#navbar-iframe { display: none; }

« Home | Kanda Matsuri Festival » | Noodles in Tokyo » | Nishiki-Koji food market and kaiseki in Kyoto » | Rain and a bamboo forest » | Breakfast, a festival and the dance of the traffic... » | Konnichi wa from Osaka » | Grab Your Chopsticks » | Pancakes on the Rocks, Northmead » | And the winners are... » | bbq one, Eastwood »

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Tokyo to Takayama

NB. Photos and edits in purple added 26/06/07

Chopsticks on the noodle bar counter

We breakfasted again at the stand-up soba bar around the corner from our hotel. Today it was eggplant tempura soba, a beautifully fanned slice of battered eggplant, crisp on the outside, sweet and creamy in the middle. It was a race to gobble the thing before it went soggy, but thankfully my slurping splash factor was a significant improvement on yesterday (only a couple of drops today instead of great big puddles of mess).

Nasuten tempura eggplant soba 360 yen

noodle bar
Noodle bar, Ikebukero

Chikuwaten tempura fish soba 360 yen

With a few snacks collected from the bakery (one red bean bun--packed with sweet paste filling--and a bun called a custard strudel which was mostly a sweet bun with a small dollop of custard paste in the middle) we headed to Shin-Osaka to catch the shinkansen to Takayama.

Obento boxes at the train station generally cost about 850 yen to 1,000 yen. The refrigerated ones from convenience stores are even cheaper. We picked up two boxes for a total of 766 yen from the Bell Mart store on the platform. There were maki sushi slices, pockets of rice-filled inari, and a mixed box of goodies including chicken karaage, pasta salad, noodles, rice, potato croquette, chicken schnitzel and a funny miniature hot dog with grill marks down its side.

Snack fridge at Bell Mart

Hello Kitty nagoyan snacks



Obento stall

I've also started a Kit Kat adventure tour. I couldn't resist picking up some matcha milk Kit Kats.

Kit Kats

Seats inside the shinkansen to Nagoya

Snack trolley

Snack time! Vanilla and green tea ice cream 350 yen

Rice paddies, mountains and houses

Train signals on the Hida Wideview train to Takayama

If you ever get the chance, make sure you travel in the front carriage of any train in Japan and watch the driver! He make a series of hand signals throughout the journey (lots of pointing ahead with a white-gloved hand) and will constantly refer to the timetable clipped in front of him, periodically barking out a confirmation of his destination.

Bell Mart sushi lunchbox 367 yen


Bell Mart lunchbox 399 yen

Green tea Kit Kat

These were milky like a white chocolate Kit Kat, more creamy than sweet. Thumbs up.


Takayama train station

Five hours later (including a transfer at Nagoya) we arrived at the picturesque city of Takayama. The place seemed a little bigger and busier than three years ago, but it still retains a town-type atmosphere. The streets are narrow and most people get around on bikes, usually on the side of the road or on the footpath. Many homes have rice paddies out the front, and every now and then I had to remind myself to look in the distance and appreciate the mist of mountains surrounding us on the horizon.

Tea box at the minshuku with tea and biscuits

We arrived at our minshuku family-run guest house and took a quick tour of the town using the free bikes provided. The Miyagawa River runs throught the centre of town, crossed over by a number of bridges. We made a quick visit to the Takayama Betsuin Temple Treasury House where the cherry blossom tree out front was in the final stages of blooming.

Koshogonin Torinzan Daioji Temple

Cherry blossoms

Late afternoon

But it was now 6.30pm and time for dinner (6.30pm start for everyone). Just inside the entrance to the minshuku is a huge collection of communal slippers. Everyone removes their shoes, places them in the cupboard, and then shuffles about in pink or blue floral slip-ons. At the entrance to the dining room, slippers are removed to protect the tatami mats inside, round cushions are your seat at the low-level dining tables.

Kaiseki dinner

Our kaiseki-type meal included about a dozen separate dishes all laid out before us. A burner to our top right was soon lit - the hotplate with Hida beef and cabbage soon started sizzling. Other highlights included a small salted whole river fish (a specialty of the region), a silky cube of goma (sesame seed) tofu and the most wonderful plate of sashimi that included the sweetest strips of tender squid I've ever eaten!


Firefly squid

Beef and vegetables

River fish

Bamboo shoots and goma sesame tofu

Cooking the beef



Tofu with angelica spear

We retired in our cotton yukata bathrobes, the usual blue and white pattern. Heavy woollen coats, a chestnut brown with wide sleeves and tied at the front with string, were provided to help combat the brisk mountain temperatures. With stomachs full from our resplendent dinner, one becomes very grateful for wrap-style clothing!

Read the next Japan entry Read the first Japan entry

12 comments - Add some comment love

posted by Helen (Grab Your Fork) on 5/13/2007 11:20:00 pm


  • At 5/17/2007 4:36 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    have you seen the red bean kit kat? i tried it when i was in Fukuoka. its a bit of an acquired taste.

  • At 5/17/2007 5:40 pm, Blogger mira said…

    I am so jealous. All these great places. Can't wait to try some of them on my next visit out there.

    If you find any, you have to try the Green Tea KitKat. They had them when I was last there about 2 years ago.

  • At 5/17/2007 7:20 pm, Blogger R said…

    Now Augustusgloop, I am looking forward to seeing pictures of you in this fetching outfit.

    Happy travels lovely.

  • At 5/18/2007 11:34 am, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    can i make an order of matcha kit kat? :( i need to go to japan just tot try that.

  • At 5/18/2007 3:46 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I miss the Japanese convenience stores-the 7/11's here just don't compare! If you see them, do try Pocky Peach decorer if you haven't already. They are fantastic! I saw them here in Sydney for $4.50 a packet but resisted as I knew they were 200YEN ><

  • At 5/24/2007 9:00 pm, Blogger Helen (Grab Your Fork) said…

    Hi Midnite Lily - I was constantly on the lookout for Kit Kats but alas, never spotted a red bean version. I would've loved to have tried one :)

    Hi Mia - We could only find the matcha version described. Very tasty!

    Hi R - lol. Maybe. And yes, travel are always happy :)

    Hi Lyn - The international world of Kit Kats is quite something. And yes, you need to go to Japan to try that... and more!

    Hi Lorraine - I don't think I've seen Pocky Peach. I did pick up a packet of Pocky green tea mousse though :)

  • At 6/27/2007 10:17 am, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Absolutely loving your Japan entries! I went to Japan for a couple of weeks this time last year, and your posts are bringing up many fond memories. I fell in love with convenience store food - it seemed like everything you could get in a restaurant could be found at a convenience store. I even had an okonomiyaki from one, and they heated it up for me and everything!

    Also, a bizarre coincidence, just yesterday I was eating that exact matcha kitkat you've posted about (I live in Canberra, but my brother teaches English in Japan and periodically sends me pocky and snacks). I really enjoyed it - to be honest, the crazy kitkats often disappoint, as they seem more sweet than anything (case in point, the red bean kitkat. All I tasted was sweetness, not azuki). But this one was yummy. Oh, I could keep rambling on for ages, but that would only be interesting to me so I'll stop. THanks agains for the posts!

  • At 6/28/2007 1:07 am, Blogger Helen (Grab Your Fork) said…

    Hi Hannah - Glad you're enjoying the Japan posts. I'm not even halfway through the photos. Argh!

    I'm kicking myself I didn't try more Kit Kats. They were actually harder to find than I expected. I would've liked to have tried the adzuki version, even if it was super sweet :)

  • At 11/13/2007 1:29 pm, Blogger brian sim said…

    Hi, May I know which Minshuku did you guys stay at?

  • At 11/20/2007 9:45 pm, Blogger Helen (Grab Your Fork) said…

    Hi Brian - We stayed at Minshuku Kuwatani-ya :)

  • At 6/02/2008 9:10 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Hi Helen,
    Do you mind informing me how long does it take from Shin Osaka to Tokyo by JR Hikari train? and how many transfers?

    Did u try the Nozomi train?

    I'm going to Japan too next month..

    Many thanks

  • At 6/03/2008 1:48 pm, Blogger Helen (Grab Your Fork) said…

    Hi Anon - I recommend you use the Hyperdia website which is a great resource for working out train timetables in Japan.


Post a Comment

<< Home

      << Read Older Posts       |       >> Read Newer Posts