Travel – Mashiko in Tochigi for Pottery

Mashiko photo by Chris Bamforth

Mashiko photo by Chris Bamforth

Many of the great destinations for pottery in Japan are dotted throughout the country. One of my favorite day trips from Tokyo is Machiko. This article by Chris Bamforth was in The Japan Times. Mashiko also hosts a large pottery festival every year, I believe it is in the fall.

http://search.japantimes.co.jp/mail/fv20100110a1.html

Travel – Himi Fishing Port 氷見

Some more photos of the Himi Seafood Auction in Toyama.

Buyers at the Himi Market

Buyers at the Himi Market

If I understand correctly, this is a list of the licensed buyers at the auction. As you can see in photos below, buyers will have a tag, usually on their hat, that auctioneers can recognize that these people are authorized to purchase at the auction. Carefully looking at the board you can find the names of a handful of women.

Fishing boats unloading at the auction

Fishing boats unloading at the auction

Unlike Tsukiji Market, where most of the seafood comes in by trucks, and even airplanes via Narita and Haneda, most of the fish at the Himi auction were unloaded off of boats and moved just a few feet onto the auction floor.

Auction in action

Auction in action

A close up of the auction.

Overview of the auction

Overview of the auction

The Himi auction has built a great viewing area for visitors to the market. There is a perch that overlooks the market. It would be great if the new Tsukiji Market could also build something like this. You can see the auction taking place in the upper right of the photos.

Variety of local seafood

Variety of local seafood

We saw a variety of winter fish including hirame (flounder), octopus, anko (monkfish), saba (mackerel), and the famous kanburi (winter yellowtail).

Kanburi (winter yellowtail)

Kanburi (winter yellowtail)

The whole reason we came to the market, to try and eat this fish, one of Shinji’s favorite this time of year.

Breakfast in the shokudo

Breakfast in the shokudo

On the second floor of the auction, just off of the viewing perch, is the market’s shokudo, or dining hall. Our breakfast was the local kanburi (winter yellowtail).

Kanburi sashimi for breakfast

Kanburi sashimi for breakfast

Shinji loved this breakfast – the winter yellowtail, rich in flavor and almost melting in your mouth.

Grilled kanburi

Grilled kanburi

A popular way of cooking the kanburi is simply to salt and grill. It is so rich that the meat falls apart.

The name of the shokudo at the auction is Kaiho. This is a great destination for any seafood fan. The coastal village of Toyama overlooks the Sea of Japan.

Travel – Himi Fishing Port in Toyama 氷見魚市場

Himi Seafood Auction

Himi Seafood Auction

On the coast of Toyama on the Sea of Japan is a famous fishing port. In the winter it is renowned for its kanburi or winter buri (yellowtail). Rich in fat, it melts in your mouth like fatty tuna. Don’t worry if you miss the early morning auction as there is a retail market next door with several large stalls selling fish caught locally.

Kamasu (barracuda)

Kamasu (barracuda)

While barracuda may have the reputation of being an agressive, predatory fish, it is actually quite small in size. The meat is tender and delicate.

Saba (mackerel)

Saba (mackerel)

You can see that these mackerel are rich in fat by observing the back area, it is almost bulging from its skin.

Saba (mackerel)

Saba (mackerel)

Kanburi (winter yellowtail)

Kanburi (winter yellowtail)

Here is the famous kanburi, the whole reason for our journey to this famed fishing port. We had some for breakfast and it was amazing, rich, and worth the trip.

For more information on Himi:

http://www.jnto.go.jp/eng/location/regional/toyama/himi.html

Tsukiji Tuna Auction

My friend Alistair Douglas got his Ph.D. in tuna and he sent me these amazing photos from the opening tuna auction at the world famous Tsukiji Market for the new decade.

The Winner!

The Winner!

The Winner Aomori Northern Bluefin

The Winner Aomori Northern Bluefin

Winner is 232.6kg and @ 70,000 yen a kg he cost US$176,978.26

Winner is 232.6kg and @ 70,000 yen a kg he cost US$176,978.26

Inside the Fresh Auction

Inside the Fresh Auction

The Media

The Media

First Auction Ceremony

First Auction Ceremony

One Fish's Reaction to the News...

One Fish's Reaction to the News...

I love the pomp and circumstance with the opening ceremony, the school of media documenting the occasion, and you have to love Alistair’s sense of humor, as he interviewed this fish on his way out – check out his reaction.

The tuna auction is officially closed for about six weeks this time of year to visitors so Alistair is one of the few non-Japanese insiders who works at the tuna auction.

 

Travel – Gero Onsen’s Shimura 下呂温泉の志むら


One of my favorite places in all of Japan is Gero Onsen in Gifu prefecture, in the heart of the Japanese Alps. I first came to know Gero Onsen through a friend, Leif Hagen, who was an English teacher there. Leif introduced me to Hiroko Sensei who is pictured here. On our honeymoon Shinji and I spent an evening in Gero Onsen and Hiroko took us to this amazing restaurant on top of the mountain in Gero Onsen.

Shimura is a jewel in the area. The chef farms many of the ingredients, and catches local fish in the local rivers. Gifu is known for Hida wagyu, the marbled beef pictured above. But perhaps what was the most memorable dish of the evening was the rice that is grown in the garden in front of the restaurant.

We had a private dining room and Shimura is managed by the chef and his wife. I look forward to going back on our next trip to Gero Onsen.

If you click through Shimura’s website you will see the chef farming and fishing for the food served here.

http://www.geroyama.com/index.php

Shimura

Gifu-ken, Gero Onsen

Phone: 0576-25-3256

Ameyoko アメ横

Ameyoko アメ横

Ameyoko アメ横

Located under the Yamanote line train tracks at Ueno station heading south to Okachimachi station on the way to Akihabara, the electronics town, is Ameyoko, a boisterous, lively outdoor market. Not nearly as impressive as Tsukiji Fish Market, but this is open on seven days a week, which is a good alternative if Tsukiji is closed. Ameyoko got its name from “ame-ya” as there were a lot of candy (ame) shops there before, and from “America-ya” as products from America was sold there. Yoko means next to and the shopping arcade is next to the train line, part of it actually under the tracks.

The fishmongers call out in huffy voices offering discounts and bargains. “Omake” means that they are offering great discounts and may even barter with you, or they may call out “sen yen” (1000 yen) and point to a tray loaded down with seafood. And while negotiating prices is rarely done in Japan, it is done here. You will find a bit of everything from seafood, fruits, vegetables, and dried goods.

Ameyoko アメ横 – Fruits at Hyakkaen 百果園 

Hyakkaen 百果園 

Hyakkaen 百果園 

Hyakkaen 百果園 

Hyakkaen 百果園 

Hyakkaen sells whole fruits boxed for gift-giving, however they are most famous for their seasonal fresh fruits skewered on waribashi (disposable chopsticks) like strawberries, pineapple and melon. The fresh fruits are juicy and a refreshing, healthful snack.

Fruits Shop Hyakkaen 百果園

Taito-ku, Ueno 6-10-12 台東区上野6-10-12

Tel. 03-3832-2625

10:00 – 20:00, no holidays

www.guidenet.jp/shop/083c/ (Japanese)

Ameyoko アメ横 – Candy at Shimura Shouten 志村商店

Shimura Shouten 志村商店

Shimura Shouten 志村商店

Shimura Shouten 志村商店

Shimura Shouten 志村商店

Shimura Shouten 志村商店

Shimura Shouten 志村商店

This candy shop, overflowing with chocolates and sweets is famous for its 1000 yen bags. It is a show where an enthusiastic salesman shouts out to the customers as he fills a bag up with candies, sweets, and snacks. It is usually filled with kids in school uniforms visiting Tokyo from the countryside. It is often featured on TV programs showing highlights of the Ameyoko Market.

Shimura Shouten 志村商店

Taito-ku, Ueno 6-11-3 台東区上野6-11-3

Tel. 03-3831-2454

9:00 – 19:00, no holidays

http://homepage3.nifty.com/ameyoko/ (Japanese)

Tokyo Bargain Dining – Tsukiji Market’s Toyochan 豊ちゃん

Toyochan 豊ちゃん

Toyochan 豊ちゃん

Toyochan in Tsukiji Market is famous for its omuraisu, ketchup flavored rice surrounded in a juicy egg omelette topped with a rich demiglace sauce. Here you will also find other popular yoshoku dishes like hirekatsu rice (tonkatsu over rice with eggs) or kani kurokke rice (crab croquettes with rice).

Toyochan

Tsukiji 5-2-1, Building #1

03-3541-9062

http://www.tsukijinet.com/tsukiji/kanren/toyochan/