Travel to Hiroshima – 3.Countryside

Hirohsima, travel

3. Countryside

CIMG3877

In the countryside, you are always welcomed with heartwarming atmosphere. I have a few recommendation to go but please note that these places are little difficult to get to with public transport. At least you can see these rice field very easily from trains as well.

 

I. Takehara

Takehara is pretty town where you can see Japanese traditional building or so. You can get train to Takehara station from Hiroshima station. You can visit their website and learn how beautiful their town is.

If you use Hiroshima airport, you are so good! You can get there wonderful hotel, Hotel Kamogawaso (one of the best hotel I like in Hiroshima) in 15 minutes by taxi from the airport. 15 minutes from Takehara station by taxi, but you can also ask hotel to arrange a  car and they will pick you up at the station or airport. Visit their website and I can help you to book the hotel if you want to ^^

Once you arrived at the hotel I think you want to explore around the hotel because you can see beautiful Japanese countryside. You can learn how Japanese rice fields work!

There is another hotel, Kanpo-no-yado next to Kamogawaso and we stayed there this time, in fact, although they do not have a website written in English so I decided not to push this hotel. But this hotel is also good. To me Kamogawaso isthe best option if I am with guests and want to have a luxurious night. But Kanpo-no-yado is good option when I am with my family and want to spend relaxed time.

The foods were amazing in both hotels. (The photos are taken in Kanpo-no-yado. Please imagine that even better options are available in Kamogawaso!)

 

 

See? You should come to try these fabulous foods!!

 

II. Saijo

CIMG0032

Ah!!! Maybe I should not pick this town up now because I do not think my English skills is good enough to explain how wonderful this town is!

But once obvious thing I can say is people who once lived here say they never wants to move anywhere! Well also this is where I was born… this is not the reason I like this place so much!haha

Saijo is a very famous big town in east Hiroshima. This town is so mysterious as well, for instance, there is very countryside but you can get anything you need to. Very peaceful and quiet but still successful town. There are some things which make Saijo famous and popular.

First, there is a national Hiroshima University I graduated from, and there are always young students in the town. I do not why but people in Hiroshima have been cherishing students of Hiroshima University so you are treated very well. In fact, Hiroshima university students have good reputation of “good at focus on things” or “try very hard”. Do you know why? That is because Hiroshima University is in the mountainous area and there is nothing that amuses students! People from urban city say they would be depressed if they had to spend all day!!

 

Second, Saijo have several Japanese sake brand and you can visit their factories in the sentre of the town. Often you can try some of their products and you can buy very fresh sake from them. the factories all locate near Saijo station and you can also find some restaurants which sells foods using these sake.

CIMG0552

 

Third, there are so many nice restaurants in Saijo. To Japanese person, if I can have nice sake and some sashimi, then nothing can beat this! You should visit this place.

This place is called “Yatai mura”. In this small place, there several small restaurants are located, and you can experience a nice and warm service. In this restaurant you can try grilled fresh fish or meat.

 

If you are very hungry I recommend this restaurant. Restaurant “Hanagokoro” is always amazing! If you try very Japanese food, this restaurant is highly amazing. If you can’t speak or read Japanese, do not worry. University students are working here so they will always help you. To get there, take taxi from Saijo satation and you will be there in 10 minutes.

 

It is sad but most of traditional places in Hiroshima had destroyed during WWII. Hiroshima city is very urban and successful city and we are proud of it, but still something is missing. In countryside you can still see how Japanese people have lived and helped each other there. That is why I love countryside and recommend you to visit. You can see many colours in the same prefecture.

There are many many more things I want to tell you about Hiroshima, but I will stop here today. I know that traveling to Japan is not cheap so that I want you to have a best time you have ever experienced.

If you are interested in something about Tokyo or Hiroshima or anywhere else, please feel free to ask me. I can not promise but I am sure I can help you some how!

 

I hope you enjoyed reading this article!xx

Travel to Hiroshima – 2. Miyajima

Hirohsima, travel

2. Miyajima

CIMG3821

Miyajima is a beautiful island which belongs to Hiroshima and Itsukushima shrine there is one of the most famous world heritage in Japan. To people like me that were born in Hiroshima feel really proud of this beautiful and historical place. And of course I love Miyajima and can’t remember how many times I went there!

To get to Miyajima, there are two ways; to use tram or the national rail line. As I told you many times in this website that Hiroshima was designed very efficient and convenient, both ways are really easy for us to use, but if you visit Miyajima on the first day of your stay in Hiroshima and you have plenty of time, then I recommend to take the tram. The tram goes more slowly than trains, but because of the tram runs into the centre of city, you can see the actual city including atomic bomb dorm. (Do not worry whether the city is still harmful because of the radiation. You can actually get 5m close to the building which was destroyed by the bomb.) Whenever I get city trams and see this successful town, I feel so proud that our ancestors worked so hard and built Hiroshima from nothing. Of course, you can enjoy your trip with train, which runs very mountainous way. So your choice is, actually, nature or urban city. Miyajima is a island so you have to get a ferry to the island from the nearest station. (Both tram and train arrive at same station.) You might get confused when you find two similar ferry stations in front of you. But do not worry. They were just owned by different companies and the price and destination are all same. You can take any ferry you find!

 

First of all I want to say you should try the popular foods there, Anago (Conger), which is very similar to eel but has less fat. We often put grilled Anago on rice and pour sauce on the top (Anago-don). Maybe the restaurants around there can be divided into two styles; oyster restaurants or Anago restaurants. We tried an Anago restaurant located between train station and ferry station.

Yes, symbol “あなご” means Conger. you will see this character so many times around this area. What makes this area so special about congers is their quality. Congers caught in this area are very meaty and have perfect amount of fat. Usually congers are not featured because they are very similar to eels and have less flavour than eels. Although the congers from this area have very strong flavour so actually the chefs do not need any strong sauce. In this area you can enjoy real congers taste.

 

Once you land on Miyajima, I imagine you will follow your guidebook and visit some places. (I will not mention how wonderful the shrine is or there is a small aquarium etc… because these are too obvious staff! But it does not mean they do not deserve to be visited! Because I went there countless times, I focus more on minor points!) Just in case of that you have more time to spare, I will show you some more extra fun you can have there.

 

[Age momiji (deep fried Japanese cake)]

Have you tried Anko (sweat black beans paste)? It is often found in the Japanese cake. Momiji manju (“Momiji” means maple. “Manju” means Japanese cake. Momiji manju is Japanese cake shaped as maple. These are some options of filling inside, and Anko is the most basic one.) is loved by Japanese people for a long time in Hiroshima. And last 5 years this deep fried momiji manju called “age momji” has been featured and so popular. Please try if you find a shop you can try fresh one!

 

[Walk through the gate]

CIMG3725

If you are very lucky, you can walk through the gate which bottom is usually sunk deeply in the sea. (You can clearly see the height of the water.) You can check the time you can walk through in the website. (I am sorry but the website managed by the local organization is written in only Japanese. If somebody wants to check the time then you can leave me a comment so that I can help you!)

It is said that you can get the luck if you go through the gate, please try!

 

[Find a sweet deer who wants to have a seat in the restaurant!]

CIMG3841

I do not know why and nobody knows why, but he is always there.

In Miyajima there are so many wild deers and live with people. In the past, biscuits for deers are sold but that made deers expect people always to feed them so the government decided to ban people to feed deers. Government has been trying very hard to look for the way both deers and humans can be happy in this island but still many people ignore our governments efforts. I even saw some foreign people gave them tissue and deers were eating. These things always made me so upset. When you find deers in Hiroshima, please try to let them how they naturally should be. A little touch does not bother them but feeding them affects their heath a lot.

From these history, sometimes naughty deers put their heads in your bag. Or bite your skirt. However, there is a very well-behaving deer in Miyajima as well. He is waiting for the owner to open the door and welcome him. Around lunch time, sometimes he try to look into the restaurant as if he wonders if there is an available seat for him! Unfortunately I have never seen him welcomed into the restaurant and while he is sitting like this, nobody can enter the restaurant so I am sure the owner is not happy about this!

CIMG3749

The next morning I passed the same place and he is still there! Such a sweet deer.

 

[Mojito cafe]

CIMG3764

You know what, all these bottles are Bacardi!!  It must be new because I have not known there was a cafe like that. It seems like you can choose the flavour. Maybe I will try next time!

 

[Stay at traditional hotel]

CIMG3768

This time we stayed at hotel 聚景荘 (Jukei-so) which located high in the mountain and you can enjoy the view from the room…

CIMG3775

And of course, dinner as well!

 

These all are served in a course dinner. Don’t you think amazing?

 

***

There are many stories and histories in Miyajima that guidebooks never tell you. There are also many people who actually live in the island behind the mountain. I am very grateful if you decide to spend more time there than the original plan after you read this. xx

 

 

 

Travel to Hiroshima – 1. Teppan yaki

Hirohsima, travel
  1. Teppan yaki

    CIMG3599

Here we come!! This is our soul food, Okonomiyaki (Hiroshima style). Maybe when you hear the word “Teppan yaki”, you might imagine a posh restaurant where chef shows you impressive performance actually in front of you. But here, Hiroshima, when people use this word, they mean okonomiyaki restaurant. I will be really upset, If you go to Hiroshima and come home without trying this amazing food!

 

Hiroshima is very interesting town. After atomic bomb destroyed the whole city, people worked so hard and built a new beautiful town. So the city was designed to be very convenient and efficient for visitors. Main functions of the city were gathered in the centre, and you can go almost anywhere with public transports.

 

My favourite restaurant is “弁兵衛 (Benbe)”, a small okonomiyaki restaurant chain which located in the very centre of Hiroshima. Compared to the old okonomiyaki restaurants, they have a range of options in their menu. So I am very confident that you can satisfied with them!

Here is their website where you can learned about them (which are written in English).

 

We ordered some sides.

And of course…

CIMG3599

Oh no! This was too nice!

 

They are amazingly fresh and so fulfilling. I also recommend you to have the counter seats. There you can sea that chefs are beautifully cooking.

CIMG3598

Staffs are very kind and happy to take care of you. We had a really good time.

 

By the way, there is my cousin’s Bar BBB Hiroshima near the restaurant.

https://m.facebook.com/bbbhiroshima/

CIMG3604

Her bar is very unique because of its concept which focuses on Baseball. She has been a huge baseball fan and actually started her own bar to share her passion. Hiroshima has its baseball team called “Hiroshima Toyo Carp” which symbol is red carp. Unfortunately, she supports a different team called “Yomiuri Giants” which bases in Tokyo. Thus the bar always welcomes you whichever team you support as long as you love baseball or you wants to learn Japanese culture. She had lived in America for 5 years so that she is a good English speaker. Even if you are not interested in baseball, that will not bother her, just tell her you read this website!

The sign is a little bit confusing and you might be lost because there are many small bar around there. (I always get lost!) I recommend to print out the map and check how to get there beforehand.

CIMG3605

I hope you will have an amazing night in Hiroshima!xx

 

If you are curious of oknomiyaki recipe please visit

Hiroshima style ⇒ Okonomiyaki (Hiroshima style)

Kansai style ⇒ Okonomiyaki(Kansai style)

Travel to Tokyo – 6. Udon

Tokyo, travel

6. Udon

CIMG3583

If you come to Japan, then please do not miss this chance to try Udon noodles. One thing I want to stress here is that you do not have to go to posh restaurants for nice udon. At least when it comes to udon, I can not agree that posh restaurants are better then casual restaurants. There are some famous casual udon restaurant chains in Japan and they are all amazing. Especially, “丸亀製麺(Marugame Seimen)” and “はなまるうどん(Hanamaru Udon)” are my favourite. All menu are available for about £2.00 – 5.00 so you can feel very easy and relax. Luckily, they have so many branches all over Japan so I think you can find at least one during your trip even if you do not try to. So today, I will introduce these restaurants which are very close to Japanese people’s life.

 

This time, we went to Marugame Seimen in Tokyo Haneda Airport (B1). What makes their restaurants special is their help yourself system. Before you go to the counter, you need to decide Udon to order. (There is a menu board in front of the door.) If you are curious of their menu and price, you caan visit their website from here. When you go to the counter, tell your order to the kitchen. There are also menu board on your head at the counter.

CIMG3581

Once you order udon, slide your tray to left and the chef will give you udon in a minute. Then keep slide your tray with udon, then you will reach topping and rice ball area. If you want something there, take plates beside toppings and add them on your tray. If you don’t want anything just pass that area, then you will reach the till area and pay money for your order.

cimg3582.jpg

 

There are some free topping and drink as well. Japanese people often put some finely chopped spring onion and grated ginger etc… These essential toppings are available for free. And water and hot tea are also available for free. Usually there are boxes of these toppings on your table and you can take them as much as you want. Or sometimes there are tables just for toppings and drink. In any case, you will find them after you pay.

CIMG3584

 

This time we ordered “Kake (plain udon just with soup)” and “Curry udon (udon with Japanese curry)”. These pictures were taken after we added toppings.

My husband added spring onion to his curry udon after this, and he loves it. When you visit there please enjoy your original udon!

 

If you are now curious how to make udon, please visit my recipe to make udon.

 

I know sometimes it needs courage to go into the restaurants when you do not know how they are. I hope this article will help all the foreign people who wants to make closer experiences to Japanese people’s life! xx

Travel to Tokyo – 5. Kappabashi Shopping Street

Tokyo, travel

5. Kappabashi Shopping Street

CIMG3533

What makes this place so special is that there are countless shops which sell kitchen equipments including huge fridges for business etc. Recently, the quality of Japanese knives have been focused in the world and more foreign people are now looking for the best shop to get Japanese knives. If you are one of these people, Kappabashi shopping street is the very right place! (I got a knife for my husband’s brother in fact! Some shops offer you to carve your name on it for free.)

 

I got new wooden bento boxes from those shops. Thank you for checking my instagram account and telling me my bento boxes are cute. Yes, I got them from those shops!

In the past, someone once asked me about how to make bento look beautiful. Your bento does not have to look beautiful at all but if you want to try then these shapes are good for you. Here are examples.

There are some kinds of wooden bento boxes. The bento box on the left is very thick so it lasts very long. The box on the right is called “Magewappa”, which is very Japanese traditional style. They use special wood to make Magewappa so that foods do not go bad and the wood keeps sticky rice fresh. But Magewappa is week and easy to get moldy.

I recommend to get there in the morning. If you become the first customer to them, the shop owner often gives you presents. On that day, the owner gave us wooden spoons!

S__6946831

I can guarantee that 100% you can enjoy shopping there!! I hope this article helps you enjoy traveling to Tokyo!

Travel to Tokyo – 4. Hostel

Tokyo, travel

4. Hostel

CIMG3576

Some people prefer to stay at luxurious comfort hotels. In fact, I was a person like that in the past. However, these days I totally changed my mind. Whenever I come back to Japan, although I miss Japanese food a lot and want to try real traditional Japanese foods in a posh restaurant at least once, I want to act like I am home rather than keep visiting new places. As long as these places are very familiar to me, I already know what I want to eat and where I want to go. I felt more like that I need my own house in Japan. I mean, I need “a kitchen”.

In Japanese supermarkets, of course, you have different options and when you see there are so many fresh fish I can not help wanting to cook by myself! So I decided to stay in hostels during this trip. (I did not think about it in Japan, but from next time I think I will record and share what I cook with Japanese ingredients in a hostel!)

 

If you are looking for a reasonable hostel but still wants to enjoy Japanese cultures, I have great recommendation for you; Tokyo Guesthouse. toco .

 

The reason I recommend this hostel is that the price is very kind and the house is a very traditional Japanese building. The doors, windows and furniture… you can feel histories from them.

CIMG3515

They have a beautiful Japanese garden as well. A staff explained to me that the rocky mountain on the right in the second picture was made of rocks taken from Mt.Fuji. Staffs are very kind and nice. Of course they can speak English.

 

You can order small Japanese breakfast every morning for 300 yen. The menu is 2 onigiri (rice balls) and miso soup, and the flavour of onigiri and soup changes every morning. Every morning, we gathered in living room and have a nice chat about our lives. It was very lovely memory, actually.

CIMG3518

 

The access is quite good. There are two main stations which is 5-10 minutes walk away from the hostel so that you can easily get a train on Yamanote line or underground on Hibiya line. From Tokyo station, it takes only about 10 minutes to the nearest station. You can check the detail on their website https://backpackersjapan.co.jp/toco/english.html

 

There are a lot reasonable and traditional options in Tokyo. And I am still looking for better one, because I had been a Japanese residence for 25 years! As a traveler, I am a still beginner. I hope we can share my experience and this website gives you some useful information! xx

 

 

Travel to Tokyo – 3. The Butcher

Tokyo

3. The Butcher

 

Butcher???

I imagine that you are confused.

 

In Japan, you can find many butchers especially in small towns. But why butchers? Should you buy “Wagyu beef“? No! In the butchers, you can also buy freshly cooked small foods like croquettes. Because they use very good quality of meat, these small snacks are very popular in the local areas. Some people buy for dinner, and some people buy for snacks.

CIMG3501

If you feel a little bit hungry during the trip, visit Japanese butchers to get perfect snacks for you. If you are curious Japanese croquettes, visit my recipe page.

 

This is Mince Cutlet, which is also popular food in butcher. In this butcher, they mixed pork mince and beef mince, which is a very common technique for Japanese people. Outside is very crispy and inside is very juicy.

CIMG3497

Japanese word meaning butcher is “精肉店 (Seinikuten)”. Usually the shop has a open counter facing to the street so that you do not have to feel stressed to go through the doors. And there is a showcase which obviously can be seen from outside.

(Because these butchers had open counters, I did not take photos how these shops looked. If you are curious, search images of “精肉店 コロッケ” on Google.)

 

You might need a lot of effort to jump into the local shops, but do not worry. Japanese people love it, when foreign people try our culture! xx

Travel to Tokyo – 1. Kaiten-zushi

Tokyo

Hello, everyone!

My husband and I spent 2 weeks in Japan. It has been 1 year since I moved to the UK. As we had such a lovely holiday, I want to share our memories there, and hopefully, some of them might be useful for you when you travel to Japan!

Today I will introduce some amazing restaurants you can enjoy in Tokyo. xx

 

1. Kaiten-zushi (circling sushi counter) restaurant

CIMG3490

Kaiten-zushi restaurant is the style that you will take sushi from the sushi counter circling beside you. There are many options of kaiten-zushi restaurants all over Japan and my favourite restaurant is 海鮮三崎港(Kaisen Misakiko) which is a popular chain mainly in Tokyo. (Do not look down on Japanese chains, their foods are amazingly fresh!) There, you can also order your favourite sushi with the tablet on your table as well, which is easy for foreign travelers (usually, in many kaiten-zushi restaurants, you have to ask chefs in front of you directly). You can choose some languages on the tablet but sometimes translation is wrong. (Sorry about that!)

Soon after you order sushi with the tablet, your orders will arrive at your tables on a bullet train. (They will use 2 lanes. Upstairs for your orders, down stairs for everyone.)

CIMG3493

In these restaurants, the price are told by the colours of plates. When you finish, ask a staff to count the number of your plates you had and they will give you a bill.

CIMG3495

 

In Tokyo, you can find kaiten-zushi restaurants everywhere. If you see the symbol of “回転ずし” or “回転寿司” then that means kaiten-zushi!!

 

Be brave and jump into the new world! xx

Yakiniku Sauce (Japanese BBQ Sauce) (v)

Sauce & Dressing, Vegetarian

Hello, guys! Long time no see.

I hope you all had a nice Easter holiday etc…

Thank you very much for visiting my FB account (@jhomerecipe) while I was quiet. Although there were some reasons I could not write articles,  I decided to start to update the articles as my badly infected finger was cured! (It was really bad, in fact.)

Anyway, I am really happy to come back and share my passion about food with you again!

Today, I will introduce you how to make nice Japanese BBQ sauce. We dip grilled beef, pork or vegetables in this sauce at BBQ. Of course you can use this sauce as you use western BBQ sauce. Although, what I want to stress about this sauce is that this sauce is really useful and goes well with almost any foods. So Japanese people use this sauce as seasoning for your daily cooking, like stir fried vegetables. My recommendation is to use this sauce for Katsu.

Last week, I used this sauce for Katsu don (rice bowl with kastu on top) and made my English husband really impressed. (I will write another blog about this!)

S__5906434

I remember that when I was a university student in Japan, my friend bought a bottle of Japanese BBQ sauce as a present for an exchange student from Taiwan who did not know what to make for dinner! I really thought that was a great idea!

Unfortunately, if you live out of Japan, it is difficult to get the bottle from the supermarket so easily. I have been missing this sauce and finally found the way to make!

Please try!

S__5906437

[Ingredients]

  • 2.5 tablespoons of soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon of sake
  • 1 tablespoon of mirin
  • 1 tablespoon of miso
  • 1 tablespoon of sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon of grated seame
  • 2pcs of grated garlic
  • 1 teaspoon of grated ginger

and…(this is the key)

  • 1 tablespoon of apple/marmalade Jam

If you do not have any Jam, then you can use hunny, but apple Jam is the best.

[Method]

Mix well, and cook in a small sauce pan unti the sauce start to boil.

I imagine it is difficult for you to guess how to use this sauce if you have never try some. I am thinking to introduce more recipes with this sauce so that you can not stop running to the supermarket to get all the ingredients for my sauce!xx

Yaki-soba / Yaki-udon

Main, Noodles, pork, Vegetables, Vegetarian

Yaki-soba is Japanese stir fried noodles with vegetables and pork. I have never met a person who did not like this one of the most popular food in Japan. Because of its simple ingredients and recipe, it is also popular menu in the market called ‘yatai’.  Wherever ‘yatai’ are held, you can definitely find someone who sells yaki-soba.

S__5136405

yaki-soba bento

Before I show you how to make it, please let me talk about noodles. In the UK I often think it is almost impossible to get good noodles for yaki-soba. I have been struggling to get good noodles for long time. Egg noodles are fine, ramen noodles are also fine but they are so far from perfect. Something is missing somewhere. Then I notice some great tips to obtain perfect noodles… from SPAGHETTI! I notice spaghetti can exactly be what noodles for yaki-soba should be. If you can not find good noodles, then please try spaghetti. The tip is to cook spaghetti 5 more minutes longer than the time its package says. It should also be noted that Udon Noodles are also good option (but in that case the dish will be called yaki-udon, not yaki-soba).

Of course yaki-soba is very popular for bento menu too. When I was a high school student my dad made me yaki-soba bento in the weekend. (I had classes in every Saturday morning so making my bento on Saturday was sometimes my dad’s role. And my family had a strange rule about Saturday dinner; my dad must had made okonomiyaki! Ah, what okonomiyaki lovers/saucy family!)

In fact I made yaki-soba for bento last week and it was quite nice. My husband really liked it. I hope you can enjoy this casual and family warming dish!

S__5160963

 

[Ingredients] 2 servings

  • Spaghetti for 2 people / Udon Noodles for 2 people
  • 1/2 spring cabbage
  • 100g pork (ignore if you are vegetarian)
  • 1/2 green pepper
  • 100g beans sprout
  • Okonomiyaki sauce
  • A pinch of back pepper
  • A pinch of aonori (nori powder) as a topping
  • A pinch of katsuobushi as a topping

 

Swapping the pork with sea foods such as prawns or squid is also good idea. Some people put a fried egg on top as a topping. That is a also lovely idea. Red pepper, carrot or onion can also give yaki-soba more colours and flavour.  Please look for your favourite ingredients through some trials!

 

[Method]

  1. Boil the water for spaghetti. Cook the spaghetti for extra 5 more minutes than the time its package says.
  2. Roughly chop cabbage, pork and green pepper.
  3. Pour 2 tbs oil into a frying pan and stir fry pork, and add cabbage, green pepper and beans sprout.
  4. Add spaghetti and mix very well.
  5. Add black pepper and Okonomiyaki sauce. Make sure the taste, you may need to add some ketchup.
  6. Serve with some toppings (if you would like), or put them into your bento box.

 

Enjoy!xx

S__5160962