Upholstery on Sakaiminato to Yonago train
Manhole cover, Okayama
Pork katsu demi glace, Okayama
Local Kamakura Moon and Hayama Beer
Fukumakan check out, drive to Sakaiminato
8:08 Sakaiminato local > Yonago, 9:22 Yonago ltd. express > Okayama
Lunch at 味司 野村 (demiglace katsu), Okayama
13:32 Okayama Shinkansen > Shinagawa, 17:33, then Yokosuka line to Kamakura
Check in to Villa Sacra
Kamakura walk and dinner at Mother’s
Sunday was a travel day. We had breakfast at home at Tanaka-san’s place, then went to Hiroshima station to catch the early train to Okayama. We wanted to have time to stop there for the famous Okayama もも (peaches) for our friends. It was a good thing we had reserved seats for the two trips – Okayama-Osaka and then Osaka-Odawara because there were no seats remaining… Oban holiday week!
We found our peaches in the basement of the train terminal in Okayama and caught the train to Osaka. Our layover in Osaka station was purposefully long. I have been waiting for 4 years to have 下記のはずし (kaki no ha sushi is a special treatment where the sushi is put into a persimmon leaf which lends a sensational taste to the rice.. and usually the raw fish is saba – mackerel – which is my favorite!)
After 4 changes of trains – all on time and totally smooth) we arrived in Yokosuka. It turns out that there is a big US Naval base in Yokosuka which is a harbour town just east of where our friends live. Our hotel here is boring compared to the nice neighborhood apartments we have been staying in but it has a fridge and coin laundry and is totally passable… just 6 minutes walk from the train.
We got checked in and freshened up and headed for Zushi to meet up with Taku and Maki. It has been four years since we saw them last and their little boy – 紬木さん – was born 10 months ago so we were very excited. We met them at the station and walked to a fantastic izakaya just down the street called Enishi. We spent hours laughing and drinking and catching up. Good times. It is great to be with them for the week! (( GREAT food too if you ever find your self in Zushi ))
Photos: all together again!, fresh water shrimp at Enishi, kaki no ha zushi, Okayama peaches
Breakfast in room
Check out of Kurashiki hotel
Train to Okayama
Purchase box of Okayama peaches
Shinkansen to Shin-Osaka
Lunch boxes: kaki-no-ha sushi!
Shinkansen to Odawara, local train to Yokosuka
Check in to hotel
Local train to Zushi
Picked up by Taku & Maki & Tsumugi
Dinner at Enishi (izakaya)
home to hotel
Pictures: kaki-no-ha on Shinkansen; laundry; Elaine and Tsumugi
We packed up our bags at Kyoko’s place and left everything home while we walked a few blocks down to Ritsurinkoen. This was one of Japan’s great gardens and we had heard that it was worth the trip. We did the 60 minute walking tour through the south end of the garden then hit the shop for another gelato treat. By 11:00 am it was already oppressive heat and humidity. We left through the north gate which ended up being the highlight… Their huge pond of Lotus (taller than me!) were in bloom and totally gorgeous.
We picked up our packs and headed to the bus stop. Kyoko’s apartment was a great place to crash for this first part of our trip and we will miss Takamatsu.
We caught the 12:40 train to Okayama and decided we would again treat the city as our lunch spot. Thanks to a blog post about food in the city we hit up a ramen shop that specialized in local ingredients (even their own Hishio -unfiltered soy sauce boiled with olives). We both had the Tonosho ramen and for the benefit of my New York friends… Ippudo needs to step aside. This thin broth was light, with a distinctive flavor (thanks to the local sardines they use), the pork was absolutely delicious… It just melted in your mouth. And they shave thin strips of Yuzu into the soup which is a stunning refreshing moment in the salty broth. I would not hesitate to go back. The best part? Dan was still hungry so he ordered the Kaemeshi bowl which was a generous bowl of rice with pulled pork, seaweed and scallions for only 100¥ ($1.00)… To pour the end of his broth in!!!
Off on the tram after lunch for another famous garden… Okayama’s own Korakuen. We had left our packs in coin lockers at the station so we could get around easily. Our garden walk was spectacular because it started to rain and their vast green fields, forests and terraces were beautiful in the rain. This rain, by the way, did not have any effect on the weather except to make it even hotter and more humid when the sun returned! Ritsurinkoen was lovely but Korakuen was truly worth the detour. They have a pen of cranes on the premises as well.. incredibly elegant birds.
We took the bus back to Okayama station, got our reservations for Sunday’s Shinkansen trip worked out and boarded the train for Hiroshima. We were due to meet up with Tanaka-san for his apartment that evening and still needed to eat. Tanaka-san’s flat is his grandmother’s place and it is a traditional Japanese apartment: tatami rooms with separate and partially outdoor shower and toilet. Such a cute place and in a neighborhood off the beaten path. We cleaned up and headed out to a sushi place he recommended just down the street… Much to our surprise and entertainment it was a conveyor belt sushi palace (we have heard about these but had never been). The place was enormous and we had counter seats. I was really impressed with Dan because he seemed to have the entire system worked out for keeping track of what we picked off the belt… That is, until they said last call. I then asked the waiter to calculate our bill (which Dan had been painstakingly writing up as the food went flying by) until Dan realized that the waiter thought we meant we wanted all 12 of those dishes and had specially asked the sushi chef to sneak in our “order”! BTW we were already full so if he had not caught that we would have been stuck with dinner number 2!!! I wish I had the entire episode on video, it was hilarious and our neighbors at the counter got a real show…. We were the only non-Japanese in the place and clearly didn’t know what we were doing. I did get a few videos on Vine if you want to follow us.
Photos: Lotus at Korakuen, Tonosho ramen at Shodoshima Hishio, sushi conveyor belt at Onmaku
Breakfast at home
Leave Kyoko’s apartment
Train to Okayama, coin lockers for bags
Tram and walk to Korakuen, thunderstorm
Bus to Okayama Eki, shinkansen reservations for Sunday 8/11
Train to Hiroshima
Streetcar to Tanaka-san’s apartment
Sushi restaurant with conveyor belt
Pictures: what’s in bloom, Ritsurin-koen; Elaine with lotus, Ritsurin-koen; view from Yuishinzan Hill, Korakuen; paths and streams at Korakuen
Dan’s mentioned the unbelievable Katsu lunch during our layover in Okayama. Definitely worth the 10 min walk from the train! And we were starving… So in the red zone at that point that Dan was flustered by children and we had trouble operating the coin slot machine to order our lunch! (Photo of Dan at the canal in Okayama)
Great fun running into the Matsuri dancers at the Okayama train station. I loved their costumes!
The train across the Seto Ohashi bridge was breathtaking. But I am happy we will not be on it again as I suffered from severe vertigo. Upon arrival in Takamatsu we went right to the info desk to get our passports for the 2013 Setouchi art festival. Taxi then to our apartment which is totally adorable, conveniently located and the first opportunity to drop off our packs!
Jet lag makes you really hungry and stupid in the evening. We walked all the way to the pier for a fish place we heard was amazing only to be bamboozled by closure for a wedding… Then we walked all the way back to the arcade looking for a good izakaya. Found a small one full of locals… evidence of the astonishingly good shishamo below! We were passed out in bed by 9:30 after that adventure.
Breakfast pickup at Lawson
JR line to Shinagawa
Hikari Shinkansen to Okayama (but non-smoking sold out)
Panasonic Solar Arc?
Do the Shinkansen train workers bow to an empty car?
Demiglace pork katsu!!!
JR Marine liner to Takamatsu
Bengal island, just like JH
Boatbuilder from Vermont
Taxi to Kyoko’s apartment
Walk to port, fish restaurant closed for wedding
Takamatsu arcade, ceramics shop “Sara”
Dinner search: izakaya, incredible ししゃも!!!