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.

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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

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

Kawagoe – A Day Trip from Tokyo to Little Edo

Kawagoe Clock Tower

Kawagoe Clock Tower

Ken Belson in the New York Times pens a great article on the city of Kawagoe which is just about an hour north of Tokyo. This is a great day trip and my favorite shop in the city is a knife shop, Machikan. I believe it is a seventh generation shop. We have a few knives which we have purchased here and are thrilled with them.

http://travel.nytimes.com/2009/09/06/travel/06dayout.html

Machikan Knife Shop in Kawagoe, Saitama

Historic Kawagoe north of Tokyo

Historic Kawagoe north of  Tokyo

Kawagoe in Saitama is a short train ride just north of Tokyo. This historic city is charming and a great day trip. The downtown “kurazukuri” area is filled with old, wooden buildings and this tall bell tower.

Machikan Knife Store in Kawagoe

Machikan Knife Store in Kawagoe

Shinji and I came to Kawagoe to purchase knives for each other. Machikan is on the main street in downtown Kawagoe and I believe is a seventh generation shop.

Machikan Knife Shop in Kawagoe

Machikan Knife Shop in Kawagoe

Here is the noren (banner) in front of Machikan.

Machikan Knives

Machikan Knives

Shinji’s knife is the long, yanagibocho, for cutting fish into sashimi slices. I chose a small debabocho, for filleting small fish.

Shinji slicing hirame with his yanagibocho

Shinji slicing hirame with his yanagibocho

Shinji’s first fish with his new knife was a gorgeous winter hirame, rich with fat.

Machikan Knife Shop

Saitama-ken, Kawagoe-shi, Saiwaicho 7-3

049-222-1516

www.oakv.co.jp/sylvan/0801/index.html

Check out the website for gorgeous photos of the interior of the shop.

Ukai Toriyama in Takao

Gardens of Toriyama

Gardens of Toriyama

On the outskirts of Tokyo in the shadows of Mount Takao (Takao-san) is Toriyama. Part of the famous Ukai chain of restaurants, is a garden filled with private rooms for a meal based on grilled chicken kaiseki. This is a dining experience that is worth the trip out to Hachioji, about an hour from Tokyo station on an express train, followed by a shuttle bus to the restaurant.

Grilled Fish at Toriyama

Grilled Fish at Toriyama

Several courses are presented, including this grilled fish presented on pine leaves.

Rice Course

Rice Course

A view of the room and the rice course (shime).

Kimono-clad waitresses in the garden

Kimono-clad waitresses in the garden

While dining in your own private room you feel as though you are the only one there. On your way home after your meal you may see the waitresses in colorful kimono bringing courses to the different guest rooms scattered throughout the garden.

Ukai Toriyama

Hachioji, Minami Asakawa 3426

0426-61-0739

www.ukai.co.jp/toriyama/index.html#english