Shizuoka Gastronomy: Eels at Chigusa in Hamamatsu City!
Service: shy but very friendly
Facilities: traditional but very clean
Prices : reasonable for eels (eels are very expensive in Japan)
Strong points: Eels! Only local fish used! Great view on Hamana Lake
Summer is eel eating time in Japan, especially in Shizuoka renown all over the country for its great eels mainly bred around Hamamatsu City and in Hamana Lake in particular.
So the other day we decided to visit at long last a famous but traditional and very reasonable eel restaurant lost by the Hamana Lake in Mikkabi, Hamamatsu City, called Chigusa (ちぐさ/千草)!
So instead of boarding a regular train, and taxi or bus we took a local train along the Tenhama Line (Japanese web site), a trip I would advise any true traveler (and photographer) to take to enjoy the sights and discoveries of old Japan!
We got down at an unmanned (yes, they still exist! Talk about Japanese trust!) station in the blazing sun.
The station is called Okuhamanako/Far side of Hamana Lake.
Get down there and try to reach the main road through the countryside as soon as you can (there are many ways!)!
This particular area, Mikkabi in Hamamatsu City, is famous all over Japan for its (still green now) oranges!
Once you reach the main road turn left and walk along for 10 minutes along the Hamana Lake!
You can’t miss it even if you can’t read Japanese as a long black eel is welcoming you from afar!
A picture/snapshot not to miss!
The entrance with unagi/鰻 written on the noren/暖簾, entrance curtain!
Who’s that guy taking a picture? LOL
Past the entrance you will find these long metal tubes wrapped in rice straw ropes.
What are they? Can you guess?
This very rare festival is held beginning of August in Hosoe near Hamana Lake. I couldn’t manage my schedule to report but I’ll do it next year! Promise!
Have a good look at the souvenirs before entering the dining room!
Very traditional Japanese atmosphere inside!
The menu is in Japanese, but the pictures will give a very good indication!
I personally chose the above, the best eel “double-decker” lunch set. Even at 3,200 yen (32 US $) it is very reasonable when you realize that the eel prices have almost doubled in the past 3 years!
And the eels are exclusively locally bred in Hamana Lake!
It is worth the trip, even by car as there is a big car park!
Another important detail: you will have to wait some time before your order arrives. A good sign proving that contrary to the “cheap diners” food is individually prepared for best quality!
The lunch arrives at your table in a bento box shape on a tray.
Take off the lids…. et voila!
A succulent light soup containing eel liver/鰻肝!
Home-made Japanese pickles, o-shinko/オシンコ!
The broiled eel double decker/unagi jyuu/鰻重!
Two layers of eel grilled and broiled to perfection with two layers of freshly (very important!) steamed rice enhanced by the sauce of the eel
Take your time and use chopsticks to make sure you eat slowly and appreciate it to the fullest! This eel in eel country!
This gourd-shaped receptable contains shijimi/七味 mixed spice powder you can sprinkle over the eel for extra zip!
Dragon (my worse half) chose the above which contains a single layer of broiled eel but with finely shredded omelet between the fish and the rice!
Really appetizing, isn’t it?
I forgot: we visited Chigusa on Dragon’s advice! LOL
Do I need to mention I helped Dragon to finish it under the pretense of sharing?
It would certainly be a dilemma if I had to choose only one of those two lunches!
Make sure to come with a special company to taste as much as you can as I daresay that yen for yen this is the best value for eel in the whole Prefecture! (but I’m sure a lot of people will disagree! LOL)
Hamamatsu City, kita Ku, Mikkabi Cho, Mikkabi, 1148-10
Opening hours: 11:00~14:00, 16:00~20:00
Closed on 31st of December and 1st of January only
Reservations strongly recommended
Non-smoking at lunch time
Car park available (30 spaces)
Fruit Park in Hamamatsu City!
Half way along our trip riding the Tenhama private Railway Line the other day we decided to pay a visit to the Fruits Park of Hamamatsu City.
We had only one hour until the next train and the walk to the Fruits Park takes 10 minutes.
We knew we would be limited in time and the blistering heat didn’t help!
At least looking at the pavement we knew we couldn’t lose our way!
The main entrance
The park is truly enormous and the car park is even bigger.
We realised that we had to limit this visit to the main attraction, the Tropical Fruit Dome!
The hall leading to the dome was full of information but the air-conditioning did not prepare us to the heat inside the dome!
By the way if you can read japanese check their HOMEPAGE as it will help you recognize some very strange fruit!
What is this fruit?
The temperature inside must have been well above 30 degrees with an incredible humidity.
The sweat prevented me to jot down notes and I’m afraid I don’t remember the names of some fruits! Let’s see if you can help me!
Fortunately there was plenty of running water to help cool down the dome!
Not only tropical fruit, but also plenty of beautiful flowers!
All in all, 80 varieties for 300 trees and plants!
Start of the quizz!
What’s the name of those flowers?
What’s that fruit?
And what are these?
I’ve seen these flowers before…
It’s not a pineapple. What could it be?
Limes/ I doubt it…
Now, this a lime!
I’ve seen that one before, too!
Beautiful orchids there!
What are these fruit?
Insects and pests had better beware!
And another pineapple!
Outside the dome a cafe/restaurant will welcome you inside a beautiful park.
But actually the Tropical Fruit Park and the big park with ponds outside represent only one fourth of the whole complex!
You will have to plan half a day for a complete visit even with the help of a mini train!
Among others, you will discover fields of plum trees, orange trees, apple trees, strawberries, grapes, blueberries, kiwi fruit, almond trees, figs, peach trees, pomegranate trees, a field of nut trees including chestnuts and a lot more inside greenhouses and experiment fields!
This park will warrant a least a couple more visits to describe it all!
431-2102 Hamamatsu City, Kita Ku, Miyakoda Cho, 4263-1 (get down at Fruits Park Station on the Tenhama private Railway line. 10 minute walk)
Business hours: 09:00~16:30 (October~April), 09:00~17:00 (May~September)
Hamamatsu Museum of Musical Instruments!
A huge standing drum from the South Pacific!
There is a lot of good food and drinks in Hamamatsu City, but there is also a lot of exceptional music!
With Kawai, Yamaha and Rolland all established in that city, more than half of all music instruments in Japan are made there!
It was no wonder that the City decided to open a Meuseum when it erected Act City and other buildings within walking distance of the Railway Station 15 years ago!
My favorite Japanese instrument, the biwa!
The City then proceeeded to amass a mind-bogling collection of more 1200 pieces on constant display out of more than 3000 in their vaults!
The collection truly covers the whole World and the entrance fee of 400 yen (for adults) is truly ridiculous!
Next time you travel or go out in Hamamatsu City take some time to immerse yourself in the biggest public musical instruments in the world!
The more for it when you realize that photography is allowed!
Here is a tiny selection of pictures I took the other day to which I intend to add regularly!
Hand-painted 19th Century US banjo!
Musical Sea shells!
A piano for the Sun King?
Or a piano for his favorite?
Historical routes of the mandoline!
Bagpipes from the Scots!
For a Carribean steel band!
They even have a collection of postage stamps on African Music Instruments on display!
Harps for the Celts!
Serpents/snakes from Europe!
Glasses are not always for drinking!
A full crystal glass musical instrument!
Some wind instruments are equipped with truly impressive mouths!
A somewhat frightening steel tongue plank from Africa!
impressive drums from the South Pacific!
Tam tams or boast?
A South East Asian triple xylophone decorated with carved silhouettes!
These feathers will certainly mark out the musician in a band!
I wonder if this peacock contributed its feathers to the precedent instrument?
Yamaha electric guitars from the early 60’s! True antiques for rockn’ rollers!
Make sure to visit the experimental room to try tyour own hand at music!
Hamamatsu Museum of Musical Instruments/浜松市楽器博物館
430-7790 Hamamatsu City, Chuo Ku, Chuo, 3-9-1
Opening hours: 09:30~17:30
Closed on Mondays, 2nd & 4th Wednesdays. Open all throughout August.
Shizuoka Products at Hamamatsu City Railway Station
As a general rule it is always a good idea to check inside major railway stations in Japan for local food and products.
And since Shizuoka Prefecture has no less than 6 (the record in Japan) major shinkansen/bullet train station, you ought to spend some time looking around before boarding your train!
This time I will take you around Hamamatsu Railway Station, or JR Station as they call such a building in Japan!
It is quite easy as most shops are concentrated inside the “May One Ekimachi” Store!
Right at the entrance you will discover the biscuit of the area: unagi pie/eel pie! There is no eel in this sweet biscuit. It’s only the color which is reminiscent of the famous fish bred and caught in the Hamamatsu City area!
Have a good look at the ekiben/railway bento before boarding your train. Ekiben are always the best indication of what people eat in the same region!
Here are the real unagi/鰻/eels prepared in various fashions!
Processed products of wasabi. Shizuoka Prefecture grows 80% of the total national crop!
More wasabi processed products including salt, mayonnaise and dressing!
Real fresh wasabi!
Sakes brewed by Hana no Mai Brewery, one of the two breweries in Hamamatsu City!
Tea and orange roll cakes!
Another specialty of Hamamatsu City: simmered eel livers!
More ekiben/railway station bento!
Green tea rusks (hard biscuits!)
A closer look at unagi pie!
Uogashi Sushi Company (from Yaizu City!) has big restaurant inside where you will be able to get all kinds of meals including purely local sushi!
Great plastic models for collectors and fans!
Another specialty of Hamamatsu City: gyoza dumplings always served with beansprouts!
Oden! More a specialty of Shizuoka City, although all big cities and areas in the Prefecture have their own!
A great health food from Lake (salted) Hamana: seaweed!
Orange cakes and jellies!
Now, what will be the next of the 6 stations I will introduce! LOL