kit teaches you 1000-something items...I have a (long) ways to go...

Untitled Hope you have a nice week!