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Cooking Across 4 Generations

Using recipes collected from 4 generations of one family

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Travelling

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.
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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.
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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.
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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!!

 

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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).

Tokyo Day 2 2018 – Gokoku-Ji and Kappabashi Dori

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.

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My pine branch drawing

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.

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Bowls to add to the collection, the big one is navy not black on the rim

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!!

Tokyo Day 1 2018 – Nippori and Yanaka

While the idea of and early arrival is good in theory, the hours before check in to your hotel can be very long.

This year is the first time I have flown in to Haneda airport, in the past it has always beeen Narita. I was a bit worried about getting in to Shiodome from Haneda but truth be told it was super easy. Hop the monorail to Hamatsucho, short walk to Daimon Toei Oedo Subway station then Next stop Shiodome. Which meant I was at the hotel just around 630am.

Seeing as I had so much time, I jumped on the Yamanote line to Nippori, had a coffee and snack at a Tullys, then decided to check out Yanaka. I only spent and hour there but will need to go back for more exploring. It is currently Ajisai(hydrangea) season and I was amazed to see some different varieties in the street gardens.

I walked back to Nippori and its famous Fabric Street. A whole street. With 100 shops selling everything you could need for sewing. As I was too busy looking at shops I only got one photo. You could do a lot of damage to your purse here if you sew.

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Looking along fabric street before opening time.

After 3 hours it was time to give the feet a rest and head back towards the hotel for lunch prior to official check in. I found a little theme restaurant called Kaiju Sakaba, (monster bar)based on amonster from Japanese TV shows.  Think Ultraman and similar shows from the late ‘60’s and the ‘70’s. Delicious lunch and cute monsters.

Then back to the hotel where my room was ready. After a six hour nap, (I know right naps are short, but I only had about 2-3 hours sleep on the plane), I needed dinner. A quick walk to Ginza, where I enjoyed a Hibiki 17 year old whisky before grabbing a couple of items at a conbini for a light dinner, plus a little something for a night cap.

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Night cap – Asahi peach flavoured and Suntory grape flavoured, light alcohol beverages

And that wraps my first day in Tokyo.

Thanks for dropping by!!

Final Day

 

The night before my departure from Tokyo I spied a glass exhibition around the corner from my hotel. Sadly it was closed the day I was leaving and all I was able to see was the items in the window display.

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Glass exhibition in Ginza

I also tried my first can of SLAT, a Japanese low alcohol drink. Would have been very refreshing on a hot day.

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My first taste of Slat

The day of my departure I checked out and with hours to spare I trekked over to visit Meiji-Jingu, a regular departure day event for me. This year I was interested to see how work had progressed on redoing the copper roofs of the shrine precincts. I also like to pay my respects and say a little prayer to return to Tokyo. It was amazing to see how the copper that had been placed when Mum and I visited in 2016 had weathered.

And that was my quick visit to Tokyo.

Two days after arriving back in Sydney it was time to move out. Most of my packing had been done, I had moved what I could over previous months and it was mainly the big things left in the house. Mum and Dad came down to help me move up to their place.

Work has finally started on the estate where I will be building and hopefully I will be able to start building in October.

In the mean time I have another trip planned to Tokyo leaving on Thursday. A little longer this time and I am hoping to head out for a day of hiking around Mt Takao, 55 minutes from Tokyo.

So pop back to see where my feet and the Tokyo trains take me.

Thanks for dropping by!!

Day 4 – Catching Up With A Friend –

interior detail,

I have a Facebook friend that I have known since our days on a beading forum. Rie was on holiday visiting her father at the same time I was in Tokyo so we decided to finally meet in person.

We spent the first part of our day at Edo-Tokyo Open Air Architectural Museum located in Musashi-Koganei. This was a fabulous Museum showing pre Meiji era architecture and architectural styles that developed later as more western influences crept in to the Japanese vernacular. Everything from farmhouses, mansions and your average house was covered. There is even a whole street that was taken down and reassembled including the sento. One building even bears scars from the WWII, shrapnel marks from the bombing of Tokyo.

 

Inside a traditional farmhouse. We were fortunate to find a delightful lady who worked at the Museum while we walked around the farmhouse. She was very informative. You may notice there is no ceiling and that the rafters are all blackened from smoke. The farmhouses were forbidden to have ceilings as the farmers could have hidden weapons in the space between ceiling and roof. The bamboo, even though blackened by smoke, heat and soot, actually becomes harder over time. Insects find the roofing material unappealing because of the smoke that has infused the roof.

Inside a sento. This one is not in use but has been maintained and stocked as it would have been found in the 40’s/50’s. Male and female bathing areas in this one are seperated by a wall that they could have talked over if they wanted. Baskets were on shelves to store personal belongings, stools and buckets for for washing before entering the baths. The tiled mosaics decorating the walls were most impressive and featured allegorical tales.

A house that formerly belonged to a member of the illustrious Mitsui family was also on display and certainly showed the combining of western and Japanese architecture. While most of the house held to a more traditional style, the kitchen was pure 1930’s/1940’s western design. So many beautiful artistic touches in this fabulous house. Everything from painting on doors, silk panels in ceilings, art deco glass lampshades, timber carving and more.

Of course it was a hot day so we needed to cool down. One of the larger houses has an area fitted out as a very elegant cafe. Rie and I had a shaved ice treat with matcha. The ice was cold and the matcha strong, and a dollop of sweet bean.

After a bit more looking around it was time for a late lunch, sushi at a fabulous and popular sushi train a short walk away.  Ok I know sushi trains are pretty common and not usually exciting. This one was. While the normal things came around on  the track there was also the option to order other items from the tablet menu. These were whizzed out on a separate track. Sadly no photos

We then headed to a huge second hand fashion store before having a quick look around Kichijoji.

After a very full day it was time to say good bye and head our separate ways.

Stay tuned for my final day……..

Tokyo – Day 1 Omiya

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.

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Cappucino and Mont Blanc – Cafe Doutor

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.

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The red line is my route starting at Toro Station and working down to Omiya Koen Station

First stop was the Omiya Bonsai Museum.

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Exterior Omiya Bonsai Museum
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Exterior 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.

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Bonsai viewing at Omiya Bonsai Museum
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Bonsai viewing at Omiya Bonsai Museum

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.

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Mansei-en
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Mansei-en
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Seiko-en

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.

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Kari Raisu, miso soup, pickles, salad, fermented fish
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Natsume, chawan and Futaoki

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.

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Kappa Statue
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Kappa Statue

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.

 

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