Tuesday 31 October 2017

The Japanese Food Adventure Chapter 3 - Day 13. Southbound to Kagoshima

Kuraya served us another great breakfast this morning. Eggs, salad, fruit, pastries, coffee, toast and a homemade marmalade. We'd thoroughly enjoyed our stay at Gallery Inn and Kuraya had made us feel so welcome.

We'd arrived in Naoshima at Miyanoura Port but today we'd be leaving from Honmura Port. The boat would take us to Uno Port, the fare was ¥290 (£1.95) and the crossing took just twenty minutes.

We waited for the 7.55am ferry to arrive at the cloud shaped pavilion.

The museums and beauty of the island attracts many tourists, whose visits help support the local economy. However, it's Mitsubishi Materials that dominates industry on the island, as Naoshima has been the site of massive refining by Mitsubishi since 1917. As we left the island we passed the Northern side which is where the Mitsubishi plant is located.

From Uno we caught a train to Okoyama.

From Okayama we caught the Shinkansen to Kagoshima in Kyushu. Kagoshima is the Southernmost city on the Shinkansen network, the journey time was 3.5 hours.

Some iced coffee, a mochi ball and inarizuchi I bought for the journey.

Inarizuchi were my favourite snack find on this trip, they look quite bland but taste so good!

Our home for the next three nights was APA Hotel Chuo-Ekimae, close to Kagoshima station. A double room here cost ¥5850 (£40) per night.

There's a ferris wheel on top of the Amu Plaza, this I would have to go on at some point.

We crossed the Kotsuki River and made our way towards the port. We wanted to see the mighty Sakurajima, an active volcano which faces the city.

Behind this huge torii arch was Terukuni Shrine and behind that Shiroyama Park where we were heading for to get the best possible view of Sakurajima.

First though we decided to check out the Marchen Museum dedicated to fairy tales. It was housed in a circular stone tower and you could make your way to the top using the spiral slope around the edge. On the way round we passed fairy tale images on the walls which offered great photo opportunities if you stood in a specific spot. 

As we left the museum we were just in time to watch the marionette clock perform.

Our first glimpse of Sakurajima from behind the Marchen Museum. We wanted an even better view though so we climbed the steep path to Shiroyama Park observation deck.

It was a long and tiring trek to the observation deck but the view from the top was stunning!

There was a shop at the top so I bought an ice cream.

Vanilla ice cream with a fruit layer encased in a soft pink wafer, a bit disappointing really.

This Shekwasha soda was delicious though and a bargain at just ¥100 (66p) for a giant can.

Like other cities in Japan, Kagoshima had plenty of huge shopping malls.

Sato-Chan and Muza-Chan, the mascots of Sato Pharmaceuticals can be spotted outside many pharmacies in Japan.

Daiso have 2800 stores across Japan and most things cost ¥100.

They stock a vast selection of items from stationary to chair socks.

I usually get drawn to the food section where they stock a huge selection of snacks and sweets.

If you need correction tape then Daiso will sort you out.

Trams run through the city from East to West.

We were tempted to eat in this area tonight but the prices were definitely aimed at tourists so we decided to give it a miss.

The ferris wheel displays a stunning light display at night time.

We bought some food and drink from a department store food hall and returned back to the hotel.

Rice topped with sliced beef in a sticky sauce, chicken katsu, battered squid, pork burger and spaghetti. A thoroughly enjoyable selection costing just ¥580 (£3.90)

Dango, sweet and chewy sweet dumplings made using rice flour and water.

I bought these in Daiso earlier, spicy and incredibly crunchy rice based snacks.

With a vending machine out in the hotel corridor I finished the night with a Chu Hai.

Click here for Day 14

Monday 30 October 2017

The Japanese Food Adventure Chapter 3 - Day 12. Island life on Naoshima

Breakfast at the guest house this morning was French toast served with salad, fruit and filter coffee. 

With rain forecast this afternoon we made an early start, our plan was to further explore Miyanoura Port first. Then if the heavens opened as forecast we could spend time later in the day checking out the Art House Project back in Honmura Port. This building was said to contain a Statue of Liberty! It was closed now though so we'd visit this afternoon.

As we passed a large pond on the way to Miyanoura Port I noticed some movement in the water. It's difficult to make out in the photo but this pond was full of turtles, they made their way towards us in the hope we had some food for them.

Possibly the friendliest "Don't drop litter" sign I've ever seen!

Jose de Guimaraes's Bunraku Puppet is found by where the ferries dock in Miyanoura Port. It's definitely a piece that's best viewed at nigh time though as it has neon tubing running through the centre.

One of many Shinto shrines which can be found on Naoshima.

This was the third tobacconist we'd seen on Naoshima, it looked like it hadn't changed since the 1960's.

Sometimes you end up craving familiar foods and right now it was a sausage. These frankfurter sausages on a stick were served hot with ketchup and mustard from 7 Eleven for a mere ¥100 (67P). 

Back in Honmura Port we spotted some crabs in a shallow stream. With the skies getting rapidly greyer I felt sure the stream would be flowing much heavier soon though. With this in mind we decided to go in search of the sites which make up the Art House Project. In this project, artists take empty houses scattered about residential areas and turn the spaces themselves into works of art, weaving in history and memories of the period when the buildings were lived in and used. Going from one of the houses to another, visitors pass through the Honmura district, where everyday life unfolds around them.

You can buy a ticket for ¥1030 (£7) which gives you access to six of the sites. We started here at Go'o Shrine which dates back to the Edo period.

The glass stairs which connect the main hall to the worship hall seemed quite unusual. We thought we'd seen all there was to see here but the guide directed us to a winding pathway leading down from the shrine.

We were given a torch and told to enter a dark concrete chamber. We nervously entered and all I could think about was spiders, I'll explain why in a bit.

At the end of the underground chamber we could see the glass stairs which we'd seen up above. It's said that this connects the subterranean and the surface to form a single world. 

We were give a map showing the other locations of the Art House Project. Whilst working out where to go next a friendly cat came over to greet us.

Kadoya was the next site we visited which was quite difficult to find. The 200 year old house was the first building to be completed in the Art House Project. Inside you make your way along a narrow path around the edge of the room in almost pitch black. In the centre of the main room is a sea of ever changing numbers illuminated on the floor. This piece is called "The Sea of Time" and was created by Tatsuo Miyajima with the help of the townspeople of Naoshima.

A cat cafe in the centre of Honmura town, sadly it had closed down.

Painted buoys could be seen in many places on Naoshima.

So the reason I had spiders on my mind earlier when entering the underground chamber at Go'o Shrine was because I'd spotted this when leaving our guesthouse this morning. It was high up on the wall in the porch area and I believe it was a Japanese huntsman spider. It was always there whenever I passed by but I learnt to live in harmony with it during our stay on Naoshima.

On the same street as our guesthouse were a few cafes and galleries. This one appeared to have a small outside cinema out back as well. 

Our next stop was at the building we'd passed this morning, Haisha.

Haisha, meaning "dentist", was once the home and office of a dentist, Shinro Otake converted the entire building into a work of art.

Through the window we caught our first glimpse of the Statue of Liberty which was inside.
It was open now so we took off our shoes, showed our ticket and entered the building.

This was the view from the ground floor.

Up on the first floor you could stand face to face with Lady Liberty.

Long before arriving in Japan we'd read about a vegan restaurant in Naoshima which we added it to our itinerary, today we would finally get to eat here.

The set lunch at Aisunao cost just ¥850 (£5.70)

Great value for money and a good selection of food.

Every bowl of miso soup I'd eaten in Japan had been really good and here it was no exception.

The brown sticky rice contained a few beans and was topped with black sesame seeds.

The tofu was served in a light soy based sauce.

This was my favourite part of the meal though, a selection of vegetables including carrot, sweet potato, green beans and pickles. Some seriously good flavours going on here, I especially enjoyed the sweet coated shredded vegetables served in the small bowl.

We'd been walking all day so decided to pause by the port to enjoy a can of Asahi. Just after this the heavens opened, a good job we'd remembered our brollies!

The final place to visit on the Art House Project was Minamidera, which features a James Turrell experiment with light.. Only small groups of people can enter at a time so we booked a slot earlier in the day.  Queue up to enter in total darkness and wait, eventually your eyes adjust and the space slowly reveals itself. 

By now the rain was quite heavy but armed with our brollies we were determined to see as much as Naoshima as possible.

We explored a temple that we discovered past a tori gate leading up the hillside. There are so many hidden places on Naoshima just waiting to be found.

My wife almost walked into what she initially though was a branch on the ground, it turned out to be a snake though!

Back at the guesthouse I greeted the spider by the entrance and put the kettle on. Time for a green tea and some raspberry ripple Baskin Robbins whilst we recharged our batteries.

We were soon back outside again exploring the island. We walked along the East coast road until we got to Benesse resort beach.

The rain had finally stopped so I sat down to a Cassis Orange drink from the nearby vending machine whilst my wife enjoyed a beer.

We wanted to take a final look at the yellow pumpkin, I preferred how it looked today with the moody grey sky behind it.

We took the high road back towards Honmura Port and came across this giant trash can.

It's not something we had read about or was aware of on the island, we could have so easily missed it.

Back at the port we decided to have another beer before returning to the guesthouse. Whilst drinking it we met the chef from the restaurant we'd eaten at last night. He spotted us as he was getting off his fishing boat and came over to show what he'd caught. Everything in his polystyrene box would be served at his restaurant in a few hours time.

Tonight we'd reserved a table at Cafe Salon Naka Oku.

Vegan options here were very limited so my wife had to make do with edamame beans.

She also ordered some rice and pickles.

I was still craving sausages so was delighted to see them on the menu!

They looked quite pale but were fully cooked and tasted great with the mustard.

The green tea cheesecake here was excellent.

Click here for Day 13
Southbound to Kagoshima