Friday, 27 October 2017

The Japanese Food Adventure Chapter 3 - Day 9. Sunset in Takamatsu

Sendai had been wonderful but Takamatsu was calling us so we scoffed our final breakfast at Hotel Mayflower and wheeled our cases towards the station. Hotel Mayflower had slightly depressing rooms with hollow metal doors so we were looking forward staying somewhere a bit more uplifting. That said though at just £33 a night including breakfast and unlimited hot drinks it was certainly good value for money.

I'd been looking out for this and the vending machine on Sendai station was where I was to finally spot it. An ice cream flavoured drink I'd discovered on Chapter 2.

This would be the final time we'd be using the Hokkaido shinkansen as it was travelling between Hakodate to Tokyo where we would be catching our second train.

The sight of the shinkansen arriving at the station never failed to impress me, click on the video to witness it for yourself.

Unlike our journey North the train was almost empty on the journey South.

You certainly don't feel claustrophobic on these trains, there's so much leg room.

When reserving seats at the JR ticket office, the staff there will work the entire journey out for you. The seat reservations and itinerary are then given to you neatly stored in a paper wallet. Our journey would take seven hours on four separate trains, we'd set off early so as to arrive in Takamatsu by mid afternoon.

I brought an egg roll from the hotel breakfast with me for the first leg of the journey.

A smoking carriage can be found on some shinkansen, it's so well ventilated it never seems to get very smokey. 

Much of the time you're in tunnels but  when your not it's quite mesmerising watching the view pass by at such speed.

If you forget to bring food or drink along with you fear not, the hostess trolley sells reasonably priced food and drink.

Chu Hai from the hostess trolley cost just ¥240 (£1.60) a can. My wife was more prepared than me today, she brought along a small bottle of plum wine.

At Tokyo we boarded another shinkansen to Shin Kobe, from there we swapped trains again until we reached Okayama.

Our final train was the Marine Liner bound for Takamatsu.

This limited edition 7 Eleven sandwich would keep me going on the final leg of our journey.

Roast beef apparently.

As our tickets on the Marine Liner were reserved we got to sit in the double decker carriage. On the lower deck the view wasn't so good though, especially when it pulled into the stations.

The Great Seto Bridge connects the islands of Honshu and Shikoku, it's a two tier bridge that carries road traffic on the upper deck and trains on the lower deck. It took twenty minutes to cross the bridge which at just over eight miles long is the longest two tiered bridge in the world.

The big smiley face on Takamatsu station greeted us as we arrived. Takamatsu wasn't really somewhere we'd considered visiting before, our reason for staying here was it's close proximity to the island of Naoshima where would end up in a couple of days time.

We would be staying at Guesthouse BJ Station for the next two nights. The problem was we couldn't seem to find the way in, we were a bit early for the 5pm check in anyway so we decided to try again later.

This Statue is Shinsetsu-na-Ao-oni-kun. "Shinsetsu" means kindness. "Oni" means ogre. He's kind to travellers so it's one of the mascot character to represent the Kagawa Prefecture.

I was keen to try some ramen and beside the hotel was a ramen restaurant. The menu was in Japanese though so it could be quite tricky.

Luckily the machine you placed your order on was in English too so the process turned out to be quite straightforward. Simply select what you'd like to eat and drink, pop your money in and take the tickets inside.

The tickets are torn in half and the food is cooked for you.

On the train journey here I'd been drawing what I wanted to eat and drink when I arrived. I must say I think I'd pretty much achieved just that!

You can help yourself to iced tea which is in a large pot on the side. The beer here was superb, it was served in a frozen glass and cost ¥450 (£3)

Whilst I waited for my ramen to arrive my wife feasted on some edamame beans and a bowl of rice which she covered in hot chilli powder.

She also enjoyed these bean sprouts covered in a hot chilli sauce.

I'd ordered the house special ramen which cost ¥980 (£6.50). I was given the option of having my noodles served soft, medium or crispy, I chose medium.

The rich broth contained thin slices of beef.

Slices of pork.

An egg, some spring onions and a sheet of nori seaweed were amongst the other items to be found in this ramen. The noodles splashed back into the broth as I tried to pick them up using my chopsticks making quite a mess, but I thoroughly enjoyed eating it.

A quick look around the station area and we returned to the guesthouse to find out how to get inside.

The entrance turned out to be the door used to access the bar down below. There were male and female dormitories and a few private rooms on offer here. We paid ¥6600 (£44) per night for a double room here.

The room had futon beds, air con, wifi and plenty of storage space. There was also a roof terrace and shared kitchen available to use if we wanted to.

We set off on foot to see what Takamatsu had to offer.

Kitahama Alley can be found beside the port area, you can find some old warehouses transformed into art galleries, shops and bars.

As we passed the ferry port we decided to see where the Naoshima ferry departed from as we'd be catching it in a couple of days time.

Safe in the knowledge that it departed from this point we walked along the quayside. It was a beautiful evening and the sun would soon set behind the mountains.

People were congregating here to watch the sunset so we joined them.

As the sun got lower we suddenly realised that if ever there was a moment to be enjoying a beer it was right now.

We run as fast as we could in search of a 7 Eleven, stopping briefly to admire this as we past it. 

Just made it back in time!

As the sun started to disappear behind the mountains all we could hear was the sound of the waves hitting the steps down below.

A beautiful moment that went far too quickly and is impossible to capture like it was at the time in a photo.

The sun had finally disappeared but we sat and gazed out into the distance at the many islands wondering which one was Naoshima.

We strolled past the fisherman on the banks of the quayside and went in search of food.

We worked out that if we ate at Hanbey it would work out about the same price as buying food from 7 Eleven.

We would loved to have sat here but we were shown to the tables surrounding the kitchen area.

Whilst pondering the menu we discussed the possibility of hiring bikes tomorrow. My wife had read online that it was possible to hire them for just ¥100 (65p) for 6 hours in Takamatsu. This seemed too good to be true but we decided to fully explore it at tourist information in the morning.

We feasted on cabbage dipped into the sweet miso sauce whilst wondering what life on Naoshima would be like in a couple of days time. 

I'd ordered an Okinomiyaki which I could see being cooked in the distance.

The okonomiyaki almost beat me tonight but determined not to let it win I finished every last bite.

Plum Strong Zero was rather nice, the fruit is frozen to 196 degrees below zero when making it. The roof terrace at the guest house was the perfect spot to enjoy it.

One final, some delicious chocolate covered almonds.

Click here for Day 10
Takamatsu by bike