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The Other Japan - Amami & Kikaijima (+ Fujinomiya)


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We used the tourist transport service again for this excursion to Lake Tanuki to do some walking in nature. Took some time to reach the lake,  going through pine forests and quiet countryside. The walk was nice, the area was tranquil. There's one and only hotel next to the lake. During the walk we came across some elderly holidaymakers staying at this hotel. Some of them just stopped in front of us and laughed, then made a "you are so tall gesture" to the partner. They laughed again when we said "2 metres" (6'4"+).



Lake Tanuki is one of the spots to see Mt. Fuji "double diamond". The placed is packed with people and photography enthusiasts in late April/August.  English texts: "Around 20 April and 20 August every year, the sun rising from the top of Mt. Fuji shines like a diamond. It is more beautiful in April because the air is clearer".


A small shrine facing the lake. The guard cat: "thou shall not pass!"


A dozen men and their fishing rigs at the lake. The tip of Fuji was not visible. Saw someone with a big camera waiting for the clouds to move. They remained like this for hours.




A small lenticular cloud was forming on top of Fuji. It happens often enough, and quite massive sometimes.


Now you can see that lenticular cloud a bit better here.


Natto every morning.


Fujinomiya-style yakisoba is not well known in Japan, unlike other types of yakisoba. If you do an image search for "yakisoba" you'll see many big chunks of meat and other colourful stuff in it. Way too much meat in everything "Japanese", really. Mine had a couple of very thin slices of belly pork, the other plate was the same but with one extra ingredient, tiny dried shrimp.





The only noodle shop that was still open this late afternoon. Many people come here to try yakisoba from different shops at this "yakisoba centre".


After ordering you get a paper cup for this.




Some snacks we ate during the walk at the lake earlier. (Natural/unflavoured purple sweet potato crisps far left and cooked purple sweet potatoes far right.)


Fujinomiya gets lots of day trippers who come to visit the shrine and Mt. Fuji world heritage centre. These tiles are seen on roads that lead to those places.


Noodles on a cover? It does exist.



More new beers to try.







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We did a lot of walking today on another day trip, to Fuji city. Not too far away, maybe 30 minutes by a local train.


The city is called Fuji, you see "Fuji" on many things. This bus stop sign... notice the hat again.


Blue sign points to a tourist "food market" (very small with a few stalls specialising in rice bowl topped with a kind of tiny white fish). The markets or the food stalls here are run by the fishing cooperative.


Well-maintained fishing boats at the fishery cooperative food centre


We were passing through this part of town on the way to somewhere else. This is another Fuji train station, only Shinkansen (bullet trains) stop here. We did get off here when we took a Shinkansen from Tokyo and then a local train to our destination Fujinomiya.





Yes, towards Mt. Fuji. That's why we came here.


Covers in Fuji city




The tiny white fish are a Fuji speciality. Unfortunately, we didn't get to try the rice bowl with these fish at the fishery cooperative food market because it was either sold out (most popular food item) or the freshly caught fish were not in season. Dried or processed version of the fish is readily available in supermarkets.




At least there was a beer stall and a seaweed stall (I bought 5 packages to take home).


I went for the "India pale lager".  A strange tasting beer.


It was a Sunday and we walked in areas far away from the centre where there was strangely no restaurants to be found. Finally saw this ramen restaurant after many hours of walking. They only serve ramen and udon here.



A little spicy, in a very deep bowl.




Back at Fuji train station later but we missed the train and the next departure was an hour later. We decided to check out the centre, which was just outside the station. As soon as we came down to street level we saw something on a side street that looked like a beer festival happening. It was, a mini beer tasting event, only 5 breweries and their taps. We tried most of them but only one stall had the best stuff. This one!


A young man who was hanging round this booth much of the time started talking to us in English (but for more complicated thoughts he used his translation app, brilliant thing, worked very good). After having tried most of the beers from every booth I said to him I liked everything at this booth the most. High quality and proper craft beer. He started bowing profusely. Turns out he was an apprentice brewer and the beers I liked were his work. He just got hired by a craft brewery somewhere in Shizuoka. We exchanged emails. We have future plans to visit a couple of places in Shizuoka so maybe we will take him up on his offer to do a pub crawl there with him.


Only 5 beer booths.


I even tried an ESB (not cask dispensed).


I asked if I could get these 2 beers to take back to the hotel with me. They used 2 water bottles and filled them with the 2 brand new beers that were tapped here for the very first time.


Couldn't make it back in time so now we just had to join the queue, all the way at the entrance. Now inside in front of the udon maker.


Everyone watched and admired the efficient workers.


2 big sinks filled with cold water to shock the noodles. Strainers with big wooden handles and a bamboo scoop similar to a pasta scoop/server.


My dashi broth came out of this tap, boiling hot. You get the broth yourself, other add-ons such as sliced fresh green onions and deep-fried onions, ginger etc.




We both like udon but having tried several different versions the simplest is still the best. Just good noodles, good dashi and some fresh ginger.


With mince


This morning


And in the evening... Notice there's no photo of any special flavour such as seaweed, meat/fish etc. Calbee has a few of these that are flavoured with a soy sauce from a certain town or region.


Beer from a stall we tasted and liked in Fuji City.




Beautiful sight of Fuji again after a nice day out.



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We took the train to a rural town called Minobu. This small town of just a little more than 11 thousand people is the gateway to Minobu-san/mountain. Endless steep steps take you half way there, then a cable car ride to reach the top, where the temple complex is located. One would need an ultra wide lens for the photos made here, mine wasn't wide enough so I didn't take more than a handful.



In the old days it was a trail, now safe stone steps, albeit steep.





This is the spot where you could view Mt. Fuji. Unfortunately, the clouds didn't move at all the whole time. Oh well, nature owns me nothing.


Back in Fujinomiya the tip of Fuji was visible. Just got off the train and took this photo from the platform.


Earlier today. Miso aubergine for breakfast.




Dinner at an udon specialist. The few times we walked past it was packed so today we tried to arrive before the dinner crowd.




Most employees were women.


Everyone ordered this huge ball of onion tempura. We liked it but it was way too much/big.



More tempura


Ginger, nori, raw egg, and roe.


With mince


I wanted to try this monstrous thing but the partner would rather udon.


Fresh ginger


Beer and mochi.








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It's our last day in Fujinomiya already. Felt like a long time ago since the day we left home for this holiday. We spent this last day to wander round many neighbourhoods and tried to find views of Mt. Fuji.


There's a tiny shrine back there.


Living close to Mt. Fuji


We have read that the views were nice from the top floor at the city hall. At the city hall? We wanted to check that out. And indeed!


Seen from inside. There's a model of Mt. Fuji in the room.


Fuji and the town below. I held the camera outside one of the open windows to make this photo.


The local craft brewery was not open to the public when we were there but they were still brewing and selling to shops.


Street drain cover tries to blend in.


If something has this kind of shape it has to look like the town's most famous sight.


Fujinomiya's own yakisoba, and a photo of it is on every map board.


Also what we had for lunch, at the yakisoba centre. Different versions from 2 different shops.




Fresh udon for dinner.


With mixed vegetables


With grated yamaimo (Japanese mountain yam and king of neba-neba/slimy foods).


No idea it was squid or cuttlefish/meat ball until I ate it.


Used chopsticks to cut things open... This was meat ball.


Never eat tempura at home but love it here. Maitake, sweet potato and lotus root.


The last beers...






All the beers since we came to Fujinomiya.


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you take the most interesting trips.


thank you for sharing them with us.


do you know what the caption means on the picture with the three flower ?


do restaurants have ' life like ' models of the food being served 


or is that only in areas frequented by foreigners ?  is that no longer done ?

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Can't believe it's all over shortly! 3 and a half weeks flew by just like that. Now on train platform about to depart Fujinomiya. This is like my very first Fuji sighting after exiting the train, but it was dark then when I arrived. Locals waiting on the platform, like these 2 women in the photo, immediately stepped aside so I could make a photo of Fuji. (This time I included waiting passengers on purpose, though.)


Our final hours in Japan were spent in Yokohama. From here it's not too far from the airport anymore. We put our rucksacks in a locker at Yokohama train station and went in the direction of beer bars. (Today I learnt how to pronounce "Yokohama". The stress is on the second syllable).


Adventures in eating in Japan. Pizza with prawns and sweetcorn. (No, didn't go inside. Had to get to the beer bars.)


An unusually quiet alley in bustling Yokohama. We ate a quick lunch at another udon specialist here.


With tofu


With seaweed


It's a tiny shop. This udon noodle machine is 1/3 the length of the shop/kitchen.


We hit the beer bars after the udon. Many bars in Japan keep the beer kegs in a closet like this one. Sometimes it's also a glass "closet". I think because there's not much space, or no basement. And most bars serve warm/light meals.








Some people like sweeping views and grand vistas of landscapes. I rather like views of a long row of beer taps! Like this wonderful view before me.


On the walk back to the train station we dropped by a Vietnamese restaurant for a few Banh Mi to go. Unlike in the photo in their menu, what we got were a few strips of pork paste/cold cut. Could barely taste it. Northern Vietnamase run the place. (I ate good Banh Mi in Ha Noi.). Anyway, only found out when I opened the packages at the airport.


Speaking of airports, it always sucks to be going back to hell! But I must. Because then I can look forward to planning the next trips.


And thank you for reading along!

/Bowing slowly/



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Rotuts. Taking care of the neighbourhood's plants is encouraged.


People plant flowers by the roadside in some neighbourhooods.


Thanks! My year is full. More interesting trips (hopefully).

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15 hours ago, BonVivant said:

Adventures in eating in Japan. Pizza with prawns and sweetcorn.


More an adventure in eating in east Asia, I'd say. All pizzas in China come with corn, including the infamous durian pizzas. Domino's pizzas in Vietnam, too.


15 hours ago, BonVivant said:

(I ate good Banh Mi in Ha Noi.)


Mì too. But generally I find more sub-par bánh mì in the north than in the south. After all, they originated in HCMC / Saigon.


But back to Japan. Thanks for this whole account of your trip. Fascinating side of a Japan I've never seen.

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...your dancing child with his Chinese suit.


"No amount of evidence will ever persuade an idiot"
Mark Twain


The Kitchen Scale Manifesto

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All pizzas??? OK, I'm open to new ideas but this is ridiculous. :D


Check this out, saw it on my way to the pubs (in Yokohama). I had a peek inside, looked like a regular pub to me. Of course they serve the national dish. (www.wyvern.yokohama)




Thanks again, all!

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