Category Archives: Gastronomy

Shizuoka Prefecture Gastronomic Specialty: Shirasu/Japanese Anchovy Whitebait

Shirasu/シラス in Japanese means “whitebait”, although it normally applies only to the Japanese Anchovy/Katakuchiiwashi/片口鰯 (Engraulis japonica ).

It is found in many parts of Japan, but Mochimune Harbour in Shizuoka City puts the largest catch on markets in Japan.
The season lasts from May to the Fall.

Today, as I visited the town on my way to the beach to eat my bento in the Missus’ company, I noticed local fishermen drying the fish.

They kindly explained that any shirasu that was not sold or boiled raw immediately after their arrival at the harbour would be first steamed then sun-dried before further process. Such process includes further oven-drying them and pressing into thin sheets, or adding them to various fish mixtures.

Now, if you can’t find them raw, but still discover them freshly boiled, choose the best: some of the packaged fish should have a pink spot on their belly!

Pierre.Cuisine, Francescannotwrite, My White Kitchen, 47 Japanese Farms Through The Eyes of Its Rural Communities, Foodhoe, Chucks Eats, Things that Fizz & Stuff, Five Euro Food by Charles,Red Shallot Kitchen by Priscilla,With a Glass, Nami | Just One Cookbook, Peach Farm Studio, Clumsyfingers by Xethia, PepperBento,Adventures in Bento Making, American Bent, Beanbento, Bento No, Bento Wo Tsukurimashou, Cooking Cute, Eula, Hapabento , Happy Bento, Jacki’s Bento Blog, Kitchen Cow, Leggo My Obento, Le Petit Journal Bento & CO (French), Lunch In A Box,
Susan at Arkonlite, Vegan Lunch Box; Tokyo Tom Baker, Daily Food Porn/Osaka, Only Nature Food Porn, Happy Little Bento, The Herbed Kitchen, J-Mama’s Kitchen, Cook, Eat, Play, Repeat, Bento Lunch Blog (German), Adventures In Bento, Anna The Red’s Bento Factory, Cooking Cute, Timeless Gourmet, Bento Bug, Ideal Meal, Bentosaurus, Mr. Foodie (London/UK), Ohayo Bento,

Must-see tasting websites:

-Sake: Tokyo Through The Drinking Glass, Tokyo Foodcast, Urban Sake, Sake World
-Wine: Palate To Pen, Warren Bobrow, Cellar Tours, Ancient Fire Wines Blog
-Beer: Good Beer & Country Boys, Another Pint, Please!
-Japanese Pottery to enjoy your favourite drinks: Yellin Yakimono Gallery

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Wasabi: All you need to know!

For all my agnosticism, I sometimes think I am blessed to be born in Dijon, Bourgogne, France and lived in Shizuoka City, the birthplace of Wasabi!

The sign at the entrance of Utogi, the birthplace of wasabi!

Around 1600, farmers in Utougi District, some 33 km from Shizuoka JR Station along the Abe River, first started experimenting with the culture of that particular plant, which they already knew as a wild vegetable used for pickling. At the time they were only processing the stems, leaves and flowers.

Utogi Village

If you want to visit Utogi, where you will find a soba restaurant and other shops as well as the possibility of trekking and festivals watching in April and October, either go by car (55 minutes) or take a bus (Shizuoka JR Station/75 minutes). The trip along the Abe River is worth for its own sake with all the changing landscapes and vistas!
I did it by bicycle, but it took me 5 hours for the return-trip from the city centre and had to push the bicycle along forthe last 3 kilometres. Even a maoutain bike would have made it!

Another view of Utogi

Wasabi Monument in Utogi.

They even have their own “Mon/Arms”!

This is still a very popular kind of pickles in Shizuoka where they are sold in season.
In 1604, Tokugawa Ieyasu, the Japanese Overlord/Shogun, who had just moved to Sumpu (presently Shizuoka City), grew extremely fond of the grated root and helped spread its use all over the country. Its present culture has expanded outside our Prefecture, especially in Nagano, but Shizuoka still produces not only 80% of the whole crop in Japan, and the best wasabi are grown in Utougi and in the Amagi Range in Izu Peninsula.

This gentleman is the 17th generation of the first wasabi growers in Utogi! Check His homepage (Japanese) where you can order a whole array of products! Look at him in his field on youtube!

Tamaruya stand at Haneda Airport

The first and oldest wasabi shop, Tamaruya, is still very much in business in Shizuoka City and even has a stand in Haneda Airport, Shizuoka City!

Wasabi growing is backbreaking work. You need a constant temperature, so you have to be located at a certain altitude (weel over 1,000 metres in some cases) as extreme heat is not welcome, as well as extrem cold.

Pure, soft, constant water is a must. Shizuoka water is known as the best in Japan as demonstrated by its superlative (and rare) sake.

Fields need constant care during the two years it takes for roots to be mature. You can drink the water in these fields without any fear!

WASABI IN JAPANESE CUISINE

If you want to grate your own wasabi, you will need a grater.
The best (above) are made with shark skin!
Grated wasabi is the most common use for the plant, especially with sushi and sashimi.

Wasabi Flowers.

But the stems, leaves and flowers are extensively used.
The leaves can be eaten raw and are great with miso!

The stems are a delicacy marinated in rice vinegar.

Wasabi zuke/wasabi stems and flowers pickled in sake kasu/sake white lees.
Wasabi zuke in Shizuoka is simply extravagant as the sake breweries sell their best white lees/sake kasu (after the sake has been pressed) to the local farmers and producers!

Soon I will post an interesting home-made recipe for wasabi zuke!

The same leaves, once pickled, can be included inside inari zushi for the pleasure of vegans!

Na no hana/rape flowers boiled and seasoned with wasabi mayonnaise.

Now, you might know it, but thinly sliced wasabi root is not as strong as grated wasabi. In Shizuoka, as it is not that expensive, try and ask your favourite sushi chef to cut it in very thin strips and roll as it is in a “maki”. It’s called “namida maki/tear maki” or “bakudan maki/bomb maki” (the real one, not the buster made with grated wasabi!). A favourite of mine!

FRENCH CUISINE

Wasabi is getting more and more popular in French and other cuisines all over the world.
The above dish was created by Dominique Corby a great French Chef who learned his craft at the Tour d’Argent in Paris, among others, before coming to Japan to look after the kitchen of the Sakura Restaurant in the New Otani Hotel in Osaka and of the 6eme Sens in Tokyo.

His cuisine was created with whole wasabi (1 metre long!) i sent him by cool box from Shizuoka.
These are the best grown in Utogi. Very fat, clean, with no black marks and with enormous stems and leaves. Dominique steame the leaves and stems before serving them with fish seasoned with a wasabi sauce reduction from the roots!

FANCY FOODS

Wasabi Dango!

Wasabi comes into many kinds of fancy food for the pleasure of all, young and old!

Wasabi soft Ice-cream!

DERIVATED PRODUCTS

Wasabi comes into a whole array of derivated products worth exploring:

Wasabi Dressing 1

Wasabi Dressing 2

Wasabi dressing is not that strong and can be used in cold and hot/warm dishes.
The Missus uses it extensively with dtir-fried veetables and meat.

Nori/seaweed and miso seasoned with wasabi is another great vegan seasoning!

Wasabi salt by Tamaruya!

Stewed wasabi by Tamaruya!

Wasabi Shochu!

The only true wasabi shochu is made by Bandai Brewery in Shuzenji, Izu peninsula, Shizuoka Prefecture! (don’t be fooled by unscrupulous producers/traders!).

HEALTH FACTS:

-Wasabi is a natural medicinal herb as it contains big amounts of Potassium, Calcium, Magnesium, Vitamin B2 ad C.

-Combined with vinegar, or mustard, or ginger, helps combat fppd poisining, obesity and helps blood flow.

-Combined with Chinese cabbage, or cabbage, or yam, helps combat ulcers and cancer.

-Combine with onion, or leek, or galic chive, helps combat blood vessel ageaing and heart diseases, as well as preserve skin health.

-Combined with chili peppers, or umeboshi/Japanese pickled plums, or orange, or grapefruit, helps appetite and quick illness recovery, helps skin rejuvenation and helps combat ageing.

FOR RESIDENTS AND VISITORS IN SHIZUOKA CITY:

On every first Wednesday of the month, a small but very special fair is held in the basement of Isetan Store in Shizuoka City.
It is called “Shizuoka Utsurogi Ichiba” after a group of farmers residing and conducting business up Abe River in Shizuoka City, up to an altitude of 1,500 metres, around Utogi, the birthplace of wasabi, and still considered the best in the world.
Try to come as soon as Isetan opens as it can become quite a unashamed tussle with all these local grannies fighting for the best morsel!
All products on sale are purely local and practically devoid of industrial fertilizers. It is actually a paradise for vegetarians as only vegetables are represented there. A multitude of succulent and extravagant wasabi pickles, pickled plums, onions, etc.
The names, addresses and even phone numbers of the farmers are clearly stated, making all purchases eminently traceable.

But the pinnacle is some incredible fresh vegetables, including enormous fresh wasabi roots at ridiculously low prices. I grabbed tis couple of fresh bouquets of wasabi stems, leaves and flowers for my better half (worse?) who loves them as tempura or home-made pickles! I wonder what people in Tokyo would have to pay for that!

It is possible to travel up to Utogi and buy directly from the Farmers Cooperative at:
422–8031 Shizuoka City, Yumei Cho, 2-20
TEl.: 054-2869018

RECOMMENDED RELATED WEBSITES

Pierre.Cuisine, Francescannotwrite, My White Kitchen, 47 Japanese Farms Through The Eyes of Its Rural Communities, Foodhoe, Chucks Eats, Things that Fizz & Stuff, Five Euro Food by Charles,Red Shallot Kitchen by Priscilla,With a Glass, Nami | Just One Cookbook, Peach Farm Studio, Clumsyfingers by Xethia, PepperBento,Adventures in Bento Making, American Bent, Beanbento, Bento No, Bento Wo Tsukurimashou, Cooking Cute, Eula, Hapabento , Happy Bento, Jacki’s Bento Blog, Kitchen Cow, Leggo My Obento, Le Petit Journal Bento & CO (French), Lunch In A Box,
Susan at Arkonlite, Vegan Lunch Box; Tokyo Tom Baker, Daily Food Porn/Osaka, Only Nature Food Porn, Happy Little Bento, The Herbed Kitchen, J-Mama’s Kitchen, Cook, Eat, Play, Repeat, Bento Lunch Blog (German), Adventures In Bento, Anna The Red’s Bento Factory, Cooking Cute, Timeless Gourmet, Bento Bug, Ideal Meal, Bentosaurus, Mr. Foodie (London/UK), Ohayo Bento,

Must-see tasting websites:

-Sake: Tokyo Through The Drinking Glass, Tokyo Foodcast, Urban Sake, Sake World
-Wine: Palate To Pen, Warren Bobrow, Cellar Tours, Ancient Fire Wines Blog
-Beer: Good Beer & Country Boys, Another Pint, Please!
-Japanese Pottery to enjoy your favourite drinks: Yellin Yakimono Gallery

Shizuoka Hotsprings: Guest House Kazeyoobi in Itoh City!

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Izu Peninsula in Eastern Shizuoka Prefecture is the most famous and oldest hotsprings area in Japan. Start either from Atami or Mishima JR Shinkasen Stations and visit this great region by train, bus or car!
If you begin your journey from Atami, take the train to Ito City and change onto the local private line and get off at Izu Koogen Station. From there you can either walk (45 minutes) or take a taxi if you are in a hurry!
Guest House Kazeyoubi in fact is a private pension with real hotsprings private bath and open-air bath fed with water coming from the nearby Ooumuro Yama, a long-extinct volcano.

The Guest House is a bit out the ordinary as it is conceived and decorated as a Spanish House with Spanish food as its main course for dinner! Plenty to please and satisfy expats! The owner actually told us that foreigners are far from being the exception, but keep in mind that they offer Japanese cuisine options as you will see later!

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As I said, the whole interior decoration has been conceived along Spanish lines!

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But the Japanese bath on the balcony is definitely Japanese-style with real hotsprings water!
The rooms do have European-style shower, bathrooms, so no worries there, either!
There is also a “rotenburo”/open-air semi-public bath. As the guest house has only 6 rooms, you will always find some time during the day or night vacant all for yourself (ves)!

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The dining room for dinner and breakfast has also been decorated in Spanish style. You can even eat on the verandah when the weather is good enough!
Dinners are served early from 18:00 but breakfasts start from 08:00 (nothing Spanish about that, LOL!)

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Now, expats will happy to learn that meals are Gargantuan by Japanese standards! Above Amuse include Iberico Smoked Ham!

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Now if you want to drink wine (Spanish. There are all kinds of drinks available, though!), ask for “nomihoudai”/”drink as much as you want” system, it’s a bargain!

We had ordered the sashimi plate on the Internet as an optional dish to an already great meal!:
-From top clockwise (see above picture):
Aji no sashimi/Saurel Sashimi
Amaebi/Sweet Shrimps
Aji no tataki/Saurel cut in small pieces
Katsuo/Bonito with freshly grated ginger
Inada/Young Japanese amberjack (buri)
Maguro/Tuna
-Centre:
Ika somen/Cuttle-fish served in long thin strips
Notice all the shiso leaves!

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The very Spanish garlic soup!

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The (small) lobster (enormous) paella for two!

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The fresh vegetable dip to help us wait for the next courses!

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The Iberico Pork Steak for me,

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and a great Japanese Beef steak for the Missus!

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Do not ask how we managed to finish the dessert (actually, I helped the Missus!)!

In fact eating dinner so early was a good idea, because
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I had to help the Missus finish it!

Guest House Kazeyoobi, a place I would definitely recommend to anyone, especially considering the great smiling and attentive welcome!

Guest House Kazeyoubi
〒413-0235 Ito City, Oomuro Kougen, 7-210 
TEL 0557-51-2935
HOMEPAGE (Japanese)

RECOMMENDED RELATED WEBSITES

Pierre.Cuisine, Francescannotwrite, My White Kitchen, 47 Japanese Farms Through The Eyes of Its Rural Communities, Foodhoe, Chucks Eats, Things that Fizz & Stuff, Five Euro Food by Charles,Red Shallot Kitchen by Priscilla,With a Glass, Nami | Just One Cookbook, Peach Farm Studio, Clumsyfingers by Xethia, PepperBento,Adventures in Bento Making, American Bent, Beanbento, Bento No, Bento Wo Tsukurimashou, Cooking Cute, Eula, Hapabento , Happy Bento, Jacki’s Bento Blog, Kitchen Cow, Leggo My Obento, Le Petit Journal Bento & CO (French), Lunch In A Box,
Susan at Arkonlite, Vegan Lunch Box; Tokyo Tom Baker, Daily Food Porn/Osaka, Only Nature Food Porn, Happy Little Bento, The Herbed Kitchen, J-Mama’s Kitchen, Cook, Eat, Play, Repeat, Bento Lunch Blog (German), Adventures In Bento, Anna The Red’s Bento Factory, Cooking Cute, Timeless Gourmet, Bento Bug, Ideal Meal, Bentosaurus, Mr. Foodie (London/UK), Ohayo Bento,

Must-see tasting websites:

-Sake: Tokyo Through The Drinking Glass, Tokyo Foodcast, Urban Sake, Sake World
-Wine: Palate To Pen, Warren Bobrow, Cellar Tours, Ancient Fire Wines Blog
-Beer: Good Beer & Country Boys, Another Pint, Please!
-Japanese Pottery to enjoy your favourite drinks: Yellin Yakimono Gallery

Japanese Traditional Local Festivals: 5th Annual Miwa Cherry Blossoms Festival in Shizuoka City!

Recent times have seen a revival of local festivals in Japan, especially in the rural areas, probably because people wanted to forget the sluggish economy and come back to more basic social gatherings after long years spent away in dehumanizing cities.
My good friend Neil had mentioned that his neighborhood in Miwa was organizing their 5th Annual Sakura Festival yesterday so I rode my bicycle for a good 45 minutes from home till the other side of the Abe River in Shizuoka City!

I left my bicycle at Neil’s place and walked till the Miwa Primary School where I found this banner announcing the Cherry Blossoms Festival!

For once that the weather was fine I walked on the causeway along the Abe River.

It is still winter and the water was pretty dry in all senses of the word!

I finally espied the site!

The Festival has been scheduled on the 3rd Sunday of February whatever the conditions or weather.
Unfortunately the last three weeks have witnessed unseasonal cold and the early-blooming Kawazu Cherry Trees had not blossomed yet!

For a closer view!

On the other hand the Japanese plum trees were still very much in flowers!

And the kumquats were everywhere for a picking!

We are full in leek season! Great to fight colds!

Plenty of beautiful colors to be found in private gardens!

But someone had made sure we had some cherry blossoms on site!

Neil had been designated as the sound engineer of the event!

You can’t have a festival in Japan without drums!

I wonder what those fox masks are for!

Robust ladies!

Oranges and tea on sale!
Notice the “dustbins”!

The site was small but certainly crowded!

Local bonsai on sale!

Local farmers selling their produce!

What are they preparing here?

Tonjiru soup for free!
Very thoughtful of the organizers!

Ashikubo Green Tea!

Sweet dango/balls!

Boxed lunches and wagashi cakes!

Chirashizushi bento!
All bentos are really home-made before put on sale!

Okonomiyaki!

Grilled sausages!

Deep-fried sweetmeat buns!

Yakisoba!

Candy Floss!

Grilled mochi cakes!

Local Benihoppe strawberries!

Home-made umeboshi!

They even had a small flea market!

Oden!

Dorayaki!

Very traditional dance!

Another very traditional dance!

And very traditional drinking!
RECOMMENDED RELATED WEBSITES

Francescannotwrite, My White Kitchen, 47 Japanese Farms Through The Eyes of Its Rural Communities, Foodhoe, Chucks Eats, Things that Fizz & Stuff, Five Euro Food by Charles,Red Shallot Kitchen by Priscilla,With a Glass, Nami | Just One Cookbook, Peach Farm Studio, Clumsyfingers by Xethia, PepperBento,Adventures in Bento Making, American Bent, Beanbento, Bento No, Bento Wo Tsukurimashou, Cooking Cute, Eula, Hapabento , Happy Bento, Jacki’s Bento Blog, Kitchen Cow, Leggo My Obento, Le Petit Journal Bento & CO (French), Lunch In A Box,
Susan at Arkonlite, Vegan Lunch Box; Tokyo Tom Baker, Daily Food Porn/Osaka, Only Nature Food Porn, Happy Little Bento, The Herbed Kitchen, J-Mama’s Kitchen, Cook, Eat, Play, Repeat, Bento Lunch Blog (German), Adventures In Bento, Anna The Red’s Bento Factory, Cooking Cute, Timeless Gourmet, Bento Bug, Ideal Meal, Bentosaurus, Mr. Foodie (London/UK), Ohayo Bento,

Must-see tasting websites:

-Sake: Tokyo Through The Drinking Glass, Tokyo Foodcast, Urban Sake, Sake World
-Wine: Palate To Pen, Warren Bobrow, Cellar Tours, Ancient Fire Wines Blog
-Beer: Good Beer & Country Boys, Another Pint, Please!
-Japanese Pottery to enjoy your favourite drinks: Yellin Yakimono Gallery

The Homey Art Of Bento-Shizuoka Style!

All the bentoes are from the Missus’ archives!

Preparing a bento is an act of love.
Or an apprenticeship to love for single people!

As expats, although its notion has been ingrained in our gastronomic brains for more than half a century (not accounting for the Army ration packs of older generations), a lunch box simply cannot be compared to a Japanese bento!
After all, Western lunch boxes were a bit of a misnomer when you consider their very basic contents piled into an artless tin box.
On the other hand, why has bento grown so popular abroad (i.e. out of Japan)?
You just have to browse the Internet or Home Cooking Magazines to realize it has progressed far beyond a mere fad. The concept is here to stay and spread all over the World eventually.

Bento officionados usually agree on the following as the reasons for its popularity:
-Health: a real bento combining all the ingredients of a normal meal (and even more!) is bound to make up for a better-balanced repast than any lunch you would hurriedly buy at a baker’s, fast food joint or supermarket before wolfing it down at your office or workplace.
-Practicality: bento is conceived to be carried in vessels taking a minimum amount of space in your luggage. As it is usually wrapped with chopsticks (or fork and spoon) inside a tablecloth or large handkerchief one only needs to untie it, leave it atop its wrapping, open it and enjoy it at leisure on your office desk, at the company cafeteria or in a nearby park.
-Aesthetics: you just have to open a well-conceived bento box to have your friends or colleagues peer into it with envy and wonder. How many times have people witnessed others taking photographs of each other’s creation for further reference? Good friends will actually venture as far as exchanging some of their better morsels!

The idea that a bento is a woman’s or wife’s (or girlfriend’s) work has slowly but steadily become obsolete.
In Japan they even show (single) men preparing their lunch box alone in the kitchen on prime time TV shows.

Choosing your box or vessel:
Although traditional cedar wood boxes make for an exquisite gastronomic experience, one does not have to lavish money on extravagant bento boxes.
Such boxes may be of all shapes and material.
Many young Japanese men go as far as designing their own boxes into metal and plastic encased sets that look more than space shuttle contraptions than anything else.
A hard round plastic Tupperware can make for an appropriate bento box if you use plenty of dry curry over rice (don’t forget to decorate with crumbled boiled egg and a few sprigs of green!).

A rectangular bamboo fiber case very commonly found to pack souvenir treats will do well for sushi rolls where they can stand their cross section up.
Do not discard any reusable box that can be easily transformed into a practical vessel for your lunch.
Now, if you want to invest some money into a true Japanese bento box you basically have the choice between a compartmented box (round, square or rectangular) and a single-tiered or double-tiered bean-shaped box. The former usually comes lacquered while the latter can be made of cedar tree sheets bound with cherry tree bark.
I must confess that I have a special fondness for the latter because one can separate his/her lunch into two distinct “dishes” one can pick from in turns.
Do not forget your chopsticks, or fork or spoon. Choose the former to last long enough for the sake of ecology!

-But I have no time to prepare a bento before going to work in the morning!

True to say, a good bento requires some planning and organization.
But the more you put into it, the more contented (or proud) you, your partner or family member will feel.
Actually bento is no less than the epitome of slow food disguised into fast food if I may afford the apparent contradiction:
A bento bought at a convenience store is fast food. A lunch concocted with love and passion is slow food. But you eat it like fast food!

Organization should not be that complicated.
First of all decide on your staple the night before: rice, bread (yes!), potato (why not?). Keep in mind this will form at least a good third of your lunch.
Next check your fridge for meat or fish for the main “partner” of your staple. That is, if you are not vegetarian. Talking of vegetarianism (or veganism), this is not an obstacle at all!
Alright, you have decided on your staple and its partner. You still have to think of how you are going to accommodate your meat or fish. Fried? Sauteed? Steamed? Broiled? And their seasoning!

Next, think of dietary balance and decorative value.
This is where you have to think of the vegetables and fruit (no biscuits, or junk food, please! Keep it healthy!). Are you going to serve them raw (don’t forget you need dressing including oil for good digestion of raw vegetables!), grilled, fried, or steamed? Keep it in mind to strike a good balance between all ingredients. The key is not to prepare them all in the same fashion!
You will find out quickly that colors are a good guide when considering the nutritious value of your bento!
Right, you have struck the right balance and proportions!
Now it is up to your artistic sense!
I’m sure you will be able to emulate the picture(s) in this article and even better after some practice!
Why?
Because bento is an act of love!

RECOMMENDED RELATED WEBSITES

My White Kitchen, 47 Japanese Farms Through The Eyes of Its Rural Communities, Foodhoe, Chucks Eats, Things that Fizz & Stuff, Five Euro Food by Charles,Red Shallot Kitchen by Priscilla,With a Glass, Nami | Just One Cookbook, Peach Farm Studio, Clumsyfingers by Xethia, PepperBento,Adventures in Bento Making, American Bent, Beanbento, Bento No, Bento Wo Tsukurimashou, Cooking Cute, Eula, Hapabento , Happy Bento, Jacki’s Bento Blog, Kitchen Cow, Leggo My Obento, Le Petit Journal Bento & CO (French), Lunch In A Box,
Susan at Arkonlite, Vegan Lunch Box; Tokyo Tom Baker, Daily Food Porn/Osaka, Only Nature Food Porn, Happy Little Bento, The Herbed Kitchen, J-Mama’s Kitchen, Cook, Eat, Play, Repeat, Bento Lunch Blog (German), Adventures In Bento, Anna The Red’s Bento Factory, Cooking Cute, Timeless Gourmet, Bento Bug, Ideal Meal, Bentosaurus, Mr. Foodie (London/UK), Ohayo Bento,

Must-see tasting websites:

-Sake: Tokyo Through The Drinking Glass, Tokyo Foodcast, Urban Sake, Sake World
-Wine: Palate To Pen, Warren Bobrow, Cellar Tours, Ancient Fire Wines Blog
-Beer: Good Beer & Country Boys, Another Pint, Please!
-Japanese Pottery to enjoy your favourite drinks: Yellin Yakimono Gallery

The Tea Museum: O Cha No Sato in Shimada City!

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Shizuoka Prefecture produces between 45 and 55% of all green tea in Japan depending on the year and official surveys. Moreover, 70% of all tea made in this island finds it way every year at auctions and sales held within the confines of this central Prefecture.

The Tea Museum in Kanaya, Shimada City, would be a sufficient reason to visit this relatively unknown tourist destination, but you could also include it in a grander tour as it stands near Shin Kanaya Station where you could board one of three daily Steam Locomotive trains running up to Senzu Hot Spring resorts along the Oi River and unending tea fields. Another option would be to walk along the Old Tokaido Paved Road through mountain and forest, or along the main road circling its way up over beautiful vistas of the Oi River and its surrounding landscapes.

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Tea leaves Exhibit

Serving and drinking a cup of tea is an exchange of hospitality. It is evident that tea is in fact one of the very foundations of Japanese culture.
At The Tea Museum you can learn by experiencing its history and culture hands-on

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Tea leaves Exhibit

Tea has its origin in the mountain ranges of Asia. Its culture was developed in China and Japan, and later all over the World. People and environment each play a part in the way tea is enjoyed with amazing variations.
Here in Japan drinking tea takes root very deeply.
However because tea is such a part of our everyday lives we perhaps have come to value it less.
The Tea Museum, therefore, invites everyone to reconsider the original meaning of tea through many exhibits of tea life in the World.

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Huxinting/湖心亭 Tea Room in Shanghai

First, as you enter the small lobby leading to the exhibition rooms, you will be offered a cup of tea from Kanaya and invited to check the ninety varieties of tea from thirty countries displayed inside glass drawers you may open to feel and smell their contents!
Then, as you follow the visit route, you will discover the highly sophisticated ambiance of Chinese Imperial Era inside the reproduction of the famous Huxinting/湖心亭 Tea Room in Shanghai, the simplicity of a typical Tibetan house in Nepal, the great setting from a Turkish Restaurant in Ankara, or the quaint atmosphere of a traditional British household!

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Samovar and tea utensils from Russia

Other exhibits include a replica of one of the oldest tea trees in the World, from Yuna, China, a scaled down landscape of tea fields, farms and growers in Japan, and the History of Tea in Japan.

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Grinding your own matcha!
Check this site for more information!

Real tea lovers will also be able to sample and grind their own matcha tea in situ!

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Tea House Garden

Now, the main attraction is the Japanese Tea House/Ocha no Sato-お茶の里!
The tea house, tea rooms and extensive garden are reconstructions of original architectural works of Kobori Enshu-小堀遠州 (1579~1647), a renown magistrate and tea master from the early Edo Era.
The east garden of the Sento Palace in Kyoto, the residence of Emperor Gomizunao-o after he abdicated the throne in 1629, has been recreated there.
The Japanese garden is open to visitors free of charge.
Before entering the tea house, walk along the Yatsuhashi-八橋 (eight-wooden plank bridge), enter the house through Kouhoukyo-向峯居, the arbor of the official residence for the Chief Administrative Judge of Fushimi, and visit Taiunkaku-対雲閣, tea room from the Iwashimizu-hachimangu Temple and Rinsuitei-臨水亭, tea room of the official residence of the Chief Administrative Judge of Fushimi.

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Tea History in Japan

Before leaving the Tea Museum pay a visit to the small but very interesting library if you can read Japanese, the Yume Ichiba Shop to purchase local products and souvenirs or Restaurant Moegi for a well-earned refreshment!

Access:
Train: 5 minutes by bus or taxi from Kanaya Station on the JR Tokaido Line.
Car: 10 minutes by car from Sagara/Makinohara I.C. on Tomei Expressway
Or 15 minutes from Ojiro I.C. Bypass

Museum visitor’s regular exhibition fee: 600 yen per adult. Cheaper for students, groups and disabled people.
Service hours: 9:00 a.m.~5:00 p.m.
Museum and Teahouse visitor fee: 1,00 yen per adult. Cheaper for students, groups and disabled people.
Service hours: 9:30 a.m.~4:00 p.m.

The teahouse only admission is 500 yen per person (no discount)

Address: The Tea Musuem/Ochanosato, 3053-2, Kanaya, Shimada Shi, Shizuoka Ken, 428-0022 Japan
Tel: (81)0547-46-5588
Fax: (81)0547-46-5577
Closed every Tuesday (the following day when Tuesday is a National Holiday), December 29th~January 3rd.
Parking: free of charge for 9 large buses and 90 cars.

HOMEPAGE

RECOMMENDED RELATED WEBSITES

My White Kitchen, 47 Japanese Farms Through The Eyes of Its Rural Communities, Foodhoe, Chucks Eats, Things that Fizz & Stuff, Five Euro Food by Charles,Red Shallot Kitchen by Priscilla,With a Glass, Nami | Just One Cookbook, Peach Farm Studio, Clumsyfingers by Xethia, PepperBento,Adventures in Bento Making, American Bent, Beanbento, Bento No, Bento Wo Tsukurimashou, Cooking Cute, Eula, Hapabento , Happy Bento, Jacki’s Bento Blog, Kitchen Cow, Leggo My Obento, Le Petit Journal Bento & CO (French), Lunch In A Box,
Susan at Arkonlite, Vegan Lunch Box; Tokyo Tom Baker, Daily Food Porn/Osaka, Only Nature Food Porn, Happy Little Bento, The Herbed Kitchen, J-Mama’s Kitchen, Cook, Eat, Play, Repeat, Bento Lunch Blog (German), Adventures In Bento, Anna The Red’s Bento Factory, Cooking Cute, Timeless Gourmet, Bento Bug, Ideal Meal, Bentosaurus, Mr. Foodie (London/UK), Ohayo Bento,

Must-see tasting websites:

-Sake: Tokyo Through The Drinking Glass, Tokyo Foodcast, Urban Sake, Sake World
-Wine: Palate To Pen, Warren Bobrow, Cellar Tours, Ancient Fire Wines Blog
-Beer: Good Beer & Country Boys, Another Pint, Please!
-Japanese Pottery to enjoy your favourite drinks: Yellin Yakimono Gallery

Shizuoka Prefecture Gastronomy: Oden!

Dark Shizuoka Oden

When winter seems bent on holding us company and taking a sadistic pleasure listening to our moans, everything to warm up our bodies is welcome.
The Japanese have come up with the ideal solution: Oden (おでん)!
The beauty of it is that it is sustaining food, quite cheap fare by this country standards and very comforting.

For a closer look!

Oden has a long history. It can be traced back to Edo times when it was called Kanto-daki/関東煮, meaning Kanto region stew. At the time it was mainly made with strong soy sauce and soup stock extracted from a combination of konbu/seaweed, whale meat and beef tendons.
The whalemeat has disappeared but the broth is still made with the same soy sauce, seaweed and beef tendons in the east of Japan.
On the other hand, many contend that Oden was originally what is now commonly called misodengaku or simply dengaku. Take your pick!

Dark Shizuoka Oden again!

It can be found all over the Japanese archipelago all year round (not only in winter!) in many guises and many trends, although it can roughly be divided into three categories:
-Simmered in a light broth most popular in the Kansai Region/Western Japan.
-Served with Miso, notably in the Nagoya area.
-Cooked in a dark soup in the Kanto Region/Eastern Japan.
Many people will argue that each region, or even city, has its own original brand of oden, and they might be right as ingredients greatly vary although the three above methods prevail.
The Japanese are so entrenched in their fondness of oden that regular TV shows extol the virtues of their national comfort food with “talents” recruited in each Prefecture on a single stage!

Even darker Shizuoka Oden!

But wherever you go, look forward to sampling common ingredients:
-Eggs: they are first boiled before being skewered and left in the broth. Actually skewering oden is far from being universal. But the sticks attached to them will certainly help you when choose them out of impossibly dark soup in Shizuoka!
-Potatoes: popular almost everywhere, they are seemingly a favorite of expats.
Now, have you ever wondered how potatoes do not break up being left for ages in hot broth and roughly manipulated around?
The potatoes are first boiled to about 80% and then plunged into ice water or immediately locked in a fridge. Do not be worried when the local odenyasan/oden shop owner opens his/her fridge for more potatoes to add into the broth, but choose them with a nice color when fishing them out!
-Daikon, or Japanese long radish: these are also prepared like potatoes to ensure they do not break.
-Konnyaku: Devil’s Tongue tuber jelly: some odenya will serve it in thick triangular or rectangular pieces or as ito konnyaku/konnyaku vermicelli.
-Tofu or bean curd: it is usually of the harder kind and seared first before plunging them in the broth.

Out of the pot!

Oden is often sold from food carts, and most Japanese convenience stores now have simmering oden pots in winter containing different kinds of oden sold, with single-ingredient varieties as cheap as 50 yen.

You can of course buy any ingredients of your liking, cook them in your preferred broth at home with hot Japanese mustard and some beer or (hot) sake like many do in Japanese households.

As served in Odenya!

But the best way to enjoy oden and discover their varieties is to eat outside with a mind to have a (few) drinks on your own or with special company!

Shizuoka Aoba Koen Oden Alley!

Now Shizuoka Oden has probably become the most famous (maybe notorious?) variety in Japan.
In an era when so-called B-Gourmet, or even C-Gourmet (Japanese expressions!) have become a regular feature on TV and other media, Shizuoka is not following the norms.
Odenya there serve a dark (and even black to visitors from Kansai who favour a light dashi!) broth flavored with beef stock and strong soy sauce. Moreover all ingredients are skewered, that for “true” Shizuoka Oden. Another peculiarity is that they are served with a powdery mixture of dried ground fish (sardine, mackerel or bonito shavings) and aonori (edible seaweed). More often customers will be handed plates and allowed to take out their preferred morsels and spoon out some oden seasoning powder they will liberally sprinkle over their food. On top of this the same customers will add hot Japanese mustard from one of the pots on the table or counter.

Shizuoka Oden Pack

Visitors from other regions might entertain some reservations when witnessing Shizuokans choose with utmost care the oldest pieces, some of them eggs which have become a solid burnt brown on the outside or triangular pieces of fish paste that no one else would be able to recognize as such!

Now, if you have the occasion to stop and visit Shizuoka City (other areas in the prefecture do also have their own peculiar tidbits on offer like beef lungs in Gotenba!), go to Aoba Koen Park Street.
The whole park used to be lined with yatai/food stands serving oden and drinks from as early as 3 o’clock in the afternoon (some still do) until the wee hours of the morning.
But a new hygiene law in the 1960’s forced them into moving inside alleys and corridors between other buildings where the became Aoba Oden Alleys.
They totalled at least 36 shops at the present, all with their specialties and famous characters. Actually an official pamphlet lists more than 80 specialized odenya and more than 300 izakayas serving real Shizuoka Oden!

Shizuoka Oden Festival Poster.

Every year a Shizuoka Oden Festival is held in mid-February in the Aoba Koen and Gofuku-cho area for the pleasure all, adults and children, day or night, Japanese or expats!
The perfect comfort food with superlative Shizuoka Sake!

For people who do not have the time to visit Shizuoka, oden are sold in tins, cans, and bags on the Shizuoka JR Station platforms!

RECOMMENDED RELATED WEBSITES

My White Kitchen, 47 Japanese Farms Through The Eyes of Its Rural Communities, Foodhoe, Chucks Eats, Things that Fizz & Stuff, Five Euro Food by Charles,Red Shallot Kitchen by Priscilla,With a Glass, Nami | Just One Cookbook, Peach Farm Studio, Clumsyfingers by Xethia, PepperBento,Adventures in Bento Making, American Bent, Beanbento, Bento No, Bento Wo Tsukurimashou, Cooking Cute, Eula, Hapabento , Happy Bento, Jacki’s Bento Blog, Kitchen Cow, Leggo My Obento, Le Petit Journal Bento & CO (French), Lunch In A Box,
Susan at Arkonlite, Vegan Lunch Box; Tokyo Tom Baker, Daily Food Porn/Osaka, Only Nature Food Porn, Happy Little Bento, The Herbed Kitchen, J-Mama’s Kitchen, Cook, Eat, Play, Repeat, Bento Lunch Blog (German), Adventures In Bento, Anna The Red’s Bento Factory, Cooking Cute, Timeless Gourmet, Bento Bug, Ideal Meal, Bentosaurus, Mr. Foodie (London/UK), Ohayo Bento,

Must-see tasting websites:

-Sake: Tokyo Through The Drinking Glass, Tokyo Foodcast, Urban Sake, Sake World
-Wine: Palate To Pen, Warren Bobrow, Cellar Tours, Ancient Fire Wines Blog
-Beer: Good Beer & Country Boys, Another Pint, Please!
-Japanese Pottery to enjoy your favourite drinks: Yellin Yakimono Gallery