Category Archives: Japan Gastronomy

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.

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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