Cooking Across 4 Generations

Using recipes collected from 4 generations of one family

Day 9 Tokyo 2018: Yasukuni Shrine, Aoyama, Meiji Jingu, Za-Watami Dinner

My final full day in Tokyo was grey and dull with a chance of showers but still quite warm. That was not going to stop me making my usual last day visits to Yasukuni Jinja and Meiji Jingu.

First stop though was a coffee and muffin at Dean and Deluca under Yurakucho Station to get me going.

Coffee and muffin Dean and Deluca Yurakucho

I love seeing the ikebana displays at Yasukuni Jinja, they are always quite spectacular and seasonal, although hard to photograph through glass.

Yasukuni Jinja Ikebana Display
Yasukuni Jinja Ikebana Display

After paying my respects at the shrine, I wandered around to the koi pond behind the main shrine building. There is a vending machine to buy food for the huge koi that inhabit the pond. In front of the shrine there is always a letter from a soldier, printed in Japanese and English, they are a reminder that they were just men who were separated from their loved ones. Letters to mothers and wives are the hardest to read.

Yasukuni- jinja Haiden with Hinden behind
Pond Yasukuni Jinja
Koi feeding frenzy

Depending on the season you will often find floral competitions/displays at temples and shrines sometimes there are also plants being sold. I happened to be at Yasukni Jinja for an Iris display, so pretty and a shame I couldn’t buy bulbs to bring home.

Iris display Yasukuni Jinja

On my way out I walked behind the Irei no Izumi (Soul Comforting Spring) memorial dedicated to those who suffered or died from thirst during battle situations. At the rear of the sculpture are stones from various battlefields of WWII.

Irei no Izumi (Soul Comforting Spring)
Rear of Irei no Izumi

After walking through the huge steel Daiichi Torii I took a short walk to Kudanshita metro and hopped the train to Aoyama-itchome. This was not the station I needed to get out from but I ended up having a nice walk back to Aoyama/Omote-sando. Even discovered a little festival with food from different areas of Japan, I opted for a burger which featured regional pork and a glass of Japanese white wine.

Daiichi Tori
Festival Burger

After visiting the ceramics shop at the main intersection of Aoyama/Omote-sando for some Kenzan, I headed back across the road and up to Meiji-Jingu.

Walking in to the park is so refreshing in the heat. Wide paths lead around the park to the Shrine, up past the tributes of wine and sake through the Torii and on to the Shrine. They were still replacing the copper roof shingles which Mum and I saw part of in 2016. This was being done ahead of the 100 year anniversary of the dedication of Meiji-Jingu  in 2020.

Then it was back to the hotel for a quick rest and then on to dinner. As it was my last night I had a walk around Ginza and then checked out the restaurants under the tracks again. I found Za-Watami which looked interesting. Quite a large restaurant stretched out under the tracks, multiple dining areas with a selection of seating options.


I ended up being seated in a small bar area with two groups of ladies either side. The waiter poured sake for the ladies to my right, and he kept pouring, the glass over flowed in to a bowl that the glass was sitting in. I learnt that this is Sosogi-koboshi, there are many reasons for doing this, and the practice seems to have gained popularity after the WWII. Naturally I had to try it, bit difficult to drink and I have since learnt there are several ways to imbibe the generous pouring.

Sake done in Sosogi-koboshi pour

Thankfully the menu was in Japanese and English with handy photos as well. I was quite hungry and ordered, Blue Fin Tuna sashimi, chicken Kara-age, Lotus root and Burdock chips, chicken and leek skewers, gyoza. There were several things such as horse sashimi that had me doing a double take. But dear reader I ride horses I don’t eat them.  

Chicken karaage and blue fin tuna
Lotus root and burdock chips
Grilled chicken and leek skewers

After dinner a farewell stroll through Ginza before heading back to pack. Last night in Tokyo is always a sad night.

Day 8 Tokyo 2018: Tsukiji Market, Omiya and Shimbashi After Dark

The weather was a bit iffy in the morning and by the time I walked over to Tsukiji Market the heavens opened. With the heavy rain coming down I decided to keep my visit to the outer market. After wandering around I bought myself some new knives, a Yanagiba and a Deba. I also bought a super fine mesh skimmer,which had mesh finer than I could get at home.

Yanagiba and Deba from Aritsugu at Tsukiji Market

The rain cut my visit short so I dropped my purchases at the hotel before hopping the train out to Omiya.

I had planned on eating at my usual restaurant but when I entered  I thought I had gone to the wrong place. All the retro kitsch was gone and the lovely old people who ran it were nowhere to be seen. The new owners are a very pleasant couple of similar vintage to myself. Gone are the olive green banquettes and no more Karaoke. The place has been given a new life and a new name. I had my usual, Kari Raisu, served with a small salad with a cheese croquette, crumbed fish and miso soup. A small chocolate marquis and tea was also served.

Kari Raisu, cheese Korroke, miso soup
Chocolate marquise and tea

Then it was time to hit the second hand shop across the road. By now the rain had finished and blue sky was peeking through the clouds.

Note to self: big suitcase must be practically empty when departing Australia. You would think I would have learnt by now wouldn’t you. It was 13kg when I checked in at Sydney, but obviously I need to put less in it next time. Or fly Qantas over and JAL back( 2 x 20kg suitcase with JAL).

After a first walk through, I picked out a set of lacquered fan shaped serving plates, some fabric offcuts, two white and blue plates and two little chawan with lids. I paid for my purchases and then while waiting for them to be wrapped I spied a bronze vase with a frog on it. The body of the vase is matte and the frog has been polished, umm it sort of jumped in to my hands. I couldn’t pass it up. So that was a successful expedition, although I was hoping to buy a regular sized chawan or a mizusashi, I just couldn’t find any that spoke to me. Next time maybe.

Lacquer fan plates, Chawan, plates
Frog vase, bronze maybe?

Then back to the hotel again where I unloaded my goodies and headed out into unknown territory, the other side of Shimbashi Station.

I have only previously looked down from Platform 6 to the other side of Shimbashi, so this was a new adventure for me. The lights were all starting to come on as I arrived and people were starting to pour into bars, izakaya and restaurants as their week came to an end.

I strolled around ducking and weaving through the crowds taking photos here and there.

I found a whisky bar and headed up stairs to find 2 now rare bottles of whisky, The Hakushu and The Yamazaki 18 Year Old. At Y2400 per glass, the rarity factor was too good to pass up. I think I impressed the barman by ordering my whiskies straight with a glass of water on the side, of which I then put two drops in the whisky. Guess he was expecting me to go with onzarokku.

Moon Shine Whisky Bar
Yamazaki 18Year old
Interior, Moonshine Bar
Interior, Moonshine Bar

I decided to head back to the tracks and try my luck for some thing to eat. I found a great place downstairs, noisy, smoky and lots of activity.  Even though the menu had photos and I was happy to just pick and point they bought me an English menu.

I think I may have overdone it though. Pickled shallot, grilled chicken skewer with Ume paste, pork belly with negi, Mozzarella korroke, spicy chorizo skewer and karaage chicken. So much good food!! My drink of choice was plum wine with soda. A big glass came out which was quite surprising, I am used to a more genteel sized glass being served.

My mystery restaurant, no English name
Yakitori chicken skewer with ume paste and pork with negi
Mozzarella Korroke
Chorizo skewer
Chicken Kara age

With my hunger sated I waddled back out in to the night and the sad realisation that the next day would be my last full day in Tokyo, my Shiny town.

Day 7 Tokyo 2018: Nihonbashi, Ningyocho and Tamieke Sanno

I stayed a bit closer to Ginza today and headed to places I have never been before. Nihonbashi is home to the point where all distances in Japan are measured from. The current bridge is the 20th built in the same spot and the first to be built of stone, previous ones having been wooden bridges. The bridge now has a modern expressway built over the top of it which makes for interesting shots of the bridge and river.

It is also home to the big Department stores Mitsukoshi and Takashimaya. Yeah a girl can’t pass up a department store. Although I do skip the cosmetic and fashion floors and head straight for the homewares and kitchen wares.

Mitsukoshi Annexe

Then I spent time just wandering around getting a feel for the neighbourhoods of Nihonbashi and Ningyocho. I love a little bit of exploring. There were a few artisan shops around but I only found a knife shop, some nice ones too but my knife budget wasn’t ready to leave my purse.

On my way to the station I popped in to a shop selling sweets. I found a jelly sphere with goldfish shaped jelly set inside and an adzuki bean filled biscuit shaped like a fish. The jelly had a lemonade flavour and was not overly sweet. The biscuit was moist and delicious.

I then headed over to Hie Jinja to join in the festivities of Bon Odori. Had I done some due diligence before departing Australia I would have known that this festival started on the day I arrived. I would have seen the parade through the streets, people dancing and with the deities being paraded on floats to the Shrine precincts. Prior preparation really does matter.
I enjoyed some time wandering the grounds admiring the beautiful floats and watching some dancing.

Then it was time to eat as there were plenty of street food stands. My first pick to eat was Dango with a thick miso, soy and sesame sauce. YUM!! Sweet, salty and delicious.

I was able to enjoy the dancing while eating my Dango as the stand was right opposite the dance tent, which was full and dancers were continuing outside.  I might join the dancing next time (if I practice) as most of it is a short set of moves before being repeated. There are of course different dances for different songs. But they are all short sequences and repeat. Guess Aunty Google will help with that one.

Dancers, Hie Shrine

I then headed back to two ladies who were doing a roaring trade with their yakitori offerings. I just did a point and pick, you could have sauce or shio. At least Shio is one word I understand – salt. I chose sauce on my chicken skewers. Tasty, nice and moist. I followed that up with a pork belly skewer and a skewer with shishito chillies on it. Wow I wasn’t expecting the shishito not to have much spice to it. It was sweet like a capsicum and the grilling really intensified the fruity flavour it has. A drink like SLAT was a great choice, even though I could imagine a beer would be better. Do I really need to start drinking beer though?

To finish my culinary adventures I bypassed the grilled fish stand, the grilled squid stand, the fairy floss stand and headed to one selling toffee fruit. Not just apples but grapes, oranges and strawberries. Grapes were my choice and the crunch of the toffee as you bit in to the grape was fabulous. Now remember, grapes in Japan tend to be HUGE, so my 3 on a skewer was quite enough.

Back through the Shrine grounds, I headed to the station and back to the hotel. Must check festivals more thoroughly in future before leaving home.
Thanks for dropping by!! Stay tuned for the next post.

Day 6 Tokyo 2018 Go Climb A Mountain: Mt Takao

A bit of a late start again as I was trying to sort out the camera dangling issue before heading for Mt Takao. I eventually settled on a back pack that will house up to 3 lenses, my camera, purse, phone and for when I am going on the plane, passport, iPad and the usual detritus that can be found in my hand bag. Bonus it can also be carried as a bag with handles on top. No more fearing knocking things over in shops. Thankfully the BIC Camera store was close to the station.
I didn’t have to wait long for the next train and 55 minutes later I was at Takao-sanguchi. I was able to stow my Tory Burch in a locker and head off on my hike.
I chose route 1 being the longest path. I also discovered that the whole of route 1 is paved. The terrain is a bit easier but it is still steep. It took just over an hour and a half to reach the peak 955m above sea level. There are two more difficult routes but route 1 suited me fine.  While the paving was handy being a nice level surface it takes a bit fun out of hiking. Might use one of the other routes next time.

Apparently on a clear day you have a great view of Fuji-san from the peak. Sadly I will have to make a return trip as the day was cloudy and the mountain ranges in the distance were misty. From another part of the route up you can also get a view across to Tokyo.

There were several temples and shrines, trees with unique shapes and histories. Several stairs, lanterns, torii and much more. A spectacular walk.

There were plenty of signs showing the types of wildlife on the mountain, including monkeys. There is a monkey zoo with a breeding program but I stayed on the path rather than detouring. About halfway up are the cable car and chairlift stations, food and drink stalls. I was getting a bit peckish on the way back down so decided to try Dango. A skewer with balls of rice that are grilled and then covered in sauce. Oishii (delicious)!!!

For a bit of excitement I took the chair lift down. I have never been on one before and it was quite thrilling even though there was a level of danger to the experience. No belts or safety harnesses you just hold on to the edge of the chair.

A little walk around town revealed there is a optical illusion museum, where you can take some funky photos and a museum dedicated to the flora and fauna of the region. A lovely walk along the river took me back to the station.

After washing the mud off my boots and liberating my bag from the locker, it was back on the train to return to Tokyo, a glass of umeshu and soda and an early night.
Thanks for dropping by… pop back to see more of my exploring new areas (for me) of Tokyo.

Day 5 Tokyo 2018 Take A Hike

After breakfast I walked over to Shimbashi Station and caught the train out to Kamakura. Two reasons for going to Kamakura – hiking and Ajisai season. The temple at Hase-dera is well known for it’s Ajisai display so that was my destination after my hike.
The hike wasn’t a huge one about 3km but there was a small mountain involved.
After checking with the tourist office for the hiking routes, I really needed some caffeine as I didn’t have any at breakfast. The Delifrance at the station sorted that issue out fast.

Anpan and coffee – Delifrance Kamakura

I just missed one bus and the next one was a 20 minute wait. Naturally the clouds gave way to a perfect blue sky and I was standing in the sun for that time. My hiking gear for the day was a little on the unprepared side. Clear plastic umbrella, well there was a 50% chance of storms, no sunglasses and no hat. I did however have 2 cameras and 2 extra lenses. A Tory Burch handbag is not really appropriate for hiking either.
The route starts near Meigetsu-in bus stop on the north side of Kamakura not far from Lita-Kamakura station. Quite a pretty area. The path starts right next to the bus stop so access is super easy. There is a pretty little pond on the right and some Torii gates lead to Jochi-ji Temple.

There was also a small potter’s studio opposite the pond with some lovely wares.

The first kilometre is paved as it is also a road for local residents. The incline is fairly gentle at the start but later on gets a little steeper, but not too much. At about the half way point there is Kuzuharaoka Jinja,  with a pond to sit by, a shrine to pray for love, vending machines for a cold drink or snack and a picnic area. A nice spot for a little rest, get an oracle(in English) and break a small ceramic dish on a rock to cast away bad luck. Near by are some the graves of some important locals. Did I mention spectacular views??

Back on the trail there were some easy bits and some hard bits. I HATE wet clay, so slippery underfoot, but I stayed upright. One scary bit towards the end where you have a short, narrow, steep descent requiring you to hold on to a rope.

Then you hit the residential area in the hills with spectacular views across the town to the ocean, you can hear the waves breaking as you trek along. A stand of luscious bamboo with a sign “Caution Vipers” made me a little more wary. No way I was crossing to get closer to the bamboo. Kites were also flying above the tree line, hopefully on the hunt for vipers.

And then a steep descent down stairs bought me to within 300m of Kotoku-in, home of the Daibutsu. I went in quickly as there were so many tourists and I had visited with Mum 2 years ago.

Across the road from Kotoku-in I spied purple sweet potato ice cream. I missed out last year at Kawagoe so I was not going to miss out this time. Not as much sweet potato flavour as I was expecting, it was nice and refreshing after the hike.

I then made my way to Hase Dera bought my ticket and then was given a ticket for the Hydrangea Walk. Little did I know I would have a 30 minute wait to walk the path.  A numbered ticket system is used to put groups through, so there might be 100 people in the group. They also only allow so many per day to go through, as I found out as I was leaving when they announced the days allocation of Hydrangea Walk tickets had finished.
Now I do like Hydrangeas but what was here was different to what we have in Australia. Different colours and shades, different petal sizes, different shapes to the flower heads and even one that hangs its flower head upside down! My favourites were the ones lace caps, like a little fairy landing circle. I also like the ones that have the longer “pine cone” shape flower head. So beautiful to see a whole hillside covered in the bushes.

After a stroll through the rest of Hase Dera including the cave temple area, I returned to the station taking some local shopping streets for a bit of variety.

Back in Tokyo I had a late dinner at a local joint under the railway tracks between Yurakucho and Shimbashi. Renkon stuffed with mustard (hot English from the nasal burning), pork katsu and salad and two cups of refreshing umeshu on the rocks.

A tiring but fabulous day, especially as it turned out to be the sunniest day of the trip. It was also exciting to do another hike even if it was a short one.
Keep an eye out for the next post where I hike again.
Thanks for dropping by!!


Day 3 Tokyo 2018 Dinner at TY Bis


Day 3 Tokyo 2018 Dinner at TY Bis

One restaurant I do enjoy going to is TY Bis in Park Hotel Shiodome.
French trained Japanese chef Tateru Yoshino is behind the wonderful food that comes out of the kitchen.
The menu is very French and very delicious. There are two set course options as well as a la carte. I decided on the smaller of the set courses. I love how the set menus you actually get to pick which dishes you would like rather than preselected by the chef.
After settling in I decided a glass of Champagne was a good decision(when isn’t it?) and selected a glass of Deutz Champagne.
Amuse Bouche was a pair of light cheese puffs.

Cheese puffs for an use bouche

Bread was freshly made baguette and my second piece was pain de compagne. Both delicious.

Bread trolley

Weingut Heymann and Lowenstein reisling from Mosel went well with my soup and  entree, as it was a drier style of Riesling.
The appetiser was a fluffy beetroot foam over a set bouillon and caramelised onion.

Beetroot foam, Caramelised onion, gelled bouillon

Soup was a creamy mushroom that was light but full of flavour, several croutons hidden beneath the froth on top gave a nice crunch.

Cream of mushroom soup

Entree was pate en croute – pork and chicken meat with a bit of foil gras in the mix, served with cornichons and a tiny salad.

Pate en croute

Main I chose pork. This was served as a large croquette, with white asparagus, cabbage and morels. This was accompanied by Baron Phillippe de Rothschild Cabernet Sauvignon from the Pays D’Oc.

Dessert was chocolate Mille feuille, chocolate ganache, chocolate ice cream, chocolate plaque

Chocolate Mille Feuille

Coffee was served with petit fours of raspberry macaron and cannelle.

Raspberry macaron and cannelle

Another fabulous meal from this restaurant and I look froward to returning in the future.






Day 4 Tokyo 2018 Hotel Change, Katsudon and Noodles

Today was the day I had to change hotels. After scoping out the route I needed to take, the rain helped my decision to take a cab. It isn’t a big walk between the two hotels and would have taken 10 minutes tops. But the thought of wheeling two suitcases while holding an umbrella in the rain was a put off. Cab ended up not being as expensive as I feared.
Another bonus was although check in wasn’t until 3 my room was ready so I was able to go straight up.
The rest of the day was a relaxing day walking through the shops in Ginza.
For dinner I went to one of my favourite noodle shops. Usually one of the ladies will come and help, but this time they had an English menu and even though the ticket vending machine is all in Japanese I was able to match the Kanji that was with the photo with the Kanji on the vending machine. I was so proud of myself.

My most feared contraption

Most of the meals are a rice dish accompanied by noodles, either hot or cold. Hot comes in a bowl with broth, cold comes on a bamboo plate with dipping sauce. I chose pork katsudon and hot noodles. Three nice chunks of pork Katsu, simmered with egg, soy and broth then served over rice. In the photo the white lidded pot holds sliced shallot(scallions to my US readers), two types of shichimi, The little white pot had wasabi and pickled ginger in the red pot on the right. Perfect for a wet evening.

Katsudon, hot noodles

I also bought myself a can of sparkling wine. It wasn’t too bad, novelty value was certainly worth the purchase.

Sparkling wine in a can

Thanks for dropping by!!

Tokyo Day 3 2018 Pt 1 – Failed Antique Market Attempt

Today I had planned to hit the Oedo Antique Market at Yoyogi Park. I am guessing they got a message about the weather that I didn’t and it was called off.

On a good note though there was an Okinawan Festival on. Lots of Okinawan food and beverages. 3 stages with music or chats, demonstrations etc. So I decided to hang around as I have long been fascinated by Okinawa.

Stage ready to go

My first exposure to Okinawa was “the Karate Kid II”. Sadly only small parts of that movie were actually filmed there.

On the main stage they were gearing up for performances and when the rope came down I grabbed a seat. Shortly after music started and so did the traditional drums. So loud but so exciting. I am a little embarrassed to say that I was so excited my eyes leaked a little(ok quite a bit, happy and excited remember). The big dog/lion even bit my leg as he danced past.

Those drums and the performance were totally amazing.

I watched about 45 minutes before the drizzle stepped up the pace and then I wandered around the food area, tried a citrus cocktail drink, refreshing, then went decided to give taco rice a try. Followed later by an Okinawan doughnut.

Then I had a walk through Yoyogi Koen. Some parts were like walking through a forest, and the rain made it more magical. Despite the location this park is so quiet. Apart from the crows, they seem to keep telling me the same thing…..hurry up and learn more Japanese.

Then a stroll down Omotesando back to Aoyama. So busy in spite of the rain, I only bothered with 3 shops the whole length of the street.

The rain had picked up I took that as a sign to head back to the hotel. I managed to get a table for dinner at TY Bis one of the restaurants in the hotel. Stay tuned for my dinner report in Part 2.

Thanks for dropping by!!

Tokyo Day 2 2018 -Dinner at Dynamic Kitchen and Bar Hibiki

Many of the tower buildings around Shiodome (and Tokyo in general) have restaurants on the top floors. Caretta is one such building and it houses my dining destination for tonight. I have a feeling I have eaten here before, but it would have been way back in 2008, so memory is a bit fuzzy and I wasn’t blogging back then.

Exterior Dynamic Kitchen and Bar Hibiki

However, I decided I wanted to eat somewhere with a view and this restaurant certainly satisfied that wish. The front desk girl did however put a slight dampener on my first impression. I felt that had I been Japanese or other Asian I may have got a better response. For a restaurant that does get a lot of tourists, the lack of English was very off putting( as can be seen on reviews they get online). I was only able to sit at the bar, which considering the number of empty seats by the window was slightly disappointing,  it was also a smoking area. I am willing to put up with it if needed.

View from my seat at the bar. Looks out to Odaiba and Tokyo Bay, so close yet so far

After perusing the menu it took a while to be noticed by some one to have my order taken. Good thing I am not a pro reviewer. I chose a sashimi plate, asparagus and Shimanto pork jeon pancakes, Fukushima Prefecture Aizujidori local chicken, Sake lees cheesecake with ice cream. Drinks started with Alamos Extra Brut Sparkling(Mendoza, Argentina), Koshu Suntory Japan Premium(Yamanashi,Japan),  and with dessert Hibiki 17 year old( I know, again with the Hibiki).

Out first was a plate of appetisers, pickled turnip, spinach and ?, small miso with a pork meat ball in it.

Miso with pork meatball, spinach and ?, pickled turnip

Out next was the asparagus and Shimanto pork jeon pancake and the Aizujidori chicken, which came with a bowl of freshly ground sansho pepper. The chicken comes from Aizu and has a strong flavoured, darker meat. The cut was thigh with the skin on, sprinkled with a little sansho it was delicious. The pork came from the area around the Shimanto River which is in Kochi Prefecture on Shikoku Island,(google is my friend!).

Next was the sashimi, which was so good it didn’t have a fishy flavour. I know one was tuna but the others nobody stopped to tell me.

Sashimi plate for one

Dessert, well lets just say it was smaller than expected and quite unusual, holiday time things should be a bit unusual. Interesting flavour the two pieces were about 2cm square and that high. There was more ice cream than cheesecake. I know Japanese desserts aren’t  usually big but this was a little disappointing. What should have been the star of the dish was upstaged by the support act. The Hibiki 17 Year Old was again fabulous!! So smooth and luscious, coating the mouth well. Perfect!

Then it was time to head back to the hotel picking up a night cap of sparkling sake(ok I thought it was a Japanese sparkling wine….must learn more Japanese!!!). Pull cap on it so didn’t need a corkscrew, good bubble, pours cloudy, almost looks like cloudy ammonia but tastes and smells a whole lot better. Dassai Sparkling 50.

Thus ends my first real dining experience for this trip. If I had to give a rating it would be 3.5 out of 5.

Thanks for dropping by and stay tuned for tomorrows adventures, (if it doesn’t rain).

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