Jump to content
  • Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create a free account.

Travelogue: Spirited Away


Peter Green
 Share

Recommended Posts

March 20 – Blade Runner

gallery_22892_5869_44516.jpg

The rain persisted through the night, and into the morning, giving everything that slick Miami Vice look.

Our plan, this time, was more sensible. We walked through Gion, and across the river, winding our way back up through Tompocho in the daylight.

It’s a pity we were too early for the cherry blossoms, as I could see how this would be spectacular in those conditions. As is, it’s still very pretty, and we stopped by all the restaurants to see if any were open yet for an early lunch, but to no avail.

gallery_22892_5869_63857.jpg

Fresh produce was on the doorsteps….onions, sweet potatoes, spring onions, and, I think, turnips.

gallery_22892_5869_28142.jpg

And other roots wwere hanging to dry (althoughgiven the weather conditions, I wonder as to that).

gallery_22892_5869_26553.jpg

From there we were right by Teramachi – Temple Street – and the prime shopping zone.

As you wander down the arcade, you come across shrine after shrine on the East side. The street had, originally, been set aside for temples, with the merchants filling in to the west, and then in all the gaps about the shrines.

I like these arcades in Japan, thoughtfully covered over from the elements. I wonder when and where the first of these was put up in the country?

gallery_22892_5869_25768.jpg

I pointed out the hanging poster of a good free-for-all, and Scud immediately said, “That’s the Shinsengumi”.

I am getting old. I should’ve known that. The Shinsengumi ties in with another of my favourite films “Sword of Doom” or “Dai Bosatsu Toge” by Okamoto, described as a “masterpiece of nihilism”.

I found it quite cheery, with every shot framed beautifully. Plus, it starred Tatsuya Nakadai, who can always be counted on for a glassy-eyed psychotic look (Yojimbo, Musashi…).

Where was I?

Oh, yes, food.

gallery_22892_5869_38099.jpg

After yesterday’s aimless wandering for food, we settled matters early on.

There was a noodle shop just around the corner, and I had a hankering for soba. Scud, for his part, wanted some ramen. A simple matter, especially when I put Scud in charge of taking the nice old lady outside to point out our orders in the window. This allowed me to stay wedged into my seat.

It was a nice crowd. The older lady waiting the tables was in turn waiting upon even the more elderly. Everyone seemed to know each other, and there was an even background of quiet pleasantries being exchanged.

gallery_22892_5869_47229.jpg

Scud ordered a fairly simple ramen, with some sliced pork resting on the top, and a nice mound of spring onion.

gallery_22892_5869_65669.jpg

For me it was a tangle of soba topped with shredded nori, with my sauce just over on the side. Cold buckwheat noodles with a tangy sauce isn’t a bad way to start off the day.

With food done, it was time for more food.

We were into Nishiki Market, which feeds from Teramachi. This is the prime food market of Kyoto, and one of my target destinations.

gallery_22892_5869_12999.jpg

Bags and bags of dried goods. Bags and bags of nuts and beans, roots and herbs.

gallery_22892_5869_39460.jpg

And, as you’d expect, as much dried fish and squid as you could ask for. We bought a bag of the small dried anchovies, something we’ve always eaten, and which Scud was missing at school.

gallery_22892_5869_63903.jpg

And some of the prettiest dried shrimp I’ve seen, including some day glo red ones. That has to be an additive of some sort, doesn’t it?

Snacks are important

gallery_22892_5869_18314.jpg

And there were sweets. Lots of nice things. Western confections, pastries, and plenty of traditional Japanese sweets – wagashi.

There was a good two page article in the March Kyoto Visitor’s Guide on Kyogashi tea sweets. This was based on an interview with Kagizen Yoshifusa, who have been in the business for over 300 years (they’re not in Nishiki Market, but rather in Gion and over by the Kodai-ji. Still, for the sake of info, I’ll put them in this section).

Kyogashi refers to the “high-end” sweets of Kyoto (jogashi - the highest form of raw sweets). It talked a bit about the history, how the term originally meant fruits and nuts (particularly as shrine offerings), but was extended to confections as interaction with Tang China showed the Heian courst what the world of candy could offer. Then, when the Tea Ceremony catapulted into the samurai world (thanks to Hideyoshi Toyotomi) they spread out to a far larger audience. Couple that with the introduction of white sugar in 1603, and you had a revolution in snacking.

The sweets are classified as raw (namagashi); semi-raw (han-nama-gashi); and dried (higashi). The higashi are generally small and very thin, and the han-nama-gashi often come as jellies. At the top end are the namagashi, with more gradations therein, with kyogashi at the top, the quality tied in with the quality of the sweet bean paste (an) that is used.

The molds are all hand crafted from cherry wood (a good, solid wood, resistant to warping). And the designs are constantly reworked, to stay fresh and reflect the seasons appropriately. In all, from the handling of the material to being able to develop the designs, it takes about 20 years of training. The result are a showcase more in the mode of a jewelry shop than anything else.

gallery_22892_5869_20322.jpg

Back to the Market

There’s plenty of tofu available, and it all looks good. Plus, there’s yuba, the skin (or scum) of the tofu process.

gallery_22892_5869_4672.jpg

And, of course, plenty of fresh produce, meat, and seafood to be had.

But I had ulterior designs in coming here.

gallery_22892_5869_12290.jpg

Aritsugu

I’ve always been fond of steel, and this shop is famous for their work, going back to 1560 when they were in the sword business. Now, it’s knives. Works for me either way.

I wanted some, and, with the saleslady’s help, found two with a good feel in my hands that would match the need I had for some blades (“Need?” I can hear Yoonhi saying in the background. “What do you need more knives for?”)

I picked up a double edged nakiri for vegetables, and a multi-layered santoku for general purpose use. Light and thin, and well-balanced in the hand.

For some reason Scud geets nervous when I start obsessing on knives.

The only hitch involved was that the store deals in cash only, so I needed to make a quick run to an exchange office to turn in some traveller’s cheques.

When I returned, the saleslady immediately (but politely) extricated herself from some tourists and came back to me, handling the transaction, and then started to lecture me on the care and handling of my purchase. Daily care in this case. I don’t think I’ll be allowing the “help” to work with these.

Along with excellent quality workmanship in the tools, there’s the thrill of having your name engraved in your knives. This is a show in itself.

gallery_22892_5869_40905.jpg

The knives are secured in place on a solid cutting board……

gallery_22892_5869_13473.jpg

And then the characters for my name were deflty inscribed in the steel.

gallery_22892_5869_7445.jpg

This is when it’s good to have a fairly simple name to describe; green = midori peter = rock

gallery_22892_5869_13990.jpg

Both blades were assigned to my care.

And then wrapped safely in their boxes,

gallery_22892_5869_35945.jpg

And finally bundled up in a red furoshiki. I thanked them, and the Boy and I headed out, leaving Nishiki Market behind (for the moment).

Next: At Long Last, Manga

Link to comment
Share on other sites

March 20 – The Kyoto International Manga Museum (and food, too)

From Nishiki it was an amiable stroll for the two of us through the back streets. While Scud committed the cardinal sin of buying a soft drink from a vending machine to drink while he walked, I admired the collection of little restaurants back here.

gallery_22892_5869_12978.jpg

It’s kind of interesting that, just behind and parallel to Nishiki market, the centre of all things traditional in Japanese cooking, you find an area full of little French bistros. There were ads for absinthe, and this one, a cheerful little marvel in the miniatures they make here so well.

We arrived, again, at the International Manga Museum, and this time, oh joy, it was open.

gallery_22892_5869_12878.jpg

They don’t allow photography inside (pity) but it is open. For once there was a good reason for no photos, as they clearly stated that it was in order to preserve the copyrights of the artists.

gallery_22892_5869_2149.jpg

Bang like a shot, Scud was off to check out the wall of manga. Or rather, the first portion. There’re approximately 50,000 manga here (many from the donation of one manga café) and the museum intends to increase this to more than 200,000 this year. Part of this increase will come in the form of foreign masterpieces, so the museum’s material base will include more than just Japan.

Having said all that, forgive me if I’m somewhat skeptical of the “systematic accumulation of material” that they refer to. In large part I get the impression of a magpie. I mean, in the North American section, they had Hellboy! That’s not what I would classify as “masterpiece” material (Miller’s Dark Night, maybe…..)

Still, the foreign shelves aside, the rest was a lot of fun. Rather than a museum, it feels more like a very large extended series of reading rooms. There’s one room for the little kids on the ground floor, and it was packed with rug rats with their noses buried in comics (and this room is the set for a weekly televised game show, which is why the museum was closed yesterday). From there the halls are lined with comics, and those same halls are packed with people standing and reading, people sitting and reading, and people squatting and reading.

It does a bibliophile’s heart good.

Scud and I were having a grand time. We drifted through the corridors, coming across old issues of things we had in translation. Golgol 13, Kamui, Mai The Psychic Girl, Crying Freeman, Nausicaa, Akira, Fist of the North Star (now, there was a sad film), One Piece, Naruto, Lupin III, Lone Wolf and Cub (Shogun Executioner), Prince of Tennis, Hikaru No Go, Renma, Dragon Ball Z (with great power comes great hair)…..

Hey, there was even a comic of Old Boy.

It’s an odd human emotion, but we feel good when we come across things we recognize. In part the same feeling that supports Golden Oldies radio stations around the world.

The walls of the first floor also supported an exhibition of portraits of 100 Maiko, as executed by manga artists. They say, when you come to Kyoto, you need to catch a glimpse of the geisha and maiko…..here it was.

I liked the ones with fox faces.

The museum didn’t open that long ago. Late 2006 it commenced operations, operated by the Kyoto Sekai University. This was probably (and I’m conjecturing actively here) tied in with the Japanese government’s decision back in 2001-2002 to actively promote manga as a facet of Japanese culture overseas. This is why, in 2002, they put up Doraemon as the Manga Ambassador for Japan (hey, the poor guy had already had his ears removed to try and make up for the Hello Kitty sumo incident, it was time to bring him back into the fold).

How come no one takes me seriously.

The building itself is fun to wander through, as it was an old primary school – the Tatsuike Elementary School Building. There’s a parallel story of the old school running alongside of the manga that makes for a good subtext to your time.

Anyways, in addition to the thousands of manga, the seminar and research rooms, and the hordes of kids, they also had a kamishibai show on the go, the precursor to comics in Japan. This is an old sheet by sheet story telling method played out on the streets, the storyteller selling candy and getting money for his performances as he travelled from village to village.

It was a fun crowd, with the female story teller moving her paper sections in, telling the story, getting the kids excited, and then moving on to the next picture.

Interestingly, it’s a method that’s worked very effectively on the computer with such items as Strongbad’s Teen Girl Squad (it’s out there, you’ll find it….don’t blame me, it’s not my fault).

It’s also interesting that the stories became so lurid back in the post war era that a self-enforcing commission was established to try and get things under control. I find this interesting, as it paralleled the Comics Code in North America, which brought an end to such greats as Tales From the Crypt and Weird Science.

Ah…..It almost makes me feel young again. But, as Stephen King said, “I have the heart of a young boy…….I keep it on my shelf.”

We spent a good couple of hours in the museum, and then decided it was enough. Our feet were getting tired.

Now, as I age, I’m getting craftier. As old as I am, you no longer ask pretty young waitresses when they get off work, you ask them when they start work.

Based on this, I proposed to Scud that, after some appropriate sightseeing and shopping, we could be just in time for dinner at the Tazuru Annex on Pontocho, where I’d found myself too late the night before.

gallery_22892_5869_32335.jpg

So, first we went to Neji Castle, and made the appropriate oohing and ahing noises. Actually, we spent most of our time in front of the sword shop by the subway station.

gallery_22892_5869_37538.jpg

But, at this point I figured I’d spent enough money on steel. I could get away with so much, and not much more.

Still, a sword guard with a nice mon would be nice…..

gallery_22892_5869_47589.jpg

We weren’t seeing the number of fun signage that I’d hoped for. I did find this a little distressing.

gallery_22892_5869_18033.jpg

But, if there weren’t the outstandingly hilarious signs, there were at least ones that I could agree with. I find few things more precious than a coffee moment. It’s good to know that they’ve been a regular occurrence in Kobe since 1933.

And from there we found ourselves back at Teramachi. Scud made a beeline for the bookstores (in search of more manga) while I popped into the shrines on the East side.

gallery_22892_5869_9868.jpg

It’s my year, Rat, after all.

gallery_22892_5869_41081.jpg

While poking around, I noticed the ubiquitous Mr. Donut. But he wasn’t just selling fried pastry here in Japan.

He’d branched out.

gallery_22892_5869_46239.jpg

Somehow, when I think of dimsum and rice and noodle dishes, Mr. Donut does not leap into the forefront of my brain.

gallery_22892_5869_49426.jpg

And there was this crab. It just cheered me up, with images of eating all of the Disney studio characters, big eyes and all.

gallery_22892_5869_40453.jpg

Does anyone have any idea what this is out here? It looks like a socially challenged hotdog of some sort, but I could be wrong.

gallery_22892_5869_40162.jpg

Scud collared me and dragged me into one of the bookstores. He’d found something he thought I’d be interested in.

gallery_22892_5869_24555.jpg

Great. Over a dozen issues of some guy stuffing his face. I could relate to this. Can I get a translation on this one?

I went back to the shrines to leer at the sake casks.

gallery_22892_5869_63794.jpg

And then we found something that utterly bemused us.

gallery_22892_5869_3081.jpg

Why does Colonel Sanders have a prawn on his head? If this was Osaka, I could almost think they’d retrieved the Cursed Colonel from the depths of the river, but we were in Kyoto.

Again, I’d appreciate any explanations. Kentucky fried prawns on the menu?

Next: Dinner on the Kamogawa

Link to comment
Share on other sites

gallery_22892_5869_24555.jpg

Great.  Over a dozen issues of some guy stuffing his face.  I could relate to this.  Can I get a translation on this one?

The comic is Kuishinbo, also made into a live action film (2007).

Baker of "impaired" cakes...
Link to comment
Share on other sites

gallery_22892_5869_24555.jpg

Great.  Over a dozen issues of some guy stuffing his face.  I could relate to this.  Can I get a translation on this one?

The comic is Kuishinbo, also made into a live action film (2007).

Cool! According to this link it won the Award of Excellence at the 2007 36th Japanese Cartoonists' Association Award for its "vigourous food action".

I'm going to have to get the boy hunting for this.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I found it. Uomachi-Gintengai (Japanese only), built in October 1951 in Kita kyushu city, is the first arcaded shopping mall in Japan.

As for the vivid red shrimp, of course! Some coloring agent added.

As for the prawn on Colonel Sanders's head (is it really a prawn?), I don't know why, but you can see him in strange attire in Japan. Kabuto, kimono, and so on.

Someone posted a photo of Sanders wearing yukata and holding a slice of watermelon here.

As for the statue in the park, I need some more information such as the name of the park to give you an answer.

Edited by Hiroyuki (log)
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I found it.  Uomachi-Gintengai (Japanese only), built in October 1951 in Kita kyushu city, is the first arcaded shopping mall in Japan.

As for the vivid red shrimp, of course!  Some coloring agent added.

As for the prawn on Colonel Sanders's head (is it really a prawn?), I don't know why, but you can see him in strange attire in Japan.  Kabuto, kimono, and so on.

Someone posted a photo of Sanders wearing yukata and holding a slice of watermelon here.

As for the statue in the park, I need some more information such as the name of the park to give you an answer.

Thanks, Hiroyuki!

I wonder if it's the same Colonel, as Orangeman said it was in Kyoto on the "large shopping street there" which could be Teramachi.

Oh, the joy of a mystery.

Unfortunately, for the angry hot dog, the little park it was in is too small for the maps I have. I think it was near Nishiki Tenman Gu near the bottom East of Teramachi.

Cheers,

Peter

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Aha! I see you Peter and boy Scud (though he may be a head taller than me) on that samurai sword pic. I keep chuckling at your incorrigible humor. Reading your writing is like eating a box of mixed nuts... sometimes you come across a nut that makes you giggle.

Doddie aka Domestic Goddess

"Nobody loves pork more than a Filipino"

eGFoodblog: Adobo and Fried Chicken in Korea

The dark side... my own blog: A Box of Jalapenos

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Aha! I see you Peter and boy Scud (though he may be a head taller than me) on that samurai sword pic. I keep chuckling at your incorrigible humor. Reading your writing is like eating a box of mixed nuts... sometimes you come across a nut that makes you giggle.

Ah, you caught that one, the two of us in a reflective moment pecan in the window.

:biggrin:

Link to comment
Share on other sites

March 20 – Kaiseki Time

After all of this time wandering about in Kyoto, it was time for a proper meal.

I’d dragged the boy back with me to Tazuru’s annex, overlooking the Kamogawa. I’d asked the night before about when they opened, and the young lady had told me 5.

So, by 5:15 we were there.

But it seemed oddly quiet.

And the sign said “6:00 p.m.”

Scud and I haunted the front for a couple of minutes, a little timid to approach, and then a thought occurred. I pulled out the cell and called.

It appeared that, while the brochure says one thing, and the sign another, the answer was a compromise of 5:30. With just ten minutes we could work with that. And they could accommodate us, which is the important thing.

But then she wanted to know which course we wanted. I asked her to hold for a moment, and I’d look at their menu out front.

That sort of gave it away.

All smiles they opened the door, and we settled on the kaiseki for the evening. They needed a few minutes, so we all smiled and bowed, and Scud and I took a short stroll.

When we returned it was a simple matter of smiling and bowing again, losing our footware, and climbing upstairs to a wonderful room overlooking the Kamogawa. It wasn’t dark yet, so we could enjoy the waning of the light to soft jazz.

gallery_22892_5869_49576.jpg

Scud was comfortable.

gallery_22892_5869_37625.jpg

I ordered some sake to start – Tsurumasamune junmaishu from Fushimi (they didn’t have any Tomio which is what I always look for now), and we settled down to see what would come.

As expected of this sort of thing, the menu was organized around seasonal items, in our case the onset of Spring.

gallery_22892_5869_28739.jpg

We opened with a nigiri sushi of salmon. Beside it, under a small budding blossom, was a fish that was sweet, and had a granular feel once you bit into it and it disintegrated. Beside that, to the left, was a fish mousse that was topped with a crusting of what I think was bran. To the bottom left was a fine bit of shellfish. Mirugai? It had that crunch in the bite, and a dainty skirt about the meat. And to the right was a green I couldn’t identify, like gai lan with a crispy stalk, and little buds at the end. This was dashed with fine fish eggs.

And you want to know what’s inside the cup?

gallery_22892_5869_8843.jpg

Inside the cup were absolutely perfect little raw squid. Black purple, three of them nestled inside the porcelain. Each one popped as I bit into it, and I could feel the ink squirting. A strong flavour, but not too salty.

This was a good opening. Strong flavours and textures, from the squid to the shellfish.

Following this was sashimi; tuna, seabream, and the larger brother to the little squid we’d just eaten.

gallery_22892_5869_34631.jpg

The squid, in particular, stood out. Soft beyond imagination. I’ve said this from my earlier meetings with Japanese squid in this thread, but I’ll say it again. This isn’t like the squid we get back home.

After this it was a dish of boiled bamboo. The broth was excellent, strong with the seaweed and the backdrop of the bamboo.

gallery_22892_5869_7666.jpg

The bamboo gives an initial light crisp, and then softens on the teeth. The long green stem feels like celery, but isn’t, and the white and pink fish cake finishes off a nice softness to the dish.

How do you describe the smell of bamboo? There’s that slight feeling of decay about it, of rustic creakiness, and sticky rice steamers….

gallery_22892_5869_2781.jpg

Next is a mousse of fish liver – “ankima” if I got it down correct. This was topped by a slice of lime and a mound of shredded daikon with a citrus flavouring. There’s julienned spring onion about the dish, and a dark vinegar and soy sauce.

gallery_22892_5869_7802.jpg

The light continues to fail. I point out the sights of Gion across the way, the ladies in kimono strolling the banks, a man walking his terrier….

“And you can see the hobos under the bridge,” pipes up the boy.

gallery_22892_5869_3293.jpg

And then we take another soup, this one with a large pink shrimp mousse resting in the middle, topped by a spent little radish, and a bit of citrus skin. I ask Saki, one of our waitresses, about this, and she says this is a ebishinjyo.

The clouds march by in the sky, low and full of menace and character.

gallery_22892_5869_14131.jpg

I order more sake. I’ve admired these flasks for ages, the perfecct way to keep a drink cold. I’ll have to look for one to bring home.

gallery_22892_5869_17364.jpg

Grilled fish followed this – sawara (?). A slight glaze of sweetened soy and a stick of red bell pepper. I wonder as to the leaf, tidily dendritic, that sits below.

Next was ryuhimaki, a roll of eggs, ikura, and tuna, but rolled in a thicker, vinegared seaweed, rather than the frail, think nori I would usually expect.

gallery_22892_5869_15875.jpg

It was very good, the vinegar in the seaweed coming through. It was so good that all you get is this empty dish, as I was so taken I forgot to shoot (I blame the boy for not reminding me).

Saki was curious as to Scud’s age, and was taken aback to find out he was only 16. That placed him some four years younger than her.

gallery_22892_5869_21617.jpg

After this – salty egg pudding, with uni, a prettily striped prawn, white fish, yuba, and rice cake. (and you’re right, not sweet at all). The uni was excellent, but I’m always soft on uni.

gallery_22892_5869_34825.jpg

For Spring, our rice came with peas, and the pickles that you must have with your rice.

This was such a pleasant meal, helped in part by our being the only customers for much of the first part. This meant we could relax, and not worry too much about offending the other guests with our photos and jabber, and likewise we could monopolize the waitresses who, like most Japanese, have an interest in manga and anime.

Hitomi had spent two years in Oregon, and she was also able to help us with recommendations for some temple fairs and other things that were going on in town.

gallery_22892_5869_22722.jpg

But, all good things come to an end, and soon enough they were bringing us our dessert, a soft orange jello with fresh strawberries and mint leaves.

gallery_22892_5869_7190.jpg

and there we were, the sake, the orange, the tea all finished. We thanked our waitresses, paid our bill, and set out into the cool night of Kyoto.

And it’s nice to see that, after Saki had walked us out to the street, that, after a hundred meters we turned around, and she was still there to bob a bow to us (which we returned).

gallery_22892_5869_24964.jpg

At this point, and it may just be the small amount of sake he’s had, Scud does feel that he’s eating better than at boarding school.

Next: A good meal calls for a death march

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm not sure but the shellfish you thought was mirugai looks like abalone (awabi in Japanese) to me.

The green on the right is nanohana (rape).

Images of nanohana no ohitashi (boiled rape)

The small squids: Were they firefly squids (hotaru ika in Japanese)? I posted some photos of them in my "Local Sushi Shop in Niigata" thread.

The celery-looking thing: It's probably fuki. Do you remember smallworld did "itazuri" (rolling fuki with salt on the cooking board) in her foodblog?

The name of the dish is wakatake ni (simmered young bamboo shoots).

Images of watakake ni

Ankima: Ankomo (monkfish liver), right?

I'm not sure but the leaf in the grelled fish dish may be yukinoshita (Japanese only). The leaf is also good when tempura'ed.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm not sure but the shellfish you thought was mirugai looks like abalone (awabi in Japanese) to me.

The green on the right is nanohana (rape).

Images of nanohana no ohitashi (boiled rape)

The small squids:  Were they firefly squids (hotaru ika in Japanese)?  I posted some photos of them in my "Local Sushi Shop in Niigata" thread.

The celery-looking thing:  It's probably fuki.  Do you remember smallworld did "itazuri" (rolling fuki with salt on the cooking board) in her foodblog?

The name of the dish is wakatake ni (simmered young bamboo shoots).

Images of watakake ni

Ankima:  Ankomo (monkfish liver), right?

I'm not sure but the leaf in the grelled fish dish may be yukinoshita (Japanese only).  The leaf is also good when tempura'ed.

Thanks, Hiroyuki,

Fuki looks right, and monkfish liver fits. The yukinoshita is definitely the leaf, as that dendritic pattern on the leaves and the colour contrast is a perfect match.

I'm going back through the Niigata sushi shop thread looking for the squid (but the internet is arguing with me now).

Cheers,

Peter

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hiroyuki,

I'm not as certain that these were firefly squid, having checked your photo.

gallery_16375_5341_131032.jpg

These ones seemed smaller - a little shorter than the first two joints of my little finger (but I have big fingers), and were very dark. I've seen them in the market after, and when fresh they were very dark, too, so I don't think it's just the ink coming out in the sauce.

But, whatever they are, they tasted good.

Cheers,

Peter

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks, Peter.

Hotaru ika no oki zuke (firefly squids marinated in soy sauce, mirin, and sake) is very popular.

Images of oki zuke

Oki zuke is spelled 沖漬け. As you say, no matter what the spiecies, your ika look good.

Edited to add:

Hotaru ika are in season now. They are tiny now but will grow much bigger in a few months.

Edited by Hiroyuki (log)
Link to comment
Share on other sites

gallery_22892_5869_28739.jpg

We opened with a nigiri sushi of salmon.

One more thing:

The piece of sushi looks more like temari zushi than nigiri zushi.

Images of temari zushi

As you may know, only sushi chefs, who have trained for years, can make decent nigiri zushi.

Edited by Hiroyuki (log)
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Here's a website for Tazuru Annex with descriptions of the various multi-course menus.  In case you want to review.

Thanks, Anpanman!

But my Japanese would have to be a lot better (my kanji in particular is almost non-existent). :sad:

I couldn't find an English version, just some pointers to the ryokan itself.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

One more thing:

The piece of sushi looks more like temari zushi than nigiri zushi.

Images of temari zushi

As you may know, only sushi chefs, who have trained for years, can make decent nigiri zushi.

So, from what I read, temari are small balls made of leftover cloth as children's toys, and the temari zushi are meant to reflect that in a playful manner?

Does that sound right?

They actually remind me of what my friend's family would make when I was a kid, with all of us sitting around the kitchen table and clumping the seasoned rice together, then topping with whatever was at hand (usually salmon).

But that was a long, long time ago........ :smile:

Link to comment
Share on other sites

March 20 – Searching for Gundam

As night had fallen upon us as we finished our meal, I’d noticed the lights to the East.

At night they’ve been lighting up the temples in the Higashiyama (eastern mountain) area.

In particular, there’s one vertical beam of light rising up from the Chion-In that, no matter how I try to shake it, makes me think of Gundam.

I’m just that way.

First, before setting into the night, the boy’s sugar levels needed to be stoked.

gallery_22892_5869_35484.jpg

And the best delivery system for this is ice cream.

Yeah, I know, we’re heathens.

Dazed in a sugar rush, I was able to lure him out to the hills. We took the train up to Shicho, and from there walked up through the tangle of clubs and pubs that have a hold on the lower street, before spilling you out on the elder side.

gallery_22892_5869_5427.jpg

And so we found ourselves at at Yasaka Shrine, the crowds just departting from the shows that we’d missed.

gallery_22892_5869_35290.jpg

The food vendors were just scrubbing up and closing down

gallery_22892_5869_41252.jpg

Quiet, and it had that feeling of the early part of Spirited Away, but in reverse, as the lanterns and lights extinguished, leaving just the lanterns illuminating the trees and buildings.

I was quite comfortable with this. The feeling of abandonment, just the lights left still holding out against the dark, while the temple buildings fell back into the black.

gallery_22892_5869_36709.jpg

It was a long walk from there, as I took us up into the hills to Chion-In, where I did find the Gundam light. And then I took us down the hill to the North.

gallery_22892_5869_9733.jpg

That wasn’t the wisest move. I ended up getting as far as the great red gate by the Kyoto National Museum of Modern Art when the Boy’s sugar induced stupor started to wear off, and he realized that we were nowhere near a computer or television.

It wasn’t pretty.

But, finally, with much grumbling from the lower ranks, we returned home and had some snacks.

gallery_22892_5869_5754.jpg

So, an evening snack for the boy and I as we settle into some anime. Some crackers wrapped in nori from the little shop around the corner. Some sake (which one is this, can anyone make it out?), dried fish, and Pocky.

Gotta have Pocky.

What’s the Japanese for the salted fish? These were very much like the ones we’d eat in Korean meals, but not as salty (at least not these ones we had).

And there was time for a bath. I love Japanese bathtubs.

But more on that later.

Next: Temple Fair Time, or a Fair Time for Temples

Link to comment
Share on other sites

One more thing:

The piece of sushi looks more like temari zushi than nigiri zushi.

Images of temari zushi

As you may know, only sushi chefs, who have trained for years, can make decent nigiri zushi.

So, from what I read, temari are small balls made of leftover cloth as children's toys, and the temari zushi are meant to reflect that in a playful manner?

Does that sound right?

They actually remind me of what my friend's family would make when I was a kid, with all of us sitting around the kitchen table and clumping the seasoned rice together, then topping with whatever was at hand (usually salmon).

But that was a long, long time ago........ :smile:

Yes, it kind of sounds right, because temari is te (hand) + mari (ball). To make temari zushi, you usually use wet cloth or plastic wrap. Making nigiri zushi requires more careful handling of the shari (vinegared rice).

What’s the Japanese for the salted fish? These were very much like the ones we’d eat in Korean meals, but not as salty (at least not these ones we had).

Salted = Shio zuke (pickled in salt) 塩漬け

Fish = Sakana 魚

Thus,

Shio zuke no sakana

塩漬けの魚

or

Sakana no shio zuke

魚の塩漬け

should be OK. But, we usually say things like

Shio zake or jake (salted salmon (not sake or shake)

and

Shio dara (salted cod) (not tara)

using specific fish names.

Forty years ago, when I was a kid, everything was saltier than it is today - fish, pickles, miso, umeboshi, just to name a few.

Some sake (which one is this, can anyone make it out?),

Sorry, I can't make out the last two Kanji.

Koto no 古都の (Old capital's) something.

Strangely, sake brand lists don't contain a brand that begins with Koto no.

Here's one list (Japanese only)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

When we’d been at Tazuru Annex the night before, the question of eating had arisen. Hitomi had suggested that it could be well worthwhile to stop by the Kobo-san market fair being held over at To-ji the next day.

I’ve always enjoyed the fairs in Thailand, and, given that I know I’m in big trouble when I get back home if we haven’t done something cultural, I figured this would be another facet of Japane that Scud could have as a keepsake (“Why don’t you just buy me a new PS3 game?”).

Our trip this morning took us to two famous towers.

gallery_22892_5869_20032.jpgThis was the first, which we passed by as we cut through the train station…..

gallery_22892_5869_1051.jpg

And this was the second.

The To-ji has one of, if not the tallest, pagodas in Japan (at least made out of wood). It definitely makes it easy to navigate by. This is actually called the Kyo-o-gokoku-ji, but everyone knows it as the Eastern Temple, as it was one of two flanking the Rashomon, the gate to the Heian capital. That reminds me to go and reread my Akutagawa……

Like most of the buildings in Kyoto, the original structures have been razed and rebuilt numerous times, with most everything except the Lecture Hall dating only from the early 1600’s. The lecture hall is probably the oldest thing standing there (even older than me), dating back to 1491.

gallery_22892_5869_66627.jpg

The shops start up on the street outside, with places like this selling candied ginger on the left (and what’s that on the right?)

gallery_22892_5869_4525.jpg

And then we found goldfish! Scud wasn’t with us in Korea at the market, so he’d never seen these. That meant I had to buy some.

gallery_22892_5869_32670.jpg

Bean filled waffle thingies in the shape of a fish....Scud was slow with the camera…..yeah, I did let him have some, too. I'm getting soft in my old age (and no comments on that from you, Rona!)

gallery_22892_5869_29356.jpg

But then Scud spotted oden and had to try those.

gallery_22892_5869_14715.jpg

I’m ambivalent towards this stuff, but I know Yoonhi and the kids all love it. Who am I to interfere. (But it's just fish cake to me)

gallery_22892_5869_8658.jpg

I was more interested in this stuff for sale just at the gate to the temple grounds.

And from there, you’re in. Market fair time, and tent after tent of…..well…..stuff.

It’s billed as an “antique market” running on the 21st of each month. I’m not certain how “antique” a lot of the stuff is, but, hey, if there’s a seller and a buyer, then we know that capitalism is assured of a safe tomorrow.

gallery_22892_5869_41463.jpg

Here’s a picture of me, but without Rona, unfortunately.

gallery_22892_5869_354.jpg

Along with the “stuff” there was plenty of food on sale. Mushrooms were popular items, and I was sorely tempted to buy some, but then slapped myself into reality. I wasn’t going to get around to cooking anything.

gallery_22892_5869_46537.jpg

But they sure were pretty.

gallery_22892_5869_70771.jpg

And it was a pretty good crowd out there. Yes, there were more than enough tourists. We even saw our next door neighbors from the apartment (they were in Kyoto for a month).

Yup, a nice little market, with all sorts of antique treasures available to the discerning buyer.

gallery_22892_5869_11598.jpg

All under the auspices of the Shingon Buddhist sect.

gallery_22892_5869_40364.jpg

I do wonder at times…….

gallery_22892_5869_19140.jpg

What is this guys selling?

gallery_22892_5869_23945.jpg

And this woman? Is this the same stuff? She had little bags of what almost looked like candy down below called “okota” but I can’t find a translation on that.

I’m getting into one of those translation dependency things, aren’t I?

I think one of the problems is that the Kansai has a lot of their own terminology for things, and my Kwanto based dictionaries aren’t going to do much of a job for me, are they?

gallery_22892_5869_17139.jpg

There were more goldfish for sale (beware, you want them hot, you don’t want the cold ones sitting out there). These, I know what these are at least.

gallery_22892_5869_31363.jpg

And, of course, there was takoyaki.

gallery_22892_5869_49328.jpg

and where there’ takoyaki, there’s going to be okonomiyaki.

gallery_22892_5869_37519.jpg

gallery_22892_5869_57109.jpg

Yeah, I’m hopeless. What are the signs saying here?

gallery_22892_5869_48034.jpg

At least I could figure out that this was a foot massage, which we were beginning to think we needed.

gallery_22892_5869_64048.jpg

Inside the lecture hall (where we weren’t allowed to shoot) there was not only a beautiful selection of old Buddhist statuary, but they were also holding a display of photography by Yoshimitsu Nagasaka. Some beautiful compositions from a native of Koyasan (which I wouldn’t get to on this trip….I know my limitations). Nagasaka’s work really is striking. The woman at the counter pressed two cards on me, advertising a current show in Carmel, California, Weston Gallery, so if anyone reading this is in that neighborhood before the 27th of April, I’d suggest you drop in.

gallery_22892_5869_37125.jpg

Outside we found more antiques, dried fruits, and stuff. Scud perked up at the sight of dried mangos, a taste he’s had since a baby.

The only problem was that the price being quoted was for 100 gm amounts, not kilos. He looked at the paltry few pieces he’d received for his 600 yen, and grumbled.

Spoiled youngsters.

gallery_22892_5869_24635.jpg

gallery_22892_5869_11535.jpg

gallery_22892_5869_34466.jpg

Mushrooms, again. Japan is a hobbit’s dream.

gallery_22892_5869_48050.jpg

The dried fish looked good, too, but we still had some back in the room to finish off.

gallery_22892_5869_16449.jpg

We were tempted to get some turtles for snacks, but we got the impression this would be frowned upon.

gallery_22892_5869_70888.jpg

I think these are more of what Hiroyuki had earlier identified for me as kaitenyaki, what he had known as obanyaki when he was young. The link he’d given is herehttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Imagawayaki

describes it as a dessert often found at festivals, which fits this to a “T”. Like the Wiki article says, the traditional sweet azuki bean paste is commonly superceded by modern upstarts.

My particular upstart had his with chocolate.

Not bad. Not bad at all.

(The link also notes that the term kaitenyaki is in general use in the Kansai and down through Kyushu, while obanyaki is in more general use…..so everything fits…..it’s a mighty big “T”).

But, you know, whether you know exactly what you’re looking at or not, there’s just a pleasant happy feeling to milling about in a crowd looking at what is, really, a giant flea market.

gallery_22892_5869_42946.jpg

Especially when we’re finally not being rained on.

But, after a couple of hours here, it was time to get a move on. We walked back towards Osaka station, taking just a half hour to drop in on a book/DVD store en route, noting down titles we needed to check out - like Cromartie High, Karas, Garden of Sinners, and High School of the Dead.

We’re a cultured family.

Yoonhi’s not reading this, is she?

gallery_22892_5869_46153.jpg

At the station, I remembered one of the eGullet threads had recommended the karakatsu place up here. We checked out the map of this high-tech marvel (which also boasts an Osamu Tezuka World in the Theatre Zone).

The station is beautiful. Lots of steel and glass, and we found words that were guaranteed to warm my heart.

gallery_22892_5869_36911.jpg

“Eato Paradisu” how could I not be drawn?

gallery_22892_5869_16947.jpg

Up there we found the fabled tonkatsu. (I love the plastic food in the windows. It allows me to sit in peace while the boy has to go out and do the ordering for us).

I ordered the hirobaku, and Scud the fillet. Both looked about the same (mine was bigger), being simply a massive delivery of fried pork to the system (“massive” for Japan, at 200 gm, hardly a blink of the eye to a South American).

Being ignorant, we couldn’t quite figure out the etiquette of dealing with our sauce. Our orders came with toasted sesame that we were to grind, and then mix with the sweet or spicy sauces that came on the table (and a third container for the shredded cabbage). So we happily pulverized our sesame, then scooched some of it out into what turned out to be our rice bowls to add the sauce.

We of course covered up this gaffe once we realized by scooping the rice into the bowl. The trick is to be nonchalant about such things. After all, no one’s going to be watching either of us, are they?

gallery_22892_5869_61094.jpg

As a piece of deep fried pig meat, it was a fine specimen. In retrospect, I probably would’ve preferred the fancier (and cheaper) versions like I’d had before, with different stuffings wrapped in. But, at that moment, this is what I wanted.

One of the things I like in tonkatsu places I’ve been to in Japan is the metal lattice for the fried product. This ensures that any remnant oil drains away, and that the product stays crisp and ready to eat.

It’s all in the details.

And, unfortunately I have the video, but no still, the rice was laden with barley. This had me thinking of home, when Yoonhi puts barley into our rice, giving that contrast in texture that I so enjoy.

How many weeks have we been away?

Next: mo’ of the culture thang

Link to comment
Share on other sites

And then we found goldfish!  Scud wasn’t with us in Korea at the market, so he’d never seen these.  That meant I had to buy some.

Scud is in Vancouver, right?

He can pick up (the Korean version of) taiyaki at Hanareum Market in Coquitlam and downtown. I think I've also seen them at some Chinese food courts in the Lower Mainland.

Edited by sanrensho (log)
Baker of "impaired" cakes...
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Scud is in Vancouver, right?

He can pick up (the Korean version of) taiyaki at Hanareum Market in Coquitlam and downtown. I think I've also seen them at some Chinese food courts in the Lower Mainland.

Ha! Scud wishes he was in Vancouver. For now he's consigned to the wilderness of the Island, with only the occasional conjugal visit allowed to his PS3 and comic collection at his grandmother's place in Kits.

But, it's good to know there's a place in Coquitlam for when Yoonhi and the Girl are back this summer.

Note: edited to stop using up real estate on reposting my own pictures.

Edited by Peter Green (log)
Link to comment
Share on other sites

 Share

×
×
  • Create New...