Late start to the day, but while I was having my coffee I discovered that there was another antiques market this week end. This one was at Gokoku-Ji shrine and not a big one, around 30-40 vendors.
There were a few things that piqued my interest and of course the first thing I really liked ended up being the one I bought after checking all the stalls.
Things that piqued my interest: Tetsubin, prints, glass ware, tea cups(real tea ceremony type ones), obi, ceramics, lacquer ware, mizusashi of many types. Almost bought a furogama but didn’t have enough cash on me poor man I was only Y3000 short.
What did I buy I hear you ask. A beautiful Lacquer vase with gold cranes on it. Of course the first time I saw it when I walked past the vendor’s store I thought to myself “That is going to be out of my price range”. When I did venture back on my way out I asked and was shocked when the vendor told me Y1800 (about A$20) I almost fell over(thank goodness I didn’t I would fallen on lots of things). So I said yes very quickly.
The other thing I bought was a little drawing of pine branches. I don’t know why but I have this thing for Japanese pine trees and the shapes they take. I love Ukiyo-e art but this really caught my eye today. Cost the princely sum of Y500. The framing will cost a lot more unfortunately.
And then at a loss for where to go next (especially seeing as it was 230pm) I settled on Kappabashi Dori, or as I call it the street of temptation. I spent a few minutes calculating the trains I needed to take and then had lunch. Nothing exciting so no photos, just a Korroke bun and melon pan washed down with a glass of sparkling.
Back on the train and around to Inaricho for the short walk to Kappabashi Dori. Along the way is a tiny, crammed little store selling all kinds of things. I spied two furogamas, the smaller of which really caught my eye, because you know, pine branch decoration on it. I waited for the lovely old lady to finish with another customer and managed to ask her how much. The second time in one day I almost fall over in disbelief: Y5300!!! I am naturally going to go back, just have to work out how to get it home first. The weight is the main issue. Might see about sending it home via slooowww post.
As it was getting late and a lot of the shops were soooo busy, I only stopped in a few. I did manage to get 2 bowls to match some I had bought on another trip, 6 glass plates (which are so well wrapped you wont get to see them), and two pretty white ceramic dishes to match ones I bought last year. I have to go back as I had so many bags today I was scared I would knock things over. I tell you that street is just full of temptation.
I took time to factor in my travel back to the hotel and went to track two when I should have gone track one. Silly gaijin tourist moment. But all good in the end, went to the end of the line walked to track 4 and was back on course.
I did go for a nice dinner but will post that separately.
It is meant to rain all day tomorrow so the antique market at Yoyogi will most likely be cancelled but you know these weather forecasters they can be a bit off some times. Might be lucky and have a sunny day instead. Fingers crossed.
Thanks for dropping by!!
Waking early I headed down stairs for a Japanese style breakfast buffet, checked the weather forecast, partly cloudy, high of 33 Celsius with high humidity expected. Back in the room I made sure my cameras were in order(empty memory card and fully charged) then it was out in to the wilds of Ginza and a short walk to Shimbashi Station via Doutor Coffee Shop. Even though I had a coffee at breakfast I really needed a cappucino…oh and a Mont Blanc while I was at it.
Over breakfast I had decided I really wanted to revisit Omiya to see the Bonsai Village again. Platform 6 at Shimbashi is the one required for the JR Keihin Tohoku line. Takes close to an hour, but it is fascinating watching the city go by and then before you know it you have left Tokyo Prefecture and crossed in to Saitama Prefecture. At Omiya you need to change trains for the Tohoku Main Line and go two stops to Toro station. When changing at Omiya you can go to the information booth for a map and guide pamphlets before getting onto the next train.
First stop was the Omiya Bonsai Museum.
Each season sees a change of displays inside and out. This time I saw a fascinating display of Bonseki, the art of creating landscapes on black enamel trays using sand, pebbles and small rocks. Unfortunately unable to take photographs but here is a link (Wiki Bonseki ) for more information. Suffice to say for me it was something new to discover. Out side the display had changed from my last visit and I was able to get photos and video of the whole outside display from the up stairs viewing balcony.
Some of these bonsai are very old and a lot larger than what we generally expect bonsai to be.
Then it was off to the bonsai nurseries, fairly easy to find when you have the guide map. there are 5 all up and none allow photographs when you visit. Below are the entrances to two that I visited.
Seiko-en, Shoto-en, Fuyo-en all sell bonsai supplies as well as bonsai of all different sizes. I was looking for some planters this year and even though there was a great range of new and used planters nothing really grabbed my eye.
I also stopped in to the second hand shop I found last year and had lunch at the little restaurant across from it, having the same meal as last year, kari raisu (カレーライス). Delicious lunch again. I also bought some more tea related items: wooden natsume (tea caddy), chawan (tea bowl) and a futaoki which has dual purpose, to rest a lid on or to rest the hishaku (bamboo water ladle) on.
Then it was a short walk to Omiya Koen Station and the journey back to Tokyo. I decided to pop in to Kappabashi Dōgugai and do a little kitchen ware shopping. On my list were some plates to add to ones I bought last year, some glasses to match one I bought last year and what ever else caught my eye. I have been to Kappabashi Dōgugai many times now but some how managed to miss this statue of a Kappa.
Then it was back to the hotel via a noodle shop and an early night after all that walking.
Stay tuned for day two where I visit (quelle surprise!) two historic gardens, Koishikawa Kōrakuen and Rikugien.
And just like that we had reached the end of our time in Tokyo. Our flight wasn’t until 10pm swhich left us plenty of time to wander around Ginza and do some final shopping. A bonus was that the Oedo Antique Market was on at Tokyo International Forum, a short walk from Ginza next to Yurakucho Station.
After checking out and leaving our bags at the hotel we headed to Starbucks for some caffeine fortification as it was quite a chilly morning.
We walked over to Ginza to do a bit of souvenir hunting. A couple of classic cars drove past us and wwe worked out that there was a classic car rally on.
As we walked along we saw some people lined up at booths every couple of corners but couldn’t work out what was going on. Thought it was to do with sweets as there was a photo of a wagashi on the display poster. Later in the day we realised they had been selling tickets for tea ceremonies, which were being conducted by Geisha and Maiko from Shimbashi/Ginza area.
The antique market was fabulous. I thought the secondhand shop in Omiya was wonderful but the market really had me itching to buy. I ended up with another 5 obi. My idea is to use them as seasonal art. There was an amazing variety of things to buy and had I space in my luggage I would have bought more. I really want to buy a second hand furo and kama(cast iron brazier and kettle) for preparing the water for matcha. Next trip less clothes in the suitcase!!!
After the market we walked back over towards the Kabukiza Theatre to a couple of shops selling food and products from other regions of Japan. I bought a lovely little cast iron statue from the Iwate region shop for my Uncle and Mum bought a cast iron bell for my niece.
Then it was time for our final lunch in Tokyo and we headed back to Chuo Dori and Ginza Core. We found a nice little restaurant in the basement and had a warming tempura don, served with miso soup and seaweed salad.
Then it was back out for a final bit of shopping and then the hotel to collect our bags before heading out to Haneda Airport for our flight home.
I had never been to Haneda Airport before so it was great to get there and experience it. Qantas direct flights between Sydney and Tokyo are now via Haneda, previously, direct flights from Sydney arrived at Narita. Depending on what time I wish to arrive in Tokyo I will choose between the two, morning arrivals are Haneda and afternoon arrivals are Narita, (with a stop over in either Brisbane or Melbourne).
I had a wonderful time showing Mum around one of my favourite cities and hope to get back to Japan with her for one of the flower seasons(she really wants to see the wisteria and iris seasons).
Thanks for dropping by!
Who doesn’t love the knock on the door from a delivery man. Today I received my new teapot that I ordered from Analogue Life, along with a sencha cup(tea cup for green tea) that I ordered as well.
This is a replacement one as the first one went to a new home.
I like this one as it has a square shaped knob on the lid which gives a bit more character.
The teapot is by Hisao Iwashimizu of Kukan Chuzo and is called Egg teapot. Obviously the name indicates that it has a slight egg shape. It is made of cast iron with an enamel interior and holds 300ml of green tea. It also features a delightful roughened surface that looks almost like the surface of the moon. It also has a removable mesh strainer which makes disposing of pesky tea leaves much easier.
Some of the best cast iron ware comes from Iwate Prefecture in Japan. I discovered Hisao Iwashimizu’s pieces on a show called The Mark of Beauty which airs on NHK World. It was a half hour episode about NambuTetsubin.
Not having much awareness about Japanese cast iron it was a fascinating show to watch. It primarily dealt with Nambu Tetsubin,which is the Japanese name for cast iron kettles. The kettles featured in the show are quite amazing, especially when you see the antique pieces.
The difference between cast iron kettles and teapots is that the kettles are not enameled on the interior where as the teapots are. The kettles are used for bringing the water to temperature and are able to withstand direct heat, and the teapots are purely for brewing the tea in.
Below is a link to a site that has some more information and videos:
My little sencha cup is by a brand called Sfera.
If you like Japanese homewares, kitchen utensils, ceramics etc I recommend Analogue Life. Service has been great and delivery very fast and reasonable.
Some time in the future I will buy a full size Nambu Tetsubin and a brazier for heating the water.
Thanks for dropping by!!
On the last day of our trip to Geneva, after I dragged Mr. CA4G to look at some posh cutlery, we came across Halle de Rive on Boulevarde Helvetique. A ‘covered market’, it was full of little individual shops/stalls selling all manner of edible deliciousness.
Upon entering our noses were joyously twitching with the aroma of many types of cheese. There were 3 cheese sellers, several boucheries (butchers) and poisonniers (fishmongers), along with fruitier (fruit and vegetable) and several charcuteries (smoked goods like bacons, hams and cured sausages etc).
You could buy the raw ingredients or there were also many ready to heat options available too. For example, cooked Nicaraguan lobster with a filling of Russian salad CHF25 per half (around AUD$35.60).
And many types of salads ready to go.
Civet de cerf (deer stew) in the front, caramelized chestnuts in the back and on the right vol au vents with a chicken, veal, ham, mushroom and veloute filling. Buy your filling, get the vol au vent shells and heat at home.
In the next photo is the chicken, poultry and game shop which also sold the fat of duck, chicken and goose, sausages, terrines and pates made from the birds and small game. There are signs for foie de lapin (rabbit livers), foie de volaille(chicken livers), terrine de canard(duck terrine) and terrine de volaille(chicken terrine) all with prices per 100grams. The brown tins in the front contain Terrine de lievre( hare terrine).
Here is one of the seafood sellers. Those huge prawns/shrimp at the front of the display came from the Atlantic side of the USA and were CHF80 (approx. AUD$114) per kilo. They were around 5cm across and were the largest prawns we had ever seen. They possibly weighed close to 200 grams each. I think they could be a bit tough though. Any salt water fish are obviously imported. There were several types of fresh water fish as well, mostly caught in the lakes and streams in Switzerland and neighbouring countries.
Boucherie, look at the size of those ribs!! Those sausages looked mighty tasty too. It would be nice to rent an apartment for a couple of weeks just to go shopping in this market so I could cook.
Charcuterie with pates, terrines, jambon(ham) amd petit terrines and pates en croute. Would have been perfect to grab some charcuterie items, cheese, bread and salad, then sit and have a picnic by the lake.
Our favourite section, one of the fromageries. So many types of cheese, it was a shame we didn’t find Halle de Rive on our first day in Geneva. Although I guess we might have bought too much cheese to eat. Choosing a cheese might have been hard too, so many types/varieties that we just don’t find here in Australia.
Most of the fruit and vegetables are local. All items have a country of origin and there were even some that had country and town/area of origin. Prices were quite high, you can see the melon on the left is CHF8 (approx. AUD$11.40) per kilogram, green plums(prunes) in the front CHF10 (approx. AUD$ 14.25) per kilogram. It makes me feel even luckier to live in Australia when I see price comparisons like that. Although I have to say you often see a larger array of varieties and often rarer varieties when travelling.
Behind the wall on the left is Bistrot Halle de Rive a restaurant where you could enjoy a meal before or after shopping. Or further along on the right is a coffee seller if you need a caffeine hit.
Hope you enjoyed a quick look at Halle de Rive, Geneva. Keep an eye out for more of our Geneva trip coming soon.
After getting the all clear from the dental surgeon that there was no problem, Mr. CA4G was in the mood for going out. With no real destination in mind, we headed in to Newtown for a walk. Our feet however knew where to head and we found ourselves at Bench Wine Bar.
We haven’t been for some time and were pleasantly surprised with the few changes that Robyn has made. The most welcome change was the addition of an eco fire. Feeling the winter chill we got the closest table to the heat.
We couldn’t really make up our minds as to what we felt like drinking so trusted Robyn to make a selection for us. I think she knows we like our Californian wines and suggested we try the Seghesio Sonoma Zinfandel from the 2012 vintage. Zinfandel is not a wine we have had a lot of experience with, but as the evening progressed the flavours and aromas really opened up.
The menu is still tapas style so we decided to start with four items and then see if we felt like more. Sadly we only took a photo of two of the dishes we ordered, arancini balls and prawn dumplings. All items ordered were fantastic as usual.
If you are in need of a beverage and something to eat while escaping the winter chill, head in to Bench Winebar in Newtown.
To round the weekend out we headed into the city for a bit of window shopping and catch up with some of our favourite boutique managers. One we have known for many years is Simon at Paspaley Pearls. It is always good to have a chat with someone you have known for some time, is passionate about their job and are willing to help you learn something new.
Our experience and knowledge of pearls is increasing thanks to Simon and the team at Paspaley Pearls in Martin Place. While looking and learning we also got to see (touch and try on) some fabulous pearls. The highlight was a strand of humungous pearls named ‘The Vivienne’ and worth over $1,400,000. This strand took many years to assemble. I never realized how heavy a strand of this size would be, probably 400gr or more.
We also held what is considered one of the most perfect pearls in the world. It has also been exhibited at The Smithsonian Institution along with other famous pearls. 20.4mm of pearly goodness.
Of course there is a culinary relationship with pearls as the Pinctada Maxima oysters are also used for pearl meat. The shells are also used for mother of pearl items including caviar spoons. Mother of pearl is the best for eating caviar as metal tends to react with caviar altering the flavour.
So after a wonderous afternoon of looking at pearls it was time for dinner. Our choice, Celestial Chinese Restaurant in Bligh Street in the city. You enter down a flight of stairs to a room with a very large Koi pond, bridge and pavilion. Tables are well spaced and the room a bit dated with an ‘80’s vibe.
Celestial is popular with the business brigade at lunch time and in the evenings some bus groups and locals in the know. The menu consists of Cantonese cuisine and the wine list has some very good vintage Australian wines.
We are creatures of habit when we dine at Celestial and always order the same things. Steamed scallops with black bean sauce, king prawns with house special chilli sauce, Mongolian lamb andfried rice with prawns and Chinese sausage. Sadly only one photo as we were distracted by the koi, scallops in black bean.
We also sit in the same spot everytime, in the pavilion overlooking the koi as they swim by and occasionally get excited and make a splash. A very relaxing way to enjoy dinner.
Thanks for dropping by!
During our trip to London last year we had a walk to Knightsbridge for lunch. As we were early we had time for a quick visit to Harrods. Talk about busy. Obviously it is now a huge tourist destination and not just a department store, so there were lots of tourists mixed in with the locals.
As it was so busy we only did the ground floor which also included the food hall. I remember watching the mini series A Woman Of Substance waaaaay back in the 1980’s and Harrods was used for Harte’s. So I finally got to see the real thing.
I have to say the food halls are amazing. So many original architectural details are retained. Each hall has a theme and tiles, painting and decor all represent what is being sold in the area of the hall.
Of course I saved the best till last. The Bakery OMG I think there were 16 types of donuts, about the same of croissant variations and just a mind boggling selection of breads. But we didn’t try as it was just before lunch and we didn’t want to ruin our appetites.
Of course we also stopped in to the wine department. WOW such an amazing selection of wines from all corners of the world. I was particularly interested in identifying wines from Burgundy that I had heard of, and checking out what Bourdeaux wines they had. Sadly no photos of the wines, but if you are ever in London make sure you head to Harrods.
Wandering around Piccadilly late one afternoon, we decided to have an early dinner and picked The Fountain Restaurant, in Fortnum and Mason. With a 300 year history, Fortnum and Mason have been supplying Londoners (and visitors) with a high quality selection of fresh produce, prepared food items and luxury goods of all descriptions.
Mr CA4G had lunch here way back in 2007 when on a business trip so we had to go so I could experience it. Wonderful attentive service, beautiful elegant room with lots of soothing pastel colours, crystal and mirrors. Furnishings were in medium woods with chairs in cream leather.
Mr. CA4G had beer battered fish and chips , which from memory was haddock. It was huge, didn’t even fit on the plate it was so long. The chips came ina Silver plated tumbler, mushy peas, tartare sauce and muslin wrapped lemon were on the plate.
I had a roasted chicken breast with bread sauce. Now it was fancy chicken breast as the growing location was specified on the menu, but silly me forgot to note it down. it was however very delicious and moist, and I enjoyed my first try of bread sauce.
Next time we visit London we will definitely head back to both Harrods and Fortnum and Mason for a better look around.
Thanks for dropping by!!
Seeing as our recent week in Tokyo was my fourth time there, I figured I should really make the effort to visit Tsukiji Fish Market. I especially wanted to go this time as soon Tsukiji will be history. In the next few years the Tokyo Metro Government will be relocating the market to make way for construction of a tunnel and highrise apartments in time for the Olympics in 2020. This seems like a sad thing to do to a market that is considered the beating heart of the worldwide spread of sushi culture and has nearly 80 years of history behind it.
A short walk from bustling Shiodome and Ginza, Tsukiji Fish Market is a bit scruffy around the edges and definitely showing its age. Set on around 50 acres of land the market has several distinct parts. The main auction area which is off limits to visitors, the trading floor where the restaurants, caterers and fish shops buy, which is open to the public after 900am, the fruit and vegetable market and the outer market where little (and I mean little) restaurants are located next to shops selling fruit and vegetables, knives, kitchen equipment, tea, seaweeds, pickles and many other food products.
It took 3 attempts for me to visit the market. Monday the market was closed for a public holiday, Tuesday I was very early and ended up being politely asked to leave as visitors aren’t admitted before 900am. Wednesday was windy but I made my way down again and got there around 1000am. Unfortunately most of the action was over, I think I should have gotten there at 900am. I was able to get a few photos of some of the amazing seafood available.
Boxes of fish ready to be picked up for delivery to restaurants:
Danger lurks everywhere within the market compound and pedestrians do not have right of way. Little pallet carts zip around so you have to constantly be on your guard or run the risk of being hit.
While I saw quite a few dealers with unagi, in various stages of preparation, I stumbled across a fishmonger with live eel in various sizes. The ones in the photo were about 5cm long, and squirming like mad. The fishmonger was in the process of changing the water when I took the photo.
Not only were there vendors of scallops, fresh and frozen out of the shell, there were crates of live scallops every couple of stores.
Something I have only really heard about but never actually seen was the horseneck clam. These are a clam that have a syphon that isn’t able to fully retract back in to the shell. Looking at some photos of them on google was an eye opening search, some of them get sooo big!
Whelks,abalones in many different sizes(little ones bottom right) and other varieties of molluscs abounded:
Hairy crabs all trussed up. I had seen another variety of these on TV but was amazed to see these ones up close. Such fine little clumps of “hair” all over them and such a pretty colour combination. These ones look like they have had a buzz cut, there are hairier ones in the ocean:
Of course, the ubiquitous Fugu was at the market, a little early in the season for them, peak season is late autumn and winter. I didn’t realise that fugu are now harvested after spawning in spring and moved to floating cages in the Pacific Ocean to grow to maturity. This is to protect the fugu population, nice bit of aquaculture. Fugu is the only food the Japanese Emperor is forbidden to eat, for his personal safety.
Live lobsters, these were not very big and I assume that the price was per kilogram:
These live ebi(prawns) were certainly jumping around in their baskets:
The fruit and vegetable market was also amazing to see. Have you ever seen one mushroom that costs around $70? I was shocked when I did the conversion to AUD$. Beside the big one are two trays with 7 mushrooms for around $60!!! Must be some fantastic tasting mushrooms!
If you look to the top right you can see some rather square looking persimmons. Square persimmons were in a lot of shops this year, even the local supermarket near our hotel had them. There are some trays of mushrooms in this photo for around $90, $120, $130 and $160!!!
Also in the fruit and vegetable section was a huge variety of baby flowers and leaves for garnishing, pine needles, gingko leaves and nuts, maple leaves and the cutest baby turnips. Everything is beautifully packaged and the one thing I regret not getting a photo of was a watermelon with a belt/handle woven from fibers of some kind. Most of the mushroom boxes were made of wood and then lined with straw.
Of course there was plenty of wasabi around too. Ordinarily I would have expected the price to be the same, however the price varies depending on the size and grade.
After doing your looking around, you can drop in to any of the little restaurants in the outer market for some super fresh sushi and sashimi or a nice piping hot bowl of noodles before doing a little shopping for some plates, knives, kitchen goods or matcha (green tea).
Should we get back to Tokyo next year and Tsukiji is still open I think I will visit again and time it a bit better to get a bit more of the action. I really enjoyed my visit and it was great to see seafood that I have really only heard about. If you happen to get to Tokyo before the market moves you really should drop in for a look around and if you are avoiding because you think fish market equals fishy smell, don’t worry the market is super clean and there is no fishy smell at all.