Saturday, 28 October 2017

The Japanese Food Adventure Chapter 3 - Day 10. Takamatsu by bike

Our plan today was to hire some bikes, not something we wanted to do on an empty stomach though. This cafe were offering a good selection of reasonably priced breakfasts.

This breakfast was beautifully presented and also included a drink for a mere ¥420 (£2.80).  

We headed to the train station where we saw this Anpanman bento box, loved it! At the Tourist Information centre in the station we found out all we needed to know about hiring bikes for the day.

The underground Rent-a-Cycle Port at Takamatsu station is one of seven ports located around Takamatsu, where you can rent a bicycle. You can return a rented bicycle at a port other than the one where you rented it. The cost is just 100¥ (70p) for up to 6 hours and the ports are open between 7am and 10pm.

All we needed to do was fill in a simple form, show our passport and watch a short DVD in English showing us how the process works. Next we chose which bike we wanted to use and took it to the exit.

We were given a membership card which we swiped here to exit the Cycle port, you pay later when you return the bike.

Takamatsu is very cycle friendly, there's cycle paths on many of the pavements on the main streets. The back streets are good to cut down if you want to avoid the busy traffic.

This brutalist building caught my eye, I went to take a closer look but there were builders at the base of it so I had to just admire it from a distance.

You can't leave your bike anywhere in Takamatsu, it must be left in a specially designated cycle park. If you do leave it somewhere where you shouldn't it can be taken to a compound and a fine needs to be paid to release the bike.

We'd cycled to Ritsurin Garden in the West of the city, one of the most famous historical gardens in Japan. Designated as a Special Place of Scenic Beauty, this spacious garden features 6 ponds and 13 landscaped hills.

There's also a gallery and a shop to explore, my wife loved these cat plates.

The many ponds and streams are full of Koi and the pond at the Tea House has benches where visitors can sit and feed the fish from bread sticks which are sold there.

This green tea and vanilla ice cream was just what was needed in this heat. 

As we made our way around the gardens we tried to collect all of the stamps. 

Mt Shiun provides a stunning backdrop for the gardens.

You can take a traditional boat ride around the pond like this young couple if you want. We later saw the couple in Takamatsu getting photos taken with the sunset as a backdrop, today was their wedding day.

Dango are mochi rice balls on a stick, they are grilled over an open fire and cost ¥300 (£2) each.

We chose cherry blossom flavour which was smeared in miso sauce. A squidgy and delicious snack which is made using rice flour.

With Ritsurin Gardens fully explored we jumped back on our bikes in search of some lunch. Today though we were looking for something specific, udon noodles.They're a speciality in Takamatsu and the city served many different varieties cooked in different ways.

Udon noodles were served here so we locked our bikes up in a nearby cycle park and went inside.

At first we were offered a seat facing the kitchen where you could see the noodles being cooked. We were later offered a proper table when one became free which we accepted.

We chose udon noodles served with a tempura selection which cost ¥900 (£6). My wife swapped her seafood tempura for my vegetable tempura and everyone was happy.

From what I could gather these were Zaru udon. They were served cold on a sieve-like bamboo tray (Zaru) and came with a hot dipping sauce. To be honest I think I'd have preferred to try hot udon noodles but these were still very nice and incredibly filling as they're so thick.

The tempura selection consisted of shrimp, squid, edamame bean, aubergine and courgette. Cooked in a light tempura batter they tasted delicious with lemon juice squeezed over it.

The meal also included sesame seeds, spring onion and wasabi.

Back on our bikes we thought we'd check out the outskirts of the city. It was mainly ports, industrial warehouses and a derelict ferris wheel so after an hour or so we decided to not venture out any further. 

A quick stop for a Dekavita C (honey flavoured vitamin C) drink and we turned around and headed back towards the city.

We finally made it back to the city and were feeling pretty exhausted so we decided to return the bikes.

Cycling through the shopping malls was perfectly acceptable. We returned our bikes to the cycle port by the station and paid our ¥100 fee for hiring them.

Some Japanese sweets we spotted in 7 Eleven.

We weren't in 7 Eleven to buy pretty sweets though, we'd realised the sun was about to set again which called for a beer and a couple of snacks.

Chunky waffle shaped crisps went perfectly with a can of Sapporo.

I hadn't eaten many sweet things on this trip so thought I'd try a Riska Super Big bar costing just ¥100 (65p). It was certainly big on size but quite disappointing to eat. The centre filling is like a mash of corn crunch, only a bit lighter. This is then coated with a thin layer of sweet milk chocolate. 

This evening we walked to the end of the jetty, a peaceful spot where you could look back at the city skyline.

Occasionally a ferry passed by, bound for one of the many nearby islands.

Watching the sunset in Takamatsu was definitely one of the highlights of this trip.

Back at the guest house I enjoyed a fried chicken and rice bento box. 

I toasted our stay in Takamatsu with this 7% dry taste yuzu. Quite tarte on the taste buds it certainly delivered a citrus kick and reasonably priced too at ¥240 (£1.60)

On the roof terrace we reflected on our time in Takamatsu. Initially it was intended to be a stepping stone between Sendai and Naoshima but our decision to spend a couple of days here was a wise one. Takamatsu was a really special place with lots to offer those that dared veer off the tourist trail between Osaka and Tokyo.

Click here for Day 11
The magical Naoshima

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