Friday, January 16, 2015

New Blog!

For a while I wasn't using this blog for much other than posting information about Towada events. Since such posts are not exactly "adventures in Japan," I decided to start a new blog to provide information about events, restaurants, sightseeing, etc. in Towada, Aomori Prefecture, and Japan.

The new blog is excitingly titled "Towada City, Aomori, Japan" http://towada-city.blogspot.com/. If anyone has suggestions for a more interesting title, let me know!

For now I only have basic info about Towada/its history, Towada mascot characters, and some upcoming events, but I hope to be able to put up some posts about sightseeing spots, restaurants, etc. in the near future.

I will continue to update this blog (hopefully more frequently) with posts about travels, taste tests, and other adventures in Japan. 

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Nameko's Adventures in Hokkaido, Part 3: Otaru & Sapporo

On the final day of Nameko's adventure in Hokkaido, Nameko enjoyed a delicious breakfast (choice of Japanese style or Western style, but Nameko had both!) at the restaurant in the hotel.
Japanese Style Breakfast Hotel Neuschloss OtaruWestern Style Breakfast Hotel Neuschloss Otaru
There was also a small selection of fruits, salad, and breads available, so Nameko helped himself to a croissant and some fruits, too.
Fruit & Bread Hotel Neuschloss Otaru
After brushing his teeth and packing up his bags, it was time for Nameko to say farewell to Hotel Neuschloss Otaru.
View from Hotel Neuschloss Otaru
Hotel Neuschloss Otaru
The complimentary shuttle service took him straight back to Otaru Station. Despite having eaten a sizeable breakfast, Nameko decided to return to the Sankaku Fish Market to try hakkaku sashimi and crab miso soup. (The fish looks octagonal, hence the name "hakkaku" 八角 (a.k.a. sailfin poacher), which means "8-sided".)

Hakkaku Sailfin Poacher Sankaku Fish Market Otaru

Hakkaku Sailfin Poacher Sankaku Fish Market Otaru
kani misoshiru crab miso soup Sankaku Fish Market Otaru
 After a quick train ride back from Otaru Station to Sapporo Station, Nameko headed to a Kinokuniya bookstore to buy...a Nameko book! (Nameko Bungaku Zenshuu The World (なめこ文學全集ザ・ワルード, Nameko Literature Collection) retells 6 world literature classic stories in comic form with various Nameko as the characters. A fun way to study Japanese and literature at the same time!)
Otaru Station
Kinokuniya Sapporo Station
 Nameko Literature Collection The World Bungaku Zenshuu
Then it was back to Sapporo Station for a quick lunch of octopus curry and assorted seasonal seafood on rice at Maruumiya Paseo.
Maruumiya Paseo Sapporo Station
 Maruumiya Paseo Sapporo Station
 Tako Octopus Curry Maruumiya Paseo Sapporo Station
 Seafood on Rice Maruumiya Paseo Sapporo Station 

With a fair bit of time left before catching the train, Nameko decided to go to Mister Donut to get the new Christmas cupcakes.
Mister Donut Sapporo Station
 Mister Donut Christmas Cupcake Sapporo Station
Finally it was time to board the train to go home. It was a long train ride, so Nameko had buta-don (pork on rice) and a type of pressed sushi for dinner, washed down with Soft Katsugen, a Hokkaido-only yogurt-flavoured drink.
Sapporo Bento Soft Katsugen
 Hokkaido Buta-Don Pork Rice Sapporo Station
 Sushi Bento Sapporo Station
 
 
 

 


Links:
Hotel Neuschloss Otaru: http://www.neuschloss.com/english/index.html
Sankaku Fish Market: http://kimi-tourguide.blogspot.jp/2011/06/sankaku-fish-market-in-otaru.html 
Kinokuniya: http://www.kinokuniya.com/
Nameko Bungaku Zenshuu Series (Japanese only): http://namepara.com/info/nnfvideo/3509.html
Maruumiya Paseo: http://seesapporo.com/place/maruumiya-paseo/
Mister Donut (Japanese only): http://www.misterdonut.jp/

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Nameko's Adventures in Hokkaido, Part 2: Otaru

Nameko left Sapporo early to head to Otaru (about 45min west by train). His first stop was the Sankaku Ichiba (三角市場) fish market located just west of the station (to the left and up some stairs).
It's a fairly small/narrow market, but luckily a nice man at one of the first shops (Kawashima Sengyo-Ten 川嶋鮮魚店) greeted Nameko and asked if he was looking for anything in particular. Nameko wanted to send some seasonal seafood back home to Aomori, and the man was very helpful in helping Nameko pick out various things. The shop also has a restaurant, Sea Food Restarant Kawashima (鮮魚食堂かわしま), attached to it, so Nameko decided to go for hirame (flounder) sashimi, and anodon (あの丼)--a bowl of rice topped with seasonal seafood as selected by the chef.

The anodon had (starting from the center and going clockwise from the upper right):
- shako (mantis shrimp--tastes more like lobster than shrimp)
- uni (sea urchin); kani (center right: crab)
- ikura (salmon roe)
- shirako (cod milt, a.k.a. cod sperm sac)
- kujira (whale)*
- sake (salmon)

(*Yes, I know people have lots of issues with eating whale meat, but personally, while I wouldn't go out of my way to buy it, neither would I refuse to eat it if served to me. Japanese whaling is a complex issue that I don't really want to get into here.) 

After the delicious meal, Nameko headed to the Marchen Intersection (マルヘン交差点).
Otaru Marchen Intersection Crossroads Crossing Kousaten
In order to walk off some of his breakfast, Nameko did some window shopping at the Otaru Orgel Doh (小樽オルゴール堂 Music Box Museum) and Yume no Oto "Character House" (夢の音 a shop selling goods featuring various goods related to various popular characters, e.g. Rilakkuma, Totoro, etc.).
Otaru Orgel Doh Music Box Museum
 Otaru Yume no Oto Character House Totoro
Then he headed across the street to the head store of LeTao. (Incidentally, the name LeTao in Japanese is actually ルタオ RU-TA-O, which is O-TA-RU backwards!) In the second floor cafe, he enjoyed a piece of Double Fromage cake and a special chocolate cake set (available only at the head store cafe) with the monthly special blend tea.
LeTao Honten head store
LeTao Honten head store cafe
LeTao Honten head store cafe
LeTao Honten head store cafe cake set double fromage
After LeTao, Nameko headed west along Sakaimachi Street (堺町通り), exploring various shops like Ika Taro Honpo (いか太郎本舗), a shop that sells freshly roasted and shredded squid. (Nameko bought a pack to enjoy as a snack later in the evening...)
Ika Taro Honpo roasted shredded squid
 Ika Taro Honpo roasted shredded squid
Eventually Nameko swung north from Sakaimachi Street to head to the Otaru Canal (小樽運河).
Otaru Canal Unga
From there he headed slightly further west to the Otaru-Shi Sougou Hakubutsukan Ungakan (小樽市総合博物館運河館 Otaru Museum Canal Building). Unfortunately the exterior was completely covered in blue sheets as the building is currently undergoing renovations, but at least the museum was still open! Nameko even made some "friends" there...!?
Otaru Museum Canal Building
 Otaru Museum Canal Buildling
 Otaru Museum Canal Building
Next it was back across the Canal for a light lunch at the Otaru Beer Otaru Souko No.1 (小樽ビール小樽倉庫No.1) where he tried the Weiss and Dunkel beers, apple cider (cold and carbonated), pork pate, pretzel, and homemade pickles.
Otaru Beer Otaru Souko No.1
 Otaru Beer Otaru Souko No.1
 Otaru Beer Otaru Souko No.1 Weiss Apple Cider
Otaru Beer Otaru Souko No.1 Weiss
 Otaru Beer Otaru Souko No.1 Dunkel
  Otaru Beer Otaru Souko No.1 Pretzel Pork Pate
 Otaru Beer Otaru Souko No.1 Pork Pate
 Otaru Beer Otaru Souko No.1 Pork Pate
 Otaru Beer Otaru Souko No.1 Pretzel
 Otaru Beer Otaru Souko No.1 Homemade Pickles Jikasei Tsukemono
Feeling rather tired after so much walking (starting from the previous day!), Nameko headed back to Otaru Station where he did some shopping at a LeTao branch store and Kinokuniya Bookstore and relaxed with some tea at a cafe inside the station until the courtesy shuttle bus from the hotel, Hotel Neuschloss Otaru (ホテルノイシュロス小樽), came to pick him up.

After checking in at the hotel, Nameko had just enough time to check out the luxurious room and attached "open air"* bath before heading down for dinner. (*There was a window, of course, but unexpectedly there was also a screen in front of the window--probably for privacy and to prevent people from sticking body parts out of the window--so it wasn't exactly "open air.")
 Hotel Neuschloss Otaru
 Hotel Neuschloss Otaru Lobby
  Hotel Neuschloss Otaru Bedroom Double BedHotel Neuschloss Otaru Bedroom Sitting AreaHotel Neuschloss Otaru Bedroom Amenities


Hotel Neuschloss Otaru
Hotel Neuschloss Otaru bath

Hotel Neuschloss Otaru

Hotel Neuschloss Otaru Private Bath Rotemburo
Dinner was a lovely five-course meal at the restaurant, Blau Kuste (ブラウキュステ):
- foie gras and semi-dried tomato mousse
- buri  (Japanese amberjack, yellowtail) carpaccio with eggplant sauce, and a snowcrab crabcake
- turbot (a type of flatfish) gratin and carrot soup
- duck confit with vinegar and red wine sauce/Wagyu filet steak (120g)
- mont blanc, coffee ice cream, and fruits
Hotel Neuschloss Otaru Blau Kuste foie gras and semi-dried tomato mousseHotel Neuschloss Otaru Blau Kuste buri  (Japanese amberjack, yellowtail) carpaccio with eggplant sauce, and a snowcrab crabcake
  Hotel Neuschloss Otaru Blau Kuste turbot (a type of flatfish) gratin and carrot soup
 Hotel Neuschloss Otaru Blau Kuste duck confit with vinegar and red wine sauce Wagyu filet steak (120g)
 Hotel Neuschloss Otaru Blau Kuste mont blanc, coffee ice cream, and fruits
After dinner and a good long soak in the bath, Nameko ended the night with a can of Classic Sapporo Beer, a can of guarana soda (sweet, cough syrup taste!), chocolate cake from LeTao, and roasted shredded squid from Ika Taro!
Classic Sapporo Beer and Kirin Guarana soda
 LeTao chocolate cake
 Ika Taro roasted shredded squid


Links:
Sankaku Fish Market: http://kimi-tourguide.blogspot.jp/2011/06/sankaku-fish-market-in-otaru.html
Otaru Orgel Doh: http://www.otaru-orgel.co.jp/english/e_main.html
LeTao: https://www.letao.jp/global/en/index.html
Sakaimachi Street: http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e6704.html
Ika Taro Honpo: http://ikataro.tv/e/index.html
Otaru Canal: http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e6701.html
Otaru Beer: http://www.shift.jp.org/guide/sapporo/bar-restaurant/otaru-soko-no1.html
Hotel Neuschloss Otaru: http://www.neuschloss.com/english/index.html