Cooking Across 4 Generations

Using recipes collected from 4 generations of one family



Tokyo With Mum Day 2: Tea Ceremony And Kappabashi Dori

Our second day in Tokyo I took Mum for a special treat. I have never been to a Tea Ceremony so decided to treat Mum and myself to one. I had booked us in at Toko-an at the Imperial Hotel in Hibiya on the other side of the railway line from Ginza.

Toko-an is located on the fourth floor of the Imperial Hotel and we were not expecting to find the setting for the tea ceremony to be a replication of a traditional tea house. It was a very pleasant surprise. A huge bank of windows looked out to a lush garden as you walked along the stone pathway to the tea room.

The garden at Toko-an
The path to the chashitsu

After taking off our shoes we entered through the nijiriguchi( a small door that you need to crouch down to get through) and then into tatami floored room(4 1/2 tatami mats) and took our place seiza style on the floor.

To our right was the Tokonoma(scroll alcove) which featured a seasonal scroll and small arrangement of flowers.

Tokonoma: decoration of seasonal scroll and flowers
Close up of the flower arrangement

Across from us in was the sadoguchi which allowed the host access to the room and along from that the Furo(brazier) on which was placed the Kama in which the water is heated. A small table was to the side and on top were the Futa-oki to hold the kama lid, the Hishaku (water ladle) and the Natsume(lacquered tea caddy). Underneath was the Mizubashi holding cold water.

Tea ceremony equipment
Close up of the furo and kama

While the tea was being prepared we were given wagashi, a sweet treat filled with red bean paste. We ate half befor eht tea was prepared and then watched while one of our two servers performed the ceremony and the other lady explained the process.

Tea being prepared
Tea being prepared – adding some cold water to the kama
Tea and wagashi of autumn colours

I was quite prepared for the tea to be bitter but was pleasantly surprised to find it wasn’t. Can’t believe everything you read!  The tea served to us was Ujicha from Kyoto and does not have the bitterness of some other types of matcha.

Here we are enjoying our tea,not very elegantly seated. My cup had a depiction of pine branches and Mum’s had fans in autumn colours.

Trying to sit seiza style while having our tea.

Then it was back out in to the chill morning and over to Asakusa and Kappabashi Dori. After leaving the station we happened to stumble upon our second wedding of the trip. The first one was at Hama-rikyu Onshi Teien.

Wedding couple at Komagatado Temple, Asakusa

We only had a quick look in Asakusa as I knew we would be back on Friday with our guide so we pretty much headed straight to Kitchen Town.

We managed to find one of the Kappa statues. Google Kappa to find out more.

Kappa statue near Kappabashi Dori

Nearly a kilometre of shops all dedicated to different aspects of restaurant and hospitality trades. I have posted on Kappabashi Dori on previous trips so will just say I bought A LOT. Then back to Shimbashi via Tawaramachi Station which was another first for me as I have previously just gone back to Asakusa station.

Stay tuned for the next adventures where we catch our third wedding!!



Tokyo With Mum: Day One Hama-rikyu Onshi Teien and Ginza

Earlier in the year I was planning to go to Tokyo by myself. I knew Mum had a bit of annual leave accrued so decided to see if she would like to tag along, which she did. I got all our bookings arranged and then just had to count down to the departure date.

As I wanted to fly in to Narita we had to have a stop over in Brisbane on the way. By the time we got from the domestic terminal to the international and went through customs, we only had about 30 minutes before our gate opened. The flight was uneventful andmanaged to grab a little sleep as well as watch the latest Star Trek and Independence Day movies.

Waiting for our plane
Waiting for our plane

We caught the train from the airport to Shimbashi and then walked to Hotel Villa Fontaine in Shiodome.

After a good night sleep we went down for breakfast. Hotel Villa Fontaine serves a Japanese style breakfast andas it was quite busy I grabbed a table while Mum went for food first. I think she was quite lost with what to have until I came back with my tray. On offer was, meat balls(delicious) Tamagoyaki, pastries, rice, pickles, natto(nope, still haven’t tried it), 3 soups (including miso), cereals and fruit.

Our first day was clear blue skies and quite warm so a stroll through a park was first on our list. Hama-rikyu Onshi Teien was the grounds of a former Shoguns Palace. From the Meiji Restoration in 1868 it was a Detached Palace for the Imperial family until 1946 when it was taken over by the government of Tokyo and opened to the public.

Entrance to Hama-rikyu Onshi Teien
Entrance to Hama-rikyu Onshi Teien

There is a great deal of history within the garden walls and great care is taken in preserving the gardens. Two kamoba(duck hunting sites) are preserved and now make great spots for taking photos of wildlife with in the park. In the trenches leading to the kamoba we saw crabs and fish enjoying the tidal waters while ducks bobbed around on the outer lake.

Kamoba- duck hunting spot
Kamoba- duck hunting spot
Looking through an archers hole in the kamoba blind
Looking through an archers hole in the kamoba blind
Ducks bobbing on the lake
Ducks bobbing on the lake

There are three restored tea houses in the garden, two on the lake shore and one on an island in the middle of the lake accessed by three bridges.

Tsubame-no-ochaya - tea house in Hama-Rikyu
Tsubame-no-ochaya – tea house in Hama-Rikyu
Matsu-no-ochaya - tea house in Hama-Rikyu
Matsu-no-ochaya – tea house in Hama-Rikyu
Old and new all three tea houses and the Shiodome shkyline
Old and new – all three tea houses and the Shiodome skyline

We wandered around past the old wisterias trained over pergolas, along the river bank, past the fields that are planted to different varieties each season, we saw the last of the cosmos, past the Ume (plum) grove and around to the majestic 300 year old pine tree.

Mum by one of the bridges
Mum by one of the bridges
Old wisteria vines
Old wisteria vines trained over trellis pavilions
View of Kono-ji-shima
View of Kono-ji-shima
Garden patch planted to cosmos
Garden patch planted to cosmos
Ume grove
Ume grove
Kyu-Inabu jinja
Kyu-Inabu jinja

One of the most amazing trees in the garden is the 300 year old pine tree planted by the 6th Shogun Ienobu. The tree is majestically sprawls over its patch and due to its age many of the branches have supports to help them.

300 year old pine tree
300 year old pine tree

Then it was a short walk over to Ginza to have a wander through the shops and the fascinating back lanes.

Nissan caught our eyes with some concept cars they had on display. I put the Gripz on my Santa list and Mum put the IDS on hers.

Nissan concept car -  Gripz
Nissan concept car – Gripz
Nissan concept car - Gripz
Nissan concept car – Gripz
Nissan concept car - IDS
Nissan concept car – IDS
Nissan concept car - IDS interior
Nissan concept car – IDS interior
Nissan concept car - IDS rear
Nissan concept car – IDS rear

After a good look around we headed back to Shiodome for dinner and a good night sleep.

Stay tuned for more of our busy week in Tokyo!



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