August 13th, 2014

Summer holiday 2014 – Japan – PART 1

www.cocoandme.com - Coco&Me - Coco and Me - Japan - Arashiyama view

(Arashiyama, Kyoto)

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Hello~ dear blog readers! Long time no post, apologies! All’s been well our end, & I hope it has been the case on your end too! xx
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This summer we went to Japan for three weeks! It was a special trip for us because we hadn’t been back for more than NINE YEARS (!). – The last time we were there, our son was only ten months old. This time, we were also taking our six year old daughter for her first ever visit. I really wanted to show them how wonderful Japan is, make them fall in love with Japan. So I planned to show them many aspects, & organised our stay in Tokyo (big city), Kyoto (old city) & Norikura (nature).

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Here’s a bit about our trip told through some food pictures!
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In Tokyo, we stayed in a hotel in Shinjuku ward. We chose there mainly because there is a coach straight to it from Narita Airport which made the travelling with big suitcases & jet-lagged children easier.

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The hotel was the perfect choice as Shinjuku is well connected by many train lines, it made travelling around so much easier. We absolutely loved staying there – everything was perfect, including the hotel’s 28th floor swimming pool commanding an impressive view~!

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There were two options for breakfast rooms at the Hyatt Regency. Continental buffet style, & the traditional Japanese style. Both were of amazing standard.

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www.cocoandme.com - Coco&Me - Coco and Me - Hyatt Regency Tokyo Hotel Egg Omelette Breakfast Buffet

Continental breakfast : As it’s a buffet style, you walk around choosing what ever you fancy eating. It’s easy to over-eat, going back for seconds (& thirds & fourths… LOL), but then again, breakfast is the most important meal of your day, so it’s alright! – Right?? ^^ – There was an omelette station, where the chef would make one to your order in front of you. I absolutely enjoyed watching how skillfully they make it, I observed at what timing they stop whisking & start tossing it to shape.

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www.cocoandme.com - Coco&Me - Coco and Me - Japanese breakfast - Onsen tamago egg on rice - yuzu soy sauce - Asagohan - Hyatt Regency Tokyo Hotel

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www.cocoandme.com - Coco&Me - Coco and Me - Japanese breakfast - Onsen tamago egg on rice - yuzu soy sauce

Traditional Japanese breakfast: One word: gorgeous!

– On one side of the room, they had the rice cooking in individual earthenware pots. We ate in a serene room, listening to the gentle clatter of the lids as the rice inside reached its boiling point. We slipped an『温泉卵』(onsen tamago) on to our rice, then drizzled yuzu (Japanese citrus) soy sauce on it. Onsen tamago is an egg that’s been slowly poached in the shell. When you gently break it, the yolk is still very runny, & it heavenly oozes over your hot rice. It is a pleasure beyond words. The miso soup was with nameko mushrooms. A mushroom I don’t get to eat in U.K. ~ Happiness. ~

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Leaving the metropolis that is Tokyo, we headed to Kyoto by shinkansen bullet train. In Kyoto, we were lucky to be able to stay at our close friends T & P’s. They’ve been so kind, & so generous to put us up for so many days. xxx Thank you T & P! xxx

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Kyoto is described as a Bon-chi, a basin surrounded by mountains. Every direction you look, there are luscious green mountains & it is so beautiful to be reminded of nature all the time like this. But in the summer, the humid air settles right in to this basin – & it becomes especially HOT. When we were there, it was typically around 36 degrees.

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www.cocoandme.com - Coco&Me - Coco and Me - Japan - Kyoto - Kiyomizudera - kakigouri - ujikintoki - ochaya

After a sweltering visit to the Kiyomizudera temple, we dropped by a tea-stop, & ate a dessert called『かき氷』(kakigōri), a perfect summer respite of shaved ice with flavoured syrup. Mine was『宇治金時』(ujikintoki), ice with green tea syrup & sweetened red bean paste. D’s was strawberry milk. He didn’t know that they pour condensed milk, & found it too sweet, so couldn’t finish it!

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www.cocoandme.com - Coco&Me - Coco and Me - Japan - Kyoto - vending machines

Talking about how hot Japan was, I should also tell you about how there were absolutely loads of vending machines in Japan, selling both cold & hot drinks. Sometimes these machines were in front of people’s ordinary houses (I guess they get a cut??). The prices of the drinks were reasonable. A water bottle is around 110 yen (64 pence).

– In the squelching heat, it was handy to have access to cold water readily like this. It’ll be great to have vending machines on the streets like this in the UK too, but I have a feeling that it won’t be possible. It’ll be vandalised sooner or later I’m quite certain… :(

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www.cocoandme.com - Coco&Me - Coco and Me - Japan - Kurazushi - Sushi conveyor belt restaurant

For one of the lunches, we went to Kura-zushi, a conveyor belt sushi restaurant! And it was super fun! Most of the plates were 100 yen each, which equates to roughly 60 pence. YES, ONLY 60 PENCE FOR A PLATE OF SUSHI!!! O.M.G.

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www.cocoandme.com - Coco&Me - Coco and Me - Japan - Kurazushi - Sushi conveyor belt restaurant

As you eat, you deposit the plate in the slot on the end of your table, & it counts how many you’ve amounted so far. Every 5th plate counted, there is an animated game on your touch panel (an iPad that is mounted on the wall). On very rare occasion, you win & get a small prize. (When we were there, the prize was a cute LED yoyo). We all went crazy for this system, kept eating many plates to slot in so that we can do the game. ~ Under the spell of the ploy to sell you more sushi? Oh, most certainly!!! :) But when a plate is 60 pence only, we were happy to go along with it! :) In the end, we ate 56 plates (there were two families), but even so, we only won one prize…!! LOL!

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www.cocoandme.com - Coco&Me - Coco and Me - Japan - Kyoto - Hiyashi yama kake soba - cold buckwheat noodle with totoro

Another dish I had in Kyoto:『冷しやまかけ蕎麦』(Hiyashi yama kake soba). Cold buckwheat noodles in cold tsuyu broth, with grated Japanese yam topping. This Japanese yam, when grated is called “tororo”, & it is something I hadn’t had for a loooooooong time. I mean, like years. And Oh Boy, did I missed you tororo!

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Strawberry Banana French pancake

(Needless for a caption! Pancakes~!!! A meal in itself…!?)

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Saying goodbye to old friends in Kyoto was sad, especially because we don’t see them often, but we eventually moved on to Norikura in Nagano prefecture.

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www.cocoandme.com - Coco&Me - Coco and Me - Norikura in Nagano prefecture - North Star Lodge - tatami room

We had a totally different experience, staying in a lovely tatami mat room at North Star Lodge. This hotel is very unique, it’s run by an English speaking crowd. Outdoor adventures is their main focal point, especially snowboarding in the winter season. Their living room has table tennis & table football. We had so much fun playing it, we were laughing so hard! ^^

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The breakfast & dinner is included in the stay. And oh boy, the chef there knows how to make good food. We were served locally picked mushrooms & vegetables. Water melon which is a local speciality. Homemade miso that one of the staff’s mother made.

Here, the children experienced Japanese communal baths for their first time. The stay there felt like a holiday within a holiday!! Loved it, the staff there were all friendly & we really felt cared for. I would love to go in the winter next time…

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www.cocoandme.com - Coco&Me - Coco and Me - Norikura in Nagano prefecture - river stream in Summer

(Nature everywhere in Norikura. We climbed mountains, hiked to waterfalls, played in the stream.)

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www.cocoandme.com - Coco&Me - Coco and Me - Norikura in Nagano prefecture - Katsu Curry - Abbey Road

(Big lunch at nearby eatery! カツカレー 。Katsu curry. Deep fried pork cutlet with curry & rice.)

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We went back to Tokyo for the final few days of our trip. One of the many places we visited was the Ghibli Museum. It was the number one destination for the kids. They’ve seen most of their movies & love them. The exhibit at the museum was truly magical, we thoroughly enjoyed the visit.  – The cafe restaurant within was also really good too.

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www.cocoandme.com - Coco&Me - Coco and Me - The Straw Hat Cafe at the Ghibli Museum, Tokyo - 『真っ赤なルバーブのさわやかスカッシュ』Rhubarb puree soda. With a “straw” straw, nice little touch, since the restaurant is called “straw hat”.

『真っ赤なルバーブのさわやかスカッシュ』Rhubarb soda, with a “straw” straw – nice little touch, since the restaurant is called “straw hat”.

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www.cocoandme.com - Coco&Me - Coco and Me - The Straw Hat Cafe at the Ghibli Museum, Tokyo - 『とり肉と夏野菜をのせた、お日さまごはん』Summer vegetable with teriyaki chicken thigh, alfalfa sprouts, soft boiled egg. On a bed of mixed grain rice. Sesame seed soy dressing.

『とり肉と夏野菜をのせた、お日さまごはん』Summer vegetable with teriyaki chicken thigh, alfalfa sprouts, soft boiled egg. On a bed of mixed grain rice. Sesame seed soy dressing.

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www.cocoandme.com - Coco&Me - Coco and Me - The Straw Hat Cafe at the Ghibli Museum, Tokyo - 『野っぱらのクリームソーダ』Ice cream float! Cream soda.

『野っぱらのクリームソーダ』Ice cream float! I used to l.o.v.e this soda as a kid! But I remember it used to be green, & had one of those freakishly bright red cherry on top. Blue version is kinda stylish!

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www.cocoandme.com - Coco&Me - Coco and Me - The Straw Hat Cafe at the Ghibli Museum, Tokyo - 『ふぞろいイチゴのショートケーキ』 We finished off the meal with a strawberry cake. The genoise sponge was quite brown – maybe it is using unrefined sugar

『ふぞろいイチゴのショートケーキ』 We finished off the meal with a strawberry cake. The genoise sponge was quite brown – maybe it is using unrefined sugar. ~ It was very very tasty. ~ Strawberry cake is our family’s ultimate choice for cake, I make these for family birthdays, so I’m so happy we ate such an amazing one at such a memorable museum!

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I hope you enjoyed the tiny glimpse in to the food of Japan! In the next blog post, I’ll report about the shopping trip to Kappabashi kitchenware district with my childhood friend A! :) Stay tuned!! ♫

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Hope this post finds you well, T xx

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15 Comments »

  1. I loved seeing your vacation to Japan. It really makes me miss my family there.

    Gosh, I love yama kake soba, and it’s so refreshing in the summer. One time, I took my American husband to a famous soba place in Los Angeles. I was so excited to have the yama kake soba. I gave my husband a taste, and he was totally grossed out by the consistency of the yamaimo. It still makes me laugh.

    Cheers! I look forward to reading about the rest of your vacation.

    Comment by Yoshiko Yeto - August 14, 2014 5:01 am

  2. Yoshiko san, thank you for leaving a comment! :)
    Ha ha, I totally understand about grossing out on the tororo if you didn’t grow up with it! Lol! I think I offered it to D too, but he didn’t try. – For me, that “neba-neba” (ネバネバ) consistency & texture is totally the best! I had to buy me some okra today as it also has a neba-neba…
    xx

    Comment by Tamami - August 14, 2014 5:26 am

  3. What an amazing experience. All the food looks so fresh and tasty. Can’t believe the sushi was so cheap too. Amazing

    Comment by Katie - August 14, 2014 5:27 am

  4. I too enjoyed reading about your japan trip! And it is also lovely to see you posting again on your blog!
    What a lovely idea to show your kids all those places, it is a really good mix of modern city, traditional city and countryside. One thinks of japan as a highly modern place only! X

    Comment by Louise - August 14, 2014 5:41 am

  5. Oooh, hello Katie! You’re up early! Me too, I’m still jet-lagged…sigh, body clock all over…
    Thank you for the comment! Yes, I couldn’t believe how cheap the sushi was too, mind you, there are more expensive places FYI. xx

    Comment by Tamami - August 14, 2014 5:48 am

  6. Hello Louise! Yes, I’m finally posting again & it feels good! Hope all has been well your end!
    We absolutely loved going to all those places, it worked out really well with going to the countryside mid-holiday, a nice break from all the city chaos! xx

    Comment by Tamami - August 14, 2014 5:53 am

  7. What a lovely surprise to see you blogging again! you! However, happy to see that you have been home, it must have been lovely for you and your family. Look forward to reading more about your visit.

    Comment by Jeannette - August 16, 2014 7:10 pm

  8. OMG! What an amazing trip! And what a lovely thing to share, thank you so much for the wonderful holiday stories and food photos. A perfect htel breakfast is a great joy for me. So happy you are back blogging, I missed your posts xxx

    Comment by Lirong - August 16, 2014 9:26 pm

  9. Jeannette! How lovely to hear from you! x Good to know that you are still checking out this blog! Cheers!!!! It’s good to finally post something again on the blog! xx :)
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    Lirong, Pleasure! A good breakfast to start the day really made a huge difference because we were doing so much during the day…!!! And, this hotel brekkie was perfect…!! – Am already writing the next post, took the pics already for it, so hopefully not so long til the next post!!! Stay tuned! *-*xx

    Comment by tamami - August 17, 2014 11:27 am

  10. Such lovely photos! Glad you all had such a good time. Hope it isn’t so long before you can go back :) The Ghibli museum would be on my list as well. mmm..rhubarb soda…..

    Comment by jonquil - August 17, 2014 12:46 pm

  11. Jonquil!!!! Yay, how lovely to hear from you too! :) thank you for leaving a comment! :) The ghibli museum, it’s super complicated to get hold of tickets – it needs pre-planning! – anyway, hope you also get to go to japan one day too then! xx

    Comment by Tamami - August 17, 2014 3:41 pm

  12. Wow! Thanks for letting us share vicariously in what looks like an amazing trip! :) Japan has been on my wishlist since I was a child, and this makes me want to go even more… xx

    Comment by Rachel - August 17, 2014 10:13 pm

  13. Rachel!!!! Wow, it’s amazing to hear from you! How have you been?? ^^ I think you’ll like Japan – you’d probably see the place differently to me, & it’ll be interesting to read what you thought of the place! You should def. go one day! xx

    Comment by tamami - August 17, 2014 10:30 pm

  14. Tamami, how nice to see you back in the blogging world. I really, really enjoyed this post. Japan is on my wish list too, it looks and sounds amazing. I hope I get to experience all these things first hand some day but for now, I am grateful to you for sharing these amazing photos and words. I hope your kids had a great time, these memories will be so precious when they grow up :)

    On a different note, I made French toast yesterday following your very precise instructions and it came out so well. When I started making it my husband said that he would get it from a nearby restaurant that makes amazing French toast but after I stubbornly insisted and made it, he said that mine was better than the restaurant’s :):). I wish you would blog more, I would follow you to the ends of the internet.

    Comment by Poornima - August 28, 2014 5:11 pm

  15. Poornima!!! Yay, thank you for commenting~!!! And what wonderful comment it is!!! I always read your messages with a big smile.

    You’ll love it in Japan, I recommend spring or autumn when it is not too hot or cold. In the spring there are cherry blossoms, & in the autumn, there are autumn coloured trees – truly beautiful. My kids, especially my son, loved being in Japan, which I am happy about, but am also slightly worried that maybe he’d decide to live there one day. Living in a different country would be very sad.
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    The french toast!!!!!! Lol, funny, I was just writing about it for the next post! – I’m sure yours would taste better than a restaurant’s, because you make it with much care & love for your husband. Home-cooked food is superior, a restaurant can’t ever emulate that magic!
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    Blog…: oops, yeah…, I’m sorry, I wish I could post more…!! I feel so knee-deep in the everyday cycle, it’s difficult to find the time. But! Please please keep reading!! :) I will carry on writing!!
    T xoxo

    Comment by Tamami - August 28, 2014 7:24 pm

 

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